12 Things To Do With Family In Kodiak, Alaska

Last Updated on March 8, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Kodiak is the second largest island in the United States, located in the Gulf of Alaska. Known as Alaska’s Emerald Isle, Kodiak is a beautiful getaway for families with its stunning scenery, diverse wildlife, rich history, and endless outdoor recreational opportunities.

ActivityDescription
Bear ViewingExperience the majestic Kodiak bears in their natural habitat.
Hiking to Termination PointEnjoy breathtaking views and a serene hiking experience.
Fort Abercrombie State Historical ParkExplore historic WWII ruins and scenic trails.
Whale WatchingWitness the awe-inspiring sight of whales in the surrounding waters.
Guided Fishing TripsEmbark on a fishing adventure with local experts.
Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor CenterLearn about local wildlife and conservation efforts.
Baranov MuseumDiscover Kodiak’s history and cultural heritage.
Photography SafariCapture Kodiak’s stunning landscapes and wildlife through your lens.
Kayaking in Near Island ChannelPaddle through tranquil waters and enjoy the scenic coastline.
Salmon Fishing at Monashka BayExperience the thrill of catching salmon in abundant Alaskan waters.
Touring Historic BuildingsExplore Kodiak’s rich history by visiting its well-preserved buildings.
Kodiak Island Brewing Co.Taste locally brewed beers and relax in a friendly atmosphere.

From bear viewing and whale watching to kayaking, fishing and hiking, Kodiak offers memorable adventures and quality bonding time for families. This article details the top 12 attractions and activities for families visiting Kodiak, Alaska.

Go Bear Viewing at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge

Name and Location: Bear viewing is a popular activity at the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, which covers about two-thirds of Kodiak Island in Alaska. The refuge is home to the Kodiak brown bear, one of the largest bears in the world.

History and Significance: The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 to protect the habitat of the Kodiak brown bear and other wildlife. The refuge is also important for its cultural significance, as it has been home to the Alutiiq people for thousands of years.

What to Expect: Visitors to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge can expect to see Kodiak brown bears in their natural habitat, along with other wildlife such as bald eagles, red foxes, and Sitka black-tailed deer. Bear viewing is best done with a guided tour, as the bears can be dangerous if approached too closely.

Visitor Information: The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge is open year-round, but the best time for bear viewing is from July to early October. Visitors should be prepared for changing weather conditions and should dress in layers. It is recommended to book a guided bear viewing tour in advance, as they can fill up quickly during peak season.

The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge covers two-thirds of Kodiak Island and provides excellent opportunities for bear viewing. The refuge protects one of the densest brown bear populations in the world, with around 3,500 bears inhabiting the area.

Going bear viewing allows families to observe these majestic animals in their natural habitats from a safe distance. The peak viewing season is from mid-June to mid-August. Guided day trips transport visitors by boat across scenic waterways filled with seabirds to popular bear viewing sites along the coastlines and river valleys of the refuge.

Hike to Termination Point

Name and Location: Termination Point is a popular hiking destination located on Kodiak Island, Alaska. The trail leads to a scenic overlook with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and ocean.

History and Significance: The Termination Point trail has been a popular hiking destination for locals and visitors alike for many years. The trail gets its name from the fact that it ends abruptly at a cliff overlooking the ocean.

What to Expect: The Termination Point trail is a moderate to strenuous hike, with an elevation gain of about 1,500 feet over 2.5 miles. The trail can be muddy and slippery in places, so sturdy hiking boots are recommended. At the end of the trail, hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Visitor Information: The Termination Point trailhead is located about 20 miles south of the city of Kodiak. The trail is open year-round, but the best time to hike is from May to September when the weather is milder. Visitors should be prepared for changing weather conditions and should bring plenty of water and snacks. It is also recommended to hike with a partner or group, as the trail can be remote and cell phone service may be spotty.

Termination Point is a spectacular hike at the end of Antone Larsen Bay. The moderately challenging 6.4 mile out-and-back trail leads hikers along coastal cliffs overlooking scenic views of rocky beaches, seastacks and the ocean.

The trail culminates at Termination Point, which features far-reaching vistas of Anton Larsen Bay, Pearl Bay and Women’s Bay. Along the way, hikers may spot bald eagles, puffins, seals, sea otters and gray whales offshore. Pack a picnic to enjoy at one of the scenic lookouts along the cliffs.

Explore Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park

Name and Location: Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park is located on Kodiak Island, Alaska, just a short drive from the city of Kodiak. The park covers over 200 acres and features a variety of historical and natural attractions.

History and Significance: Fort Abercrombie was built during World War II as a coastal defense installation to protect the nearby naval base. The fort was named after Lieutenant William Abercrombie, who led an expedition to explore the Kodiak Island area in 1884. Today, the park preserves the remains of the fort and offers visitors a glimpse into the island’s military history.

What to Expect: Visitors to Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park can explore the remains of the World War II-era fort, including bunkers, gun emplacements, and other military structures. The park also features several hiking trails that wind through the surrounding forest and along the rugged coastline, offering stunning views of the ocean and nearby islands.

Visitor Information: Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park is open year-round, but some facilities may be closed during the winter months. The park has a visitor center with exhibits on the history of the fort and the surrounding area, as well as a gift shop and restrooms. Visitors should be prepared for changing weather conditions and should dress in layers. It is also recommended to bring insect repellent, as mosquitoes can be prevalent in the summer months.

Steeped in World War II history, this state park encompasses scenic coastal habitats and lush spruce forests perfect for family exploration. Walk along cliffside trails and discover military bunkers, observation posts and cannon batteries that once protected Kodiak from Japanese invasion during WWII.

Wander along driftwood-strewn Miller Point Beach in search of moon snails, rock jingles and other tidepool inhabitants. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at scenic overlooks dotted throughout the park. On sunny days, watch local fishermen working their nets just offshore.

Go Whale Watching

Name and Location: Whale watching is a popular activity in the waters around Kodiak Island, Alaska. The most common whales seen in the area are gray whales, humpback whales, and occasionally orcas.

History and Significance: Kodiak Island has a long history of whaling, dating back to the early 19th century when Russian and American whalers hunted in the area. Today, whale watching is a popular tourist activity that allows visitors to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

What to Expect: Visitors can expect to see a variety of whale species, depending on the time of year. Gray whales are most commonly seen from April to May during their migration from Mexico to Alaska. Humpback whales are often spotted from June to September, and orcas can sometimes be seen year-round. Whale watching tours typically last several hours and may also include sightings of other marine life such as sea lions, otters, and seabirds.

Visitor Information: There are several companies that offer whale watching tours in Kodiak, ranging from half-day to full-day excursions. Tours typically depart from the city of Kodiak and may include transportation to and from the harbor. Visitors should be prepared for changing weather conditions and should dress in warm, waterproof layers. It is also recommended to bring binoculars, a camera, and motion sickness medication if needed.

The nutrient-rich waters surrounding Kodiak Island attract 22 species of marine mammals, making it one of the best places for watching whales and other sea life. Several tour companies offer family-friendly whale watching cruises departing from the Kodiak harbor daily during summer.

Certified marine wildlife specialists narrate trips, hoping to encounter some of the thousands of whales that migrate to the area from May through September. Keep eyes peeled for breaching whales, puffins flocking offshore, perching bald eagles, basking sea lions and frolicking sea otters. Most tours last 2-3 hours and provide sandwiches, snacks and drinks catered onboard.

Try a Guided Fishing Trip

Name and Location: Guided fishing trips are a popular activity in Kodiak, Alaska, known for its world-class salmon and halibut fishing. There are several companies that offer guided fishing trips in the area, departing from the city of Kodiak and other nearby communities.

History and Significance: Fishing has been an important part of life on Kodiak Island for thousands of years, with the Alutiiq people relying on the abundant salmon and other fish for food and trade. Today, sport fishing is a major draw for visitors to the island, with anglers from around the world coming to test their skills against the island’s legendary salmon and halibut.

What to Expect: Guided fishing trips typically include all necessary equipment, including rods, reels, and bait. Depending on the time of year and the type of fish being targeted, trips may take place in the ocean, in bays and inlets, or in freshwater streams and rivers. Anglers can expect to catch a variety of species, including king salmon, silver salmon, halibut, and rockfish.

Visitor Information: Guided fishing trips can be booked through local fishing lodges, charter companies, and other outfitters. Trips range from half-day to multi-day excursions and may include transportation, meals, and accommodations. Visitors should be prepared for changing weather conditions and should dress in warm, waterproof layers. It is also recommended to bring sunscreen, a hat, and polarized sunglasses to protect against glare on the water.

The fishing opportunities around Kodiak Island are extraordinary due to several highly productive fisheries converging offshore. Beginner and expert anglers alike can reel in impressive catches while visiting. Book family-oriented fishing charters catered to kids and adults, with all equipment provided.

Visit the famous Kodiak brown bear along the Frazer River and try hooking salmon during their seasonal runs. Go halibut fishing along the 30-mile road south of the city or rockfish fishing around nearby islands. There’s also freshwater fishing opportunities for rainbow trout, Dolly Varden and char around the island.

Visit the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center

Name and Location: The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is located in the city of Kodiak, Alaska, on the northeastern edge of Kodiak Island. The visitor center serves as a gateway to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, which covers over 1.9 million acres of wilderness.

History and Significance: The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 to protect the habitat of the Kodiak brown bear, one of the largest bears in the world. The refuge is also home to a diverse array of other wildlife, including bald eagles, sea otters, and Sitka black-tailed deer. The visitor center was opened in 1997 to provide information and educational resources about the refuge and its inhabitants.

What to Expect: Visitors to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center can expect to find a variety of exhibits and displays about the natural and cultural history of the area, including information about the Kodiak brown bear and other wildlife. The visitor center also offers educational programs, guided walks, and other activities throughout the year.

Visitor Information: The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is open year-round, with reduced hours during the winter months. Admission is free, and the visitor center is fully accessible to visitors with disabilities. Visitors can also pick up maps, brochures, and other information about the refuge and its recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.

This visitor center makes an excellent first stop to acquaint families with the diverse wildlife, terrain and activities available while visiting Kodiak Island. Interactive exhibits detail the area’s ecosystems and showcase taxidermy specimens of the island’s famous brown bears, caribou, puffins and other wildlife.

Watch an immersive 25-minute film documenting the refuge’s landscapes over the seasons narrated by locals. Friendly rangers answer questions and provide maps and brochures on the best hiking trails, bear viewing spots, camping areas and outdoor adventures perfect for families. Don’t miss the wildlife viewing area with spotting scopes pointed towards the water, frequented by bald eagles.

Tour the Baranov Museum

Name and Location: The Baranov Museum is located in the city of Kodiak, Alaska, in a historic building that was once the Russian-American Company Magazin, or warehouse. The museum is named after Alexander Baranov, the first governor of Russian Alaska.

History and Significance: The Baranov Museum building was constructed in 1808 and is one of the oldest surviving structures in Alaska. It served as a warehouse for the Russian-American Company, which controlled the fur trade in Alaska until the United States purchased the territory in 1867. Today, the museum houses a collection of artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of Kodiak’s history, from the early Alutiiq people to the Russian colonial period and beyond.

What to Expect: Visitors to the Baranov Museum can expect to see a variety of exhibits and artifacts related to Kodiak’s cultural and natural history, including Alutiiq tools and artwork, Russian Orthodox religious items, and historic photographs and documents. The museum also offers guided tours and educational programs throughout the year.

Visitor Information: The Baranov Museum is open year-round, with reduced hours during the winter months. Admission is charged, with discounts available for children, seniors, and military personnel. The museum is fully accessible to visitors with disabilities, and guided tours are available with advance reservation. Visitors can also browse the museum’s gift shop, which offers books, artwork, and other items related to Kodiak’s history and culture.

Trace Kodiak’s rich history as Alaska’s first capital at the Baranov Museum, the oldest museum in the state. Housed in the Erskine House built in 1808, this fascinating museum transports visitors back in time with artifacts from Alaska’s Russian colonial era and indigenous Alutiiq culture.

Wander through exhibits examining the island’s native heritage, Russian settlement, early American exploration and WWII history augmented by hands-on displays, artwork and artifacts. Interactive models reconstruct the 1805 Battle of Sitka and 1964 Good Friday Earthquake and Tsunami that devastated Kodiak. Dramatic aerial photos showcase the island’s evolution over time while dioramas depict indigenous lifestyles.

Go on a Photography Safari

Name and Location: Photography safaris are a popular way to explore the natural beauty and wildlife of Kodiak Island, Alaska. Many local tour operators offer photography-focused excursions that take visitors to some of the most scenic and wildlife-rich areas of the island.

History and Significance: Kodiak Island has long been known for its stunning natural beauty and abundant wildlife, including the famous Kodiak brown bear. Photography has been a popular way to capture and share these wonders since the early days of commercial photography in the late 19th century. Today, photography safaris allow visitors to experience the island’s beauty firsthand while honing their skills behind the lens.

What to Expect: Photography safaris typically include transportation to and from the most photogenic areas of the island, as well as guidance and instruction from experienced photographers. Depending on the tour, visitors may have the opportunity to photograph brown bears, bald eagles, sea otters, whales, and other iconic Alaskan wildlife, as well as stunning landscapes and seascapes.

Visitor Information: Photography safaris can be booked through local tour operators and typically run from half a day to several days in length. Visitors should be prepared for changing weather conditions and should dress in warm, waterproof layers. It is also recommended to bring a sturdy, weather-resistant camera and plenty of memory cards and batteries. Some tours may require a moderate level of physical fitness, as they may involve hiking or other outdoor activities.

Capture Kodiak’s magnificent landscapes and wildlife by embarking on a personalized photography safari. Professional photographers cater customized tours to locations matching each family’s interests, whether bear viewing, whale watching, scenery, flowers or birds. Guides impart helpful camera shooting/setting tips and lead photographers to optimal vantage points around the island.

Tours typically transport families in 4×4 vehicles to remote wilderness settings rarely accessed otherwise. They may incorporate short hikes to prime spots for photographing soaring eagles, grazing mountain goats or hungry bears feasting on salmon along picturesque streams winding through lush meadows. It’s a unique opportunity to document Kodiak’s natural grandeur while honing photography skills.

Paddle Kayaks in Near Island Channel

Name and Location: Kayaking in Near Island Channel is a popular activity for visitors to Kodiak, Alaska. Near Island is located just a short paddle from the city of Kodiak and offers calm, protected waters that are perfect for kayaking.

History and Significance: The waters around Kodiak Island have been used for transportation and subsistence by the Alutiiq people for thousands of years. Kayaks, or qayaqs in the Alutiiq language, were an essential tool for hunting, fishing, and travel. Today, kayaking allows visitors to experience the island’s stunning beauty and rich cultural heritage from a unique perspective.

What to Expect: Kayakers in Near Island Channel can expect to enjoy calm, sheltered waters and stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests. The channel is home to a variety of marine life, including sea otters, harbor seals, and a variety of seabirds. Guided kayaking tours are available from several local operators, or visitors can rent kayaks and explore on their own.

Visitor Information: Kayaking in Near Island Channel is best done during the summer months, when the weather is milder and the days are longer. Visitors should be prepared for cool, wet conditions and should dress in warm, waterproof layers. It is also recommended to wear a life jacket and to bring plenty of water and snacks. Guided tours and kayak rentals are available from several local operators, and no prior kayaking experience is necessary.

Protected from Kodiak’s extreme tides and winds, Near Island Channel offers one of the island’s best places for sea kayaking excursions tailored for families. Most tour companies provide gear and transportation to launch sites along the channel as well as guided instruction for beginners. Paddle along the scenic coastline and appreciate Kodiak’s beauty from an intimate perspective at water level.

Search for puffins, seals, sea otters and other wildlife thriving in the nutrient-rich waters. Many tours incorporate short hikes at rest stops, allowing families to further explore beautiful coastal habitats and possibly spot bears foraging along the shoreline.

Go Salmon Fishing at Monashka Bay

Name and Location: Salmon fishing at Monashka Bay is a popular activity for visitors to Kodiak, Alaska. Monashka Bay is located on the northeastern side of Kodiak Island, just a short drive from the city of Kodiak.

History and Significance: Salmon have been an important resource for the people of Kodiak Island for thousands of years, providing food, trade goods, and cultural significance. Today, salmon fishing is a major draw for sport fishermen from around the world, who come to test their skills against the island’s legendary king, silver, and red salmon runs.

What to Expect: Fishermen at Monashka Bay can expect to catch a variety of salmon species, depending on the time of year. King salmon are most commonly caught from May to early July, while silver and red salmon runs peak in late July and August. The bay is also home to other species such as halibut, rockfish, and lingcod. Guided fishing charters are available from several local operators, or visitors can fish from shore or from their own boats.

Visitor Information: Salmon fishing at Monashka Bay is best done during the summer months, when the salmon runs are at their peak. Visitors should be prepared for changing weather conditions and should dress in warm, waterproof layers. It is also recommended to bring polarized sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen to protect against glare on the water. Fishing licenses are required for all anglers aged 16 and older, and can be purchased online or at local sporting goods stores. Guided fishing charters and equipment rentals are available from several local operators.

Located 12 miles north of Kodiak City, Monashka Bay offers bountiful salmon fishing accessible by road instead of boat. Families can easily access several streams flowing into the bay hosting impressive salmon runs during summer.

The Karluk River offers an excellent chance for children to catch pink salmon without venturing far into backcountry. Red salmon also run up the Ayakulik, Litnik, Pillar and Dog Salmon Rivers flowing into the bay. Pack a lunch, hike along these fish-filled rivers and try catching salmon making their annual spawning run from the ocean back upstream.

Tour the Russian and American Period Buildings

Name and Location: Russian and American period buildings can be found throughout the city of Kodiak, Alaska, reflecting the island’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. Many of these buildings are located in the downtown area, within easy walking distance of each other.

History and Significance: Kodiak Island has a long and complex history, with significant influences from both Russian and American colonization. The Russian period began in the mid-18th century, when fur traders and missionaries established settlements on the island. The American period began in 1867, when the United States purchased Alaska from Russia. Today, the island’s Russian and American period buildings serve as reminders of this rich history and the ways in which different cultures have shaped the island over time.

What to Expect: Visitors to Kodiak can expect to see a variety of Russian and American period buildings, ranging from simple log cabins to elaborate churches and government buildings. Some of the most notable examples include the Russian Orthodox Church, which dates back to the early 19th century, and the Baranov Museum, which is housed in a former Russian-American Company warehouse built in 1808. Many of these buildings have been restored and are open to the public for tours and other educational programs.

Visitor Information: Walking tours of Kodiak’s Russian and American period buildings are available from several local operators, or visitors can explore on their own using a self-guided tour map. Many of the buildings are open to the

In the downtown Kodiak Historic District, visitors can tour several restored buildings showcasing the island’s varied history under Russian and American rule. Start at the 1808 Erskine House, now the Baranov Museum, which functioned as headquarters for the Russian American Company. Visit the visually striking Russian Orthodox Holy Resurrection Church built in 1945 with an ornate interior.

The St. Paul Harbor has warehouses dating from the 1940s peppered with WWII bullet holes and battle scars. Walk inside the 1950s Mission Apartments, Fishermen’s Barracks and other buildings exemplifying America’s early commercial fishing industry and military presence on Kodiak.

Go to the Kodiak Island Brewing Co.

After a day of outdoor adventures, families can kick back at Kodiak Island Brewing Co. Enjoy locally crafted beers named after Kodiak landmarks. Sip a Halibut Point Raspberry Wheat, Antone Larson Bay Blonde Ale or a Big Bears Stout while the kids sample homemade root beer and ginger beer. Feast on pub fare like halibut fish and chips, pulled pork sandwiches, burgers and wood-fired pizzas.

Select beers are brewed with glacial water from the origin of the Karluk River, filtered through the mosses, flora and natural elements of the tundra. Meet locals and often the brewers themselves while listening to live local music performances on weekends. It’s the perfect place to unwind and share stories from your Alaskan family getaway.

Conclusion

With stunning scenery, pristine wilderness and an abundance of wildlife, Kodiak Island offers no shortage of memorable adventures for families. Visitors can hike prime bear country, cruise through whale feeding grounds, photograph soaring eagles, hook prized salmon, explore rich history and culture, and sample the island’s natural bounty of seafood and locally-crafted beers.

From tranquil bays perfect for paddling to WWII military sites, lush meadows dotted with wildflowers to raging rivers filled with fish, Kodiak has something to delight every member of the family. As Alaska’s Emerald Isle, families will treasure their time exploring and bonding together on Kodiak Island.

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