Surrounded by spectacular scenery, wildlife, and a rich cultural history of Native and Russian settlements, Kenai is the heart of Alaskan adventure providing something for everyone. Originally settled as early as 1000 A.D. by Dena’ina Athabaskans, Kenai grew with the influx of Russian fur traders in 1791.

Just 11 miles from Soldotna, via the Kenai Spur Highway, Kenai is easily accessible from Anchorage via a 30-minute flight or 3-hour scenic drive. Stroll sandy beaches with a spectacular view of Cook Inlet, or experience the history of Kenai by taking a self-guided walking tour through historic “Old Town.”

The City of Kenai is on Cook Inlet, 156 miles south of Anchorage and 90 miles north of Homer. It is the largest city on the Kenai Peninsula (pop. 7,800) and is home to the peninsula’s biggest and busiest airport. Its industries include oil, natural gas, commercial fishing and tourism. It has been dubbed the “oil capital of Alaska” because of the extensive oil and gas discoveries nearby and in Cook Inlet.

Explore the City of Kenai’s 350 acres of parks and open spaces. Take a walk on the beach, spend a day fishing the world-famous Kenai River or play a round of golf at the 18-hole municipal golf course. The City of Kenai boasts magnificent views across Cook Inlet and on a clear day you will see three active volcanoes; Mt. Redoubt, Mt. Spur and Mt. Iliamna. At the ‘end of the road’ is Captain Cook State Park, the western end of the Swanson River canoe system and the city is surrounded by the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Self-guided Old Town Walking Tour starts at the Visitors Center and features American and Russian landmarks. It will take you through Old Town Kenai to explore its history and culture including these highlights: The Russian Orthodox Church, a National Historic Landmark, which was built in 1894 and is still used for regular services today. This is the oldest Orthodox Church on mainland Alaska. Kenai Cabin Park consists of five historical cabins moved here and lovingly restored by members of the Kenai Historical Society. The cabins contain photos and objects of historical significance. The 75 mm Howitzer cannon from World War 1, on display near the cabins, was given to the city of Kenai by the Wildwood Military base, which has since become a Correctional facility. Moosemeat John’s Cabin is near the Visitor Center and also part of the walking tour. Named for the owner’s success in hunting moose to feed his family of 13 children. Fort Kenay was built by the U.S. Army in 1869 and housed more than 100 soldiers. In 1967 the fort was reconstructed as part of the Alaska Centennial celebrations.

Kenai Beach is a popular spot for dipnet fishing, which is only allowed for Alaska residents in July. Camping on the beach is available at the same time. Located at the end of Spruce Street.

The Kenai Visitors & Cultural Center welcomes visitors year-round. It houses an impressive permanent collection of Native Alaskan and local artifacts, art exhibits, and is home to the largest collection of mounted bald eagles in North America. In the gift shop you can purchase souvenirs, books, music and local products. During the summer months there is the Saturday Market, a summer food and crafts market that is open from 10am to 5pm. 11471 Kenai Spur Highway. 907-283-1991

The Kenai – Alaska’s Playground: No other destination offers such an up close and personal Alaskan experience. With over 15,000 square miles of extraordinary adventure and excitement to choose from, even the rest of the state comes here when they need a reminder of why they moved to Alaska in the first place. That’s why it’s known as Alaska’s Playground.
Check out Online Specials, a Free Kenai Peninsula Travel Planner and a Free Passport to Adventure on the Kenai. Full of discount coupons for your visit to the Kenai Peninsula. 35571 Kenai Spur Hwy, Soldotna. 800-535-3624

Shortly after establishing Kodiak as a trading center in 1784, the colonizing Russians began to look for other places where similar communities could be set up as “controls” for area rule. Kenai was the first of these “controls.”

In 1791, Russia built Fort St. Nicholas (also known as Saint Nicholas Redoubt) in the midst of an Athabascan Dena’ina community near the present site of Kenai. This became the Russians’ second permanent settlement in Alaska. The Dena’ina hunted, fished, farmed, and trapped in this area but the Russians were only interested in the fur trade.

Alaska became part of the U.S. in 1867. The U.S. Military in Kenai established Fort Kenay from 1867 to 1869. A post office soon followed and a village grew up around it.

In 1957, oil was first discovered in Alaska near the Swanson River in Kenai and oil’s “boom years” were ushered in.

Today, Old Town Kenai still shows remnants of its Russian history. A self-guided walking tour takes visitors to the site of the old Russian parish, and the  Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church where church services  are still held. Many Alaska Native and Russian artifacts are on display at  the Kenai Visitors & Cultural Center, where walking tour maps can be had at no charge.

No listings were found

Best Places to Stay in Kenai, Alaska

Diamond M Ranch Resort

Diamond M Ranch Resort offers a variety of cabins and historical suites. Located between Kenai & Soldotna, close to the famous Kenai River. It’s the perfect “home-base” during your Alaskan adventure. Wi-fi, showers, freezers, laundry, BBQ, fire pits, picnic tables, fish cleaning stations, wildlife viewing, socials, charters & tours.


Camping in Kenai, AK

Diamond M Ranch Resort

Diamond M Ranch Resort offers a variety of cabins and historical suites. Located between Kenai & Soldotna, close to the famous Kenai River, with easy day trips to Homer & Seward. It’s the perfect “home base” during your Alaskan adventure. Wi-fi, showers, freezers, laundry, BBQ, fire pits, picnic tables, fish cleaning stations, wildlife viewing, socials, charters & tours.

Located between Kenai & Soldotna, 907-283-9424


Best Things to Do in Kenai, AK

Kenai Landing

At the mouth of Alaska’s famous Kenai River and overlooking a spectacular wildlife preserve teeming with marine life and waterfowl is Alaska’s most unique historic waterfront: Kenai Landing. Originally built as a cannery in 1912 under the trade-name Libby-McNeil-Libby and later Columbia Wards Cove, Kenai Landing is a centerpiece of Alaskan fishing tradition dating back to the early twentieth century. 907-335-2500.

Self-guided Old Town Kenai Walking Tour

Pick-up the brochure at the Kenai Visitors & Cultural Center and set off on your own to learn about Kenai’s interesting history, from its Alaska Native origins, to the Russian’s presence, to its 20th Century influences.

The Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox Church, next to Fort Kenay, was built in 1896. A National Historic Landmark, the church, with its three onion-shaped domes, is well preserved and an excellent example of Russian architecture in Alaska.

Kenai City Park

Kenai City Park is a day-use park only. Within walking distance of downtown Kenai, the park is reached by following the Kenai Spur Highway and turning left on Forest Drive, which leads toward the beach. An additional picnic area can be found at the Cunningham Memorial Park off Beaver Loop Road.


Car Rentals in Kenai, AK

Avis Car Rental

Avis Car Rental has locations all throughout the state of Alaska.

Kenai Municipal Airport – 907-283-7900


Kenai Alaska FAQs

Is Kenai, Alaska, worth visiting?

Yes, Kenai, Alaska, is worth visiting. It is home to the world-famous Kenai River, a mecca for Salmon Fishing. Kenai also has a rich cultural history of Indigenous and Russian settlements stretching back hundreds of years. Originally settled by Dena’ina Athabaskans, Kenai grew with the influx of Russian fur traders in the late 1700s. Kenai is also surrounded by spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife.

Why is the Kenai River so blue?

The Kenai River is a beautiful turquoise blue color because it originates from the gorgeous blue waters of Kenai Lake, a glacial-fed lake. Glacial silt or “flour” is tiny specks of pulverized rocks that absorb the shortest wavelengths (purples and blues), and the water absorbs the longer wavelengths like red, oranges, and yellows, leaving the blues and greens to get sent back to your eyes. This makes the Kenai River a glacial-fed stream that stretches 82 miles to Kenai, Alaska, and drains into the Cook inlet. The Kenai River also passes through Skilak Lake, another glacier-fed lake. All this combines to make stunning blue water, perfect for fishing. The 17-mile section of the Kenai River between Kenai Lake and Skilak Lake is known as the Upper Kenai River.

What kind of fish are most abundant in Kenai?

The Kenai River is one of Alaska’s busiest fishing destinations. An abundance of salmon, trout, and dolly varden attracts locals and visitors worldwide. In addition, the Kenai River is home to the busiest freshwater king salmon fishery in Alaska.

What lures to use on the Kenai River?

The preferred lures for Kenai River king salmon, those prize fish that like to swim in the deepest section of the river, are baited Spin-n-Glo’s or size 14-16 Luhr-Jensen Kwikfish.  Sometimes, a plastic jet diver is added if going upriver in the fast-moving Kenai River. However, the Kenai only allows one hook, and the original Kwikfish has two, so try to be mindful of the balance when removing one.

If you are spinning or casting from the shore, you can catch kings with large bright-colored flies such as red, orange, pink, or bright blue Pixies. Again, you’ll want to weight the hook a couple of feet above the hook, enough to hold the bait in place under the water.

Alaska Travel Tips

Sign up for our 4-part email series to discover critical information for planning your ultimate Alaska vacation!

Alaska Bear


Looking to see bears in Alaska?

Check out these Amazing Alaska Tours.

Think You Know Alaska?

Take the quiz and find out...