Family-friendly fun keeps everyone entertained

Posted: Friday, February 09, 2007

The reality of school letting out is that about a week into vacation many kids begin to complain that there’s “nothing to do.”

Even kids traveling can get tired of looking at moose and posing for family vacation photos. The Kenai Peninsula offers a variety of indoor and outdoor activities that should satisfy most kids’ tastes and most parents’ pocketbooks.

Candace Ward, park ranger at the Kenai Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center near Soldotna, said whether children live in the area or are just visiting, the peninsula offers outdoor experiences for the avid outdoorsman to those who prefer to stroll from motor homes to scenic view overlooks.

“There is something for everyone and the refuge also offers discovery walks, daily movies, campfire talks and educational programs,” Ward said.

New to the refuge is its Outdoor Education Center. Ward said it will offer hands-on activities for families to participate in.

“Our visitors are usually spur of the moment and we are planning summer activities that will provide them the opportunity to make their own schedule and still enjoy what the refuge has to offer,” Ward said.

For more information and a summer schedule call, (907) 262-7021 or visit online at www.kenai.fws.gov.

Outdoor activities

Fishing — Combat fishing is not for the faint of heart or those without protective head and eye gear. The high-tension environment doesn’t always provide the best fishing opportunities for novice anglers, especially kids.

There are many stocked lakes on the peninsula that can be perfect for those looking for a relaxed experience or who are just learning how to wet a line. For a complete list of stocked lakes on the peninsula, visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Web site at www. adfg.state.ak.us/. It also has current licenses requirements.

“On the refuge there are no stocked lakes but good trout fishing anyway. Those with a small boat, canoe or raft will fair better than those trying to cast off the banks,” Ward said. “Our lakes tend to be very marshy, and if you can maneuver around the quieter places and past the water plants you will do fine.”

Hiking — Hiking and biking trails traverse much of the peninsula. Here are a few examples:

Russian Lakes Trail — the trail head is 1 mile down Russian River Campground Road, at Mile 52 of the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing. This moderate trail leads to lower Russian Lake and Russian River Falls. Resurrection Trail — the trail head is at Mile 53 of the Sterling Highway. This moderate trail noted as “a serious challenge for bikers” is a 38-mile stretch from its trail head on the Sterling Highway to the town of Hope. Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna behind Skyview High School are for hikers and bikers who’d like to stay closer to town. For trail conditions, trail maps and complete information, visit www. tsalteshi.org. These trails are maintained by the Tsalteshi Trail Association, (907) 262-6257.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge — The headquarters in Soldotna offers easy hiking trails as well as one of only two national canoe systems in the country. Visitors can explore the waterways for day and overnight trips by taking out their own canoes or hiring commercial operations.

The Kenai River Festival — This festival includes a number activities, including educational programs for children. Call the Kenai Chamber of Commerce for dates.

Beaches — The peninsula provides ample spots for sea viewing and agate hunting. Visit the Kenai public beach off Spruce Drive and Nikiski beach at Captain Cook State Recreation Area; also try calling the Homer and Seward chambers of commerce for complete beach combing opportunities there.

Wildlife viewing — There is no one best place to go for this popular, easy and cheap activity, because the peninsula’s abundant wildlife is always on the move. The best bet is to just keep your eyes peeled. The Kenai River flats offer a chance to see birds, moose and caribou, while Captain Cook State Recreation Area in Nikiski is home to everything from birds and fish to moose and bears. Enjoy observing animals in the wild, but remember they are called wildlife for a reason. Keep a safe distance away, keep food in sealed containers and pull completely off the highway so you don’t cause a traffic jam.

Indoor activities

Anyone who might need a respite from slapping mosquitoes can take part in the some of the following activities that may appeal to kids.

Arcade, miniature golf — The Short Stop, 43750 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Soldotna, (907) 262-5112.

Bowling — Alaska-Lanes Family Bowling Center, Kenai, 283-3314; and Kachemak Bowl, Homer, (907) 235-8666.

Go-cart racing — The Go-Kart Race Track, 4487 Sterling Highway, Soldotna (907) 262-1562.

Boys and Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula — Boys and Girls Club, Homer, 235-2772; Boys and Girls Club, Soldotna, 260-7085; Boys and Girls Club, Kenai, 283-2682.

Museums and art centers — Kenai Fine Arts Center, Kenai (907) 283-7040; Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau, Kenai, (907) 283-1991; Chugach Heritage Center, Seward; Alaska SeaLife Center, Seward (907) 224-6300 or toll-free (800) 224-2525; Seward Museum, Seward, (907) 224-3902; Hope and Sunrise Museum, Hope, (907) 782-3740; and Pratt Museum, Homer, (907) 235-8635.

Roller skating — Alaska’s Great Skate, Soldotna, (907) 262-9880.

Summer reading programs — These programs are offered at libraries on the peninsula. Each offers a themed program encouraging children to continue reading for fun: Anchor Point Public Library, (907) 235-5692; Cooper Landing Library, (907) 595-1241; Homer Public Library, (907) 235-3180; Kasilof Public Library, (907) 252-1120; Kenai Community Library, (907) 283-4378; Ninilchik Community Library, (907) 567-3333; Seward Memorial Library,(907) 224-4082; and Soldotna Public Library, (907) 262-4227.

Swimming pools — Many find the lakes and water in Alaska a little colder than they are used to but the peninsula has many pools to compensate for it: Homer High School, (907) 235-7416; Kenai Central High School, (907) 283-7476; Nikiski and North Peninsula Recreation Area, (907)776-8800; Ninilchik School, (907)567-3301; Soldotna High School, (907) 262-7419; and Skyview High School, (907) 262-7675.

Movie Theaters — Homer Theatre, Homer (907) 325-6728; Kambe Theatre, Kenai, (907) 283-4554, Orca Theatre, Soldotna, (907) 262-7003.

For more complete information, call any of the peninsula cities’ chambers of commerce or visit their Web sites.



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