15 Best Things to Do in Kodiak, AK

Kodiak, AK
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As the main city of the second-largest island in the United States, Kodiak offers a whole new world of outdoor adventures.

Formerly known as Paul’s Harbor, its culture is closely tied with its waters.

Hop on a boat or kayak and take in the scenery.

Enjoy one-of-a-kind views of pristine waters juxtaposed with majestic mountains.

For an enchanting experience, check out the best things to do in Kodiak, Alaska.

Appreciate the Stunning Sceneries in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge

Closer view of a brown bear at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge
Yathin S Krishnappa, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Established in 1941, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge is a premier location in the city for experiencing its natural beauty, offering 2,812 square miles of diverse landscapes.

Since many Kodiak brown bears live in this area, it is a popular destination for bear viewing.

These majestic creatures feast on the abundant salmon here.

Also, because of the copious supply of fish, you can have a fantastic fishing trip.

Tread the streams and lakes or explore the wetlands, grasslands, forests, and more.

Go hiking or have a stroll with a gorgeous backdrop of towering mountains.

In addition to bears and fish, you can also spot a lot of different species of local wildlife, including red foxes, river otters, mountains goats, and more.

If you really want to immerse yourself in nature, you can book a night in one of the nine available cabins, each with its own charm.

Take note that the refuge is only accessible through a plane or boat since there are no roads.

Study the Culture of the Alutiiq People in the Alutiiq National Museum

Housing more than 250,000 items that tell the story of the Alutiiq people, one of the eight native peoples in Alaska, the Alutiiq National Museum takes you on a tour of the past.

They have a culture that’s deeply tied with the sea, which you can learn through the artifacts.

In addition, you will discover how they crafted and used their prehistoric tools.

The museum comes with a plant gallery, where you will find native plants and study how they were used.

Some were used to make tools and clothing, while some were used for their medicinal properties.

Explore early forms of art, including paintings on wooden objects, carvings, and images made from weaving and embroidery, all well-preserved.

The museum not only houses art from the past but also contemporary art of various forms by local artists.

The Alutiiq people also incorporated dancing and singing in their festivals and daily lives, with songs used for hunting, curing illnesses, and more.

Before you leave the museum, make sure to stop by their gift shop, filled with artworks, crafts, and more.

If you want to learn more from the comfort of your home, you can check out their online exhibits as well.

Have an Activity-Filled Day at the Buskin River State Recreation Site

For exciting adventures on and around the Buskin River, head to Buskin River State Recreation Site.

It is widely popular as a fantastic fishing spot, especially for sockeye and coho salmon.

There is also other local wildlife that you can watch, including brown bears, eagles, and much more.

Park your RV in one of the campsites and have a day filled with activities.

Go hiking or biking across its landscape.

Have a laid-back picnic in one of the two picnic shelters.

Or, you can try one of the two picnic pavilions, the Ben Aure picnic shelter, and the Buskin Beach picnic shelter.

Both come with picnic tables, a fire ring, a charcoal grill, and an outhouse.

Other activities to try include berry picking and beachcombing.

During cold weather, you can also go cross-country skiing.

Book a Tour with Adventures in Kodiak and Go Whale Watching

Ride a beautiful charter boat from Adventures in Kodiak and go out into the open sea.

Feel the breeze as you cruise through the waters, enjoying the scenery and keeping your eyes peeled for marine creatures.

Marvel at the majestic humpback whales and orca as they jump out from the water.

Observe the sea lions and bears playing by the beach.

Relax on the deck while taking in the view and snapping a few pictures.

For a peaceful time, you can also book a fishing trip here.

If you prefer to have tours on land, they also offer guides for that, and they can provide box lunches too.

Join the Festivities during the Harbor Lights Festival

Held in the Kodiak Maritime Museum since 2013, the Harbor Lights Festival is an event enjoyed by the whole community.

All kinds of boats will be decorated with holiday lights, creating breathtaking reflections on the water at night and a truly festive atmosphere.

The owners of these boats will compete to see who has the most spectacular vessel, and the top three will receive nice prizes.

Head to the Convention Center for cookies and refreshments.

There might be live holiday music as well.

The event started as a holiday boat parade that was canceled due to the area’s harsh winter weather.

The Kodiak Maritime Museum suggested that the boats stay in the harbor, making things a whole lot easier, and the rest is history.

Gaze at the Gorgeous Sunset at Mill Bay Beach Park

Enjoy the peace and quiet in Mill Bay Beach Park, offering a nice, small patch of sand for beach activities.

If you want to have a laid-back time, it also has a fishing spot for silver and pink salmon.

For thrill-seekers, you can surf its large waves or scuba dive.

It’s an awesome place to enjoy beach activities with the whole family and gaze at the sunset.

Also, different species of birds visit the beach from time to time.

What’s great is that it is easily accessible from the town.

Taste the Well-Crafted Beer of Kodiak Island Brewing Company

Established in 2003 by a true beer lover, the Kodiak Island Brewery Company is the first brewery on Kodiak Island.

Its beers are made with only organic base malts, and they are neither filtered nor pasteurized.

You can enjoy them on draft or indulge in a well-aged specialty beer.

Visit the taproom and savor their delicious beers, which you can do so along with your own food.

Before you leave the premises, take a look around their shop, filled with merchandise, too.

They offer lots of items perfect for beer lovers, like mugs, beer cans, and more.

You can even buy yourself a casual shirt.

Discover the Rich History of Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park

Rocky shore and waters at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park.
Dani_King / Shutterstock.com

A combination of nature and history, the Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park is ripe for exploration.

Discover its perfect vantage points, which were once military observation points, on top of steep cliffs, offering overlooking views of lush forests and meadows.

It played a significant part in World War II, featuring the ruins of a coastal defense installation, and was designated in 1985 as a National Historic Landmark.

Visit the Kodiak Military History Museum, which was formerly a bunker, and get up close with various war-related artifacts, ranging from radio equipment to artillery shells.

Learning about history is only one of the many things you can do here.

Tall trees framing a lake at Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park.
Dani_King / Shutterstock.com

Check out the Ranger Station, where you can try out activities like tide pooling and wildflower photo scavenger hunts.

Fetch your fishing gear and scout its waters for large rainbow trout.

To make the most of your visit, you can spend a night in one of the campsites, including five drive-in sites and four walk-in sites.

Keep yourselves cozy and warm by the fire pit in the group recreation area or have a barbecue in the afternoon for a fun time with family and friends.

Dive into the City’s History at the Kodiak History Museum

Formerly called the Baranov Museum, the Kodiak History Museum tells the tale of the city through photos, documents, and more.

The building it is in was the former Russian-American Co. Magazin, a trading company.

Among the four existing Russian structures in the USA, the Magazin is the oldest, and the museum was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962.

With over 20,000 photographs in its collection, it has preserved the history of the city well.

Take a look at its current exhibits too.

You can also get yourself goodies from its online shop, which sells all sorts of items like jewelry, books, artwork, and more.

They also have their own merchandise.

Admire the Natural Scenery at North End Park

If all you want is a peaceful location where you can explore at your own pace, drive down to North End Park.

It’s perfect for a scenic stroll and admiring the views.

Go along the pebble beach, secluded and quiet, and enjoy the scenery.

Bring some food and enjoy a picnic with family and friends.

You’ll be surrounded by a lush forest with tall trees and diverse wildlife.

It’s also a great spot for birdwatching.

You can easily access the park, as it’s just on the other end of the bridge from the main island.

Camp Out and Enjoy the Views at the Top of Barometer Mountain

Challenge yourself with a hike to the top of Barometer Mountain, the most popular mountain in the city.

Climb up 2,073 feet, admiring the sceneries along the way.

It has a 5.1-kilometer trail with vast open areas, so you’ll have amazing views of the surrounding landscapes.

Check out the wildflowers that grow in the valleys.

You’ll have great views at the peak too, and you can even camp out with your family and friends.

Try Out the Nine-Hole Course at Bear Valley Golf Course

Have you ever wondered what golfing in Kodiak is like?

Make your way to Bear Valley Golf Course, the only golf course in the city and the island.

It features a nine-hole golf course set amid lush trees and against gorgeous mountains.

Practice your swing at the driving range or the putting greens.

When you get hungry, you can get a bite at the snack bar.

If you’re eyeing a particular golf club or want to get some new gear, you can check out the pro shop.

There are also season passes if you want to get good value for your money.

If you’re confident in your skills, you can also join the weekly league or a tournament.

Read Your Favorite Book at the Kodiak Public Library

Created in 1953, the Kodiak Public Library Association serves to preserve the city's collections.

The Kodiak Public Library also serves as a place for the community to gather and meet.

It started as a skid shop and moved its way into a permanent building.

Check out the available books and have a relaxing time reading.

The library hosts a few programs too, which you can check out at its events calendar.

Kids and adults alike can watch films.

They can also get together with the book club or enjoy storytimes.

There are programs specifically for children as well.

The Ancestry Club is a great way to learn about the lineage of locals.

In addition to books, the library also occasionally showcases artworks.

Participate in the Events at the Kodiak Crab Festival

The Kodiak Crab Festival has been celebrated by locals since 1958.

It was made to introduce the King Crab industry, which was not as popular as it is today.

The festival is a tribute to the sea and includes tons of festive activities.

Observe the amazing artworks during the art show or join the marathon.

Watch the coast guard demonstrations or the Crab Fest Parade, with all sorts of old and interesting vehicles.

Cheer for the contenders of the Norm Holm Survival Suit Race, a swimming race.

Learn about the City’s Connection with the Sea at the Kodiak Maritime Museum

Delve into the city’s connection with the sea at the Kodiak Maritime Museum, which was made in 1996 thanks to the persistence of a group of commercial fishermen.

Learn about the fish in the area, the coast guard, the fish processing industry, and the history of the city’s harbor.

Discover the different species of salmon and study its interesting life cycle.

Over the years, different kinds of fishing vessels have been developed, and you will have the chance to know them here.

Even though crab fishing is a very dangerous occupation, the industry is lucrative, so lots of Alaskans still pursue it.

Here, you will also get to learn about the process and the challenges that the city’s brave fishermen face.

Final Thoughts

Located in the northeastern part of Kodiak Island, Kodiak has a deep connection with the sea and is proud to showcase this to tourists.

Take a deep dive into the city’s history and culture.

For an unforgettable experience, check out the best things to do in Kodiak, Alaska, listed above.