Set against the backdrop of the alluring aurora borealis in the heart of Alaska, Fairbanks is the gateway to the Alaskan wilds. The city is one of the state's largest and is a major economic hub, as well as home to a large student population courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Once prospectors thronged here in the hope of finding gold during the Gold Rush, today visitors can try their luck at the Gold Dredge No. 8 and pan for gold just as they did in the past. A great starting point to any visit is the interactive Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center, while the Pioneer Park triggers nostalgia of the bygone Alaska. Wildlife experiences abound, with sanctuaries and river walks bringing you face to face with a diverse cross section of Alaskan flora and fauna.