7 Itsy Bitsy Tiny Towns On The Kenai That Are Perfect For A Weekend Escape

green-edventures

PC: Green Edventures

One of the many things that we love about The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground is the diverse terrain. Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula truly is home the most spectacular displays of Mother Nature’s distinguished artwork. While we have an obvious obsession with so of the larger towns on the peninsula like Kenai, Homer, Seward and Soldotna – these tiny gems have a special kind of hold on our hearts.

PC: Courtney Stanley

PC: Courtney Stanley

This is the kind of feeling that is indescribable in ways that you’ll only understand if you actually visit and find out for yourself. If you’ve ever been to any of these tiny treasured towns, we’re sure that you’ll get all sorts of nostalgia thinking about memories from the past. And if you’re looking for the perfect place to have a weekend escape with your friends, family or special someone – you’ll want to check every single one of these places off your bucket list this year.

PC: What Up Swags

PC: What Up Swags

1 – Hope

PC: Travel Alaska

PC: Travel Alaska

There is truly so much to do in this tiny little town located down a long, winding road off the Seward Highway heading south on the Kenai Peninsula. Stay in a quaint lodge or cabin, explore the Seaview Café and surrounding inlet sights in the distance. You won’t be able to ignore the mountains views! Fishing is very popular here in the summertime.

PC: Vacation Rental Pics, Hirshey Cabin

PC: Vacation Rental Pics, Hirshey Cabin

Hiking is another very popular activity in Hope. Hike the 5 mile round-trip Hope Point Trail and see stunning views overlooking the famous Turnagain Arm.

PC: Green Edventures

PC: Green Edventures

If your travels bring you to Hope during the summertime, be sure to check out a thrilling whitewater rafting excursion with Chugach Outdoor Center or NOVA River Runners Inc. Check out the awesome YouTube footage below for a sneak peek into all the adrenaline-packed fun you’ll be in for.

2 – Ninilchik

PC: Flickr - Cecil Sanders

PC: Flickr – Cecil Sanders

In this tiny town with a population of around 850 residents, you might be surprised to learn that that is so much to do here. Fishing, hiking, beach combing, atv riding and so much more.

PC: Sarah Elzas - Flickr

PC: Sarah Elzas – Flickr

Head up to the Caribou Hills to ride the ATVs or enjoy beach combing with mind-blowing mountain views overlooking the inlet.

PC: Dan Callahan, Flickr

PC: Dan Callahan, Flickr

It’s impossible to deny one of Ninilchik’s most popular summertime attractions; saltwater fishing! Soak in the most epic mountain views while reeling in massive halibut and slippery salmon. If you aren’t afraid of having a whole lotta’ fun, this is one incredible activity that is calling your name loud and clear!

3 – Clam Gulch

PC: Alaska.org

PC: Alaska.org

This tiny little gem with less than 200 residents is a great place to go escape the crowds and soak up some peaceful tranquility.

flickr-peter-flynn

Spend the weekend playing at the beach, hiking or riding ATVs then prepare for a life-changing sunset view at the end of the day.

bay-realty-blog

Sit back and soak in the scenic beauty of waves crashing against the shore in Clam Gulch by peeping the YouTube video below. If peace and relaxation is what you’re after, this town is meant for you!

4 – Cooper Landing

PC: Where To Willie

PC: Where To Willie

The charming mountain town with some of the bluest water that you’ll ever see. Enjoy fascinating snow-capped peaks and the glacial fed waters of Kenai Lake and the Kenai River.

PC: Ian Collins, Flickr

PC: Ian Collins, Flickr

While the renowned fisheries are incredibly noteworthy within themselves, we also love the glorious hiking opportunities in Cooper Landing. There are also lots of incredible eco-tours in the area such as rafting, horseback riding, kayaking and paddle boarding.

PC: Dan Logan, Flickr

PC: Dan Logan, Flickr

As if you aren’t already convinced that a weekend escape to Cooper Landing is an incredibly good idea, just do yourself a favor and watch the quick six minute video below. The fascinating drone footage will make your heart pound right out of your chest. There really is nothing more glorious than The Kenai!

5 – Moose Pass

PC: Jimmy Emerson, DVM

PC: Jimmy Emerson, DVM

The little drive-by town on the way to Seward, where if you blink – you’ll miss it. Be sure to stop by Tern Lake at the Sterling Highway junction to soak in one of the most picturesque views in all of the state.

PC: Maria Fletcher Stark

PC: Maria Fletcher Stark

Spend the day checking out the gorgeous Trail Lake or head into the backcountry for a backpacking trek to Crescent Lake.

PC: Kevan Dee, Flickr

PC: Kevan Dee, Flickr

Check out the YouTube video below and enjoy seeing the most spectacular aerial footage of Moose Pass from a floatplane. It really is a hidden gem of a town just nestled perfectly in the middle of nowhere.

6 – Nikiski

PC: Dan Logan, Flickr

PC: Dan Logan, Flickr

This community out north on the Kenai Spur Highway is a lot more than just an oil & gas town. For starters, the voluptuous volcanic views are guaranteed to take your breath away.

PC: Travis, Flickr

PC: Travis, Flickr

Where the gravel road ends, the epic trail riding begins. This is a locals spot that offers non-stop muddy fun from dusk until dawn. Head to Captain Cook State Recreational Area for some hiking, beach combing, horseback riding or a long walk on the beach with your dogs.

PC: Amy Meredith, Flickr

PC: Amy Meredith, Flickr

Here’s the thing; Nikiski is heavily underrated. When you head all the way out that north road, you literally can escape into a realm of total peace and quiet. We happen to love Captain Cook State Recreation Area, partially because nothing beats the sunset views at the locale. Just check out the great YouTube video below and see for yourself.

7 – Seldovia

PC: John M, Flickr

PC: John M, Flickr

This idyllic little coastal town is worth the ‘off the beaten path’ trip in. Head down to Homer and hop on a boat or the ferry and make your way over the Seldovia, population 280.

PC: Andrea Pokrzywinski

PC: Andrea Pokrzywinski

Popular activities in town include beachcombing, hiking and some of the most incredible saltwater fishing on the Kenai Peninsula. Seldovia also has incredibly charming lodging options and some delicious eateries as well.

PC: Andrea Pokrzywinski

PC: Andrea Pokrzywinski

The utterly phenomenal YouTube video below from Seldovia Native Association Inc. will make you fall madly in love with Seldovia, if you aren’t already head over heels. Give it a quick peep and get ready to plan your 2017 vacation getaway to this coastal paradise.

That’s all for now, friends! Get out and explore all these sweet hidden gems that can only be found right here on the Kenai Peninsula.

20 Undeniable Reasons Why Everyone Should Love Alaska

Photo from kathika.com.

Photo from kathika.com.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like summer out there! The 49th state is a glorious place for freedom lovers and wilderness adventurers. The last frontier is more than just a place for the wildlife to roam free, it’s an outdoor mecca for anyone looking to experience some of the most beautiful, untouched land in all of the world. We will give you 20 undeniable reasons why everyone should love Alaska, but we all know that this is a topic we could sing the praises to for well over 20 lines. 😉

#1 – Seclusion. Sure the city lights can be luring, but Alaska has the lowest population density in the nation at one person per square mile. The perfect place to unplug and drink life in.

#2 – Natural Hot Springs. The U.S. Geological Survey identifies 79 thermal springs in Alaska.

Photo from www.alaska.org of Chena Hot springs.

Photo from http://www.Alaska.org of Chena Hot springs.

#3 – Snow days in Alaska are not ordinary whatsoever. Winter is nothing short of EPIC. Drive right out your front door and go cross country skiing or snow-machining in a total backcountry paradise.

Photo from crestedbutteguides.com.

Photo from crestedbutteguides.com.

#4 – 24 hours of daylight. Otherwise known as “the land of the midnight sun.” This means, more time to play during the warm summer months. Alaskans have a motto: we will sleep in the wintertime, just like the bears!

Photo from www.adn.com.

Photo from http://www.adn.com.

#5 – Aurora Borealis. The beautiful colors of the Northern Lights do all the talking for themselves. Seeing these gorgeous dancing lights in person is a MUST for everyone’s lifetime bucket list.

Photo from northtosouth.us.

Photo from northtosouth.us.

#6 – Sunrises. One word: breathtaking. We would say more, but we are speechless.

#7 – Fishing. The fishing and seafood industry is the state’s largest private industry employer. Such a fun activity for the sport fisherman as well as the whole family.

#8 – Hiking. For the active, outdoor enthusiast- Alaska is the place to be. Whether you are a beginner or an expert hiker looking to go off the beaten path, hundreds upon thousands of hiking trails make up this beautiful state.

#9 – Water babies, unite! There are more than 3,000 rivers and 3 million lakes in Alaska.

Photo from ehfcmembers.wordpress.com.

Photo from ehfcmembers.wordpress.com.

#10 – National Parks. Alaska has 8 National Parks, the second largest amount of any other state in the USA. All but two are actually classified as both National Parks and National Preserves.

Photo from hqworld.net.

Photo from hqworld.net.

#11 – Island living. Don’t think of “island life” when you think of Alaska? Think again. Alaska has 2,670 named islands making this the state perfect for those who want their own slice of Alaskan paradise.

Photo from www.wsj.com.

Photo from http://www.wsj.com.

#12 – Alaska or bust! “The mountains are calling, and I must go!” Of the 20 highest peaks in the United States, 17 are in Alaska.

#13 – Forests. The country’s largest and second-largest national forests are in Alaska. The 17-million-acre Tongass and the 5.6-million-acre Chugach. Both lie in southern Alaska and protect temperate rain forests and coastal mountains.

#14 – Glaciers. There are 616 officially named glaciers in Alaska however the Alaska Almanac estimates that Alaska has over 100,000 glaciers.

#15 – Arctic Tundra. This refers to treeless ecosystems where winters are long and cold, and summers are short and (usually) chilly. With a view like this, it’s hard not to fall in love.

#16 – Dog mushing is our state sport! And what’s not to love about that? In our book, the more dogs- the better! There is something so spectacular about the relationship between hard working dog mushers and their resilient, athletic dogs.

Photo from animalaska.wordpress.com.

Photo from animalaska.wordpress.com.

#17 – A birders paradise. Alaska has over 430 species of birds with the largest population of bald eagles in the entire nation.

#18 – A bear viewing mecca. Alaska is home to 98% of the US brown bear population and 70% of the total North American population. An estimated 30,000 brown bears live in Alaska.

#19 – We have the highest mountain peak in North America, Mt. Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley). Sitting 20,310 feet above sea level, Mt. Denali is the third most prominent and isolated mountain in the world.

Photo from en.wikipedia.org.

Photo from en.wikipedia.org.

#20 – Sunsets. We will let the picture do all the talking. But really though, how could anyone resist this stunning eye candy?

Photo from fineartamerica.com.

Photo from fineartamerica.com.

Everyone Must Visit Kasilof Mercantile & Rocky’s Café

r1

As you head south from Soldotna towards Kasilof (in the direction of Homer), you will come across Rocky’s Café and the Kasilof Mercentile on the left hand side of the Sterling Hwy, right before you hit the bridge that goes over the Kasilof River.

r16

The sign says café and espresso but there is SO much more at this great Alaskan place than just those two things. Upon pulling into the parking lot, we loved checking out all the cool displays that screamed “you are in a fishing town in Alaska.” First up was this huge salmon hung up with cool mile arrows telling you how far it is to more “civilized” areas. Paris, France is 4883 miles away – holy smokes! We certainly are remote up here on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground (and we love it that way).

r3

We also LOVED this swinging bench with old license plates from all around the United States. Perfect for a family photo op after enjoying a good meal inside. Apologies for the slightly blurry outside photos. When you arrive at 8:30pm on an empty stomach, it’s hard to keep your hands totally steady when your stomach is growling at you. 😉

r2

What stuck out to us was the attention to detail that this establishment truly put so some much care and emphasis on. As you read on you will see what we mean. Every direction you turn is beautifully decorated in the most Alaskan way possible. And it starts with these beautiful carved bears that great you upon entering.

r4

The first thing you see when coming in is a stocked up gift shop. For locals and visitors alike – there is something for everyone. Cool tee’s, hoodies, mugs, artwork, treats and so much more.

r15

As we walked to our table, we loved how clean and cozy the restaurant was. We also loved all the natural light that was coming in through the many windows. The exposed beams with hanging fans were also a very exquisite touch.

r9

We couldn’t help but to feast our eyes on all the beautiful stained glass. The wood and metal fish mounts were really cool as well.

r12

The Alaska themed artwork was also so beautiful to just stare at in amazement. Beautiful photos of epic wildlife found on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground.

r11

Then there is this epic paining of the mountains and inlet with float planes and fishing boats. Phenomenal! So very cool and so very fitting.

r10

The huge fireplace located right across from our table made us dream of returning during the snowy winter months. This would be the perfect spot to warm up next to the fire while enjoying a hearty meal.

r5We were also very impressed by the layout. There is a great amount of seating area (although were sure it gets packed during the summertime), a lengthy bar area and also lots of outdoor picnic tables. For such a small town, this is a rare find!

r6At Rocky’s Café they serve a mix of hearty American style cuisine options including burgers, hot and cold sandwiches, salads, wild Alaska seafood, omelets, pancakes and other fabulous breakfast, lunch and dinner options. We stuck to some traditional favorites. Up first was a delicious Rueben on toasted wheat bread with fries on the side.

r13

And a Kasilof Club on sourdough bread with perfectly cooked tater tots. This is a favorite menu option for many who visit!

r14

On the way out we were pleasantly greeted by the dessert display. Our diets might not have loved us for partaking in this sweetness, but we couldn’t resist homemade cakes.

r8

And then there is the ice cream cooler… 😉 Need we say more? We decided that it should be considered illegal to leave Rocky’s Café without getting ice cream on the way out. Far too many fabulous flavors to pass up.

r7

From great food, ice cream, amazing desserts, a warm fire place, a cozy log cabin atmosphere, incredible paintings/artwork/stained glass windows, a gift shop and truly warm hospitality – it’s next to impossible to be disappointed when visiting this great Alaskan spot.

April Fools Day Fun Facts

Photo Credit: Patrick Davis

Photo Credit: Patrick Davis

TGIF! So, if you’re thinking that an “April Fools Day Fact” sounds a bit like an oxymoron, don’t worry – we hear you loud and clear. But hey, we were trying to be catchy and relevant as we ring in the first day of April 2016 on this beautiful Friday morning. So cut us some slack, will ya? 😉

Photo from Donna Shreck

Photo from Donna Shreck

The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground is where anyone goes that wants to see majestic mountains, glorious glaciers and an endless amount of wildlife. In addition to being (hands down) one of the most beautiful places in the entire world, we wanted to share some cool facts with you all to give you a little history about the 25,600 square miles that make up the Kenai Peninsula.

Photo Credit: Daryll Vispo shared from Alaska Magazine

Photo Credit: Daryll Vispo shared from Alaska Magazine

#1 – Of the 25,600 square miles that make up the Kenai Peninsula, only about 15,600 of that is actually land. The rest… you guessed it – splish spash!

Photo shared from The Kenai, Alaska's Playground Facebook page

Photo shared from The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground Facebook page

#2 – The highest point on The Kenai is Truuli Peak. At 6,612 feet above sea level, Truuli is the highest peak in the Kenai Mountain Range, situated to the southeast of the eastern end of Tustumena Lake.

#3 – The WORLD record king salmon was pulled from the Kenai River in 1985 weighing in at 97.25 pounds.

#4 – The estimated size of the Alaska state record halibut was from the Cook Inlet in 1989 weighing in at 466 pounds.

#5 – Oil was first discovered in Alaska in 1957 at the Swanson River.

#6 – The average number of square miles per person on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground is 0.3. Compare that to New York which has 0.003 square miles per person.

Photo from Ray Bulson

Photo from Ray Bulson

#7 – The town of Kenai is the largest city on the peninsula and the sixth largest in the entire State of Alaska.

Photo from Daniel Weber (Flickr)

Photo from Daniel Weber (Flickr)

#8 – Homer is the 14th largest city in the entire State of Alaska.

Photo from Keith Cuddeback (Flickr)

Photo from Keith Cuddeback (Flickr)

#9 – Soldotna is the 15th largest city in the entire State of Alaska.

Photo from Visit Soldotna Facebook page

Photo from Visit Soldotna Facebook page

#10 – The first cannery was built on the Kenai Peninsula in 1882. Talk about the trail blazers!

Photo from Ian Stotesbury

Photo from Ian Stotesbury

Do you have any fun facts about the Kenai Peninsula that you’d like to add to the list? Share in the comments area below!

A Whale’s Tale

Photo from www.sarashoemakerlind.com in Kenai Fjords National Park.

Photo from http://www.sarashoemakerlind.com in Kenai Fjords National Park.

What brings you to The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground? What fuels your love for this massive 25,000+ square miles of land, river and sea? There are a lot of reasons to fall in love with the Kenai Peninsula. For many, the wildlife alone is what keeps them coming back year after year. From land to sea, you will never run out of wildlife sightings that are hard to believe.

Photo from Sleepyibis.

Photo from Sleepyibis.

When you can get up close and personal with 50 ton humpback whale that stretches nearly 50 feet long and 20 feet wide, it’s easy to feel like you are on another planet. Talk about a *pinch me* moment!

Photo from Daryll Vispo Photography taken in Kenai Fjords National Park.

Photo from Daryll Vispo Photography taken in Kenai Fjords National Park.

And when heading out to fish on the salt surprisingly offers you an epic photo-op, you know you’ve struck gold.

Photo from HOWL Alaska in Homer!

Photo from HOWL Alaska in Homer, AK.

Or when a peaceful day of kayaking through Resurrection Bay in Seward, AK causes a sudden intermission. Hold on tight and enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime adrenaline rush!

Photo from Shawn South with Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking.

Photo from Shawn South with Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking.

You really can’t quite put into words how magical it is to see a whole family of orca’s swimming together. Did you know that orca’s form family units, led by the female, that can stick together for decades.

Photo from Kay White via the National Park Service.

Photo from Kay White via the National Park Service.

Mama orca and her little one just popping up to say hello. ❤

Photo from Kenai Fjords Tours.

Photo from Kenai Fjords Tours.

And if you are looking to visit the Kenai Peninsula for a whale-watching tour, be advised that the (human) visitors aren’t the only ones that enjoy checking out the glaciers. 😉

Photo from Kenai Fjords Tours.

Photo from Kenai Fjords Tours.

And if you are planning to go out fishing on the ocean, there is always a possibility that a massive marine animal might pop in to say hello. 🙂

Photo from The Alaska Life in Seward, AK.

Photo from The Alaska Life in Seward, AK.

So whether you choose to go out on a solo adventure or to join a group of like-minded outdoorsy enthusiasts, we are certain that the Kenai Peninsula will leave you with lasting memories that will make you want to come back time and time again.

Photo from Alaska.org.

Photo from Alaska.org.

Need ideas or any help planning your next adventure to The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground? Respond below or call our office directly. Happy planning and happy travels! 🙂

Photo from Alaska.org.

Photo from Alaska.org.