12 Things To Do in Kenai, Alaska

Kenai is a small city on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, located around 150 miles southwest of Anchorage. With a population of less than 8,000 people, Kenai offers a quieter and more low-key experience compared to some of Alaska’s larger and more popular destinations.

1Go Fishing on the Kenai RiverFamous for trophy-sized salmon and trout, offering world-class fishing.
2Paddle Kenai LakeExplore the glacial lake’s natural beauty by kayak or canoe.
3Hike the Kenai National Wildlife RefugeOffers hiking trails through diverse wilderness and stunning landscapes.
4Flightseeing Kenai Fjords National ParkAerial tours providing stunning views of glaciers, forests, and coastlines.
5Visit Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox ChurchHistorical church showcasing Kenai’s Russian heritage.
6Dog Sledding on Local TrailsExperience the traditional Alaskan sled dog adventure.
7Tour Kenai Visitors and Cultural CenterLearn about Kenai’s history and culture through exhibits.
8Halibut Fishing in Cook InletCharter trips for deep-sea fishing targeting large halibut.
9Bear Viewing TripGuided excursions to observe brown bears in their natural habitat.
10Stroll through Kenai’s Old TownWalk through historic areas with significant buildings and views.
11Explore Kenai Fjords State ParkDiscover glaciers, wildlife, and marine habitats in Alaska’s vast park.
12Ice Fishing on Hidden LakeWinter fishing for trout and salmon in a scenic, frozen environment.

However, despite its small size, Kenai still has plenty for visitors to see and do. From world-class fishing and outdoor activities, to historical sites and cultural attractions, Kenai makes for an excellent getaway.

The city’s prime location on the shores of the world-famous Kenai River makes it a dream destination for anglers hoping to reel in trophy-sized salmon or trout. The Russian Orthodox Church, with its eye-catching onion domes, provides an interesting glimpse into Kenai’s heritage.

Just outside town, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge spans nearly 2 million acres of Alaskan wilderness, where bears, moose, caribou and more roam freely. From hiking forested trails to kayaking glacial lakes, the refuge offers countless ways to experience Alaska’s rugged natural beauty.

For those looking to get a true taste of old Alaska, Kenai has no shortage of historical sites and museums that document the region’s past – from early native settlements and pioneer homesteads to the boomtown era that arrived with oil discoveries in the 1950s. Combined with local cultural attractions, unique shops and restaurants serving up fresh seafood, there are plenty of reasons why Kenai is a top choice for an Alaskan adventure.

So whether you’re an avid angler or outdoor enthusiast, history buff or culture vulture, here are 12 of the top things to do in Kenai, Alaska:

Go Fishing on the Kenai River

Name and Location: Go Fishing on the Kenai River, located in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska.

History and Significance: The Kenai River is known for its world-class fishing, particularly for its abundant salmon runs. The river has been a popular fishing destination for decades, attracting anglers from around the world.

What to Expect: Visitors can enjoy fishing for various species of salmon, including king (Chinook), sockeye (red), and silver (coho) salmon, as well as rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. The river offers both bank fishing and boat fishing opportunities.

Visitor Information: Fishing licenses are required and can be obtained online or at local vendors. Guided fishing trips are available through numerous outfitters in the area. The best time for fishing varies depending on the species, but the summer months are generally the most popular.

The clear blue waters of the Kenai River are famous for the trophy-sized salmon and trout that run through them each summer. For anglers, few places in the world offer better fishing opportunities to hook a giant king salmon or monster rainbow trout. Several species of Pacific salmon return annually to spawn in the glacier-fed river, including sockeye, coho, chum and pink salmon. While king salmon season peaks from May to July, the action continues into September with the arrival of huge silver salmon that can weigh over 30 pounds.

The Kenai’s world-class trout fishing also draws anglers from far and wide. Both rainbow and Dolly Varden trout thrive in the river, providing the chance to catch a fish-of-a-lifetime. A stretch of the river is even officially designated as a premier “Trophy Trout Stream” by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

With so much incredible fishing, it’s no wonder droves of avid anglers flock here every summer. Local guide services offer chartered fishing trips on the river ranging from full-day excursions to multi-day overnight camps. For do-it-yourselfers, there are several public parks with boat launches and ample bank fishing access. No matter your skill level, Kenai River has a spot to cast your line in hopes of catching the big one.

Paddle Kenai Lake

Name and Location: Paddle Kenai Lake, located in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska.

History and Significance: Kenai Lake is a glacial lake known for its stunning turquoise color and pristine water. It is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and offers excellent opportunities for paddling and sightseeing.

What to Expect: Visitors can enjoy paddling on the serene waters of Kenai Lake, taking in the breathtaking scenery of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. The lake is suitable for kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding.

Visitor Information: Paddling equipment can be rented from local outfitters in the nearby towns of Moose Pass and Cooper Landing. Guided paddling tours are also available. The best time to paddle is during the summer months when the weather is mild and the lake is ice-free.

Nestled against the majestic Chugach Mountain range, the sprawling aqua blue waters of Kenai Lake offer incredible paddling opportunities. At over 20 miles long, the massive glacial lake provides a peaceful backdrop to explore by kayak or canoe. As the lake is only accessible by small watercraft, experiencing Kenai Lake’s natural beauty from an easy-gliding kayak or canoe allows for an even more intimate encounter.

Gliding silently across the crystalline waters reveals stunning glacier-capped vistas, as well as excellent wildlife viewing chances. It’s common to spot soaring eagles, lumbering moose feeding along lush grassy banks or even glimpse a curious otter popping up among floating icebergs. The lake also harbors some of Alaska’s most beautiful scenery, including views of majestic Mt. Cecil and turquoise Exit Glacier.

Several outfitters offer kayak and canoe rentals right on Kenai Lake, making it easy to spend a few hours or a whole day paddling at your own pace. For those looking for a guided tour, companies provide part-day paddling excursions complete with experienced guides to navigate the nuances of Kenai’s intricate shorelines. Whether paddling solo or on a group trip, Kenai Lake never fails to impress with its peaceful waters and spellbinding mountain scenery.

Hike the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Name and Location: Hike the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, located in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska.

History and Significance: The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 to protect the unique wildlife and habitats of the Kenai Peninsula. It covers nearly 2 million acres and is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore the refuge’s scenic hiking trails, which range from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry treks. The refuge offers opportunities to observe wildlife, including moose, bears, eagles, and various bird species.

Visitor Information: The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge has several visitor centers and ranger stations that provide information, maps, and guided programs. Some trails may require permits or have seasonal closures, so it’s essential to check with the refuge’s website or visitor centers for up-to-date information.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge protects nearly two million acres of pristine Alaskan wilderness, where adventurers can discover incredible scenery and wildlife on hundreds of miles of hiking trails. From easy nature walks to challenging overnight treks, the refuge offers unlimited hiking possibilities.

Among the most popular trails is the Harding Icefield Trail, an 8-mile trek that starts at Exit Glacier and climbs over 1,000 feet towards the enormous icefield that feeds the glacier. The strenuous hike and altitude gain is well worth it for the sweeping views atop mile-wide ice and snow that stretches as far as the eye can see.

For a less demanding hike with similar wow-factor vistas, the Exit Glacier area contains several shorter trails to view the rapidly retreating glacier and surrounding mountain scenery. Options range from easy half-mile paved trails to more moderate 2-3 mile hikes through magnificent forests and valleys carved out long ago by mighty glaciers.

Beyond Exit Glacier, the refuge has remote trails that access turquoise alpine lakes, open tundra hillsides blanketed in wildflowers, winding rivers, thundering waterfalls and habitats where bears, moose, wolves, mountain goats and more roam freely. Whether visiting for a day or a week, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge promises boundless hiking adventure across Alaska’s iconic wilderness landscapes.

Go Flightseeing Above Kenai Fjords National Park

Name and Location: Go Flightseeing Above Kenai Fjords National Park, located in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska.

History and Significance: Kenai Fjords National Park was established in 1980 to protect the glaciers, fjords, and wildlife of the Kenai Peninsula. It is known for its stunning coastal landscapes and diverse marine ecosystem.

What to Expect: Visitors can take a flightseeing tour to experience the breathtaking aerial views of Kenai Fjords National Park. These tours offer a unique perspective of the park’s glaciers, fjords, and wildlife, including whales, seals, and sea lions.

Visitor Information: Flightseeing tours are offered by several operators based in the nearby town of Seward. Tours typically last 1-2 hours and may include a landing on a glacier. Advance reservations are recommended, especially during peak summer months.

While Kenai Fjords National Park is not technically located in the city of Kenai, visiting this wonderland of forests, lakes, glaciers and coastline should be high on any traveler’s list. The remote national park covers an expansive area rugged wilderness that is most stunning when viewed from the air on a scenic flightseeing tour.

Departing from Kenai’s local airport, flightseeing trips provide an unforgettable bird’s eye perspective of the park’s most famous features. Glide past dense emerald rainforests, the rocky Resurrection Bay coastline and North America’s largest icefield that feeds over 30 massive tidewater glaciers flowing straight into the sea. See giant orcas and humpback whales splashing down below as you soar over rich marine habitats. Many tours even make landings on secluded beaches or remote fjords for a true up-close Alaskan bush experience.

While flightseeing tours only provide limited time over this vast landscape, the unique aerial vantage point packs the best highlights into a short yet exhilarating adventure. With planes outfitted with oversized windows or no windows at all, flightseeing the Kenai Fjords National Park guarantees amazing views and perspective that can’t be seen any other way.

Visit the Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church

Name and Location: Visit the Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church, located in Kenai, Alaska.

History and Significance: The Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church, built in 1894, is a historic landmark that reflects the Russian influence on Alaska’s history. It is one of the oldest standing Orthodox churches in Alaska and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

What to Expect: Visitors can admire the church’s distinctive Russian Orthodox architecture, featuring a white exterior with blue onion domes. The interior is adorned with traditional Orthodox iconography and religious artifacts.

Visitor Information: The church is open to visitors during limited hours, typically in the summer months. Visitors are asked to be respectful of the church’s religious significance and to dress modestly. Guided tours may be available by appointment.

With its iconic silver onion domes rising towards the sky, the bright blue and white Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox church makes a very noticeable impression along Kenai’s main street. The beautiful church has stood at the same location since 1896 and offers visitors a peek into Kenai’s heritage and early Russian influences. Stepping inside transports you into an ornate house of worship glowing from the light of hand-painted icons, vestment embroideries and polished brass crosses.

In addition to its visual splendor, the church also represents an important part of Kenai’s local history. Russian Orthodox missionaries first arrived in the area in the 1840s intent on converting the native Dena’ina tribe to Christianity. The faith gradually spread through the region, and Kenai’s original log Russian Orthodox church was constructed in 1895. Less than a year later, the first church tragically burned down. Determined parishioners quickly rallied to rebuild, this time using white lumber milled from the local sawmill. The rebuilt church was completed in 1896 in the signature Russian Orthodox style – complete with opulent icons, altar screen and three silver onion domes on the roof.

This second church still stands proudly today, although several renovations and expansions have helped preserve the structure over its 125+ year history. Visitors are welcome to view the interior, attend a service or simply admire the picturesque church from outside and reflect on Kenai’s resilient spirit through the years.

Go Dog Sledding on Local Trails

Name and Location: Go Dog Sledding on Local Trails, located in various parts of the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.

History and Significance: Dog sledding, or mushing, has been an important part of Alaska’s history and culture. It served as a primary means of transportation for Indigenous peoples and early settlers and remains a popular winter activity today.

What to Expect: Visitors can experience the thrill of dog sledding on local trails, guided by experienced mushers. Tours may range from short rides to multi-day expeditions, depending on the operator and trail conditions.

Visitor Information: Dog sledding tours are offered by several operators throughout the Kenai Peninsula, primarily during the winter months when there is sufficient snow cover. Visitors should dress warmly and be prepared for cold weather conditions. Advance reservations are recommended.

The sport of dog sledding is deeply intertwined with Alaska’s history and culture, and Kenai makes an ideal winter playground to experience this iconic northern tradition. Local dog sled outfitters offer rides through snowy forests and scenic mountain valleys from November through April. Gliding silently across the winter landscape behind a team of energetic huskies is a one-of-a-kind way to tour Kenai’s snow-covered backcountry.

From thrilling single-person sleds careening through the woods to more leisurely paced rides on spacious wheeled carts, Kenai’s sled dog companies offer dog sled adventures suitable for all ages and comfort levels. Friendly guides expertly operate the sleds while sharing stories about Alaska, dog sledding culture and the unique personalities of each tail-wagging team member. Most tours allow participants ample puppy playtime complete with kisses, belly rubs and photo ops.

With miles of remote winter trails surrounding Kenai just waiting to be explored by sled dog, bundle up and enjoy an exhilarating ride across untamed Alaskan terrain. Visiting Kenai in winter and bonding with local pups while gliding on a dog sled under moonlit skies creates memories that will last a lifetime.

Tour the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center

Name and Location: Tour the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center, located in Kenai, Alaska.

History and Significance: The Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center serves as a hub for information and cultural education about the Kenai Peninsula. It showcases the area’s history, Native Alaskan heritage, and local art.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore exhibits featuring Native Alaskan artifacts, historical photographs, and local artwork. The center also offers interpretive displays about the region’s natural history and wildlife.

Visitor Information: The Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center is open year-round, with extended hours during the summer months. Admission is free, and guided tours may be available upon request. The center also provides visitor information and maps for exploring the Kenai Peninsula.

To gain deeper insight into the heritage of Kenai and the surrounding region, the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center is a must-visit attraction. Through engaging exhibits and cultural displays, the museum provides invaluable context that brings local history to life spanning back centuries.

Visitors can explore how Kenai’s Dena’ina natives thrived along the river prior to Russian contact in the 1700s. See how American pioneers and gold prospectors flooded the territory resulting in Alaska’s purchase from Russia in 1867. Learn about the frontier town that emerged to support a fledgling fishing industry, eventually attracting oil companies that brought railroads, roads and even more settlers.

Historic artifacts, wildlife dioramas and replica buildings further illustrate these important eras that shaped development in Kenai and paved the way for the present-day city. The center also informs visitors about things to do in town, plus outdoor recreation and adventure opportunities across the broader peninsula. Movies depicting Alaskan scenery, photo exhibits and other engaging elements make this small museum a worthwhile stop to orient yourself and enrich travels throughout Kenai.

Charter a Halibut Fishing Trip in Cook Inlet

Name and Location: Charter a Halibut Fishing Trip in Cook Inlet, departing from various ports in the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.

History and Significance: Cook Inlet, named after Captain James Cook, is known for its excellent halibut fishing. Halibut are large, flat fish that are prized for their delicate white meat and have been an important part of Alaska’s fishing industry for generations.

What to Expect: Visitors can charter a halibut fishing trip with experienced guides who know the best spots in Cook Inlet. These trips typically involve a full day on the water, using heavy-duty fishing gear to catch these giant fish that can weigh hundreds of pounds.

Visitor Information: Halibut fishing charters are available from several ports in the Kenai Peninsula, including Homer, Seward, and Ninilchik. The best time for halibut fishing is typically from May to September. Visitors should dress in warm, layered clothing and bring rain gear, as weather conditions can change quickly on the water.

While the Kenai River offers exceptional freshwater fishing, heading offshore into the saltwater of Cook Inlet presents the chance to hook monster-sized halibut. These strange-looking flatfish thrive in the deep waters of the inlet just outside Kenai, growing to enormous proportions exceeding 300+ pounds. Their excellent table fare also makes the halibut a prize catch for seafood lovers.

Several local charter companies offer full and half-day fishing charters departing from Kenai’s marina and small boat harbor. Outfitted with top-notch gear, experienced captains navigate to preferred halibut hot spots sometimes more than 100 miles offshore. There you’ll drop weighted lines rigged with bait up to 1,500 feet towards the seafloor in wait for a hungry giant to take a bite.

Plan your trip for the peak season between June and August and there’s a great likelihood you’ll head home with a generous fillet of delicious halibut meat for the freezer. Or catch your limit and throw a beachside fish fry under Alaska’s midnight sun – it doesn’t get more Alaskan than that!

Go on a Bear Viewing Trip

Name and Location: Go on a Bear Viewing Trip, with tours departing from various locations in the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.

History and Significance: The Kenai Peninsula is home to a significant population of brown bears, also known as grizzly bears. Viewing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat has become a popular wildlife watching activity in Alaska.

What to Expect: Visitors can join guided bear viewing trips to observe brown bears in the wild. These trips often involve a flight to remote areas, such as the Katmai Coast or Lake Clark National Park, where bears gather to feed on salmon during the summer months.

Visitor Information: Bear viewing trips are offered by several operators based in the Kenai Peninsula, with departures from cities like Homer and Soldotna. The best time for bear viewing is typically from July to September, during the peak salmon runs. Visitors should follow their guide’s instructions and maintain a safe distance from the bears at all times.

As brown bears are frequently spotted roaming near Kenai’s city limits, it might seem seeing one would be easy. But viewing these mighty predators in their natural undisturbed habitat is best achieved on a guided bear viewing trip to remote wilderness areas like Lake Clark National Park.

Accessible only by boat or bush plane, Lake Clark’s protected territory 400 miles southwest of Kenai hosts the highest density of brown bears on the planet. Visitors voyage to specialized viewing platforms overlooking wild salmon streams where dozens of bears congregate to feast every summer. From the safety of raised viewing stands, travelers can quietly observe bears fishing, playing and tending to cubs without disturbing their natural behavior.

Floatplane flightseeing trips provide an even more immersive perspective, soaring over Lake Clark’s bears scattered about glaciers, beaches and meadows blooming with tasty plants. Experienced guides ensure safety protocols are carefully followed, while providing insightful commentary about the bears and their habits.

While bear sightings around Kenai do occur sporadically, a guided trip to prime bear country promises more intimate viewing in total comfort. Witnessing Alaska’s mighty brown bears living life uncaged makes for an unforgettable opportunity.

Stroll through Kenai’s Old Town

Name and Location: Stroll through Kenai’s Old Town, located in Kenai, Alaska.

History and Significance: Kenai’s Old Town is a historic district that showcases the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. It features a mix of old buildings, museums, and cultural sites that offer a glimpse into the area’s past.

What to Expect: Visitors can take a leisurely walk through Kenai’s Old Town, admiring the historic architecture and visiting local landmarks such as the Kenai Visitor and Cultural Center, the Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church, and the Kenai Landing historic site.

Visitor Information: Kenai’s Old Town is open year-round, and visitors can explore the area on their own or join guided walking tours. The Kenai Visitor and Cultural Center is a good starting point for information and maps. Some businesses and attractions may have limited hours during the off-season.

Wandering downtown Kenai along the west bank of the river provides a scenic walking tour through historic Old Town. The couple paved blocks contain several noteworthy buildings that speak to Kenai’s heritage and the early days of settlement. From quaint churches and clock towers to an iconic log cabin schoolhouse, it’s worth taking a stroll to admire these remnants from Kenai’s past.

Standouts include the Russian Orthodox Church with its shiny silver onion domes, as well as the beautifully restored Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Chapel – Kenai’s first house of worship built in 1842. Nearby late 19th century buildings like the Masonic Hall tapped from local spruce trees evoke an old west frontier vibe, while the St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church provides yet another Russian architectural specimen.

After checking out historic structures, don’t miss Kenai’s iconic Old Town bluff. The steep rocky cliffs cascade dramatically towards the river below. Follow a short switchback trail to the overlook for an awesome elevated panorama over massive cottonwood trees and the glittering blue Kenai River slicing through town. Grab a pic of one of Kenai’s mostclassic views before continuing your walking tour through charming Old Town.

Visit Alaska’s Largest State Park at Kenai Fjords

Name and Location: Visit Alaska’s Largest State Park at Kenai Fjords, located in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska.

History and Significance: Kenai Fjords National Park was established in 1980 to protect the unique glacial landscape and rich marine ecosystem of the Kenai Peninsula. It is home to the Harding Icefield, one of the largest ice fields in the United States.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore the park’s stunning coastal fjords, glaciers, and abundant wildlife. Popular activities include boat tours, kayaking, hiking, and wildlife viewing. The park is home to a variety of marine mammals, including whales, seals, and sea lions, as well as bald eagles and other seabirds.

Visitor Information: The park’s main visitor center is located in the town of Seward, which serves as the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park. Boat tours and kayaking trips depart from Seward’s harbor, and the park offers several hiking trails of varying difficulty levels. Some areas of the park are only accessible by boat or plane, and certain activities may require permits or reservations.

Although not situated directly near Kenai city, Kenai Fjords National Park ranks as one of the region’s top attractions for visitors to explore. As Alaska’s most accessible national park with over 600,000 acres of pristine coastal wilderness, Kenai Fjords consistently delights with its abundance of wildlife, glaciers, dense forests and prolific marine habitats.

Coming straight from the Harding Icefield in Kenai’s mountains, Exit Glacier stands frozen in time as a rare land-based feature that’s steadily retreating year over year. But the real highlights are found out on the open sea, sailing along rocky islets and coves where sea otters, puffins, orcas and humpbacks make frequent appearances. Epic tidewater glaciers pour down from rugged cliffs, some crashing massive ice chunks directly into the ocean. Half and full-day cruises allow travelers to soak up these diverse environments all jam-packed into one super park.

With so much WOW factor scenery at every turn, Kenai Fjords National Park brings immense beauty and boundless discovery – it’s a shining gem ready to be explored along Alaska’s spectacular southcentral coastline.

Cast a Line on Hidden Lake’s Icy Waters

Name and Location: Cast a Line on Hidden Lake’s Icy Waters, located in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.

History and Significance: Hidden Lake is a pristine, glacial lake nestled within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. It is known for its stunning scenery and excellent fishing opportunities, particularly for rainbow trout and Arctic grayling.

What to Expect: Visitors can enjoy fishing on Hidden Lake’s clear, icy waters, surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the Alaskan wilderness. The lake is accessible by a short hiking trail and offers a peaceful, secluded fishing experience.

Visitor Information: Hidden Lake is located within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and a fishing license is required. The best time to fish is typically from June to September, when the ice has melted and the fish are most active. Visitors should be prepared for changing weather conditions and bring appropriate gear, including warm clothing and rain protection.

Come wintertime, Hidden Lake near Kenai transforms into a bustling hot spot for ice fishing devotees. The secluded lake becomes completely frozen over by late November, allowing fishermen to drag sleds, ATVs and portable ice shacks across the solid surface. Drilled holes dotted across the lake provide access to drop bait and lures where trout and silver salmon await down below.

The winter catch brings cold-defying anglers from all over seeking hard-fighting trout, giant northern pike or even late-running silver salmon. Local bait and tackle shops sell everything needed for first timers, while cozy lodges dotted nearby cater to visiting ice fishermen with warm cooked meals and toasty lodging after long days atop the frozen lake.

While ice fishing might sound like a cold chore, the communal atmosphere on Hidden Lake is nothing short of jovial. Huddled in portable huts or around roaring fire barrels, old timers share tales almost as epic as the monsters pulled through the ice. Newbie anglers try their luck hoping to land the catch of a lifetime. Even if the fish don’t bite, watching a Geminid meteor shower reflect over the ice or witnessing curtains of colorful aurora swirl overhead makes for a magical experience.

Tour the Historical Sites of Soldotna

Name and Location: Tour the Historical Sites of Soldotna, located in Soldotna, Alaska.

History and Significance: Soldotna, situated along the Kenai River, has a rich history dating back to the early 20th century. The town was originally settled by homesteaders and played a significant role in the development of the Kenai Peninsula’s fishing and oil industries.

What to Expect: Visitors can tour various historical sites in Soldotna, including the Soldotna Historical Society Museum, which showcases the town’s early days and the area’s natural history. Other notable sites include the Soldotna Homestead Museum and the Kenai River Sportfishing Memorial.

Visitor Information: The Soldotna Historical Society Museum is open during the summer months, with guided tours available upon request. The Soldotna Homestead Museum is open year-round, offering a glimpse into the lives of early settlers. Visitors can also stroll along the Kenai River Walk, which features interpretive signs highlighting the area’s history and ecology.

The town of Soldotna, just a short 15-minute drive from Kenai, brims with important links to early regional history. For an enlightened walk back in time, several museums and historical buildings are easy to visit in an afternoon.

Start at Soldotna’s quaint log cabin visitor center, oozing with hometown charm and local expertise. Then peruse the nostalgic displays at the nearby Soldotna Historical Museum housed in the historic former ranger station. Vintage household goods, trapper gear and early fishing paraphernalia depict how rough-and-tumble Alaska’s pioneers lived while settling the region.

The next stop is the iconic Kasilof Cabins, the oldest buildings left standing from the original Kasilof town site dating back to 1906 – older than Alaska itself! Weathered by time, the dilapidated yet charming structures showcase rough-hewn notched log construction paired with sod roofs. Visitors can peak inside several unlocked cabins still containing worn tables, crude beds and other relics giving a glimpse into Alaska’s rugged past.

After soaking up local history, head over to nearby Centennial Park for an eye-opening stroll among towering tree stumps, some measuring over 9 feet wide. These remnants of primeval forests showcase the unbelievable size and age of trees that once dominated the central peninsula before existing settlements cleared the land. Altogether a quick detour to Soldotna makes for an educational and inspiring add-on to appreciate Kenai’s bygone days.


That concludes 12 excellent things to do around Kenai, Alaska ranging from world-class fishing and epic hiking adventures to regional museums steeped in local heritage. While the tiny town itself may seem unassuming, the abundance of natural beauty, outdoor activities and cultural attractions beaming from Kenai and the surrounding area offer boundless opportunities for visitors to create lasting Alaskan memories.

Whether your travels prioritize catching a lunker salmon, spotting mighty bears in the wild or touring historic frontier-era buildings, Kenai serves as the perfect basecamp to check off an Alaskan bucket list.

So be sure to allow enough time to experience Kenai’s natural highlights like an afternoon paddling the tranquil Kenai Lake or taking an exhilarating sled dog ride across snowy winter trails. Don’t miss important cultural attractions like the Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church or the Kasilof Historical Cabins to immerse yourself in Kenai’s living heritage.

And of course, anglers simply can’t leave without casting a hopeful line for trophy trout and salmon on the glacial blue waters of the legendary Kenai River.

With so much diversity packed into this unexpected southcentral hub, the tiny town of Kenai stands tall as the gateway to big adventure. Visitors seeking Alaska’s scenic grandeur, copious wildlife and rich pioneering traditions will find it here all within easy reach. Blending rugged natural beauty and frontier spirit, Kenai invites you to come discover everything that makes Alaska so spectacular.

Leave a Comment