Ultimate Adventure Bucket List

20 Nights, 21 Days Exploring Every Enchanting Destination On The Kenai

 

Anchorage – Girdwood – Portage – Whittier – Prince William Sound – Hope – Moose Pass – Seward – Fox Island – Orca Island – Cooper Landing – Sterling –Soldotna – Funny River – Kenai – Nikiski – Kasilof – Clam Gulch – Ninilchik – Anchor Point – Homer – Halibut Cove – Seldovia – Chinitna Bay

 

 

DAY ONE: Anchorage

Flickr- caliseashel

 

Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city and the launching point for your Kenai Peninsula Ultimate Adventure Bucket List. Pick up a rental vehicle from Innoko Rentals, LLC or ABC Motorhome Rentals.

 

Excellent restaurants in Anchorage include Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria, Jen’s Restaurant, Table 6, Gwennie’s Old Alaska Restaurant, Sea Galley, Snow City Café, Glacier Brewhouse, Club Paris, Sacks Café, Orso, Fat Ptarmigan, Bridge Seafood Restaurant, and Marx Bros Café.

 

Anchorage has a bucket load of incredible breweries. You could easily spend a full week here just checking them out individually, as they are all so unique and distinctive from the next. Anchorage Brewing Company, Midnight Sun Brewing Co., King Street Brewing Company, Resolution Brewing Company, Glacier Brewhouse, Broken Tooth Brewing Company at Moose’s Tooth Pub, Glacier Brewhouse, Resolution Brewing Company, Cynosure Brewing, and 49th State Brewing Company. Alaska Denali Winery is also divine if you prefer a local wine.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Visit the Oscar Anderson House Museum or the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum
  • Explore nature and wildlife at the Alaska Zoo or the Alaska Botanical Garden
  • Get above it all with a picturesque panoramic view over the city at Flattop Mountain
  • Visit the historic Earthquake Park to learn more about the infamous 1964 Good Friday Earthquake
  • Learn about Alaska’s profound history, traditions and culture at the Anchorage Museum or the Alaska Native Heritage Center
  • Enjoy a scenic walk with fresh air and incredible views at the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Kincaid Park or the Delaney Park Strip
  • Kick off your vacation with a scenic wilderness trip with the historic Alaska Railroad company
  • Learn about the local culture and explore all that there is to do in the area with a visit to the local chamber

 

Overnight in Anchorage at any of these great hotels and motels listed HERE.

 

DAY TWO: Girdwood (40 miles)

Flickr – Patrick

 

Depart Anchorage and head towards Girdwood.

 

Take the scenic Seward Highway heading south towards the Kenai Peninsula. The Seward Highway was voted America's Most Outstanding Scenic Byway by Scenic America, and trust us – it’s a phenomenal driving experience.

 

Hop in your rental car and follow the breathtakingly beautiful Turnagain Arm while enjoying many interpretative rest stops and viewpoints along the way. Depending on the season, it is not unusual to spot beluga whales or Dall sheep from your car window. You might even spot a bear munching on berries or roaming throughout the mountainside.

 

Stops Along The Way:

  • McHugh Creek (Mile 111); enjoy a hike or picnic in the Anchorage foothills of the Chugach State Park
  • Beluga Point (Mile 110.5); great opportunities for viewing beluga whales from mid-July through August
  • Bird Creek (Mile 101); fisherman’s paradise with observation platforms that photographers will love
  • Bird Point (Mile 96); a scenic stop where you can enjoy a long hike or bike ride with spectacular views

 

Historic Tour and Gold Mining: Visit the renowned Crow Creek Historic Gold Mine, located 42 miles south of Anchorage. From the Seward Highway, turn left onto Alyeska Highway and veer left onto Crow Creek Road where you will follow the winding path up to the mine. Established in 1896, Crow Creek Mine is one of Alaska’s most renowned hydraulic gold mining operations in state history. The mine provides a unique opportunity to relive the historic Gold Rush Era that Alaska is so well known for. Visitors can enjoy a unique blend of historical buildings including the ‘Mess Hall’ which is actually the oldest building in the Anchorage municipality on the National Register of Historic Places. Other attractions include many antigues, mining equiptment, lush gardens, breathtaking mountain scenery and even hiking trails the run along the Historic Iditarod Trail. Plus, you can even explore and prospect the mines’ original claims. If you have gold rush fever, this exceptional experience will transport you to the past.

 

Epic Outdoor Tours: Go rafting, kayaking, canoeing, or hiking with Chugach Adventures based out of Girdwood. Experience an overwhelming about of eye-candy as you soak in Alaska’s striking glaciers, rivers, wildlife, and mountainous scenery. Choose from a mellow float to an adrenaline-packed whitewater rafting adventure. The tours to Spencer Lake are among the most popular, plus they also have helicopter tours and mult-day packages for those wanting to get far off the beaten path, away from the crowds.

 

Wildlife Sanctuary: Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in the town of Portage. With a mission dedicated to providing refuge for orphaned, injured and ill animals who cannot survive in the wild – you’ll feel good about the small $10 - $15 fee it costs to get in. Throw on a good pair of walking shoes and get ready to experience this 200-acre animal paradise filled with moose, bears, caribou, elk, deer, wolves, wood bison, birds and more. We guarantee that won’t be able to contain your excitement when you see all of these adorable, majestic critters up-close-and-personal. We recommend spending at least two hours here in order to really experience all that there is to offer.

 

In Girdwood, take the tram at Alyeska Resort up to eat lunch (if they’re open) or simply soak in the majestic glacier views from the popular Seven Glaciers Restaurant. It’s a great place to enjoy a nice dinner with a million dollar view. This location is roughly 47 miles from Anchorage. To access it, you’ll turn right onto the Alyeska Highway in Girdwood, then turn left onto Arlberg Avenue and follow the road up to the resort.

 

Girdwood Brewing Company is a direct fire micro brewhouse serving up brilliant blends of artistically aromatic flavors. Visit the taproom and chat with friendly locals, or grab a quenching growler to go

 

Overnight for one night in Girdwood at the resort. The local resort restaurants are heavenly, but Girdwood has a lot of other incredible options as well. The Double Musky Inn is a beloved local spot that is highly popular. Other great choices are Jack Sprat, Chair 5, and The Bake Shop.

 

DAY THREE: Girdwood – Portage – Whittier (24 miles)

Flickr – Ken Levine

 

Continue on to the charming little town of Portage, population 2. Turn left onto Portage Glacier Road, approximately 20 miles away from Seven Glaciers Restaurant in Girdwood. Along this winding road you’ll be spoiled with spectacular views of hanging glaciers scattered throughout Portage Valley. An option would be to use today as a leisurely day to experience some of Alaska’s most gorgeous glaciers by foot. Choose your desired activity level from the options below, all of which will give you great opportunities to get up close and personal with gorgeous glaciers.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Go wildlife viewing and stroll the boardwalk through several ponds at the Moose Flats Wetland Trail
  • Learn about the historic Portage Valley at the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center
  • Hike out around Portage Lake or through the valley to Byron Glacier
  • Explore the glaciated waters of Prince William Sound via kayak or water taxi; book a tour HERE
  • Learn about the local culture and explore all that there is to do in the area with a visit to the local chamber

 

Next, you’ll drive through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to access the charming coastal town of Whittier. Keep in mind that there is a small toll to pass through this historic tunnel. This is the longest combined road/rail tunnel in North America and a truly fascinating ‘Only in Alaska’ experience to have. Fun fact: Whittier has been named of the ‘weirdest towns in North America’ because nearly the entire year-round population lives under one roof. The summertime is much more lively, but the winter months are rather sleepy and desolate.

 

Hop on an award-winning 26 Glacier Cruise by Phillips Cruises & Tours, LLC and experience the pristine beauty of Prince William Sound. On this trip you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a world-class attraction with seemingly unlimited amounts of glaciers. Explore the peaceful serenity of Esther Passage while viewing majestic alpine and tidewater glaciers in College and Harriman Fjord. You’ll be traveling in style on board the luxurious, comfortable M/V Klondike Express, Alaska’s fastest catamaran. In addition, you’ll be spoiled with views of orca whales, humpback whales, stellar sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, bald eagles, and a variety of other birds as you pass through the narrow, picturesque passage. This is truly an unforgettable excursion that will blow your mind. 

 

If you prefer to sleep in a little, consider a Glacier Quest Cruise or a Sunset Glacier Cruise where you’ll travel to Blackstone Bay, home to seven glaciers and plunging Yosemite-scale waterfalls.

 

Spend one night in Whittier. For a convenient overnight stay in town, check out the Inn at Whittier, which also has a delicious restaurant.

 

For an unforgettable dining experience, try the popular Varly’s Swiftwater Seafood Café in Whittier.

 

 

DAY FOUR: Prince William Sound (35 nautical miles)

Eshamy Bay Lodge

 

From Whittier, take a boat or float plane to Eshamy Bay Lodge where you will spend the next night. 

 

The lodge is located on the western side of Prince William Sound in the heart of the Chugach National Forest. The remote location offers peace and quiet, away from all the busy tourism crowds that Alaska is known for having. This untouched nature paradise is only accessible via boat or float plane, assuring that you get the tranquility that you’re seeking in a remote wilderness lodge. While staying at the lodge you’ll be fed delicious meals each day in this all-inclusive pristine coastal paradise.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Go saltwater fishing for salmon, halibut, ling cod, and rock fish in Prince William Sound
  • Go fly fishing in freshwater for dolly varden trout, cut throat trout, and multiple species of salmon in Eshamy Creek through Eshamy Lagoon and up to Eshamy Lake
  • Enjoy a sea kayaking adventure through the picturesque shoes of Prince William Sound
  • Enjoy a world-class whale watching and wildlife viewing excursion right from the waters that surround you
  • Go berry picking and hiking in the lush Chugach National Forest

 

DAY FIVE:  Hope (51 miles)

Nova River Runners Inc., Alaska Guides to Alaska’s Rivers

 

Return to Whittier from Eshamy Bay Lodge. Depart Whittier on Portage Glacier Road, back through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. Head south on the Seward Highway through the town of Portage and towards the beautiful town of Hope. 

 

For the next 30 miles, you’ll wind through the mountainous Turnagain Pass (mile 68.3) passing by the gorgeous east fork of Sixmile Creek (mile 61.7) before crossing the gold-bearing Canyon Creek (mile 56.7). Stop along the way and enjoy the scenic pullouts that your heart desires.

 

Next, turn right at Hope Junction. Follow the road into the town of Hope, known as the historical mountain hideaway by the sea. Along the way, stop in the Sunrise City Historic District at the mouth of Sixmile Creek, just east of Hope. Mile 17 on Hope Road will bring you to the Hope Historic District which encompasses the surviving elements of the former mining boom town. In the 1980’s, the site at Resurrection Creek was where Alaska’s first gold rush began. Although the town is much sleepier today, it’s home to undeniable amounts of charm.

 

Visit the Hope & Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum, located on 2nd Street in town. Displays at the museum include a road grader, dog sled, rock crusher, blacksmith equipment and postal boxes. There is also a log museum and a mining bunkhouse as well as a full blacksmith shop to tour.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Enjoy a leisurely outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing or beach combing
  • If you’re looking for a thrill, hop on a whitewater rafting excursion down Sixmile Creek; book a tour HERE

 

Overnight at the Seaview Café, which also has great food. Another delicious dining option in town is Tito’s Discovery Café. For additional lodging options in town, contact the local chamber for more ideas to suit your every need.

 

DAY SIX: Moose Pass (44 miles)

Summit Lake Lodge

 

Head out on the one road leading into Hope and make your way back towards the Seward Highway. A quick 28 mile drive will lead you to your next destination.  

 

Spend one night at the picturesque Summit Lake Lodge in the community of Moose Pass. Located in the heart of the 6,908,540-acre Chugach National Forest, visitors here are rewarded with the majestic opportunity to relax and unwind in a lush wilderness setting. Enjoy a historic room with a lakefront view, or a private cabin in the woods. Watch the sunset hit the shores and reflect over the towering mountains, while you capture once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities and create lifelong memories.

 

With a full-service restaurant located on premise, you won’t even have to leave. Hang up the car keys, turn off the cell phone, and soak in every last minute of this exceptionally charming retreat in the woods.

 

DAY SEVEN: Seward (29 miles)

Flickr – Eli Duke

 

Continue going straight past the Sterling Highway turn-off and continuing south. Directly after this point, turn right and enjoy a scenic stop at Tern Lake. Here you can enjoy a plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities as you snap photos of the majestic mountains reflecting like a mirror into the waters below. Wildlife viewing includes beavers, river otters, muskrats, and salmon. In the distance you might even be able to spot moose and Dall sheep.

 

Make your way eight miles down the road where you’ll drive through the picturesque town of Moose Pass. Stop for lunch and a peaceful stroll on the shores of Trail Lake Lodge. Look for trumpeter swans enjoying an afternoon swim out on the lake or moose munching along the shoreline before continuing on to Seward.

 

Once you arrive in Seward, turn right on Herman Leirer Road off the Seward Highway and continue driving down it for just under nine miles. The two-lane road merges into Exit Glacier Road, which will lead you right to your next destination, the Exit Glacier Nature Center. Get out and stretch your legs with an easily-accessible hike to Exit Glacier, the only glacier inside Kenai Fjords National Park that is reachable via road. The well-traveled path leading up to the glacier is anywhere between 1.5 and 5 miles round trip (out and back) depending on how far you want to go. If you wish to tackle a lengthier hiking excursion, continue on up to the Harding Icefield Trail. Guided hiking excursions are available HERE. These trails are recommended to be traveled from May-September of each year, with the ‘off season’ fall, winter, and spring months being much more hazardous.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Take a walk at Seward Waterfront Park or head down the road to the Lowell Point State Recreation Area
  • Get elevated on a flightseeing, helicopter or glacier landing adventure; book a tour HERE
  • Go ziplining and enjoy traversing through a beautiful Pacific Temperate Rainforest; book a tour HERE
  • Go sea-kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding around Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords; book a tour HERE
  • Submerge yourself in the local culture with the remarkable experience of a dog sled tour; book a tour HERE
  • Learn about the local culture and explore all that there is to do in the area with a visit to the local chamber

 

Stay overnight in Seward for one nights; view a list of hotels and motels HERE and a list of resort properties and cabins HERE. If you prefer to stay in a cozy bed and breakfast, view options HERE.

 

Check out Seward Brewing Company in the historic downtown district. Enjoy mouthwatering locally brewed craft beers, along with collaborative menu consisting of elevated comfort food and traditional pub favorites.

 

For a list of delicious dining recommendations, click HERE. Other local places that are definitely worth a try include Chinooks Restaurant, the Smoke Shack, and The Cookery.

 

DAY EIGHT: Fox Island (12 nautical miles)

Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge

 

From Seward, you can park in a paid city parking lot for as low as $10 a day. Next, a short 45 minute boat ride from Seward will take you 12 nautical miles southeast to the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge on Fox Island. A Kenai Fjords Tour is the only way to reach the remote lodge on Fox Island. If you prefer to sleep in, you can take a relaxing dinner cruise over to Fox Island to ease yourself into the enchanting wilderness escape that you’re about to experience.

 

Reward yourself with a one night stay in this remote wilderness retreat where you’ll dine on delicious gourmet cuisine and spend your nights relaxing by the picturesque beachside campfire. This is a truly wild place with minimal carbon footprint. The lodge runs on solar and propane generator power. With large windows that have the keen ability to bring the outdoors inside, don’t be surprised if you catch occasional views of a sea lions or a humpback whales making a surprise visit.

 

On your second day, definitely hop on a Kenai Fjords Tour to prepare to experience Alaska’s #1 rated wildlife and glacier cruise. Choose from a Resurrection Bay or Northwestern Fjord cruise and enjoy a half day or full day excursion through the awe-inspiring shores of Resurrection Bay taking you deep into the waters of Kenai Fjords National Park. Experience enchanting views of towering glaciers and abundant sealife onboard a luxury cruise. Wildlife viewing opportunities include orca wales, humpback whales, gray whales, Dall’s porpoises, stellar sea lions, puffins, eagles and so much more.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Take a guided beach walk with a knowledgeable naturalist and learn about the local area
  • Take a guided sea kayaking tour and experience plunging waterfalls and breathtaking vistas 
  • Do your own thing and spend the day hiking throughout the lush forest the surrounds you

 

DAY NINE: Orca Island (9 nautical miles)

Orca Island Cabins

 

Depart Fox Island and backtrack 12 nautical miles to Seward, where you’ll then hop on a thirty minute water taxi over to Orca Island (9 nautical miles). 

 

Orca Island Cabins offer the most magnificent blend of excusive and rustic accommodations. These exceptional yurts are located on a lush private island, completely nestled in natural beauty. Surrounded by the scenic shores of Humpy Cove in Resurrection Bay, this quintessential glamping (glamourous camping) experience is one that you will never forget. Get off the grid and away from the crowds where you will enjoy falling to sleep at night to utter peace and quiet. You will be positively mesmerized by the up close and personal wildlife viewing opportunities available right from your secluded haven in the trees. Observe seals, porpoise, and whales, right from your private deck.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Go sea kayaking and explore rugged coastline, snow-capped mountains and abundant wildlife
  • Take a leisurely stroll on the beach or enjoy the two hiking trails taking you up and above it all
  • Enjoy casual fishing (with complimentary gear) from Orca Island, the dock, or by rowing out in a skiff
  • Go stand up paddleboarding in the calm and picturesque waters surrounding Humpy Cove
  • Tour the island’s art gallery and view oil paintings, jewelry and locally crafted items on display
  • Enjoy breathtaking coastal seascapes on a Resurrection Bay Day Cruise
  • Do group yoga on the deck while the breeze from the surrounding water keeps you calm and cool

 

Spend one night here. While coolers are provided, guests to Orca Island Cabins sound bring all food and ice needed for the entirety of their stay. Water is provided in the yurts and firewood is provided for outside campfires.

 

DAY TEN: Cooper Landing (48 miles)

Flickr - scottmindib

 

Return to Seward via water taxi from Orca Island Cabins. Depart Seward and head towards Cooper Landing. You’ll need to backtrack on the Seward Highway for about 36 miles before turning left onto the Sterling Highway (at Tern Lake) where you’ll then follow that same route into Cooper Landing.

 

In the Cooper Landing Historic District, and stop and check out the Cooper Landing Post Office. This historic building was constructed by gold prospector Jack Lean, between 1910 and 1920, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Today the post office and old school house (which was open from 1955-2001) is home to the Cooper Landing Historical Society and Museum. It is open from May 15th through September 15th, open Wednesday through Monday from noon until 5pm.

 

Go fly fishing at Cooper Lake. To access Cooper Lake, turn left onto Snug Harbor Road (the first left after you cross over the only bridge in town that goes passes by Kenai Lake and the Kenai River.) Snug Harbor Road turns into Cooper Lake Road after nine miles. Just 2.5 miles further to the trailhead of the parking area. Bring a kayak or raft, or fly fish right from the rocky shores. This is also a great area to soak in scenic views while walking the shoreline, shipping rocks, or having a picnic on the beach.

 

Consider getting off the grid for the night at Kenai Backcountry Lodge, located on the glacial carved banks of Skilak Lake. This all-inclusive historic wilderness lodge offers just nine private guest cabins to ensure a small group atmosphere and top-notch hospitality with minimal carbon footprint. Nestled in the heart of the 2.2 million acre Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, guests staying at this idyllic nature escape will have the possibility to enjoy exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities nearby.

 

 

Optional Activities:

  • Take a scenic stroll on the shores of Kenai Lake down Snug Harbor Road
  • Go gold prospecting in historic streams or enjoy a scenic wilderness float with Prospector John’s
  • Guided mountain biking or stand-up paddleboarding in Chugach National Forest with Adventure GURU.
  • Venture to the Russian River and enjoy walking the well-maintained trails or fishing for trout and salmon
  • Take a two-mile hike up to the Russian River Falls where you’ll likely find bears feasting on salmon
  • Enjoy guided fishing or scenic floats on the spectacular Kenai River; book a tour HERE

 

Spend one night in Cooper Landing. Click HERE and choose from a list of exceptional lodges, resorts, and cabins to spend your next night. If you prefer the more intimate setting of a Bed & Breakfast, consider staying at The Hutch B&B.

 

The historic roadhouse at Gwin’s Lodge is an excellent place to grab any meal of the day. Sackett’s Kenai Grill is a great local place to grab lunch or dinner, while the restaurant at Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge offers decadent cuisine with million dollar views overlooking the Kenai River.

 

DAY ELEVEN: Sterling (34 miles)

Great Alaska Adventures

 

Continue south on the Sterling Highway for the next 34 miles before reaching the charming little town of Sterling.

 

Aquatic Activities: When you visit Alaska Canoe & Campground you’ll quickly notice just how proud they are to be located in the heart of the Kenai Peninsula, a world-class destination for canoeing, kayaking, and rafting. They offer many different types of kayak, canoe, and raft rental to meet your every tailored need and desire. Their location between the Swanson River Canoe System and the Kenai River offers an endless amount of scenic views with abundant wildlife viewing opportunities along the way.

 

Check out the premier Great Alaska Adventure Lodge and explore any of these excellent bear vieiwing, scenic floats, and backcountry adventures here:

  • The ‘ultimate combination’ features world-class bear viewing, fishing, scenic float, and glacier viewing
  • Enjoy wildlife viewing on a scenic float in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and beyond
  • Work up a sweat while soaking in fresh air and spectacular views on a mountain biking trek
  • Learn more about the renowned  ‘great Alaska photo safari’ experience

 

While you’re in Sterling, be sure to check out Pye Wackets. This incredibly inviting shop is filled with aromatic incenses, candles, oils, herbs, teas, books, and much more.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Go fishing and have fun reeling in a variety of species, including salmon and trout; book a tour HERE
  • Visit the Izaak Walton State Park to enjoy public fishing, scenic views, or a nice walk in the woods

 

Stay one night in Sterling. Click HERE to choose from a list of incredible lodges, resorts, and cabins in town. For a good list of varying restaurant options, we recommend driving 11 miles south to the town of Soldotna, known as Alaska’s Kenai River City. Click HERE for a list of delicious dining choices.

 

DAY TWELVE: Soldotna – Funny River (28 miles)

Instagram – @aktraveladdict

 

Depart Sterling and continue heading south on the Sterling Highway to Soldotna and onto Funny River.

 

In town, check out the Soldotna Homestead Museum & Historical Society where you can observe lots of different pioneer objects as well as Alaska Native artifacts. Homesteaders first arrived in Soldotna in 1947, so you’re sure to get a kick out of the original schoolhouse displayed along with the other items in the museum. This seasonal operation is open from May 15th through September 15th. This wonderful attraction is located at 461 Centennial Park Road in Soldotna.

 

A visit to the original Soldotna Post Office on the corner of East Corral Street and the Kenai Spur Highway, is also a must-experience when in town. This log cabin served as the first post office in town, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since September 17, 2008.

 

Funny River Road out to mile marker 12 where you’ll pull into Funny River Campground. This small campground and day use area is located at the confluence of Funny River and the world-renowned Kenai River. If you’re an avid angler, this is an excellent spot to reel in sockeye and silver salmon from July through September. Have a picnic by the glacial fed shores and soak in one of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuges most underrated hidden wilderness gems.

 

Optional Activities In Soldotna:

  • Enjoy a nice run, bike ride or hike at the nearby Tsalteshi Trails
  • Check out a variety of fun local events, great fishing and scenic boardwalk sights at Soldotna Creek Park
  • Float plane fly-out’s and bear viewing in Lake Clark National Park and beyond; book a tour HERE
  • From the bush to the bottle” shopping and organic wine tasting at Alaska Berries
  • Reel in delicious salmon and much more on a guided fishing excursion; book a tour HERE

 

Visit Kenai River Brewing Company, a microbrewery specializing in handcrafted ales. St. Elias Brewing Co. is a local favorite, serving hand-crafted ales, stone-fired pizzas, delicious sandwiches, salads, and yummy desserts. Great dining options in town include The Moose Is Loose Bakery, Mykel’s Restaurant, Froso’s Family Dining, Golden International, Pizza Boys, Odie’s Deli, Acapulco Mexican Restaurant and many more options available, HERE

 

Overnight for one night in Soldotna. Choose from a great list of lodges, resorts, and cabins HERE. This is a great list of local hotels and motels listed HERE. Or, stay at one of these cozy and charming bed and breakfasts listed HERE.

 

DAY THIRTEEN: Kenai – Nikiski (36 miles)

Flickr – Amy Meredith

 

Head to the neighboring town of Kenai and onto Nikiski. Take the quickest route on the Kenai Spur Highway, or follow Kalifornsky Beach Road to Bridge Access Road, where you’ll drive by the Kenai River Estuary, a popular place for viewing a vast array of bird species. Keep your eyes peeled for caribou herds lingering on ‘the flats’ and beluga whales swimming in the Kenai River beneath the bridge.

 

Along the way, you’ll be spoiled with enchanting views overlooking Cook Inlet and active volcanoes in the Aleutian Mountain Range. Once you arrive in Nikiski, continue all the way to the far end of the Kenai Spur Highway to Captain Cook State Recreation Area. Once you arrive, you’ll quickly notice that you’ve stumbled upon a virtually undiscovered gem on the Kenai Peninsula. 

 

This historic spot at the end of the road is named after Captain James Cook, the English mariner who first explored (what is now known as) Cook Inlet back in 1778.

 

Area activities include canoeing and boating on Stormy Lake, beach combing on the tide-swept shores for agates, birding, berry picking, and incredible opportunities to view wildlife. Fish for rainbow trout or arctic char on Stormy Lake. If you visit during the winter, try ice fishing. Area wildlife that have been spotted include moose, bear, coyote, wolves, harbor seals beaver, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans, loons, and even beluga whales.

 

Optional Activities:

 

Spend one night in Nikiski or the nearby town of Kenai. Stay in the secluded lake cove at Daniels Lake Lodge, or the scenic wilderness escape at Grouchy Old Woman B&B. A stay in the private cabins at Alaska West Air is also highly recommended.

 

Or overnight in Kenai. Choose from lots of great lodges, resorts and cabins in Kenai by clicking HERE. Check out a list of motels and hotels in town by clicking HERE. Click HERE for a list of great bed & breakfast lodging options in Kenai.

 

A few great restaurants in Kenai include Veronica’s Café, Everything Bagels, Main Street Tap & Grill, Acapulco Mexican Restaurant, Iditarod Café, Jersey Subs, and many more options available HERE

 

 

DAY FOURTEEN: Kasilof (44 miles)

Flickr – Bryan Wilkins

 

Depart Soldotna south on the Sterling Highway and make your way to Kasilof.

 

Crooked Creek State Recreation Area in Kasilof. Park and enjoy an after-lunch nature walk down the well-traveled trail to the confluence of Crooked Creek and the Kasilof River. Be advised that if it has been raining, the trail can get pretty muddy and slippery – so be careful and cautious. During May and June, this is a great place to fish right from the bank of the Kasilof River for king salmon (when the regulations allow). Additional area fisheries include a small steelhead run in the spring and fall months, in addition to Dolly Varden, sockeye salmon and silver salmon during the summer months. Beware of wildlife species such as moose, black and brown bear, lynx, squirrels, and hares as they inhabit the area.

 

Continue further down to the end of North Cohoe Loop Road to the incredible Kasilof Beach. This place is filled with fishing enthusiasts during the peak summer months, but is otherwise a quiet and secluded beachfront oasis. Enjoy panoramic mountain views at the mouth of the Kasilof River and the shores of Cook Inlet.

 

Visit the Johnson Lake State Recreation Area in Kasilof. This scenic campground and day-use area is a great place to have a campfire, kayak, canoe or paddleboard on the lake, or fish for rainbow trout. Enjoy excellent opportunity to view wildlife and soak in spectacular scenic views as far as the eyes can see. This heavily wooded nature escape is an easily accessible place to soak in sunshine and enjoy endless outdoor adventure.

 

Spend one night in Kasilof. Click HERE for a list of great resorts. Click HERE for a couple of great Kasliof area restaurants, or HERE for a list of restaurants in the nearby town of Soldotna. 

 

DAY FIFTEEN: Clam Gulch – Ninilchik (27 miles)

Flickr – Andrea Pokrzywinski

 

Make your way south on the Sterling Highway towards the town of Ninilchik.

 

Visit the Clam Gulch State Recreation Area and prepare to experience the most insanely beautiful panoramic views of your life. This incredible beach escape is without a doubt, one of The Kenai’s most underrated gems. Have a picnic in the raised parking and day-use area on the bluffs, overlooking the scenic Cook Inlet. Take a long walk on the beach while soaking in views of the Aleutian Mountain Range and its three tallest peaks; Mount Iliamna, Mount Redoubt, and Mount Spur.

 

Continue south on Sterling Highway to Ninilchik, located roughly 18 miles away.

 

Make your way south on the Sterling Highway towards the town of Ninilchik. Here, be sure to stop and check out the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord Chapel, which is located on the bluff and has panoramic vistas overlooking mountains and ocean views as far as the eyes can see. This building was constructed in 1901 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

 

Optional Activities Near Ninilchik:

  • Head up into the Caribou Hills to enjoy ATV’ing, wildlife viewing, hiking and more
  • Enjoy a guided freshwater or saltwater fishing excursion for halibut, salmon and more; book a tour HERE
  • Scenic pullouts at Falls Creek, Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek, Whiskey Gulch or the Anchor River

 

Overnight in Ninilchik. Any of these great lodges, resorts, or cabins listed HERE is a great choice for area accommodations. Click HERE for some great local restaurant recommendations. Keen Kow Thai Food is another mouthwatering dining option that serves up authentic Thai cuisine for a very affordable price.

 

DAY SIXTEEN: Anchor Point (22 miles)

Flickr – Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner

 

Depart Ninilchik south on the Sterling Highway and make your way to Anchor Point.

 

Visit the Anchor River State Recreation Area and experience a historic spot with extreme natural beauty and awesome recreational activities. It was originally written in a 1778 journal that Anchor Point got its name when explorer Captain James Cook lost an anchor near the mouth of the Anchor River. This area is home to prolific fisheries, fit for the avid angling addict.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Enjoy a guided freshwater or saltwater fishing excursion for halibut, salmon and more; book a tour HERE
  • Visit Anchor Point Tours & Travel for a list of wow-worthy excursions sure to satisfy everyone in your crowd
  • Scenic pullouts at Falls Creek, Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek, Whiskey Gulch or the Anchor River

 

Overnight the supremely scenic Kyllonen’s RV Park, the most westerly RV Park in North America established in 1984. If you’re not traveling in an RV, additional overnight accommodations in Anchor Point are available HERE.

 

Rosco’s Pizza is a delicious dining option in the town of Ninilchick while Freddie’s Roadhouse is a great option if you choose to venture higher up into the Caribou Hills. Or save your appetite and enjoy dinner at the Anchor River Inn.

 

DAY SEVENTEEN: Homer (16 miles)

Flickr – Ben Christenson

 

Arrive in Homer, Alaska! This cosmic oasis by the sea is known as the ‘halibut fishing capital of the world’ and has been voted as the Happiest Seaside Town in America by Coastal Magazine. Once you pull over than final hill leading you into Homer you’ll be greeted by majestic mountains, ocean and glacier views as far as the eyes can see.

 

Once you arrive in town Homer, get ready for even more historical charm. Visit the award-winning Pratt Museum where you can learn about natural history and explore exhibits centered on life in Kachemak Bay and southcentral Alaska. It is located at 3779 Bartlett Street in Homer.

 

The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies offers daily guided natural history tours across Kachemak Bay where visitors will view a seabird rookery. You’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy hiking on forest trails and visiting secluded remote beaches. A kayaking tour combination is also a possibility if you prefer to paddle your way through this wildlife viewing paradise. 

 

Visit Bear Creek Winery & Lodging and prepare to experience the most delicious award-winning wine in the Last Frontier. The mouthwatering hand-crafted wine is made right on site using local blueberries, raspberries, and other fruits. Guests can go wine tasting, relax in the garden area, or take a tour of the property.

 

Optional Activities In Homer:

  • Go bear viewing across the bay for a once-in-a-lifetime experience; book a tour HERE
  • Take a walk in the idyllic downtown district, also known as the arts capital of Alaska
  • Enjoy a guided wildlife viewing or birding tour while hearing the waves crash around you; book a tour HERE
  • Flightseeing with incredible aerial perspectives from Katmai to Lake Clark National Park; book a tour HERE
  • Reel in massive fish from halibut to salmon on a guided saltwater trip; book a tour HERE
  • Learn about the local culture and explore all that there is to do in the area with a visit to the local chamber

 

Stay overnight in Homer for one night, as it will serve as your launching point for the next journey that awaits. We recommend staying at Halcyon Heights B&B/Inn because it offers spectacular panoramic views overlooking Grewingk Glacier and the renowned Kachemak Bay.

 

For additional lodging options, click HERE for a great list of local resorts, lodges, and cabin properties. Click HERE for a great list of local hotels. Click HERE for a great list of local bed and breakfast options.

 

Delicious restaurants in Homer include AJ’s Old Town Steakhouse, Chart Room at Land’s End Resort, Captain Pattie’s, Fat Olives, Wasabi’s Bistro, Little Mermaid Café, Café Cups, Cosmic Kitchen and Two Sisters Bakery.

 

DAY EIGHTEEN: Halibut Cove (12 nautical miles)

Flickr – Antti T. Nissinen

 

Drive all the way down to the 4.5 mile stretch of land jutting out into the renowned Kachemak Bay, known as the Homer Spit. Park your rental car in a designated public parking area. Depart Homer for Halibut Cove via a short boat ride, float plane flight, or helicopter trip that will take you right across the bay into a majestic backcountry wilderness setting. The Danny J Ferry is a highly recommended transportation option that offers scenic vistas, birding, and marine wildlife viewing as you sail across Kachemak Bay into Halibut Cove.

 

No matter which transportation method you choose, spectacular glacier views inside Kachemak Bay State Park will reward you with the most enchanting dose of eye-candy.

 

In Halibut Cove you’ll be nestled on the shores of Kachemak Bay State Park, Alaska's first state park, and only wilderness park, containing roughly 400,000 acres of mountains, glaciers, forests and ocean.

 

Choose from a one night stay in Halibut Cove at Alaska Stillpoint Lodge or Alaska’s Ridgewood Wilderness Lodge. Both options will provide you with private, premier accommodations and remarkably delicious cuisine to keep your taste buds satisfied for the entirety of your private, peaceful staycation.

 

Consider visiting The Saltry on Ismailof Island, where you’ll hop off and make your way up the boardwalk to enjoy a meal that you won’t soon forget. Perouse the gorgeous local artwork before sitting down and indulging in a fresh, sustainable, farm-to-table style meal. The wild Alaska seafood and oysters sourced from the local waters of Kachemak Bay, are simply divine. This is gourmet cuisine at its finest, and the unbelievable location is sure to make you fall instantly in love.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Go sea kayaking around icebergs while viewing a notable amount of shorebirds and glacier views
  • Take advantage of viewing opportunities including moose, black bear, mountain goats, and a verity of birds
  • Hike the 3.2 mile trail around Grewingk Glacier Lake through lush cottonwoods and Sitka spruce trees
  • Visit Gull Island (halfway between Homer and Halibut Cove) and home to more than 16,000 nesting seabirds including puffins, kittiwakes, murres, and cormorants 
  • Book a saltwater fishing trip or a wildlife viewing excursion HERE

 

DAY NINETEEN: Seldovia (25 nautical miles)

Flickr – Andrea Pokrzywinski

 

Depart Halibut Cove and head back across the bay to Homer, where you’ll hop on the Seldovia Bay Ferry for a fast and comfortable transport from Homer to the coastal shores of the remote community of Seldovia.

 

Visit the Seldovia Museum, Visitor Center & Gift Shop and prepare to experience the rich history of the local area. The Native Alaska artwork and exhibits throughout the museum will leave you mesmerized. The cultural traditions of the Aleut, Yupik, Alutiiq, Athabascan, Russian and European-American people who inhabit the Seldovia Bay area can be found all throughout this captivating place.

 

Be sure to also check out the historic St. Nicholas Chapel which was built during the 19th century and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. This Russian Orthodox Church is absolutely stunning and even features a large octagonal bell tower.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Walk the docs and enjoy incredible opportunities to view marine life right from town
  • Take a long walk on a private sandy beach at low tide or on the Historic Boardwalk
  • Visit the St. Nicholas Chapel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • Enjoy world-class nature photography capturing the towering snow-capped mountains in the distance and the tranquil waters that greet you 

 

Stay overnight in Seldovia and choose between incredible options such as the Seldovia Boardwalk Hotel or Thyme on the Boardwalk. The Seldovia Boardwalk Hotel has delicious food, as does the Tide Pool Café and the Linwood Bar & Grill.

 

DAY TWENTY: Chinitna Bay by Lake Clark National Park (45 air miles)

Flickr – Sanjoy Ghosh

 

Return to Homer from Seldovia, before zipping a few miles down the road to the Homer Airport. Here, you’ll catch a quick hour-long flight over to Bear Mountain Lodge located on the southern end of Lake Clark National Park.

 

The flight alone will make your jaw-drop in amazement. Soak in the epic views of active volcanoes, glaciers, rivers, streams, and plentiful amounts of wildlife. In fact, they’ve even had past guests that have counted OVER 100 bears just on the way in to the lodge. Can you believe that? Only on Alaska’s Playground! Other area wildlife that have been spotted include whales, porpoises, coyotes, wolves, beavers, porcupines, moose, and various bird species. Upon landing, you’ll pull up on the serene beachfront shores directly in front of the lodge. As no roads lead into this majestic wilderness property, be prepared to have some furry critters greet you on the beach as you land.

 

Bear Mountain Lodge is an Alaskan owned and operated business, by lifelong Alaska residents. This exclusive lodge sits on some of the only privately owned land adjacent to Lake Clark National Park. Stay at this exceptional little oasis in the middle of a lush wilderness setting. Private cabins with modern conveniences offer peace and quiet away from the crowds. When you’re here, you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from everything. As the final leg of your trip, soak in the magical environment that surrounds you and take time to fully unplug, refresh your soul, and revive your mind.

 

Enjoy daily up close & personal bear viewing adventures and an all-inclusive experience with mouthwatering meals provided throughout the entirety of your stay.

 

DAY TWENTY ONE: Return to Anchorage (221 miles)

Flickr – Lynda Cazort

 

Don’t leave town without experiencing one of the best breakfasts of your life at Duncan House Diner, or stop by Two Sisters Bakery for some delicious pastries (and so much more).

 

Return to Homer from Chinitna Bay before hopping in your rental vehicle and continuing back northbound on the Sterling Highway to Anchorage. Make your way to the Seward Highway junction where you’ll turn left and continue all the way into the city of Anchorage.

 

Important Travel Note: Flights from Chinitna Bay are also available northbound to Anchorage, so if you don’t want to drive the long 221 miles from Homer to Anchorage (again), consider renting a vehicle that allows you to drop off in Homer so that you can flight straight back to the Ted Stevens International Airport after the final night of your excursion. Another option would be to do the Chinitna Bay leg at the beginning of your trip, before picking up your rental vehicle in Anchorage. We want to assure that you know your options so that you can choose the package that best suits your needs and desires.