One Week Itinerary: Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

One Week Alaska Itinerary: Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula

Alaska!  Yes, it’s that exciting – the beauty, the wildlife, the outdoor adventure paradise, it’s an absolutely majestic place.  Large populations of wildlife roam about and even its biggest city, Anchorage, has a small town feel.  With massive mountains, stretches of sea all along the western border, and an arctic climate within the state, it feels like another world.  A plethora of outdoor activities entice visitors, such as fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, and dogsledding.  You will fulfill all of your outdoor adventure dreams during a visit here and appreciate the beauty surrounding you.  And speaking of the great outdoors, Alaska has 8 of the 63 U.S. National Parks!

About Alaska

Alaska became a U.S. state in 1959.  Located in the far northwest corner of the North American continent, it borders Canada to the east and shares a maritime border with Russia to the west.  Alaska has a large indigenous population with over two dozen native languages still spoken in Alaska.  

Alaska’s land mass is by far the largest of any state.  In fact you could fit California, Montana, and Texas all within Alaska!

Even though Alaska is known to be cold, it has pleasant summer temperatures, ranging from the 50s to the 70s.  The inside passage, where Alaska’s capital, Juneau, is located, has more of a maritime climate.  You definitely want to pack your rain gear if visiting this area!

The state of Alaska, outlined in red

When we visited

We visited Alaska in August, 2021 and the weather was pleasant at this time of year.  There were the ever-present low-lying clouds in Anchorage that led to two days of cancelled flightseeing tours, but we were able to make that up at a later date.  We were still able to get out and explore due to the mild temperatures.  If visiting in the summer months, long pants, a light fleece jacket, rain coat, and sturdy footwear are a must to take along.

Where we stayed

The Marriott Anchorage Downtown | Anchorage, AK

This hotel was in a great location, close enough for us to walk or drive very short distances to what we wanted to see and do in Anchorage.  We also frequented the restaurant, Cafe Promenade, where we enjoyed a few delicious meals.

Itinerary Overview

  • Day 1:  Travel day, arrive in Anchorage
  • Day 2:  Explore Anchorage
  • Day 3:  Explore Anchorage and beyond
  • Day 4:  Drive to the Kenai Peninsula (2.5 hour drive)
  • Day 5:  Explore Kenai Peninsula
  • Day 6:  Explore Kenai Peninsula
  • Day 7:  Drive back to Anchorage, travel home

Exploring Anchorage

Anchorage is a great jumping off point for the rest of your Alaskan adventures.  You’ll likely fly into the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.  We spent two days here in Anchorage before heading down to the Kenai Peninsula and felt like that was just enough time to explore Alaska’s largest city.

Now for the itinerary – we think two days in Anchorage is perfect and then it’s time to explore further afield.  

DAY 1

  • Travel day!  Arrive in Anchorage and get settled

DAY 2

  • Visit the Anchorage Museum
  • Lunch at Moose’s Tooth Pizzeria
  • Bike the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
  • Dinner at 49th State Brewing Company 

The Anchorage Museum

The Anchorage Museum is a great place to learn about Alaskan culture, see artifacts from The First Peoples of Alaska, and view Alaskan inspired art.  

Our favorite part of the museum was the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center.  Here is where you’ll find a whole floor dedicated to artifacts and dress of the First Peoples of Alaska.  

An excellent peek into Alaskan culture

Biking the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Even though Anchorage is a major city, with its proximity to forests, mountains, and the ocean you are on the cusp of the wilderness.  Biking the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail departs downtown Anchorage and takes you along the coast and through forest were you might meet a moose or a black bear along the trail!  They are known to frequent the trails, especially the further you go.  We loved the fact that we could jump on bikes in Anchorage and feel immersed in the Alaskan wilderness, just a few miles from our hotel.

To bike the trail, you need bikes!  There are a few places to rent bikes from near the start of the trail.  We rented from Alaska Pablo’s Bicycle Rentals because they had enough bikes available for all of us when we were looking to rent.  They were great with getting us equipped to ride the trail.  

Along the trail there are a few places worth a stop.  At Earthquake Park, signs tell of the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964.  If you look below the fenced area you’ll see ripples in the earth, small hills popping up – those are the results of the earthquake.

Watching the airplanes take off overhead was also a neat experience and seemed to be located right when we needed to rest our legs for a bit.  Join the other people on the grass and sit back and watch as jumbo jets take off overhead and continue on over the ocean.  

Biking in the city – sure seems like the wilderness!

DAY 3

  • Day trip to Alyeska Resort
  • Lunch at Alyeska Resort
  • Afternoon spent at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
  • Potter’s Marsh on the way back to Anchorage
  • Dinner at Cafe’ Promenade 
  • Pack up to head to the Kenai Peninsula the next morning

Day Trip to Alyeska Resort

While you can stay at the Alyeska Resort located in Girdwood, however we opted to just visit for the day.  Hiking trails, plenty of restaurants to choose from, and the awesome aerial tramway made this a great way to spend the day.

We got tickets to board the tramway and were soon on our way up to the top of Mt. Alyeska.  Up here, you get great, although often cloud-shrouded, views of Turnagain Arm in the distance, mountains surrounding the resort, and the resort below.  We grabbed some drinks and snacks up here, visited the small museum, and hiked up even further, to get to the snow (which was a novelty in the summer).

The view from the top the mountain at Alyeska Resort

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, or AWCC, was established to educate, research, and rehabilitate Alaskan wildlife.  While we aren’t fans of zoos, this center’s focus aligned with our beliefs.  Located just 15 miles from the Alyeska Resort, this was great to add on to our day in Girdwood.

The elevated walkway through the brown bear habitat; a large grizzly separated from visitors by two fences (thankfully!)

Potter’s Marsh

You’ll pass this on your drive to Girdwood, to visit Alyeska and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and again on your way back to Anchorage.  Moose are known to frequent the marsh, where you’ll get to view them safely from an elevated boardwalk. 

NOTE:   You’ll be driving past Potter’s Marsh, the Alyeska Resort, and the AWCC on your way down to the Kenai Peninsula.  It is possible to visit these on the way to the Kenai, but you’ll have your luggage with you and will have to leave it in the car while you’re exploring.  These places are only a short drive from Anchorage so we opted to do this as a day trip while staying in Anchorage. 

Adventuring on the Kenai Peninsula

If you want to see some of Alaska’s greatest gems head two hours south of Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula.  

The Kenai Peninsula has some of the most awe-inspiring areas of Alaska.  Not only do you get to visit one of the best national parks, Kenai Fjords National Park, but you can see many of Alaska’s great wildlife in their natural habitat.  Grizzlies, moose, seabirds, whales, and many more creatures all make the Kenai Peninsula home.

Driving route from Anchorage to Seward, on the Kenai Peninsula

DAY 4

  • Drive to the Kenai Peninsula
  • Check in to cabin
  • Relax, build a fire, fish in the evening

On our first night on the Kenai Peninsula, we settled in to the cabin and took advantage of the fire pit out back.  We grilled dinner and ate around the fire.  The guys also fished for a bit in the evening.

Our awesome cabin on the Kenai Peninsula with the beautiful Kenai River out back

DAY 5

  • Wildlife Cruise
  • Exit Glacier

Half-Day Kenai Fjords National Park Wildlife Cruise

No trip to the Kenai Peninsula is complete without a wildlife cruise.  Venturing into Kenai Fjords National Park via boat gets you up close to some of the Alaska’s best wildlife that call the ocean here home.  We saw whales, Dall’s Porpoises, seals, otters, puffins, and a variety of other animals.

We took a half-day cruise with Major Marine Tours It was fabulous!  We opted for just the half day tour vs. the full day and that was the perfect amount of time.  If you have small children or are prone to seasickness this is the better option.  The tour stayed in calm waters the whole time and we got to see all the wildlife we had hoped to.  

Sights from the Half-Day Wildlife Cruise

Exit Glacier

Viewing Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park up close is a must.  There are several trails to choose from, the easiest being Glacier View Loop which is also wheelchair accessible.  There are several other trails including the option to hike on the glacier!  Guided tours are available as well as the opportunity to ice climb, if you so desire!

DAY 6

  • Flightseeing tour in the morning
  • Fishing excursion in the afternoon/Alaska SeaLife Center

Flightseeing Tour

We finally were lucky with the weather!  On this day was our most exciting travel adventure yet, a glacier flightseeing tour.  We had a 10 a.m. departure with AA Seward Air Tours and couldn’t have been happier with this tour.

This was by far the most amazing travel experience ever.  To slowly glide up over the bay of Seward where we had just taken a wildlife cruise the day before and see it from above was unreal.  Our pilot, Joey, explained all that we were seeing along the way.  We cruised along the coast and saw the most incredible sights, including glaciers.  I’ll let the photos do the talking!

Flying over Kenai Fjords National Park; Iceberg Lagoon; Flying over Exit Glacier

The Alaska SeaLife Center

In the afternoon, the guys had a fishing excursion booked right from our cabin resort so Ava and I headed to the Alaska SeaLife Center, also in Seward.  We had a great time visiting these adorable creatures up close.  This place was all about education, rehabilitation, and research so we were happy to support.

The adorable animals up close at the Alaska SeaLife Center

DAY 7

  • Head back to Anchorage, fly home

Our flight home was a red eye, as the majority of flights are when departing to the mainland U.S., due to the time change.  Because our flight departed in the evening, we opted to drive from the Kenai Peninsula back to Anchorage on the day of departure, rather than coming back a day earlier to spend the night.  That would be a good option, however, if you have an earlier flight.

Alaska is unmatched in terms of beauty and outdoor adventuring.  Some of the world’s best fishing, hiking, flightseeing, and other outdoor adventures are found within the state.  We really enjoyed this itinerary for a first trip to Alaska!

Read More!

We go more in depth with both Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula in the following posts:  Great Ways to Spent Two Days in Anchorage and Best Things to do on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.

Dietary Notes

While in Anchorage, we ate at our hotel’s restaurant, Cafe’ Promenade, several times, which easily accommodated our dietary restrictions.  We also ate at the following restaurants and were all able to find these to safely eat:

While on the Kenai Peninsula, we had a cabin with a kitchen and a deck with a grill.  We ate all of our meals in.  We got groceries on the way down to the Kenai Peninsula.

For more on traveling with dietary restrictions, be sure to check out our guide:  On the Go with Allergies.

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