Located just south of Anchorage, nothing about the Kenai is formal or stuffy. In fact, no other destination offers such an up close and personal Alaskan experience. That’s why they are known as Alaska’s Playground.
The Kenai Peninsula offers some of the most accessible wilderness adventures in Alaska. There are multi-day hikes through the snow-capped Kenai Mountains and mind-blowing paddles through glaciated fjords. You’ll camp on never-seen-before lost coves in remote corners of Kenai Fjords National Park and Kachemak Bay State Park, and battle some of the biggest fish around. And in every forgotten corner you’ll be close to the natural world, the mountains, the lakes, the rivers and the people that make Alaska wild.
Approximately the size of Belgium, the peninsula is a top pick for first-time Alaska explorers. The eastern peninsula is dominated by large ice fields, the jutting Kenai Mountains and the icy waters of Resurrection Bay. To the west it flattens out, with rolling hills, large lakes and a long coastline. Our Kenai Alaska Travel Guide has everything you need to start planning your Kenai Alaska vacation. Also visit more great Alaska beach locations by <<Clicking Here.>> Need to know what to pack for your Alaskan Vacation? << Click Here >>
Weather (When to Go)
Average temperatures in Kenai Peninsula vary greatly. Considering humidity, temperatures feel cold for most of the year with a chance of rain or snow throughout most of the year. If you’re looking for the very warmest time to visit Kenai Peninsula, the hottest months are June, July, and August. The warmest time of year is generally mid July where highs are regularly around 65°F with temperatures rarely dropping below 50°F at night. Spring (March – May) have average temperatures between 58°F and 34°F with warmer temperatures in the later months. Rain is somewhat common with 5 to 8 days of significant precipitation per month. Fall (September – November) temperatures range from 59°F and 33°F, which will feel chilly given the humidity and wind. Tourism is the slowest during these months due to the weather, so hotels may be affordably priced. Weather is far too cold December – February in Kenai Peninsula to be enjoyable for warm weather travelers. The average high during this season is between 36°F and 29°F.
Kenai Area Attractions
Down below the bluffs is an oddity in Alaska: a sweeping, sandy beach, ideal for picnicking, Frisbee-chucking and other waterfront fun. There are stellar views of the volcanoes across the inlet, and from July 10 to 31 you can watch hundreds of frantic fishers dip-net for sockeye salmon at the mouth of the Kenai River.
Opposite Kalifornsky Beach Rd near the Kenai River is the junction with Funny River Rd. Follow signs to Ski Hill Rd, following it for a mile to reach this excellent, kid-friendly information center that has an exhibit hall, bookstore and 2.2 miles of trails that wrap around the nearby lake. There are displays on the life cycles of salmon, daily wildlife films and naturalist-led outdoor programs.
This excellent visitors center is among Kenai’s main attractions. The museum features historical exhibits on the city’s Russian heritage, offshore drilling and a room full of stuffed wildlife staring down from the rafters. It also has quality Alaska Native art from around the state. Free movies about the city’s strange history are screened.
The area offers swimming, camping and the beauty of the inlet in a setting that is unaffected by the stampede for salmon to the south. The Kenai Spur Hwy ends in the park after first passing Stormy Lake, where you’ll find a bathhouse and a swimming area along the water’s edge. Discovery Campground has 53 sites on the bluff overlooking Cook Inlet, where some of the world’s greatest tides ebb and flow. The fishing in Swanson River is great, and this is a fine place to end the Swan Lake canoe route.
You’ll either enjoy a peaceful walk through a secluded and beautiful estuary ripe with bird life—or have a ringside seat at the annual salmon dip netting extravaganza, featuring hordes of crazed locals armed with 10-foot poles. The beach road emerges from the forest at a river-mouth lined by dunes, tidally influenced beach, an estuary and broad salt marsh. The woods to the north and south offer a chance to view bald eagles and moose. Several distinct habitats occur within a few hundred yards of the river mouth due to the dramatic change with each tide.The mouth of the Kasilof River was once used by Dena’ina Natives to gather and dry salmon.
Things to Do in Kenai
Whether you want to fish on the famous Kenai River for just one day—or stay and fish for a whole week—this long-standing lodge and guided fishing operator will make you comfortable, boost your skills and send you home with plenty of fish, as well as great stories. For more information call 1-800-478-4100, or visit them on the web at Kenai Riverside Fishing.
Alaska Wildland Adventures pioneered floating the mellow, turquoise Kenai River and has operated continuously since 1977. Join them for a serene 2-hour float, or take on a 7-hour adventure, complete with fun Class II+ rapids and a cruise through a glacial lake. AWA’s Kenai River Scenic Float Trip offers a nice introduction to the river, taking you along a stretch of the scenic Upper Kenai closed to motorized boats. Watch for wildlife as your guide navigates you through the mountain scenery of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. For more information call 1-800-478-4100, or visit them on the web at Kenai River Rafting.
Kayak Adventures Worldwide guides small groups on sea kayaking excursions in Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park. Paddle along with the heartbeat of the water, enjoying marine wildlife and Alaska’s impressive glaciers. Guides focus on safety, education, and eco-awareness for maximum enjoyment with minimal impact. For more information call 907-224-3960, or visit them on the web at Kayak Adventures Worldwide.
A fleet of fast, modern boats takes you to specifically selected tidewater glaciers as you watch for puffins, cormorants, sea otters, Dall’s porpoises, sea lions, and more. This veteran tour operator offers a lot of variety with its day trips into Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park. Some tours are designed to please birders or shutterbugs, while some are perfect for families with little kids. You’ll hear the captain’s narration on all of them, sharing his deep knowledge of the Seward area’s history and terrain. For more information call 1-888-478-3346, or visit them on the web at Kenai Fjords Tours.
Mountains, bald eagles and the smooth, balancing exercise of stand-up paddle boarding. This guided outing combines a refreshing workout with gorgeous scenery and wildlife sightings out of the Kenai Peninsula’s Cooper Landing. There are multiple tour options—ranging from beginning experiences to seriously challenging rides. For more information call 907-205-7205, or visit them on the web at Adventure Guru Stand Up Paddleboarding.
Best Kenai Restaurants
$-Inexpensive $$-Moderate $$$-Pricey $$$$-Ultra High End
$$ – $$$ Paradisos Restaurant
$$ – $$$ Veronica’s Cafe
In an Old Town log building dating from 1918, Veronica’s serves espressos and healthy sandwiches and hosts open mics, folk jams and live bands. There’s a warm wooden sun porch filled with flowers – the best place in town to relax with a sandwich. For more information call 907-283-2725, or visit them on the web at Veronica’s Cafe.
$$ – $$$ Louie’s Steak & Seafood
Specializing in Steak and Alaskan Seafood, they have all kinds of meals on the menu and have daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner specials. Whether you enjoy fresh salads, juicy burgers, or succulent specialty steaks you’ll find something on our menu for every taste and pocketbook. On display you’ll find the largest collection of Alaskan trophy animals on the Peninsula, not to mention a variety of unusual antiques. For more information call 907-283-3660, or visit them on the web at Louie’s Steak & Seafood.
$$ – $$$ The Flats Bistro
Enjoy fresh, fun food with excellent service at The Flats Bistro. Visit Flats for wild Alaskan seafood, house-smoked meats and local ales hand crafted in Alaska. They believe in making their food in house and offer hand-made pasta dishes, hand-ground burgers, and home-made desserts. Their deck offers a beautiful view of the Kenai River Flats, with caribou and eagles roaming the area regularly. For more information call 907-335-1010, or visit them on the web at The Flats Bistro.
$$ Brother’s Cafe
The Cafe’s interior reflects the sensibilities of the surrounding area while also paying tribute to Alaska’s storied past. The 2200 square foot restaurant offers the choice to observe passers-by from the Coffee Bar, the surrounding dining room, or the overflow area just outside the Cafe. They have the best burger in Kenai! For more information call 907-335-2233, or visit them on the web at Brother’s Cafe.
Best Kenai Bars
Looking for a great place to recount the day’s fish tales? This is the spot—a fly fishing-themed bar located inside the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge with a deck overlooking the Kenai River. Settle into a rocking chair on the deck with an Alaska-brewed beer or a cocktail. The bar has four Alaskan beers on tap, a selection of 52 wines, and a full bar. And although most people show up just for an afternoon drink, lunch and dinner are also served. The pub fare includes burgers and sandwiches, as well as entrée salads and of course plenty of seafood. For more information call 1-800-426-0500, or visit them on the web at Rafter’s Lounge.
Kenai Joes is located in Old Town Kenai Overlooking the Mouth of the Famous Kenai River! Kenai Joes is The oldest Bar in Kenai, Established in 1935! Best bar in Kenai; Awesome bartenders
The Upper Deck
Beautiful view. Friendly staff. Quiet atmosphere
Main Street Tap & Grill
Your Entertainment & Sports Headquarters on The Kenai! Dancing, Awesome Music, Drink Specials $5 Fireball, $6 Jack Daniels, $20 buckets of Corona, Great Food, The Party is Always Down On Main Street! There is always something going on at Main Street Tap & Grill. For more information call 907-395-0394, or visit them on the web at Main Street Tap & Grill.
Best Kenai Hotels
Just minutes from the Kenai Airport and close to shopping and restaurants, Kenai Aspen Suites Hotel is the newest hotel on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Guests will appreciate complimentary WiFi and generously sized guest suites with fully equipped kitchens and spacious bathrooms. All guestrooms are air conditioned for those warm summer days and nights. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Aspen Suites Hotel.
Tucked half way between Soldotna and Kenai is our little lodge. Ten rooms from efficiencies to one and two bedroom suites with full kitchens. We are clean, quiet and love to help our guests experience the Alaskan dream. We can help you plan the fishing trip of a lifetime or give you a wonderfully quiet weekend getaway. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Eagle Rock Lodge.
Located 5 minutes’ drive to Kenai Beach, this Kanai, Alaska hotel is across the street from Kenai Municipal Airport and less than a mile from the Kenai Rover. Free Wi-Fi is provided in all rooms. A daily breakfast is served to guests. A launderette is also onsite at Airport Hotel Kenai. Kenai Recreation Center is 10 minutes’ walk away from Kenai Airport Hotel. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Kenai Airport Hotel.
Salmon Catcher Lodge is one of the Kenai Peninsula’s premier fishing lodges in Alaska, offering outdoors men and families luxury accommodations in the finest handcrafted spruce log cabins. Each cabin rental unit at our Alaska fishing lodge has been tastefully decorated embracing Alaska’s great outdoors while ensuring luxury and comfort for the most discriminating. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Salmon Catcher Lodge.
Whether it’s your annual fishing trip or for business, their mission is to make you feel at home here at Uptown Motel. With comfortable accommodations, on-site dining and lounge options we’re happy to cater to your needs while you’re here! From seasonal world class fishing to the million dollar views on the beach, Kenai is a great place to be no matter the time of year! For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Uptown Motel.