This July, my friend got married in Alaska, & we decided to extend the trip by traveling around the Kenai peninsula for a couple of weeks. It was absolutely one of the most beautiful and memorable trips of my life and I am excited to share some of my favorite destinations and some of the beautiful photos we captured too!
When planning our trip, I had a hard time finding places that felt like “us”. A lot of the vibe of the area seems to be hunting and fishing related, with lotsa red & green plaid and chainsaw bears. But honestly, at the end of the day, the natural beauty that surrounds you in Alaska is so overwhelmingly jaw droppingly amazing, that who cares where ya sleep and eat? But still, there were a few places we found that definitely had our vibe, and those are the ones I will highlight.
We spent very little time in Anchorage, just flew in there and spent one night there before departing for the Kenai Peninsula. For this night, I rented a place called Cupples Cottage, basically the cheapest Airbnb that I could find that looked decent. And it was totally fine for what we needed … close to downtown, clean. We went for coffee the next morning at Dark Horse Coffee Co, a place I learned about from Pretty Little fawn’s guide to AK. But holy shit!- our experience was so much different then hers! It took almost TWO HOURS to get 2 coffees and an acai bowl, so would not recommend if like us you are trying to hit the road! Next up we popped in Fred Meyer to grab groceries before departing to our next destination, Cooper’s Landing. I would recommend getting groceries in Anchorage as stores are sparse and sometimes super pricy as you descend into the Kenai Peninsula.
We stayed in Cooper’s Landing at a lodge called Alaska Heavenly for several days for my friend’s wedding. Most of our time there was spent doing wedding stuff and catching up with friends, but we did make it out for a little hike to watch salmon- the river is really blue and beautiful, and I believe Cooper’s Landing is primarily popular for fishing. My favorite place we visited was a local spot known as Waikiki Beach!
We did two day trips to Seward, which is a really cute little town. Perhaps the highlight of the whole trip for me was seeing a raft of sea otters floating around in the harbor holding hands!
We also did a boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park which was pretty special. The fjords are gorgeous- and we saw some wildlife- puffins, bald eagles, sea birds, and a humpback whale. We chose the shortest cruise because we had kids with us, but I have heard it is really worth to do one of their longer cruises.
Oh, Homer. Where to even start?! I fell in love so hard with this town, I have been pursuing real estate ads ever since we got back home.
So this tiny red house (nicknamed “the dollhouse” by Prairie) was our home in a Homer for a few nights. It was one of several adorable little cottages overlooking the bay at on Seaside Farm, & was without a doubt my favorite Airbnb I have maybe ever stayed at.
My favorite thing we did in Homer, was taking the “Danny J” water taxi (a wooden fishing boat that’s been operating since 1966 and has only ever been driven by women captains) from Homer to the artist community of Halibut Cove. We got to have lunch at the Saltry aka the the CUTEST BEST RESTAURANT in the world. And then had a couple hours to explore Halibut Cove, which was not nearly enough time because lemme just tell you that Halibut Cove has got to be one of the DREAMIEST spots on Earth.
other fav Homer spots:
We decided to go to Girdwood for night on our way back to Anchorage, but there was so much to see and do there, that we ended up staying two. Girdwood is on the outskirts of Anchorage, and felt like an upscale ski- town. We stayed one night at Alyeska– the big resort there, and then moved over to an Airbnb for the second night. In hindsight, I honestly probably would’ve just stayed at an airbnb both nights, bc it was both more spacious and cheaper- as the Alyeska grounds are open to for the public to explore anyways. But Alyeska did have an indoor pool with a view that Prairie got a big kick out of.
Our full day in Girdwood was also our last day in Alaska- so we wanted to pack in the fun! We started the day by riding the tram to the top of the mountain for breakfast at their cafeteria and a bit of exploring. (Food at Alyeska was okay, but I recommend Jack Sprat instead- it was soooo good!) Then we did what turned out to be my very favorite hike of the trip, Winner Creek Trail. We didn’t do the full hike (although in hindsight I wish we had), we just hiked in to this crazy hand tram across a gorge, then checked out the rapids and returned. After that, we headed to Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to check out some native Alaska wildlife. I felt kind of mixed about this place- the gift shop sold hunting march, and the exhibits are set up to drive to each of them. It just felt a little weird to me, and not the educational wildlife sanctuary I anticipated. But still we did get to see amazing wildlife super up close!
If I did a trip to Kenai Peninsula again (which I hope I do!), I would probably go to straight to Homer, and also do at least a couple of nights in Halibut Cove while I was there.
Our 10 days in Alaska were just a little taste of what this gorgeous state has to offer though! On our last day, I wrote this down on my Instagram account: “Today I learned that if you spilt the state of Alaska in two, Texas would become the third largest state in the union. In other words, Alaska is huge. And overwhelming, both literally and physically. I feel so tiny in relation to the mountains and glaciers surrounding me & I am dying to explore each and every nook and cranny of all of them. And we haven’t even left the Kenai Peninsula! So much to do & see here- this place will always have a piece of my heart for sure.”
Instead of feeling like Alaska is checked off the list of places to go, now I just want to go back and see more! Next time, I would definitely head north from Anchorage and go to Denali. I am really wishing I had done that for this trip. The Kenai Peninsula had very lush green, Pacific Northwest feels, which I loved, but I really want to see those big craggy mountains too!
What to Pack
As a desert dweller, anticipating what to wear for the cool temps & rainy weather of Alaska was a bit of challenge. Here’s what we ended up using a lot for our trip, and I would recommend bringing along on your own Alaskan summer adventure.
- Water sandals and waterproof boots (ours were by Teva). Even when it’s not raining in Alaska, the ground is pretty much always damp. I think that is why all the AK locals pretty much live in Xtra Tuff rainboots. I was happy to have waterproof boots with me, and felt bad for P who kept getting wet feet and socks in the suede boots I naively packed for her.
- Light raincoats. For rain and wind, we were very happy to have raincoats to layer under! Mine was a Torrentshell Parka by Patagonia (I got a men’s small because I preferred the color), and Prairie’s was by Fairechild. I loved P in her coat so much, she looked like the cutest little Paddington fisherman! Hoping we get some rainy days here this winter so she can wear it again before she outgrows it!
I would also like to give a very special shout-out to Dansko shoes. They were kind enough as to gift me all the shoes for the bridal party & groom! I felt like such a cool friend to be able to treat my friend on her big day, and also the Danskos made the perfect comfy, casual, cute but fun Alaska wedding footwear, see..