In summer, the fishing village of Ninilchik is a bustling community that serves as a base for many saltwater charter tours. Halibut is king in Ninilchik, but the opening of the king salmon season around Memorial Day weekend also draws a crowd, as do the delicious razor clams that can be legally dug all year round from the shores of Cook Inlet. Throughout the season, the Ninilchik Fairground hosts a series of rodeos, crowned every August by the Kenai Peninsula State Fair.
Until the mid-twentieth century, Ninilchik was home to an isolated dialect of Russian that incorporated words from the indigenous Dena’ina language. While that language has since been replaced by English, Ninilchik’s history as a Russian settlement can still be seen in its historic buildings from the late 19th century, including the Melania Curis Home, the Ninilchik Village Cache and the first Russian School House.
Driving through Ninilchik on the Sterling Highway, look for exceptional views of the Cook Inlet, which can be observed at your leisure from the highway’s many road-side pullouts.