Alaska Travel Diary: A Once-In-A-Lifetime Winter Wonderland Vacation

Greetings to all my fellow adventure lovers and fans of The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. My name is Jillian Hyland and I am an Oregon resident, hospitality professional and traveling addict with an undying wanderlust for life. I’m taking over the blog for the week to share with you my personal experiences traveling to Alaska, on the tailwind of the notoriously-snowy winter season. Before we go any further you should know one thing; it’s not as hard or overwhelming as you might think! Traveling to Alaska, at any time of the year, is absolutely spectacular and easily accessible via major airline. Once you arrive, the welcoming hospitality and over-the-top adventures will fill your heart with more joy than you’ve ever dreamed imaginable. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience!

I recently had the opportunity to take a few days off from my busy city job to enjoy a little vacation time, and as I sat down to plan my trip I couldn’t stop thinking about Alaska. I wanted to visit someplace new that I’ve never been to before, and the wildly rugged yet miraculously scenic Last Frontier was calling my name.

With a goal to unplug and get off-grid, my heart was leading me to a place that would later help me not only decompress, but also totally and completely help me reset my mind and refresh my soul. The unreal scenery, picturesque views, endless outdoor activities to partake in and the ability to observe magnificent wildlife in their natural environment – that’s what I was looking forward to.

So I did it. I took the (metaphorical) polar plunge. I booked my plane ticket and packed my bags. I set out on a solo mission to experience the majestic beauty of the 49th state, all by my lonesome. Just me, myself and the Last Frontier.

Although I was planning the trip of a lifetime without bringing anyone else along to experience the magic with me, something inside me felt brave and untamed. I was ready for this. As the saying goes, “Alaska or bust!”

From the moment I landed at the airport, I was in awe of the state’s beauty, culture and charm. I arrived in Anchorage, Alaska and made my way down to Alyeska Resort. From the moment I arrived, I was wowed by the stunning facilities.

But once I went to the front desk to check in to my hotel room, the warm and friendly service nearly made my heart explode with happiness. Throughout my stay I received perfect turndown service with yummy chocolates and bottled water each day.

Of course, in true Alaskan fashion, the magic kept on pouring in when I actually entered my hotel room and found this perfect little note. Thank you to Amy for speaking right to me with this sweet caption. Coming to Alaska was me, following my star.

For the next five days, I would turn off my cell phone and focus on being present in the moment. Each morning I would wake up and enjoy a good book and a cup o’ joe while looking out the window at one of the most spectacular winter-wonderland views of my life. I had to *pinch* myself a few times to remind me that this was all real… and not just a dream!

During my stay at the resort I utilized several amenities.  I used the pool/hot tub area, onsite grab & go café and the complimentary shuttle that the staff informed me about at check in. All of these amenities were very useful during my stay. Plus, I felt very fancy in my soft, customized Alyeska Resort robe. What a neat touch!

One of the first restaurants I tried was Seven Glaciers at Alyeska Resort. I took the tram up the mountain and almost lost my mind when I experienced pristine panoramic views that (quite literally) looked like something out of my wildest dream.

Once I got to the top of the mountain, I kicked off my dining experience with a photo-op overlooking the Chugach range. This is what winter wonderland looks like in the movies, but who would have ever thought that I’d experience it in person? Absolutely incredible!

I took a brief tour of the restaurant, posing next to all the coolest attractions (of course). Now this is what I call a wine cellar! Wow!

I tried the famous ‘fizz’ drink before ordering some food. It was a very delicious concoction and the service was top-notch. The million dollar views were effortlessly brag-worthy as well.

Alaska came with a lot of firsts for me. For one, I tried sushi for the first time ever! For some reason, I’ve never taken a keen interest in sushi – but Alaska brought out something brave and ambitious inside of me. The end result? Pretty darn delicious if I do say so myself!

One of my nights in Alaska led me to a concert at The Sitzmark Bar & Grill. I loved this place! It was laid back yet super lively and it had that quintessential locals vibe, with friendly people to spark conversations with all through the evening. I had their famous nachos during the concert, which were fantastic! I loved the intimate feel of the bar and the outdoor patio area as well.

I also attended an outdoor snowboard/ski competition one evening at the base of the mountain. This was so cool because I got to watch a phenomenal event where young kids competed in performing tricks. This was hands-down one of the most memorable evenings during my time in Alaska!

One day I went out with Glacier City Snowmobile Tours for an excursion called the Real Deal Tour. Overall, what I enjoyed most about this trip was the friendliness of the staff and the knowledge that they had about the area. It was truly such a learning experience from start to finish, which was an unexpected yet highly welcomed surprise. I also learned that locals call snowmobiling “snowmachining” – just a little insider scoop for anyone who doesn’t already know this top secret intel. 😉

We rode outside of Girdwood through Portage Valley to a place that is actually a historical part of the Iditarod trail. This was another one of those *pinch me* I can’t believe it’s real type of moments.

The tour company had a small cabin in the woods where we stopped and they served the group hot cocoa, cider and fireside reindeer dogs. Eating the reindeer dogs felt so “Alaskan!” This was definitely one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had!

I had never been snow-shoeing before, but was determined to give it a shot. So that’s what I did; I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and I rented snow-shoes for one day from the lodge. They provided me with great information to nearby trails close to the resort. So just like that, I bundled up in my warm Alaskan attire and I set out into the wilderness all on my own.

At the end of the day, I realized that I covered a whopping 8 miles in total. And you know what? I loved every single second of it!  I think my favorite part of this athletic adventure was enjoying the sheer beauty of the trail, listening to nature and taking in the quietness around me. I stopped along the way for several breathtaking photo ops and truly took the time to stop and absorb the scenic wilderness that I was nestled in.

One day I even rented a fat-tire bike to further investigate all of the intriguing trails that run for miles upon miles nearby to the resort.

I used Alpine Air Alaska, Inc. for the glacier landing helicopter tour that I booked one day. I cannot say enough how incredible this experience was! Mind-blowing would probably definitely be an understatement. The pilot made me feel safe and comfortable, and provided me with an immense about of knowledge. My mind was eased knowing that I was in such good hands, and I can’t say enough about how much I appreciated the top-notch hospitality and friendly service. Hands down, I would recommend this glacier landing tour and this reputable company to anyone interested in a once-in-a-lifetime Alaskan experience.

The aerial perspectives from the helicopter provided awe-inspiring beauty that looked like something straight out of a National Geographic magazine. Towering snow-capped mountains mixed with piercing blue glaciers was enough eye-candy to last me a lifetime. The pilot even pointed out some moose down below (which was the first time I’ve ever laid eyes on a real live moose!!!) – simply amazing.

My favorite part of this journey was landing on the glacier. While educating the group with an immense amount of knowledge on our surroundings, the pilot let us walk around and explore the glacial land on an up-close-and-personal level.

The photo-ops that followed were (again) like something from my wildest dreams. This was truly a spiritual, out-of-this-world experience that I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to partake in.

On one of my final days in town, I reconnected with an old college girlfriend and we explored with Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This place absolutely exceeded my expectations!

We cruised around and checked out moose, bears, musk ox, deer, caribou and so much more.

The picturesque mountains surrounded us were so captivating! It was almost as if every photo we snapped deserved to be on the cover of a postcard.

We watched as kiddos screamed in delight and ran alongside the local wolf pack.

At one point in time, I’m pretty sure that this adorable moose tried to give me a smooch. SWOON! All of my dreams have now officially come true. This was way too precious. Moose are my favorite wild animals and this rehabilitation facility provides such a great way for visitors to Alaska (such as myself) to experience the fascinating amounts of local wildlife.

Although I dined at a few restaurants during my time in Alaska, the place that stood out the most was Jack Sprat. The chalet style building located near the base of the mountain had a unique, creative menu that made me want to sample everything in sight.

The food was fresh, local and tasted absolutely delicious. Plus the portion sizes were HUGE, which was nice so that I had a little something extra to take back to the hotel to enjoy later in the evening if I got hungry. The service was very lively and accommodating, while the ambiance was idyllic and inviting.

Before I wrapped up my vacation to head back to the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, I had to pose for the obligatory photo with the big stuffed bear in front of the gift shop at Alyeska. Because… when in Alaska! 😉 After such a magical winter experience, I am definitely planning on returning to Alaska in the summer! At the top of my bucket list, I am interested in doing some warm weather hiking, whale watching and biking on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. If I was able to fall in love with Alaska during the winter, I can only imagine how my adoration of this beautiful state will vastly flourish during the raved-about summer season.

Need travel trips, customized seasonal itineraries or ideas for how to make your trip to The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground positively memorable? Reach out below or feel free to send us a direct message on our website or our Facebook page. Be safe out there adventure hounds, and remember that “it’s not the life in your years – it’s the years in your life.”  Travel, explore, LIVE!

Disclosure: All photos above are copyright of Jillian Hyland with sole usage rights granted to the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council. For photo usage inquiries or content material, please feel free to reach out to Jillian directly by clicking HERE.

Celebrating 12 Incredible Businesses On The Kenai – International Women’s Day

With March 8th, 2017 being International Women’s Day, we thought we’d take a moment to honor some of The Kenai’s most beloved local businesses. Each and every one of these thriving businesses offers a truly unique and special product to the many communities throughout the Kenai Peninsula. Whether you’re looking for a delicious restaurant, a spectacular lodging experience or a once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation planned by experts – you’ll find it in the wonderful list below. Enjoy all that there is to offer on the only place in the Last Frontier known as Alaska’s Playground.

1 – Pizza Boys, Soldotna

Credit: Facebook – Pizza Boys

Located in the heart of Soldotna, Pizza Boys is a local favorite that also attracts visitors from all around the world each busy summer season. Their locally, hand-tossed pizzas will make your mouth water and you won’t be able to resist all the yummy sides. Menu favorites include baked pasta dishes, oven-roasted sandwiches, hoagies, gelato and plenty of beer and wine to go around.

Address: 44686 Sterling Highway, Soldotna, AK 99669.

2 – Grouchy Old Woman B&B, Nikiski

Credit: Facebook – Grouchy Old Woman B&B

Located in North Kenai on the shores of Daniel’s Lake is this charming and utterly idyllic B&B escape. Watch as the moose meander about while your rest peacefully in your own private oasis. You won’t ever forget the warm-hearted hospitality that you’ll receive in this wonderful place.

Address: 48570 North Earl Drive, Kenai, AK 99611.

3 – The Driftwood Inn, Homer

Credit: TripAdvisor

Located in the heart of Old Town Homer is the historic Driftwood Inn. This beachy gem is filled with charm and will make you feel right at home. You’ll soon see why this sweet spot has become a favorite for adventurous families and serious fishermen and women.

Address: 135 West Bunnell Avenue, Homer, AK 99603.

4 – AJ’s Oldtown Steakhouse, Homer

Credit: TripAdvisor

Quite simply put, this little steakhouse is seriously awesome. Nice, big portions and food that is always mouth-watering. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming, but the live music nights really take the experience up a notch. Sip cocktails or shoot pool in a wood–paneled interior that is perfectly Alaskan.

Address: 120 West Bunnell Avenue, Homer, AK 99603.

5 – Angels Rest on Resurrection Bay, Seward

Credit: Facebook – Angels Rest on Resurrection Bay, LLC

Nestled on the shoes of Resurrection Bay is this magnificent waterfront lodging retreat that many refer to as ‘heaven on earth.’ Enjoy exceptionally clean cabins with a million dollar view that is guaranteed to take your breath away. As you gaze out at the picturesque landscape that awaits you, you’ll experience something that looks like a masterpiece paining. Lynda Ann Martin Paquette is the owner of Angels Rest on Resurrection Bay, and she says that her favorite part about operating a business on the Kenai Peninsula is that she “can live independently in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.” This award-winning property is truly a slice of heaven on earth.

Address: 13730 Beach Drive, Seward, AK 99664.

6 – A Cabin by the Pond, Soldotna

Credit: A Cabin by the Pond – Facebook

A Cabin by the Pond is a majestic little cabin getaway located just steps away from the world-renowned Kenai River. The artesian pond on property attracts moose, birds and a variety of wildlife that truly make the area feel like a wilderness escape. With seven different idyllic cabins to choose from, guests that stay here fall in love with cozy cabins and the warm Alaskan hospitality. Plus, it’s located just a mile away from downtown Soldotna. Cathy Sue Sargenser owns the business with her husband Jim, and she says that her favorite part of owning a leisure business is “That’s easy.  The people!  We’re honored to have the opportunity to interact and get to know people from many different nations and cultures.” She continues on by saying that they’ve entertained guests from all around the world, many of which they remain in touch with long after they return home. Lastly, she says that “It’s fun to wake up every morning knowing it will be a new adventure and opportunity to meet new friends.  I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to do.”

Address: 34480 Airport Heights Street, Soldotna, AK 99669.

7 – Odie’s Deli, Soldotna

Facebook – Odie’s Deli

Odie’s Deli is a truly scrumdiddlyumptious deli restaurant located right in town Soldotna off the Sterling Highway. Local favorites include homemade soups, sandwiches, salads, cookies, and many other mouthwatering baked goods. The soft, flavorful breads are savory soups are made from scratch daily. Plus, each week they have a yummy weekly sandwich special. They even have PubQuiz trivia nights every Wednesday at 6pm and Live Music every Friday at 6pm! Tons of fun, great service, undeniably delicious food.

Address: 44315 Sterling Highway, Soldotna, AK 99669.

8 – Main Street Tap & Grill, Kenai

Credit: Main Street Hotel Tap and Grill

There’s always something going on a Main Street Tap and Grill in Kenai! Locals and visitors alike always look forward to Karaoke Wednesday. Plus, every Friday and Saturday night you can enjoy the awesomeness of a Live Band or DJ! Monday’s and Thursday’s they have World Tavern Poker nights. The grill is filled with seriously delicious menu options and it’s always open late. If you’re a sports fanatic, you can always catch your favorite game on one of the many flat screens.

Address: 10800 Kenai Spur Highway, Kenai, AK 99611.

9 – Mykel’s Restaurant, Soldotna

Credit: Facebook – Mykel’s Restaurant

This insanely delicious restaurant offers some of the best food that you’ll probably ever eat in your entire lifetime. The menu is full of delicious steaks, seafood dishes, appetizers and salads – plus a full bar with lots of local beers on tap. They even have live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Tammy Blank is the Chef and Kitchen Manager at Mykel’s Restaurant, a.k.a. the personally directly responsible for all of the mouth-watering things that you will be scarfing down ASAP. Along with Vanessa Robinson, who is the Restaurant General Manager at Mykel’s Restaurant, both of these incredible women work hard to handle all of the behind-the-scenes action that comes with being one of the best places to eat in all of Alaska. Alice Kerkvliet has been the owner of Mykel’s Restaurant for the last 18 years. She says, “I respect and trust these women and am eternally grateful for their help in promoting the tourism industry in our beautiful community and state of Alaska. They handle all the daily responsibilities, plan for the future and evaluate our progress along the way. We love being part of Alaska’s playground here on the Kenai Peninsula!”

Address: 35041 Kenai Spur Highway, Soldotna, AK 99669.

10 – Everything Bagels, Kenai & Soldotna

Credit: Facebook – Everything Bagels

This is a new name on the Kenai Peninsula, and one that the locals have quickly fallen head-over-heels in love with. Pamela Parker and her husband started Everything Bagels in their personal kitchen in February 2016. Six months after baking our first batch of bagels, they opened there store in Soldotna with their new business partners, Brooke and John Campbell. After just six more months passed, they expanded again to open their second location in Kenai. Grab a fresh baked bagel with hand-made cream cheese and you will fall in love at first bite, we guarantee it!

Soldotna Address: 44539 Sterling Highway.

Kenai Address: 610 Attla Way.

11 – Aksala Alaska, Seward

Credit: visitalaska907.com

The team at Aksala Alaska loves to “live, work, and play Alaska.” They are passionate about the beautiful state of Alaska, and they love to share it with travelers from all around the world! Go to Aksala Alaska for lodging, transportation, plus adventures and tours from Kenai Fjords National Park to Denali National Park. “Go the local way, go AKSALA ALASKA

Address: 209 4th Avenue #1, Seward, AK.

12 – Soldotna Inn, Soldotna

Credit: Facebook – Soldotna Inn

The comfortable and cozy Soldotna Inn is located right near the Y in the heart of Soldotna. These affordable rooms offer a great value close to all of the best fishing holes and hiking trails. Cindy Jackinsky is the Hotel Manager that spends her days working hard to assure that operations are running efficiently while balancing the art of guest service being the utmost priority at all times. CarolAnn Wagner is the Head Housekeeper, a.k.a the behind-the-scenes ninja that keeps the fundamentals flowing like a well-oiled machine. Alice Kerkvliet has been the owner of Soldotna Inn for the last 18 years. She says, “I respect and trust these women and am eternally grateful for their help in promoting the tourism industry in our beautiful community and state of Alaska. They handle all the daily responsibilities, plan for the future and evaluate our progress along the way. We love being part of Alaska’s playground here on the Kenai Peninsula!“

Address: 35041 Kenai Spur Highway, Soldotna.

A huge “thank you” to each and every one of these incredible businesses (and all of their extraordinarily hard-working teams) for all that you do to serve our community. Locals and visitors alike are grateful to have so many top-notch restaurant, lodging and adventure establishments to choose from on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground.

17 Wildly Entertaining Winter Events That Everyone On The Kenai Loves

Credit: Leif Hagen

Credit: Leif Hagen

Even though winter is getting ready to (hopefully) come to a close, we wanted to break into the March Madness spirit with a compilation of exceptional winter events held right here on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. Because this time of year, we all need a little extra something to help beat those wintertime blues. Without further ado, check out some of the most action-packed winter wonderland activities on the Kenai Peninsula and get ready to fall in love with the snowy season all over again.

Credit: Eric Teela, Flickr

Credit: Eric Teela, Flickr

1 – Seward Polar Bear Jump
The Seward Polar Bear Jump is held each year during the month of January in the beautiful town of Seward on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. This fun event was started over 30 years ago in 1986. Come out dressed in your best funny costume and plunge into the waters of Resurrection Bay to help raise money for the Alaska Division of the American Cancer Society. For event information, click HERE.

Credit: Seward City News

Credit: Seward City News

2 – Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race
This fun event usually kicks off around the end of January, and is an absolute ball of a time that the whole family will get into. Founded in 1983, the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race (T-200) is a non-profit organization that generally runs every winter on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. Over the years it has grown its reputation to draw competitive distance mushers from Alaska, the lower 48 states as well as international locations. For more event information and to view the locations along the trail, click HERE.

Credit: Clint Pickarsky

Credit: Clint Pickarsky

3 – Holiday Event at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage
Held in the middle of December of each year, the holiday fun at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is the perfect way to ring in the magic of the season on The Kenai. Visitors can enjoy fun animal programs, crafts, pictures with some of your favorite Christmas characters and so much more. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Facebook

Credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Facebook

4 – Frozen RiverFest in Soldotna
Held in February of each year and organized by the Kenai Watershed Forum, this fun winter event is absolutely jam-packed with chilly weather fun. This epic outdoor party offers fun for the whole family including bon fires, live music, food vendors, games and a beer garden. Simply put; this is where you need to be on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Soldotna Parks & Recreation, Facebook

Credit: Soldotna Parks & Recreation, Facebook

5 – Winter King Salmon Tournament in Homer
Held every year at the end of winter during the month of March, the Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament is the place where angling addicts go to reel in massive king salmon from the saltwater shores in Kachemak Bay. This one-day tournament awards tens of thousands of dollars in prize money to the largest kings caught, with the top earners being in the first, second and third place spot. This event has grown to an enormous size over the years and is one of the most anticipated annual fishing tournaments on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. In fact, in 2016 over 1500 fisherman and 480 boats competed. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament, Facebook

Credit: Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament, Facebook

6 – Taste of the Kenai in Soldotna
This is a culinary experience that is sure to delight your taste-buds and overwhelm your senses. Enjoy sampling a variety of foods and drinks from local businesses all over the Kenai Peninsula, while taking part in the raffle and silent auction.  KPTMC created this event to highlight the unique culinary experiences on the Kenai Peninsula, and it has grown to be one of the most anticipated culinary events of the year. The Taste of the Kenai is held every year in March and rotates locations in the central Kenai Peninsula area. This year it will be located at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on March 31, 2017. For more event information and to buy your tickets today, click HERE.

Credit: The Kenai, Alaska's Playground, Facebook

Credit: The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground, Facebook

7 – Christmas Comes to Kenai
Kick off your winter season each year with this incredible event hosted by the Kenai Visitor & Cultural Center. The fun starts the day after Thanksgiving in November and includes a wow-worthy parade, fun with Santa and his elves, craft fair, bonfire, yummy goodies and hot cocoa, followed by the grand finale fireworks in the evening. This is the best way to dive right into the magic of the season on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Peninsula Clarion

Credit: Peninsula Clarion

8 – Tsalteshi Trails Ski-for-Women Event in Soldotna
While the name of this fun Nordic skiing event might make you think that it’s just for women, you’re wrong! Everyone is invited to join in on the awesome outdoor action. Dress up in the wildest outfit you can find and make your way to Tsalteshi Trails on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground to enjoy a skiing event on Super Bowl Sunday. The event generally begins at 11am so you’ll be back home in time for kick-off. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Tsalteshi Trails, Facebook

Credit: Tsalteshi Trails, Facebook

9 – Movie in the Park at Soldotna Creek Park
It doesn’t get more Alaskan than this on The Kenai! Grab the whole family and head over to Soldotna Creek Park to enjoy a movie outside underneath the dark winter sky. Organized by the Soldotna Parks & Recreation Department, attendees should expect to bundle up and dress for cold weather while they enjoy warm cocoa, hot pizza and unlimited outdoor fun. Each winter there are four outdoor movie events to look forward to, with varying times and dates each year. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Soldotna Parks & Recreation, Facebook

Credit: Soldotna Parks & Recreation, Facebook

10 – Homer Winter Carnival  
Alaska’s halibut fishing capital of the world is a fun destination to visit, no matter what time of year it is. The fun carnival festivities are held on the second weekend in February of each year and offer the perfect solution for beating those pesky winter blues on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Active Rain

Credit: Active Rain

11 – Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival in Seward
Seward’s Nordic Ski Club offers the perfect way to get jazzed about winter from the cozy comforts of an indoor theatre. If you live in this region on The Kenai, be sure that you don’t miss this incredible viewing event with a tasty pot-luck to go along with it. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: WinterWildlands.org

Credit: WinterWildlands.org

12 – Torchlight Parade & Fireworks on New Years Eve – Girdwood
We’ll keep this short and sweet; Alyeska Resort is exactly where you need to be on New Years Eve each year. The epic fun that you’ll have both participating in the parade down the slopes and viewing the incredible fireworks show is simply unmatched. While it might not be located directly on The Kenai, we can’t say enough great things about these wonderfully action-packed festivites. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Alyeska Resort

Credit: Alyeska Resort

Credit: Alyeska Resort

Credit: Alyeska Resort

13 – Peninsula Winter Games in Soldotna
Held in January of each year, kiddos and entire families flock to the festivities at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex to burn off all that extra cooped-up winter energy. Hosted by the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, there is no denying that this super-fun winter event on The Kenai is one that you will completely regret missing. Enjoy games, contests, tournaments, fireworks and so much more. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Nikki OConnor

Credit: Nikki OConnor

14 – Holiday Weekend in Seward  
Generally held on the first weekend in December, this fun holiday bash is a blast that Seward residents on The Kenai look forward to each and every year. This old fashioned holiday festival includes local bazaars and craft shows, fun at the Alaska SeaLife Center and a glorious Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in the evening hours. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Seward.com

Credit: Seward.com

15 – Alaska Railroad Holiday Trains
The Alaska Railroad Holiday Train kicks off in Alaska’s largest city of Anchorage and winds down the stunningly beautiful Turnagain Arm towards The Kenai. These excursions depart on a three separate Saturdays in December and have AM and PM departure times. The experience that you will have is so magical that it will likely become a cherished family tradition. Bring the kids and enjoy sweet treats while visiting with Santa Claus and his happy, friendly elves. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Alaska Railroad, Facebook

Credit: Alaska Railroad, Facebook

16 – Christmas in the Park in Sodotna
Gather up your friends and family and head to Soldotna Creek Park on a weekend early in December to enjoy the spectacular tree-lighting festival. Enjoy cookies, cocoa, chatting with Santa Claus, a Christmas movie in the park and a spectacular tree-lighting event at the end of the night. This is a sure-fire way to plunge yourself right into the magic of the holiday season on The Kenai. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Soldotna Creek Park, Facebook

Credit: Soldotna Creek Park, Facebook

17 – Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center Fat Bike Event
The first annual Fat Tire Bike Event was held in January of 2017 at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage, and we have a feeling that it’ll be around for quite some time to come. Load up the kiddos or bring a group of your friends with you and enjoy biking around the snowy grounds while observing all the beautiful wildlife. It’s impossible not to have fun at this special place. For more event information, click HERE.

Credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Facebook

Credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Facebook

Did we miss any of your favorites? If so, let us know and we’ll be happy to add them to the list!

25 Surefire Ways To Have A Holly, Jolly Christmas On The Kenai

PC: hoomrun.com

PC: hoomrun.com

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground! If the chilly days and heavy snowfall has you itching to get out of the house, don’t fret – we’ve got you covered! This epic list will keep you covered from outdoor adventures, to sweet indulgences, to scrumptious local restaurants, to fun community events and just about everything in between. No you won’t have a single excuse not to have a holly, jolly Christmas on The Kenai!

PC: Sebastian Saarloos

PC: Sebastian Saarloos

1 – Surround yourself with those that you love the most.

PC: Christopher Porter - Flickr

PC: Christopher Porter – Flickr

2 – Give to those in need and make your heart smile a little extra.

PC: Wonderlane - Flickr

PC: Wonderlane – Flickr

3 – Drive through some new neighborhoods and soak in all the sparkling Christmas lights.

PC: Joey Tripp - Flickr

PC: Joey Tripp – Flickr

4 – But first, stop by a local coffee shop for a caffeine and hot chocolate fix. Peppermint mochas anyone?

PC: Veronica's Café - Facebook

PC: Veronica’s Café – Facebook

5 – Grab your special someone and enjoy a walk by the river while soaking in a magical winter, wonderland view.

PC: Visit Soldotna - Facebook

PC: Visit Soldotna – Facebook

6 – Find a sledding hill and let the kiddo’s burn off all that sugar from the candy, cookie and fudge overload.

PC: OakleyOriginals - Flickr

PC: OakleyOriginals – Flickr

7 – Go wildlife viewing and show your visitors just how epic your backyard truly is.

PC: NorthernLights Designs - Facebook

PC: NorthernLights Designs – Facebook

8 – Rent a hotel room for the night and enjoy some quiet time away from all the stresses of everyday life.

PC: Land's End Resort - Facebook

PC: Land’s End Resort – Facebook

9 – Or take a weekend trip to a cozy B&B and enjoy a splendid change of scenery, without having to travel far.

PC: Escape For Two - Facebook

PC: Escape For Two – Facebook

10 – Take a snowy walk on the beach with your four legged companions.

PC: songwoman - Facebook

PC: songwoman – Facebook

11 – Get involved with festive community events and enjoy fun for the whole family.

PC: Soldotna Creek Park - Facebook

PC: Soldotna Creek Park – Facebook

12 – Cheat on your diet before the New Year rolls around! Visit some of The Kenai’s best bakeries and candy shops and indulge a little, won’tcha. Apple fritter anyone? We’ll take two!

PC: The Moose Is Loose - Facebook

PC: The Moose Is Loose – Facebook

13 – Got Christmas shopping to do? Shop local! Visit some of The Kenai’s most creative boutiques, seafood processors, automotive outfits and more. Support local businesses because it just feels good!

PC: KenaiPeninsula.org

PC: KenaiPeninsula.org

14 – Bundle up and enjoy a snowshoeing adventure into the peaceful backcountry.

PC: Outpost USA

PC: Outpost USA

15 – Or fuel your need for speed with a downhill skiing or snowboarding excursion at Alyeska Resort.

PC: Alyeska Resort - Facebook

PC: Alyeska Resort – Facebook

16 – Take a mini road trip and enjoy some of The Kenai’s most charming mountain towns that are straight out of a storybook.

PC: Mapio.net

PC: Mapio.net

17 – Go horseback riding, bring the kids to pet the horses or enjoy a one horse open sleigh ride that’ll transport you straight into winter wonderland.

PC: Alaska C & C Horse Adventures - Facebook

PC: Alaska C & C Horse Adventures – Facebook

18 – Or load up the sled and take the dogs for a long run on the snowy trails.

PC: Marc Lester AP

PC: Marc Lester AP

19 – It’s not Christmas on The Kenai until you’ve sat on Santa’s lap and met some of his elves!

PC: Scene of the Crash - Facebook

PC: Scene of the Crash – Facebook

20 – A white Christmas and a Northern Lights show? We should be so lucky! This is one that is definitely worth losing some sleep over!

21 – Head up to the Caribou Hills and enjoy a snow machining adventure with epic panoramic views.

PC: Swanson Snapshot

PC: Swanson Snapshot

22 – Visit your favorite local restaurants and ask for the ‘seasonal specialty’. Your taste buds just might get a major dose of flavorful nostalgia!

PC: Yelp - Billy A.

PC: Yelp – Billy A.

23 – Unplugging is good for the soul! Rent a public use cabin in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and enjoy a night in the woods without any distractions. A hot fire and a yummy s’mores tastes better in the wintertime, we promise!

24 – Throw the drift boat in the water and enjoy wetting some frosty lines without all the summertime congestion.

PC: YouTube

PC: YouTube

25 – Or find a local lake, load up with Christmas yummies, pop the ice shanty up and enjoy a day of festive ice fishing.

PC: Alaska's Angling Addiction, Peninsula Clarion

PC: Alaska’s Angling Addiction, Peninsula Clarion

Wishing all of our friends, family and fans of The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground a safe and joyous holiday season!

10 Restaurants On The Kenai That Serve Mouthwatering Alaska Seafood

PC: Jessica Spengler - Flickr

PC: Jessica Spengler – Flickr

With our incredible lakes, rivers and ocean access, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll find countless places to access fish on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. Although you can go out and catch your own, there is just something extra special about eating mouthwateringly delicious seafood made to perfection by an passionate, creative chef.

PC: Ang - Flickr

PC: Ang – Flickr

All of these spots throughout the Kenai Peninsula offer something uniquely different from the next, yet they all have one thing in common; a dedication to sourcing local seafood. From salmon, halibut, cod and rockfish to scallops, shrimp, oysters and king crab. If wild, natural, sustainable Alaska seafood is the name of your game, your options are truly limitless when you check out any of these great restaurants.  For a finished product that is simply decadent, choose one of these excellent spots for your next date night out. Note: These restaurants are listed in no particular order, meaning… we love them all equally!

PC: woodleywonderworks - Flickr

PC: woodleywonderworks – Flickr

1: AJ’s Old Town Steakhouse & Tavern – Homer. Located on Bunnell, AJ’s is the place to go after a long day of playing outside in the ‘halibut fishing capital of the world’. The warm and cozy atmosphere mixed with the excellent food and outgoing service will make you want to come back time and time again.

PC: Facebook

PC: Facebook

2:  The Duck Inn – Soldotna. Located off K-Beach road, this awesome restaurant offers a cozy and laid back atmosphere with great food that consistently delivers. The blackened salmon sandwich is a local favorite but we’re pretty certain that you’ll love just about anything you try.

PC: Facebook

PC: Facebook

3: The Chart Room at Land’s End Resort – Homer. Located at the end of the Homer Spit is one of the best restaurants in town, the Chart Room. Enjoy fresh Kachemak Bay Oysters, Alaskan Bouillabaisse or King Crab Legs with one of the most breathtaking views in all of Alaska.  

PC: Facebook

PC: Facebook

4: Chinooks Restaurant – Seward. Located on 4th Avenue with an enchanting view overlooking the boat harbor, this restaurant offers fabulous daily specials, delicious drinks and some of the most tasty selection of wild Alaska seafood that we’ve ever experienced. We love the pan roasted halibut, smoked scallops, smoked scallop mac-n-cheese and the pecan crusted cod. YUM!

PC: Facebook

PC: Facebook

5: Inlet View Restaurant – Ninilchik.  Located off the Sterling Highway, this cozy little spot is a great place to pull over and enjoy a delicious seafood dinner and a couple drinks while watching the sunset in the distance. We were especially fond of the service and warm atmosphere that was experienced here.

PC: Facebook

PC: Facebook

6: Mykel’s Restaurant – Soldotna. Located off the Kenai Spur Highway, this fantastic restaurant is a local favorite. With great service and a relaxing atmosphere, you’ll love dining on seafood favorites such as the walnut crusted salmon with raspberry beurre blanc, Kodiak scallops, garlic pan seared halibut and the tempura prawns. It’s all so mouthwateringly delicious!

PC: Facebook

PC: Facebook

7: Anchor River Inn & Restaurant – Anchor Point. Located off the Old Sterling Highway, this neat spot is a great place to fill up on delicious food after a long day of fishing for steelhead. You’ll love the Alaskan style décor and the wonderful service!

PC: Facebook

PC: Facebook

8: Christo’s Palace – Seward.  Located on 4th Avenue, this lovely little spot is a great place to enjoy a date night out. You’ll love the grilled halibut Portobello, seafood sauté, smoked salmon fettuccine and the stuffed baked pasta.  

PC: TripAdvisor

PC: TripAdvisor

9: The Restaurant at Porterhouse Grill – Sterling. Located off the Sterling Highway, this unassuming little spot is an excellent place to have a hearty seafood dinner after a day of fishing on the Kenai River. Try the colossal prawns, halibut or the surf n’ turf if you want to make your taste buds extra happy!

PC: Facebook

PC: Facebook

10: The Flats Bistro – Kenai. This relatively new restaurant located off of K-Beach Road has a spectacular view overlooking the beautiful flats and Cook Inlet. If incredible seafood is what you’re after, try the razor clams, scallops fettuccine, king crab legs, fish and chips or the salmon.

PC: AmericasCuisine.com

PC: AmericasCuisine.com

Now that you’re likely wiping the drool up off your keyboard, be sure to keep these excellent places in mind the next time you plan on eating out. For more great options or recommendations, feel free to give us a call or drop us a message below and we will be happy to help in any way that we can!