15 Best Things to Do in Kodiak (in 2023)
I was born and raised in Kodiak, so I am intimately familiar with what to do and see there. For a small town, there are lots of fun things to do in Kodiak!
Sitting on the northeastern end of “Alaska’s Emerald Isle,” the city of Kodiak and its surrounding area are a treasure trove of adventures. The local mountains, forests, and oceans teme with wildlife and stunning vistas. If you love the great outdoors, Kodiak is the place to go!
Along with the natural beauty, there are several urban attractions. They’re great for a rainy day, or any day, for that matter. I’m thrilled to tell you about the best things to do and see in my hometown! To find out where to stay in Kodiak, check out my guide on the Best Places to Stay in Kodiak.
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Things to Do in Kodiak
- Kodiak History Museum (aka Baranov Museum)
- Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge
- The Alutiiq Museum
- St. Paul Harbor
- The Kodiak Laboratory Aquarium
- North End Park
- St. Herman’s Bay Harbor
- Pillar Mountain
- Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park
- Kodiak Military History Museum
- Kodiak Island Brewing Company
- Buskin River State Park
- Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church
- Fossil Beach and Pasagshak
- Kodiak Crab Festival
- FAQs About What to Do in Kodiak, Alaska
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15 Best Things to Do in Kodiak
Kodiak History Museum (aka Baranov Museum)
Delve into Kodiak’s Rich History at Alaska’s oldest historic building.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (907) 486-5920 | Website | Hours: 10 am– 4 pm Wed-Sat | Entrance: Ages 13+ $10, (12 and under free)
Despite seeming like an out-of-the-way place, Kodiak has a lot of history. The best place to learn more about it is the Kodiak History Museum. It’s a great way to kick off your Kodiak expedition. Check out the exhibits of Native Alaska, Russian, and early American artifacts and historical records.
The Baranov Museum also has a collection of antique photos from the early 1900s onward, chronicling life in Kodiak. The building survived the earthquake and tsunami of 1964 and preserves the memory of its impact on Kodiak. The gift shop has a variety of great souvenirs for sale.
👉 How to get there: If you arrive on the M/V Tustumena, it is right across the street from the terminal. If coming from the airport or the city dock (via the M/V Kennicott) take a right at Kodiak’s only stoplight (I’m not joking!) and follow Marine Way. It will be on your left, right across from the ferry dock.
Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge
Learn about Kodiak Island’s flora, fauna, and much more!
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (907) 487-2626 | Website | Hours: 12–4 pm Wed-Fri | Entrance: Free
Kodiak Island is well-known for the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge occupying much of the island. It’s stunningly beautiful, but beyond the pale for most people. Fortunately, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center has a wealth of information available.
One of the highlights of the museum is the gray whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling. A life-size statue of a Kodiak bear stands on the deck outside. The museum stands right across the street from the Baranov Museum, so you can’t miss it!
🌳 Into the Wild: If you want to get out to the Refuge itself or view it from the air, look up Kingfisher Aviation. Kingfisher Aviation has lots of options: from bear-viewing flights to fly-overs of the rugged interior of the island. You might even see other Kodiak critters like mountain goats and Sitka black-tail deer!
The Alutiiq Museum
Learn all about Alutiiq culture and customs.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (844) 425-8844 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Tues-Fri, 12 pm – 4 pm Saturday | Entrance: Adults $7, (16 and under free)
To learn more about the history and culture of the Native Alutiiq people of Kodiak Island, Kodiak’s Alutiiq Museum is the place to go! Exhibits include artifacts, contemporary art, and audiovisual presentations. Check with the staff to see if Kodiak’s Alutiiq Dancers have a performance of traditional Alutiiq dances coming up.
The museum also has extensive photo collections telling about various aspects of life in Kodiak over the years. The gift shop is perfect for picking up souvenirs, especially the local artisan jewelry, art, and other unique items done in Native styles.
If you want to learn more about Alutiiq (and other Native Alaskan cultures) take a look at my guide to the 5 Best Cities in Alaska! Museums in these cities have great exhibits of historical and contemporary art and artifacts.
🚗 How to get there: The Alutiiq Museum is up Mission Road from the Kodiak History Museum. Like many downtown Kodiak attractions, it’s within walking distance, but you can drive, too.
St. Paul Harbor
Take a walk on the dock to see Kodiak’s proud fishing fleet.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (907) 486-8080 (Harbor Operations/Office)
Fishing forms the backbone of the Kodiak Island economy. Many visitors may be familiar with some local fishing boats from Deadliest Catch. Some of them may dock at the nearby St. Herman’s Bay Harbor (more on that later), but St. Paul’s is the heart of Kodiak’s maritime culture.
Before walking the docks, grab a coffee and a snack at Harborside Coffee. Besides locals, foreign travelers sometimes stop in Kodiak during the summer, docking their boats at the harbor. You may run into people from all over the world!
Alaskan commercial fishing is a world unto itself! There are several different kinds of fishing boats and plenty of stories. You can walk the docks on your own, or, get a guided tour to learn all about the fascinating world of the Alaskan fishing industry.
The Kodiak Laboratory Aquarium
Get hands-on experience with starfish and other marine life here!
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (907) 486-9343 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 4:30 pm Thursday and Friday | Entrance: Free
For an up-close look at some of the smaller, tamer sea creatures of Kodiak, visit “the Touch Tank” at the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center. The hands-on aquarium lies over the Near Island Bridge on the road to the Trident Basin float plane dock. The aquarium runs for limited hours, but it’s a great experience for families visiting Kodiak.
Most of the touchable creatures are invertebrates such as starfish or anemones. There are also traditional “non-touch” tanks with assorted Alaskan fish. Several displays explain various aspects of Kodiak’s marine life and ecosystems are also present here
👉 How to get there: Drive across the Near Island Bridge. Take the first left. After that, take the second left. The Kodiak Laboratory Aquarium is in the first building on the left.
North End Park
Hike the winding trails of Near Island.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: Open 24 hours | Entrance: Free
Kodiak’s Near Island is a great place for short hikes and picnics. You can get a good view of Kodiak City from the western side of the island. Trails on the open onto a vista looking down the “Kodiak Channel.”
Though not part of North End Park per se, the trails on the southern end of Near Island provide the best views of the greater Kodiak area. You can get to the trailhead by driving past the turn-off for the Kodiak Laboratory Aquarium. It will be on your right after you round the bend.
👉 Take a hike! If you’re looking for some more great local hikes, check out my forthcoming article on Kodiak Hikes!
St. Herman’s Bay Harbor
See the largest boats in Kodiak’s fleet and watch sea lions lounge around.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: Open 24 hours
The larger of Kodiak’s two harbors lies at the southern end of Near Island. The first rows of docks hold private crafts, but the rows at the very end hold crabbers and other larger vessels.
From time to time, you may even spot a luxurious yacht docked along the last row.
The favorite haunt of Kodiak’s sea lions lies at the end of the last dock at St. Herman’s Harbor. They enjoy sunning themselves on a floating platform a ways off from the dock itself. You’ll wonder if George Lucas didn’t derive some inspiration from these beasts once you get a good look (and listen) at them.
👉 Pro Tip: Sea lions may flop all over each other while sunbathing, but they like to keep their distance from humans. Now and then, one may venture onto the docks, so, if you see one, keep a respectable distance. They move faster on land than you’d think!
Panoramic views, hiking trails, and windmills!
Pillar Mountain is Kodiak’s best place for panoramic views of the surrounding area. A road leads up from town to the top of the mountain. The road on top continues down the ridge of the mountain for a while, leading to a trailhead that goes even further. The road sometimes sees closures in the winter.
Besides the town and the Coast Guard base to the east, you can look west to Three Sisters Mountain and northwest to Spruce Island. If you want to hike up Pillar instead, a trailhead starts right around the corner from “the gravel pit.” A few other trails skirt along the backside of the mountain and are popular places for mountain biking and ATVs.
Want a great view, but too tired to hike? Pillar Mountain has a road going to the very top. You can get there by following Mill Bay Road, taking a left on Birch Street, and following that to its end. From there, take a right onto Thorsheim, then a left onto Maple, and continue straight up the mountain.
Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park
Kodiak’s largest park is perfect for day hikes!
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (907) 486-6339 | Website | Hours: Open 24 hours | Entrance: $5 Parking, $20 Camping
A lush forest of Sitka spruce trees draped in moss covers the territory of Fort Abercrombie State Park. Take a hike around the tranquil Lake Gertrude, and, in summer, keep an eye out for berries! Kodiak has abundant bushes of salmonberries (a tart cousin of raspberries) and, to a lesser extent, blueberries.
Camping spots are available in several locations. The “Pavilion” area has a large picnic shelter and a small sandy volleyball court. Great views abound in every corner of the park. Miller Point, the highest part of the park, is also a great place for whale watching in spring and summer. Whales local to Kodiak Island include gray whales, humpback whales, and orcas.
For a more up-close look at these giants of the deep, consider booking a whale-watching tour.
🐻 Be Bear Aware: Bears roam here from time to time. While not as aggressive as mainland brown bears or black bears, you still want to give them plenty of space. The Department of Fish & Game has compiled a comprehensive guide to bear safety best practices.
Kodiak Military History Museum
Learn about Kodiak’s role in World War II.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (907) 486-7015 | Website | Hours: May & Sep: Sat/Sun 1–4 pm, June-Aug: Fri-Monday 1–4 pm | Entrance: $3-5
Another noteworthy feature of Miller Point is the Kodiak Military History Museum. Although small and operating on limited hours, it’s a great place for families and history buffs to visit. Next to it, the remnants of a large coastal-defense gun stand. There are also tower viewer binoculars here for up-close looks at the local scenery.
Besides the museum, you’ll find other remnants of the former military installation throughout the park. Some are larger bunkers, others are small pillboxes on the cliffs overlooking the sea. Some even lie hidden a little ways off the paths.
The museum and the road to Miller Point close in the winter, but it’s still a great time to hike the area and take in the views. For more advice on seasonal activities in Alaska, check out my guide to the Best Months to Visit Alaska!
You’ll find more bunkers along other hiking trails across the greater Kodiak area. Some lie along the trails near Boyscout Lake, the lake you’ll pass going to and from the airport. For the truly adventurous, head out to Kodiak’s Long Island.
Kodiak Island Brewing Company
Get to know the locals at “Kodiak’s Living Room.”
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (907) 486-2537 | Website | Hours: 12–8 pm daily
One of the favorite local watering holes is the Kodiak Island Brewing Company. Started in 2003,
“The Brewery” has been Kodiakians’ go-to for top-quality craft beer. Patrons can bring their own food, and a food truck offers a small but tasty menu. You can take the brews to-go in a variety of sizes, and what’s any good brewery without some swag?
The central location of this brewery puts it well within walking distance of hotels such as the Best Western Kodiak Inn or Compass Suites. Several restaurants and bars also lie a stone’s throw away if you want to explore more options, too.
To get there, follow the “highway” from the airport. The brewery will be right on your left when you take a left at “The Y,” as locals call the conjunction of Mill Bay Road and Rezanof Drive.
Buskin River State Park
A favorite fishing hole of locals and tourists alike!
📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: Open 24 hours | Entrance: $5 Entrance, $20 campsite
One of the most popular things to do in Kodiak for many tourists is to take a fishing trip. Red, silver, and pink salmon are the most abundant fish. There are several rivers and beaches to fish from, but one of the most popular, and conveniently located, is the Buskin River.
You’ll see the mouth of this river out the right side of the plane when landing in Kodiak. Prospective fishers can also go further upstream, but the area around the mouth remains more popular. The beach here is also a great place to unwind, offering a great view of Kodiak City and the surrounding area.
💡 Local trivia: The five species of salmon in Alaska each have two names. Locals know them well, but it can be confusing for a visitor. The salmon names are as follows: pink (humpback salmon), red (sockeye salmon), silver (coho salmon), dog (chum, or, more recently, keta salmon), and king (chinook salmon).
Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church
One of Kodiak’s most iconic landmarks and the resting place of an Alaskan saint.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (907) 486-5532 | Website | Hours: Weekend Services: Saturday 5 pm, Sunday 9 am. Sometimes open on cruise ship visits.
The blue onion domes of the local Russian Orthodox church stand as the most visible testament to Kodiak’s Russian heritage. The current building is the third to stand on the site, constructed in 1945 after the previous building burnt down.
Icons and other religious artwork adorn the interior of Holy Resurrection. Kodiak’s Russian Orthodox Church is also the resting place of St. Herman, the first saint of the Orthodox Church in the American lands. He spent much of his life in Alaska aiding the Alutiiq people and later left Kodiak to live on nearby Spruce Island, helping the people there.
Want a glimpse back in time? Right up the road from Holy Resurrection stands the chapel of the St. Herman Theological Seminary. The log-building was modeled after what researchers believe the original mission chapel looked like.
Fossil Beach and Pasagshak
Hunt for fossils, sunbathe, and even surf at Kodiak’s best beach!
📍 Google Maps | Hours: Open 24 hours
Fossil Beach lies at the southern end of Kodiak’s road system. The rocks and cliffs here have the fossilized remains of shellfish and other marine life embedded in them. Fossil Beach is also part of the region known as Pasagshak. The beaches at Pasagshak are the go-to getaway for locals on warm sunny days.
You’ll also notice the Pacific Spaceport Complex looming into the sky. The complex does not accept visitors, but, from time to time, the launches can be viewed from a safe distance. Pasagshak is also a great place for whale watching. It’s also, in my opinion, the best place to camp in Kodiak. You’ll have to rough it, but the views are worth it!
👉 Pro Tip: The large beach just before Fossil Beach is what most locals refer to as “Pasagshak.” Technically speaking, this strand is Surfer Beach, but many locals don’t make the distinction. Pasagshak “proper” is the bay right before Surfer and Fossil beaches.
Kodiak Crab Festival
Celebrate the days “When Crab Was King” in Kodiak.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (907) 486-5557 | Website | Hours: (variable) | Entrance: Free
Every Memorial Day weekend sees Kodiak swing into party mode. In the 1960s and 1970s crabbing boomed in Kodiak as gold did elsewhere in America. As a result, this festival sprung up in celebration.
Besides the usual festival fare of rides, food booths, and craft vendors, the Kodiak “Crab Fest” has some unique Alaskan activities. One is the traditional survival suit race in which contending teams must don survival suits and swim out to a survival raft in the harbor. Another is the Fishermens’ Memorial Service on Memorial Day.
Feeling crabby? Although the glory days of crabbing in Kodiak have diminished somewhat, you can still buy crab legs during the Crab Fest. It’s also a good time to check out restaurants if you want a quieter meal because locals will usually be getting grub at the food booths.
FAQs About What to Do in Kodiak, Alaska
What is Kodiak Island Famous For?
Kodiak Island is famous for its fishing fleet, brown bears, and having the largest Coast Guard base in America.
Is Kodiak Island Worth A Visit?
Kodiak Island is the best place to go in southwestern Alaska if you love the great outdoors. Hiking, fishing, hunting, and camping are a few of the many activities Kodiak has to offer.
I hope you’ve gotten some good ideas to add to your Kodiak Island itinerary! Add some stops elsewhere in Alaska using my guide to the Best Places to Visit in Alaska!
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