A rental car is the ticket to adventure in this seven-day driving itinerary, which explores some of the Kenai Peninsula’s best opportunities for wildlife viewing and family-friendly adventures. Also included: an optional two-day visit to Kodiak Island.
Day 1 Anchorage
Alaska has eleven distinct indigenous cultures. Spend your morning at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, learning about these cultures, touring re-created village sites, and seeing examples of traditional singing, drumming and craftsmanship. In the afternoon, rent a car or book a shuttle to climb Flattop Mountain, one of the city’s most popular day hikes. You can also stroll a peaceful, wooded trail in Far North Bicentennial Park or tee off at one of the area’s golf courses, where tee times can run to 10:00 p.m. or later during the summer.
Day 2 Anchorage
Start your day by renting a bike and pedaling the 11-mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, which offers lovely views of Cook Inlet and the surrounding mountain ranges. You have good odds of seeing wild moose in heavily forested Kincaid Park, at the far end of the trail from downtown Anchorage. About midway between those two points you’ll pass Earthquake Park, where a short walking trail and interpretive signs commemorate just a few of the many effects of the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake, the second-largest ever recorded in the world. End the day by renting a car and driving to Potter Marsh, a popular wildlife and bird-viewing wetlands located just south of Anchorage.
Day 3 Seward
Make the 125-mile drive south from Anchorage to Seward via the Seward Highway, a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road. In Seward, book a half-day boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park, where you can see glaciers, glimpse old World War II fortifications, and view a variety of marine wildlife including sea lions, orcas, humpback whales and sea otters. In the evening, consider making the 12-mile drive to the Exit Glacier Nature Center. From there, the toe of the glacier is just a short hike away.
Day 4 Soldotna and Kenai
It’s a 95-mile drive from Seward along the Seward and Sterling highways to Soldotna, which sprawls along the banks of the world-famous Kenai River. Book a float trip to fish for king or red (sockeye) salmon, wander hiking trails in the nearby Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, or continue another 10 miles to nearby Kenai, where you can tour the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church, a National Historic Landmark.
Day 5 Kenai to Homer
From Kenai it’s another 80 miles of scenic driving along the Sterling Highway to Homer, a bustling community of artists, foodies and fishermen that’s also known as the “Halibut Capital of the World.” Take a guided fishing charter, go kayaking, or stroll one of several wide, sandy beaches and the 4.5-mile Homer Spit, a slender finger of land that’s lined with some of the state’s best art galleries and gift shops.
Day 6 Homer
Spend a day enjoying Homer’s relaxing, down-to-earth vibe, or book a day ferry trip to nearby Halibut Cove or Seldovia, both quiet paradises tucked into coves that can only be accessed by boat or float plane.
Day 7 Homer to Girdwood and Anchorage
It usually takes about five hours to make the 220-mile drive from Homer to Anchorage—but leave yourself extra time to stop over in the ghost town of Portage and take a boat tour to the glistening blue face of Portage Glacier. If you’d rather have guaranteed wildlife sightings, head to the nearby Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where you can see moose, bears, elk, musk oxen and other animals in a natural setting. Snag an early dinner in Girdwood, home to a luxury ski resort that operates year-round, and ride the enclosed aerial tram up Mt. Alyeska for spectacular views.
Optional Two-Day Add-on
If you can spare another two days, take a commercial flight from Anchorage or Homer to Kodiak Island, also known as Alaska’s “Emerald Isle.” Rent a car or book a van tour to explore Kodiak’s magnificent coastal scenery or wander the trails at Fort Abercrombe State Historical Park to see the World War II-era coastal defense installations. Local guides can also help you access world-class sportfishing—both freshwater and saltwater—or see the world-renowned Kodiak brown bear, and Kodiak has two excellent museums where you can learn about its rich Alutiiq and Russian heritage.