Nature is the star all along the road from Fairbanks that leads to the Chena Hot Springs Resort, and even there it remains center stage. Chena's waters are served up in hot tubs, an indoor swimming pool, and an outdoor natural-rock lake. In winter you can go dogsledding, snowmobiling, and take a 4½-mile snow-coach tour to a hilltop yurt with a 360-degree view. Summer activities include therapeutic massages, sled-dog rides, horseback riding, ice-sculpting classes, and guided ATV tours. The world's only year-round ice museum is here (tours $15), complete with an ice bar, ice bedrooms, and ice sculptures by world-class carvers.
The resort uses 165°F springwater to power three turbines, a feat that initially shocked geothermal experts who believed that water temperatures must be at least 220°F. This free source of power allows the resort to run greenhouses through the –40°F winters. The daily 2 pm and 4 pm free Renewable Energy tours end at these productive greenhouses, where row upon row of lettuce—up to 25 heads a day—and five varieties of tomatoes thrive off a hydroponic, or soil-free, system. Order a salad at the resort's restaurant and taste the special flavor of local, fresh-picked greens.