A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Anchorage: 21°/31°/Freezing rain
Bishop's Beach in Homer is a nice place for a stroll along Kachemak Bay. The Kenai Mountains rise above the bay.
Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center
The visitor center is a window to the largest seabird refuge in the world. From sea stars to sea lions, the year-old facility depicts the amazing diversity of life found in Alaska's island and ocean habitats. Beautiful exhibits and films take visitors on a virtual tour of the 4.9 million-acre Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, into a seabird colony and on a visit to a wildlife biologists' field camp. Guided walks and programs include the slough, tide pools and marine discovery lab. The center is on a 60-acre site, and trails lead to Bishop's Beach. The building also houses beautiful public art, including stained glass, a hand-painted mural of the Aleutian Islands and ceramic wainscoting of an intertidal zone. It is a partnership of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve.
Where: 95 Sterling Highway, Homer
When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, Memorial Day to Labor Day
Alaska SeaLife Center
Explore an exciting undersea world at this facility on the shores of Resurrection Bay. The center is dedicated to understanding and maintaining the integrity of the marine ecosystem of Alaska through research, rehabilitation and public education. View seals, octopuses and sea lions up close and watch puffins dive and swim underwater in a huge viewing tank. Common, Steller's and spectacled eiders are housed in a special outdoor habitat. The center's exhibits also include aquariums with marine invertebrates, a new jellyfish exhibit and the Discovery Touch Pool, where visitors can feel sea stars, anemones and other sea life. Behind-the-scenes tours, scheduled animal feedings, lectures and special presentations take place regularly. Special tours and educational camp can be arranged. There is a gift shop at the center.
Where: 301 Railway Ave., Seward
When: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, April 15 to Sept. 15
Cost: $14 adults, $11 children ages 7-12, free for children 6 and younger; family and group discounts
Phone: 1-800-224-2525, 1-907-224-6300
Carl E. Wynn Nature Center
The 140-acre center run by the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies has several trails, including one that is wheelchair-accessible. The trails lead through wildflower meadows and spruce forests. Guided walks put an emphasis on medicinal and Native uses of plants. Self-guided tours, evening and children's programs also are offered.
Where: Mile 1.5 E. Skyline Drive, Homer
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, June 15 to Labor Day
Cost: $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children younger than 18
Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies
In addition to operating the Wynn Nature Center, the center offers guided natural history tours across Kachemak Bay. The tour includes a 15-minute boat ride, viewing the Gull Island seabird rookery, exploring the intertidal area and guided hikes. The tour leaves from Homer harbor. Reservations are required.
Where: 708 Smokey Way, off Lake Street, Homer
When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, Memorial Day to Labor Day
Cost: $95 adults, $63 children younger than 12
Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby
This is the derby's 20th anniversary with special prizes and events, but it might be difficult to top last year. Don Hanks went home with a 352.6-pound fish and a record payout of $51,298. The largest halibut taken in derby history was 376 pounds. There are prizes for monthly winners, more than $120,000 in tagged fish prizes and a prize for a released fish.
Where: Must leave from and return to Homer harbor
When: May 1 to Sept. 30
Cost: $10 daily
Kenai Fjords National Park
To really enjoy the majesty of the park, hop on a boat and enjoy one of the tours offered. Tours take visitors into the fjords, past glaciers and islands and into the company of a variety of wildlife. Exit Glacier outside Seward is the only part of the park accessible by road. Visitors can walk the trails, listen to programs or get close enough to the glacier to touch the ice if conditions are favorable. The Harding Icefield Trail takes hikers on a seven-mile round-trip hike to an overlook of the ice field, one of the largest in North America. Guided hikes to the ice field are usually offered Saturdays in July and August, and wildlife encounters are possible. The glacier is accessible from Exit Glacier Road.
Where: Outside of Seward
When: Open daily year-round
Cost: Varies depending on tour selected; $5 per vehicle fee to Exit Glacier
Kenai Fjords National Park Service Visitor Center
The center provides information about the park, brochures, maps and a sales area with books and related items. Videos are shown upon request. Ranger talks are scheduled occasionally, and the center has a few displays. Staff members are available to answer questions.
Where: 1212 Fourth St., Seward
When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, Memorial Day to Labor Day
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters
The visitor center provides information on the 2 million-acre refuge, including details about birding, hiking, camping, canoeing, hunting, fishing and lakes. There are wildlife displays, a small gift shop, a mile-long nature trail with interpretive signs and a three-mile-long centennial trail, which opened in 2003. Interpretive programs are offered throughout the summer. The refuge has several free campgrounds.
Where: Ski Hill Road, Soldotna
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Contact Station
Rangers and volunteers staff the facility and provide information on camping, hiking, fishing and boating in the refuge. There are bathroom facilities and a bookstore with natural history information.
Where: Mile 58 Sterling Highway
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily June 3 to late August; also open May 28-29
Kenai River Festival
The festival is a celebration of the river. The family event includes food, crafts, games, live music, puppet shows, a parade, artisan booths and educational programs. The Run for the River, a five-kilometer race, is June 11.
Where: Kenai City Park, Kenai
When: June 11-12
Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center
More than 30 Alaska Native artists will be featured during the center's summer art show, "Alaska 2005: Native Arts Now." The show opens May 13 and closes Sept. 16. Beginning in June, the center is home to three hourlong interpretive programs offered at 3 p.m. Monday is "Science on the Kenai," Wednesday is "Artists on the Kenai" and Friday is "Alaska Heritage Day." Self-guided walking tour maps of Old Town are available. The center is home to Kenai's cultural and natural history museum. Travel and fishing information is provided.
Where: 11471 Kenai Spur Highway, Kenai
When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends May to August
Cost: Free; $3 for the museum and art show
Mount Marathon Race
For the 78th time, a group of racers will climb and descend 3,022-foot Mount Marathon in this unique footrace that starts and ends on the streets of downtown Seward. Hundreds of men, women and youths will enter the race. Other Fourth of July activities include fireworks, games, crafts, food booths, a carnival and a parade.
Where: Downtown Seward
When: July 4
Cost: Free to watch
The museum's main exhibit, "Kachemak Bay: An Exploration of People and Place," continues this summer. The exhibit features community-based videos, photo essays, computer interactive displays and remote video technology to take visitors beyond the museum's walls to historic and contemporary life around Kachemak Bay. Also from June to mid-August is "Alex and Friends," an exhibit on artist Alex Combs and artists influenced by his work. In addition, there are films on bears and the Exxon Valdez oil spill, area cultures and a remote wildlife camera on Gull Island. Ongoing exhibits include local history and culture, commercial fishing, homesteading, marine mammals and aquariums. Outdoors, the "Facing the Elements" exhibition is along the forest ecology trail.
Where: 3779 Bartlett St., Homer
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, mid-May to mid-September
Cost: $6 adults, $5.50 seniors, $3 for children ages 6-18, family $20
Russian River Falls
The two-mile Russian River Trail takes visitors to a viewing platform for the falls. It's a good place to watch salmon navigating upriver, and it's possible to see brown bears too.
Where: Mile 52.6 Sterling Highway
The museum takes visitors on a historical trip through Seward's past. Exhibits include information about the building of the Russian ship the Phoenix in 1794, the founding of the town in 1903, President Warren Harding's visit, the railroad's role in the town, the Iditarod Trail and the 1964 Good Friday earthquake.
Where: 336 Third Ave., Seward
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, mid-May to mid-September
Cost: $3 adults, 50 cents ages 5-18
Seward Silver Salmon Derby
Seward celebrates its 50th derby this summer. Thousands of silver salmon return to the area every August, and the derby is a chance to catch some fish, cash and other prizes. There are dozens of cash prizes totaling more than $100,000, including a $50,000 tagged fish.
Where: Resurrection Bay
When: Aug. 13-27
Cost: $10 daily, $50 for derby
Soldotna Homestead Museum
The museum, located next to the Soldotna Visitor Center, is a collection of homesteading-era buildings. Several of the cabins are furnished. There also are wildlife mounts, Native artifacts and crafts.
Where: Centennial Park Road, Soldotna
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 15 to Sept. 15
Soldotna Progress Days
The annual community event includes a parade, dinner, dances, rodeo, car shows, live entertainment, food and vendor booths.
Where: Parker Park and Soldotna Creek Park, Soldotna
When: July 22-25
Soldotna Visitor Center
The center offers maps and information about the area as well as a 250-foot fish-walk along the Kenai River. There are stairs to the river, and interpretive signs provide details about the river, salmon and the local environment. On display at the visitor center is the late Les Anderson's world-record 97.4-pound king salmon.
Where: 44790 Sterling Highway, Soldotna
When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, mid-May to September