20 Best Things to Do in Kenai, AK


Welcome to Kenai, a place I am lucky enough to call home.

Nestled in the heart of the Kenai Peninsula, this charming Alaskan city boasts breathtaking landscapes, a rich cultural heritage, and activities galore.

Whether it's the vibrant hues of our midnight sunsets that take your breath away or the thrill of spotting majestic wildlife in their natural element that gets your heart racing, Kenai has a way of captivating hearts and minds alike.

Let me take you on a journey through this corner of Alaska and share all the must-visit spots and must-do activities that make Kenai truly one-of-a-kind.

About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it's important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

Marvel at the Architecture of Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church

Exterior of the Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church
Menno Schaefer / Shutterstock.com

I have always been enamored by the rich historical tapestry of my hometown, Kenai, and the Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church is certainly one of its most cherished jewels.

Its quaint, rustic charm is a fond reminder of the Orthodox Church origins in Alaska, and I have been visiting this place since I was a kid.

The church is a living testament to a beautiful fusion of Native American and Russian cultural history, which is uniquely reflective of Alaska's past.

A visit to the Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church is always a gratifying experience.

The building, standing tall and proud, is incredibly well-maintained, drawing in locals and tourists alike.

Our winter walks around the old town Kenai wouldn't be complete without stopping by the church and admiring its simplistic beauty amidst the snow.

The tranquil sight of the church, bathed in ethereal moonlight, has often been the muse for my midnight sketches.

Top part of the Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church
Menno Schaefer / Shutterstock.com

In recent years, the church has added a gift shop that I wholeheartedly recommend.

From unique souvenirs that encapsulate the church’s history to beautiful Orthodox icons, there is something for everyone.

It's always a pleasure to see visitors leaving with not just memories but a piece of Kenai's history.

Conveniently located in the historic district, the church is in close proximity to other notable buildings.

Have a Family Time at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska

It was just another brisk weekend morning in Alaska when my family decided to spend our day at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska.

I can vividly remember the wide-eyed excitement of my kids the moment we stepped through the doors.

The staff welcomed us warmly and were incredibly knowledgeable, answering all our space-related questions and more.

Challenger Learning Center, an educational gem in the heart of our community, is unlike any other space science facility we've encountered.

The interactive exhibits were brimming with educational insights; my kids were particularly enthralled by the realistic space simulations.

Meanwhile, I found myself lost in the breathtaking planetarium, captivated by the galaxies far, far away.

The staff at the Center are truly the heart of the experience.

They are enthusiastic and passionate about space and education, making the learning journey enjoyable and fascinating for children and adults alike.

It's not just the awe-inspiring space exhibits that make this place amazing.

It's the dedication of the staff that transforms a simple visit into an unforgettable journey through the cosmos.

Go on a Fishing Charter with Alaska Fish on Charters Inc.

If life on the water is your idea of paradise, then you must discover the thrills of casting a line with Alaska Fish on Charters Inc.

My days spent on their chartered boats have been some of my most memorable moments in the Last Frontier.

The unpredictable weather of Alaska can sometimes be a downer, but not with the Alaska Fish on the team.

Once, when a scheduled fly over got canceled due to a storm, the office ladies had us rerouted and back on the water within an hour.

We ended up salmon fishing with their guide who turned out to be a gem.

The lodge provided by the company is the perfect place to end your day.

After a long day of fishing, nothing beats falling asleep to the lull of the waves, knowing that you'll wake up to another exciting day on the water.

Fishing with Alaska Fish has opened up some unexpected opportunities for me.

The knowledgeable guides, the accommodating owners, and the unforgettable fishing experiences will have you reeling in more than just fish.

You'll be reeling in memories to last a lifetime.

Sample Local Beer at Kassik's Brewery

You wouldn't believe the hidden gem that lies ensconced in the remote corners of Kenai!

Kassik's Brewery, a local favorite, is an absolute must-visit for anyone with a penchant for craft beers.

One sip of their delectable Pale Moon Ale or Beaver Tail Blonde, and you'll be hooked, I guarantee it.

The ambiance at Kassik’s Brewery is both welcoming and charming, it's the kind of place where the people are as warm as the beer is cold.

And the beer, oh the beer! It's not your run-of-the-mill ale - each one is a masterpiece crafted with thoughtfulness and passion.

The IPA list, in particular, is worth savoring.

Each one offers a unique taste experience that you won't find anywhere else.

To add to the allure, there's a fantastic outdoor area, perfect for basking in the sun on a beautiful Kenai day.

It's the kind of place that makes you feel right at home the moment you step in.

Spot Stunning Volcanoes from Kenai Beach

Have you ever felt the exhilarating thrill of spotting a seal popping its head out of the water just a stone's throw from the sandy shoreline?

That's what a typical day at Kenai Beach looks like.

This isn't just any beach; it's an idyllic haven where the mountains meet the ocean, and the tropical blue waters are filled with fascinating marine life.

One of the many things I love about Kenai Beach is its versatility.

Whether it's spring, summer, autumn, or winter, the beach is always open for adventure.

Our family usually spends weekends here, just strolling down the sandy paths, taking in the breathtaking view of Kachemak Bay and its stunning volcanoes.

The low tides are a special treat as you get to spot jellyfish and search for agates, making the beach a treasure trove of exciting finds.

Here's the best part - Kenai Beach is pet-friendly!

We never have to leave our fur babies behind.

As long as they're leashed, they can run around to their heart's content, making the most of the vast open space.

Plus, the people we meet on the beach are always incredibly friendly.

As fellow beachgoers, we share common interests and often end up having delightful conversations.

And guess what? Kenai Beach isn't just about the sand and the sea.

Right before you hit the beach, there's a fun-filled kids' park where little adventurers can let their imaginations roam free.

It's an ideal spot for family outings, providing something for everyone.

From camping under the starlit sky to making memories around a bonfire, there are countless ways to enjoy this slice of paradise.

You can even bring your 4x4 and drive along the backside of the beach for an unforgettable ride!

Take a Peek into Alaskan Wilderness at Kenai River Viewing Platform

When you've lived in Alaska as long as I have, you learn to appreciate the stunning natural beauty of our home.

One of my favorite spots to commune with nature is the Kenai River Viewing Platform.

With the majestic mountains in the backdrop and the serene flow of the Kenai River, it's a picturesque spot that encapsulates the Alaskan wilderness in one frame.

During my frequent visits, I've had the pleasure of witnessing a plethora of local wildlife.

I'll never forget my recent encounter with a full-grown wolf, casually strolling across the flats, no doubt in search of an easy meal.

The viewing platform provides a safe space to observe such magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

It's like getting a front-row seat to the best nature show in the city.

But it's not just about the larger animals.

The area is a haven for a variety of waterfowl, their gentle coos, and quacks lending a calming soundtrack to the awe-inspiring views.

Although my visits are often brief, the mesmerizing beauty of the surroundings makes every moment worthwhile.

The Kenai River Viewing Platform is easily accessible, making it an ideal spot for a quick detour or a planned outing.

On clear days, the view of the surrounding landscape and mountains is nothing short of breathtaking.

And if you're lucky, you might even get to witness an impromptu wildlife spectacle.

This simple platform, tucked away in the vast Alaskan wilderness, is a testament to the captivating beauty of our state.

For me, it's not just a viewing platform - it's a window to the enchanting world of Alaskan wildlife.

Stroll through Leif Hansen Memorial Park

I can still remember the first time I saw the lights twinkle on the gazebo at Leif Hansen Memorial Park.

It was a winter's evening, and the cold was biting, but the sight was worth every shiver.

The lights were like tiny stars spread across the gazebo – a truly magical sight.

The charm of the park doesn't end with the gazebo, though.

It's always clean and green. I often take a leisurely stroll around the park, soaking in the beauty of the area. It's like a little island of tranquillity amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.

On these walks, I usually follow the path that winds around the park.

It's a lovely path, but I have to admit that it isn't always shoveled, especially in the winter.

It can be a bit of a challenge to navigate, but it's a small price to pay for the beauty of the park.

One of the other things that I cherish about Leif Hansen Memorial Park is that it's more than just a park – it's a memorial.

There's a sense of reverence that you can feel as you walk around, a reminder of the man whose name the park bears.

It's a place of honor and remembrance, a place where no one is ever forgotten.

Get Active at North Peninsula Recreation Service Area

One of the gems of our community is the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area.

A single day at this expansive recreational facility simply isn't enough to take in all it has to offer.

The sizable, accommodating parking area is always a welcome sight. As soon as we step out of the car, the excitement begins.

A fenced-in park that caters to all ages is the first thing that catches our eye.

The ground is filled with rubber chips, making it safe for all the tykes that come in droves.

It's divided into a toddler area and a big kid area, both teeming with laughter and smiles.

For the sporty ones, there's a basketball hoop and a skate park.

For those who prefer a more leisurely day, there are picnic tables and barbecues to make the most of.

A short walk away is the sandy delight of the sandbox, always a hit with the younger crowd.

For those a little older, there's a computer lab and a library, providing both a fun and educational experience.

The paved bike paths and a soccer field add an athletic touch to the otherwise tranquil area.

But the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area isn't just about outdoor fun.

They host various events indoors too. Although not always crowded, they do draw a modest, appreciative crowd.

For me, the disc golf course is the star attraction. It's vast, well-maintained, and a joy to play on.

The cherry on top of this recreational paradise is the swimming pool.

Capping off a day of sun-soaked fun with a refreshing dip in the pool is simply the best.

As if the facilities were not excellent enough, the staff is truly the heartbeat of this place.

They organize programs and events aimed at drawing out the community, fostering a sense of togetherness.

From helping us chase away our winter blues to assisting us in making the most of our summers, the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area is more than just a facility - it's our home away from home.

Have a Lunch at Veronica's Old Town Cafe

One day, craving a hearty, home-cooked meal, I found myself at Veronica's Old Town Cafe in the older part of Kenai.

The serene atmosphere, the ocean view, and the historic vibe of the place instantly transported me back in time.

During my visit, I decided to try their gluten-free offerings.

Although the staff seemed to have some trouble understanding the concept of gluten-free and cross-contamination at first, they were extremely accommodating.

They took the time to ensure my meal was safe and to my liking, delivering a bowl of creamy chicken wild rice soup that was to die for.

On another occasion, I decided to branch out and try their turkey sandwich, which was perfectly paired with penne pasta sprinkled generously with parmesan.

As I enjoyed my meal, I sipped on a heavenly white chocolate caramel mocha coffee, which was the perfect finishing touch to my meal.

What particularly struck me about Veronica's Old Town Cafe was the exceptional service.

From the moment you walk in, you're greeted warmly by the staff.

They're always ready to answer any questions and even offer soup samples to make sure you'll love your choice.

Walk along the Shores of Kenai South Beach

There's really nothing like the tranquility of Kenai South Beach, especially after the hustle of the dip netting season.

The beach becomes my own little paradise of peace - just me, the shore, and the endless expanse of the sea.

A gentle rain often falls, giving the place an ethereal beauty that's hard to describe.

The sight of the raindrops hitting the water surface, the misty mountains in the distance, and the rhythmic sound of the waves crashing against the shore - it's all a little piece of heaven on earth.

I especially enjoy the easy beach access.

It’s not a steep or rocky path that leads to the water, but a smooth, sandy trail that gives way to the sea.

I often find myself going there just to be near the water, to breathe in the salty air, and to listen to the soothing sound of the waves. A bonus is the convenience of having public bathrooms nearby - not something you find at every beach!

And the beach is always clean, never a sign of litter or waste. It's a testament to the respect we locals have for our natural environments.

After all, Kenai South Beach is not just a beach; it's a part of our home.

The pride we take in keeping it clean and beautiful is evident to anyone who visits.

Even on rainy days, it's a wonderful place to be, to take in the stunning views and just let the beauty of nature wash over you.

Discover the City's History at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center

I often find myself at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.

It's more than just an information center - it's a cornerstone of our community and a must-visit for anyone who's passing through.

Recently, I decided to stop by as I had a couple of hours to spare.

The museum, with its intriguing collection of artifacts and stories, never fails to captivate me.

Walking in, I was greeted by the cheerful staff who are always willing to provide helpful information about Kenai's history, culture, and local events.

They handed me a pamphlet for the Old Town self-guided walking tour, a personal favorite of mine.

It's a wonderful way to spend the afternoon strolling through our historic city, soaking in the stories that the old buildings whisper to those willing to listen.

My kids, meanwhile, had a blast exploring the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.

There's a restroom available, which is a lifesaver when you're out with the little ones.

Plus, there's an array of unique, locally-sourced gifts in the small gift shop.

It's a great spot to pick up a memento or a last-minute present.

Have a Picnic at Daubenspeck Family Park

On most days, you can find me unwinding at Daubenspeck Family Park.

This little haven, nestled behind the hustle-bustle of Walmart in Kenai, is my go-to place for a quiet afternoon.

The park may be small, but it doesn't skimp on amenities.

There's plenty of parking, and the facilities are well-kept.

Not to mention, clean bathrooms are a definite perk.

But it's the tranquil lake that always draws me in.

A trail wraps around the water, beckoning for a leisurely stroll.

Amidst the scene, a sandy beach appears like a charming surprise, enticing kids and adults alike for a play or relaxation break.

I often find myself lost in the beauty of the wildflowers lining the trail.

There's a certain kind of peace that comes with sitting on the bench, escaping the worries of the world, and getting lost in the picturesque view.

The cherry on top is the adorable library box at the end of the trail.

I love grabbing a book and settling in for a quiet reading session by the lake.

And if you feel like sharing the joy of reading, you're welcome to leave a book behind for another visitor.

The park isn't just about tranquility, though.

For those seeking a bit of fun, the lake makes a perfect swimming hole.

The sandy bottom creates a great natural pool that's close to the heart of Kenai.

Plus, with picnic tables and a fire pit available, it's an ideal spot for a family day out or an impromptu barbecue party.

Go FIshing at Ciechanski Day Use Area

Have you ever been somewhere where you feel one with nature? For me, it's the Ciechanski Day Use Area.

This place has been my sanctuary for a while now, and it's where I've had some of the best fishing experiences of my life.

One of the best parts about fishing here is the community.

We're a bunch of locals and visitors alike, all united by our love for fishing.

And trust me; the camaraderie is real.

It's not uncommon to see folks helping each other reel in a big catch.

In fact, some of my most cherished memories here are of the times when I’ve worked together with strangers to land a particularly challenging salmon.

And speaking of salmon, let me tell you - they are plentiful!

I've had friends and family join me here for a day of fishing, and more often than not, they leave with a smile on their faces and a catch in their hands.

I remember one particular fishing trip with my bro, right at our cousin Nash's favorite spot.

We had an absolute ball, and the fish couldn't resist our bait.

Of course, like any other fishing spot, there are days when the fish seem to have disappeared at Ciechanski Day Use Area.

Some folks joke that there must be a secret tunnel under the river where all the fish hide.

But even then, there's something peaceful about simply casting a line and enjoying the grandeur of nature.

It’s the perfect place to unwind, even if the fish aren’t biting.

If you're more adventurous, you can venture further up or down the river, where rumor has it that the fish are even more abundant.

Go Birdwatching at Beaver Creek Park

Every time I think of a perfect day in nature, my mind always wanders to the hidden gem of our city, Beaver Creek Park.

One Mother's Day, a friend and I finally decided to venture into its less traveled paths.

Our adventure started with the hiking trail, an out-and-back trail that, while not overly strenuous, isn't wheelchair accessible, especially during the breakup season.

The trail is listed as 0.05 miles, but our measurements found it to be a bit longer, at about 0.1 miles.

And mind you, this is just one way!

So, make sure to pack enough food and water when you decide to take on this experience.

As promised in its description, wildlife viewing is a real treat here.

On our first visit, we spotted at least three different species of birds.

The birdwatching alone would have been enough to make the day worthwhile, but the highlight of our visit was undoubtedly the zip line.

This thrilling ride through Beaver Creek Park's beautiful scenery was an unexpected adventure and instantly took the experience up to a 5-star level.

Hit the Target at Snowshoe Gun Club Rifle Range

I must confess, I was initially skeptical about joining the Snowshoe Gun Club, but I'm glad I did.

From the very first day, I was welcomed by the friendly staff and given a quick tour of the club's multiple ranges.

It was surreal to see how much variety they provided to cater to different shooting preferences.

There were various pistol bays, AR ranges, and rifle ranges that boasted targets as far out as 1000 yards.

But what really caught my eye was the clay shooting area and the black powder area.

Being a historical firearms enthusiast, this was like a dream come true.

Snowshoe Gun Club Rifle Range even provides heated shooting houses, complete with a provision for a wood stove.

And guess what? They provide the wood too!

The safety measures at the club are also commendable.

There are flashing red lights indicating when people are downrange, making sure everyone is safe.

And while it is a members-only club, I've found the membership fees to be quite reasonable.

The membership dues are used to maintain the range and acquire more land to expand the club.

Spend the Afternoon Fishing at Pillars Boat Launch

I've been fishing at the Pillars Boat Launch for as long as I can remember.

The boat launch is a nice spot, especially when you've got an experienced fishing guide who knows the ins and outs of the place.

I remember once when the docks weren't in the water yet, but with the guides' experience, getting in and out of the boat was a breeze.

I've met numerous guides at this launch, and the place is easy to find, even for those who are not familiar with the area.

This boat launch may seem like an ordinary spot for some, but for me and my fishing buddies, it's our regular weekend getaway.

The dock is always well maintained, making it a reliable place for us to launch our boats.

Every boat launch has its own unique features, and Pillars Boat Launch is no exception.

As a frequent user, I can't say enough about the convenience and simplicity of this spot.

Even though I've never actually launched a boat myself, I can tell this place is perfect for it.

It has all you need for a successful fishing trip, and the scenic view is just the icing on the cake.

Wander around Old Town Kenai Park

If there's one place that captures the spirit of Kenai, it's the Old Town Kenai Park.

Nestled in the heart of the city, visiting this park feels like stepping back in time.

The historical buildings brimming with information about our city's past have always been a fascinating draw for me.

I often find myself there, regardless of the season, simply to soak in the atmosphere.

Old Town Kenai Park is a beautiful spot to relax and take a breather, especially on days when I have been driving around town.

Sometimes, I just park the car, sit on one of the benches, and watch the world go by.

The stillness of the park is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the road, and it's a great place for a quick break.

Though it's somewhat tucked away, the locals like me and the kids can't get enough of this park.

My kids, in particular, are huge fans of the park's playground and the sports balls that are available for public use.

They can spend hours here just running around and playing catch or soccer.

It's wonderful to see them enjoying the outdoors in such a safe and welcoming environment.

Have a Moment of Reflection at Cunningham Park

Ahh, Cunningham Park.

My quiet and peaceful sanctuary on busy days.

Nestled near the banks of the beautiful Kenai River, this petite park is a favorite among us locals.

It may not have the typical park features like a playground or picnic tables, but it has something I believe is far more valuable: tranquility.

We locals often joke that Cunningham Park is more of a PARKing lot than a park, mainly because it's a well-known spot for fishermen to access the Kenai River.

But don't let our humor fool you.

I often take a stroll down to the park just to sit on the riverbank.

Watching the sandpipers fishing in the shallow waters is a sight to behold.

And if you're lucky, you might even spot the occasional seals who've swum a few miles upstream from the sea for a tasty fish meal.

One thing that might surprise you is that this small park also has a restroom.

Trust me, it's a feature I've been grateful for on more than one occasion.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Spot Different Creatures at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Birds on the water at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Michelle Holihan / Shutterstock.com

Each day in the heart of the extensive wilderness of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is a new adventure.

The refuge covers a vast area, offering a plethora of opportunities for hiking, camping, canoeing, and wildlife viewing.

It's like having a piece of paradise right in my backyard.

One of my favorite places to visit in the refuge is the educational center.

I remember one time I spent nearly 45 minutes there, totally engrossed in the exhibits and barely scratching the surface of the wealth of information they had.

I could have spent another hour or more there, learning about the Kenai area, using the virtual goggles, and walking along one of the small trails.

Did you know that there were no laws on harvesting animals in the Kenai Peninsula until about 1902?

This intriguing fact is just one of the many things I learned during my frequent visits.

Apart from being educational, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is also very engaging.

There are hands-on exhibits that let you feel the texture of real bears' fur.

A woman on a canoe at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Wildnerdpix / Shutterstock.com

The facilities are well-maintained, with restrooms and water readily available, making it easier for visitors to spend more time exploring and less time worrying about basic amenities.

And let's not forget about the trails.

As someone who takes pride in being an outdoor enthusiast, I can say confidently that the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge offers some of the best walking trails around, especially in winter.

The sight of undisturbed snow on the ground and wildlife frolicking in their natural habitat is something that never fails to take my breath away.

The trails are very well maintained, thanks to the hard-working people who care for them.

There are miles and miles of trails, each with its own unique landscape and diversity.

It's a place I would recommend to anyone in any season.

Sunset at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Michelle Holihan / Shutterstock.com

Cycle through Tsalteshi Ski Trails

It's hard not to fall in love with the Tsalteshi Ski Trails.

Nestled amidst the urban hustle, this oasis of tranquillity instantly disconnects you from the pandemonium of everyday life.

Whether I'm in the mood for a peaceful stroll, an invigorating run, or a challenging bike ride, these trails never fail to cater to my desires.

Year by year, the place only gets better.

I remember when they installed the trail lighting, augmenting my options for a twilight jog.

And then came the singletrack courses, specifically designed for the biking enthusiasts among us.

It's evident that a great deal of care and attention goes into maintaining the trails, and it's the love and dedication that truly makes this place special.

But it's not just about physical activity.

The Tsalteshi Ski Trails are like a window into a lush, verdant realm teeming with plant life.

As I tread the natural paths, the air hums with the rustling of leaves and the chirping of birds, creating a soothing backdrop for my excursions.

It's a great opportunity to engage in a mindfulness walk, with signs at every intersection ensuring you never lose your way.

Come winter, the trails transform into a snowy paradise, perfect for skiing and snowshoeing.

The sight of the trails blanketed in white is one of the most picturesque scenes one could imagine.

Final Thoughts

Kenai, Alaska, is a magical gem of a city that never ceases to amaze me.

The nature surrounding us, from the wildlife refuge to our beautiful parks, is breathtaking no matter the season.

Every corner of Kenai is filled with adventure, tranquility, and a sense of belonging that I believe is unique to our town.

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