10 Unique Experiences in the Kenai Peninsula

The Last Frontier, America’s Ice Box, Land of The Midnight Sun–however you refer to it, Alaska is known for its vast and gnarly terrain, quaint fishing towns, and unpredictable weather. As part of the creative team at Cotopaxi, I was lucky enough to head up there with eight other crew members to check out how our newest gear would perform in the wild. And while there are an endless number of things to do and places to visit around the Kenai Peninsula, I’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite places and experiences from our time in Alaska. 

In and Around Anchorage:

  • Grab a slice at the Moose Tooth Pub & Pizzeria. They have a great patio with a massive fire pit, and the vibe inside is super cozy. Some crowd favorites among our crew were two of their pizzas: The Call of the Wild (featuring reindeer sausage and a garlic cream sauce) and The Forager (Roasted garlic, mushrooms, truffle oil, and goat cheese? YUM.).
  • Visit the Matanuska Glacier with Dr. Sarah. The glacier itself is unreal–it makes you feel totally minuscule and frequently reminds you how powerful nature truly is. On top of that, Dr. Sarah was outstanding. You can book private tours through her website year-round (weather-dependent), equipment is provided, and tours last about 2 hours. She kept us safe, taught us a lot, and was super generous with her time. 



“I always thought scientists were boring, sitting behind a desk, but then I discovered this and thought, ‘Well this is pretty nice.’” - Dr. Sarah 


  • Stop by Beluga Point on Highway 1. During our drive from Anchorage to Seward, we stopped by Beluga Point to stretch our legs and explore. It’s an archaeological attraction that gets its name from its peculiar whale-like shape. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s and features panoramic mountain views across the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet.
  • Explore Portage Lake. About 45 minutes from Beluga Point and a slight detour off Highway 1 lies Portage Lake, a massive body of water at the foot of Portage Glacier. It’s surrounded by 360-degree mountain views and is part of the Chugach National Forest. We hiked around the lake, dipped our toes in the freezing glacial waters, and saw a massive military plane fly low overhead. (Military plane appearance cannot be guaranteed!)



In and Around Seward:

  • Stay at Millers Landing, a fishing community quite literally at the end of the road in Seward. It’s sprinkled with eclectic fishing gear and tiny cabins right along the water. You can stay at one of the many cabins, rent kayaks, charter a fishing boat, and take water taxis across the fjord. 



  • Take a water taxi to Caines Head for a hike. Only accessible by water taxi or by foot (via extended 14-mile trek), Caines Head State Recreation Area is the scenic site of an abandoned World War II fort. The peak of the moderate 5.5 mile out-and-back hike lies 650 feet above Resurrection Bay, with views of the vibrant fjord below and the sweeping Kenai Mountain Range across the way.



  • Visit and stay at Thumb Cove State Marine Park. Available via water taxi, we spent two days and one night in Thumb Cove. It’s located at the base of three glaciers where you can enjoy secluded beach bonfires, go for a dip, hike around, and stay overnight in charming public use cabins.



  • Check out the public use cabins around Seward. We stayed in Spruce Cabin and Dale Clemens Cabin, but there are many cabins available through recreation.gov and dnr.alaska.gov. Compared to most lodging accommodations, public use cabins are extremely affordable and offer unreal views, seclusion, and a totally unique spot to crash for a few nights. While they’re all slightly different, our cabins included raised bunk bed platforms, wood burning stoves, a dining table, a small counter for cooking, and a pristine outhouse. The cabins don’t come stocked, so make sure you bring your own food, sleeping bags, firewood, toilet paper, and headlamps. 



  • Grab lunch and a souvenir at the Mermaid Grotto Cafe & Boutique. Right in the heart of Seward, the Mermaid Grotto has a coffee bar and boutique on the main floor and a full-service restaurant on the second floor. Some crew favorites from the menu include the Fish On Tacos, the Rock On Roll Sandwich (made with Rockfish), and the rice and veggie Hurricane Bowl.
  • Hike Mount Alice. Located just outside Seward, Mount Alice is a challenging 5 mile hike with 2,975 feet of elevation gain. The hike features dense forests, barren rocky faces, and sweeping views of Seward and Resurrection Bay. 



If you head out to the Kenai Peninsula, we hope you enjoy it as much as we did. But wherever you’re headed, if you’re in need of some tunes along the way check out our Free to Roam playlist, curated by eight crew members and myself, inspired by our time in Alaska.

Caroline Maahs is a writer based in Salt Lake City, UT and one of the crew members on the 2022 Alaska Shoot. Follow along on IG @carolinemaahs