Kodiak Island offers unique opportunities for families to share adventure. Whether kayaking, hiking, fishing or beachcombing, there is an activity suitable for children of all ages. For toddlers, something as simple as a bucket and shovel can entertain for hours as you enjoy fishing the surf. There are several accommodations that provide perfect settings for families from hotels to private-entrance apartments and homes. Many have two bedrooms and/or bunk beds to make it easy for families. For campers, try Fort Abercrombie State Park or the Buskin River Recreation Area campground. There’s always Baranof Park where kids can enjoy a playground, shoot hoops, skateboard or turn somersaults while meeting local kids.
32 Family Activities
Ride the ferry.Reaching Kodiak Island via the Alaska Marine Highway is an adventure in itself. Whether you reserve a stateroom or camp on the deck, the scenery and wildlife are plentiful. Or, if you have flown to Kodiak, ride the ferry from Kodiak to Port Lions and back the next day.
Kayaking.Local outfitters and kayak guides can take you and your children on the adventure of a lifetime. With careful attention to the training and skill of paddlers, your guide will have your family kayaking with whales, sea otters, puffins, and other wildlife. Smiles and wonderful photographs will be abundant!
Hiking. There are many easy trails for families to enjoy. Whether you are traveling with toddlers or teens, you’ll find a trail at Ft. Abercrombie State Park, on Near Island, or around town. Older kids will enjoy the trek up Pillar Mountain that affords vistas of the town. It’s also a good way to identify plants and animal tracks. The Audubon Society offers guided hikes throughout the summer.
Handle sea creatures!The Kodiak Fisheries Research Center on Near Island is home to a 10’ cylindrical aquarium and touch tank where kids can get a real “feel” for Kodiak’s aquatic life.
Go Beachcombing.Kids love to wander Kodiak’s beaches and see what treasures they can find that have washed ashore. Tumbled beach glass, shells, old bits of rope and other fishing gear is bound to delight kids (and parents) of all ages.
Go tidepooling.While you’re at the beach, explore the many tide pools that appear during low tide. All sorts of cool critters live in these pools. Be careful that little (and big) feet do not crush the delicate creatures in the pools. Ft. Abercrombie offers guided tidepooling in summer months.
Take a drive.With approximately 100 miles of road on the island, you and your family can drive to the end of every road. Along the way there are plenty of beaches to explore and have a picnic lunch. Who knows? You might just spot whale spouts from high cliffs!
Visit the Kodiak Island Refuge Center Visitor Center. A true learning center, your family can discover the life cycle of salmon as well as learn about bears, birds, and flowers at this beautiful facility. During summer, inquire about salmon camp or other activities for children. A short video will educate you and your kids about the Kodiak brown bear.
See every species of crab.A brief stop at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will acquaint you with every species of crab from the tiniest to the giant Alaska King crab.
Go biking.Rent a bike and ride along the walking/bike path as it winds through town and along beaches.
Go fishing.Whether you choose to take your family out to sea to catch halibut or on road system streams to try for trout and salmon, fishing is an opportunity for families to learn and laugh together.
Bear Viewing. For a once in a lifetime experience, charter an air taxi to take you and your family on a bear viewing excursion.
Stay at a wilderness lodge.Some of Kodiak’s backcountry lodges specialize in families and welcome children. Spend quality time with your family away from televisions, video games, cell phones, and malls. Instead walk quiet trails, raft rivers, and view wildlife.
Go whale watching. Many local charter boats will take your family out to waters where you can see whales surfacing and diving. Truly a thrill for everyone! While you’re out there, you’ll also see sea lions, puffins, sea birds of all kinds and maybe even a Dahl porpoise swimming with the boat. You can also sometimes spot whale spouts from Surfer Beach in Pasagshak.
Watch sea lions from town. Often times you can view active sea lions from town. Go down to the spit with a smoothie and wait. You can also drive across the Near Island, follow the road to the boat harbor and walk down the last float. Most of the time a sea lion bull is lounging with its harem on an old float.
Visit museums. Kodiak has four museums that will give you and your family an opportunity to learn about Kodiak’s history, commerce, marine life, and Native cultures. The Baranov Museum offers a glimpse into Kodiak’s past with artifacts ranging from Russian occupation to World War II. There’s a great gift store too. The Alutiiq Museum celebrates Kodiak’s native heritage and cultures and often has special art exhibits. The Kodiak Maritime Museum is the “museum without walls,” which can be found at St. Paul Harbor. A casual walk along the harbor sidewalk will reveal informative displays that illustrate the different kinds of commercial fishing vessels marine life and area history. The Military History Museum found at Ft. Abercrombie State Park gives your family a close encounter with artifacts from World War II.
Walk the harbor. St. Paul’s Harbor is a great place to walk the floats and take a look at Kodiak’s charter boat fleet as well as smaller commercial fishing vessels. Often times boat captains will be working on their boat and enjoy talking to visitors. Go to St. Herman’s Harbor on Near Island and you might get lucky and see one of the crabbers from the Discovery Channel program “Deadliest Catch.” In particular the Cornelia Marie is home ported here as well as the Saga, which was on the first season of the popular show.
Come to Crab Fest. Kids of all ages love this four day festival. Held on Memorial Day weekend each year, there are carnival rides, Coast Guard rescue demonstrations, survival suit swims and lots of tasty treats.
Identify flowers together. Pick up a wildflower guide book and see how many of the flowers you can find on the island.
Come to Whale Fest.Held each year in April, Whale Fest celebrates the return of the gray whale to Kodiak waters. This festival is designed with kids in mind and features concerts, art shows, and whale watching expeditions.
Spot eagles.Drive the roads and count bald eagles.
Collect fossils.Drive out to Pasagshak and walk down to Fossil Beach where ancient fossils literally fall out of the cliffside. While out there, show your family the rocket launch facility.
See buffalo. Also out in Pasaghak you will find a large herd of buffalo. (They are not indigenous to the island and are privately owned.)
Look for puffin. A good spot is from the south trail on Near Island or the cliffs of Ft. Abercrombie.
Have a picnic. Go to one of Kodiak’s great sandwich spots and grab a box lunch for a picnic on a beach. Kids can run and play forever on beaches like Surfer Beach while mom and dad relax or run with them.
Have coffee with a ranger. The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center has special dates with rangers who will share local natural history with visitors.
Go on a dinner cruise. Have dinner aboard a lovely yacht while you look for sea otters, sea lions, puffins and other birds.
Go shopping. Who doesn’t love to shop and take home a souvenir from their great adventure on Kodiak Island?
Rent a motorized kayak. These stable vessels make for a great family outing for older kids.
Identify birds together. Pick up an Alaska bird guide and see how many birds you can find. Visit the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge to hear some of Kodiak’s bird calls.
Play outside with the Refuge Center. Summer programs designed for families keep you outside, learning and together.
Participate in arts and crafts. Ft. Abercrombie and the Baranov Museum offer classes for children of all ages.