Soldotna is a great place to base yourself when exploring this part of Alaska. You have the opportunity to explore the Kenai wildlife refuge with the amazing mountains, rivers and glaciers found here.
Known as the land of the last frontier, you can enjoy fishing, bear viewing, bird watching, kayaking and hiking here. There are plenty of activities to enjoy for the whole family.
Like many of the towns in Alaska this was a settlement created under the Homestead Act. Land and property were given to those who promised to work, hunt and prosper in newly founded Soldotna.
So, if you want to enjoy the best this town has to offer, take a look at these top 14 things to do in Soldotna.
1. Soldotna Historical Society and Museum
The homestead museum is a village of log cabins including the last territorial school built in 1958. Here you will find old features including the gas lanterns students used back in the day.
The exhibition building hosts a display of wildlife mounts from the local area, there are also photos and artefacts showing the history of Soldotna. Local guides work here to give you some excellent information about the houses and exhibits.
Soldotna museum is free to enter, and you can find it on Centennial Park Rd.
2. Centennial Park
This park offers a great place to camp, fish and hike. The beach area is full of fisherpersons during salmon season and you can expect excellent fishing conditions at the riverside. If you do wish to fish though you will need a permit which is purchasable locally.
If you are just looking for a nice walk, you’ll enjoy it here too. The boardwalk is excellent for a stroll and there is also a children’s playground for the younger family members too.
You can also start here for longer fishing and sightseeing trips by boat.
3. Soldotna Creek Park
Soldotna Creek Park features a boardwalk spanning 2300 feet right on the Kenai River. The area is loved by locals and visitors alike. You can enjoy fishing, walks or take a picnic by the river in the summer months.
There is also a playground for families to enjoy and sometimes you will find an event or fayre taking part at the bandstand. Or perhaps you would prefer to relax and watch the world go by from one of the benches dotted around the park.
4. Tsalteshi Cross Country Ski Trails
During the snowy periods, there are plenty of opportunities for cross country skiing. There are over 15 miles of trails which are well groomed for the skiers during the winter period and also open for hikers and mountain bikers when there is no snow.
You can even join in some ski events during the season. There are special clubs for kids and beginners and also the opportunity to rent the equipment you need for cross country skiing.
You’ll find the trails behind Skyview High School and across from the Sports Centre on Kalifornsky Beach Road.
5. Wildlife sightseeing tours
There are many bears to be spotted in the surrounding area of Soldotna, Lake Clark being a favourite for boat trippers to enjoy bear viewing.
If you book with a reputable company such as Alaskan Game fisher’s Chinitna Bay Bear Tours, you can expect your experienced Bear viewing guides will get you close to Grizzly bears but safely.
As well as seeing bears, you can view other species too. You can enjoy watching Salmon jumping up stream, spot eagles and view other water mammals such as otters.
6. Soldotna Visitor Centre
The Soldotna Visitor Centre offers visitors information and resources on Soldotna and the surrounding area. The centre will help you plan your holiday in Alaska.
There are also many different animal exhibits on display, including the world record King Salmon, caught by Les Anderson in 1985. You can also enjoy a stroll along the elevated river boardwalk or try your hand at fishing from the nearby river bank.
The Visitor Centre also hosts Free Wi-Fi and smartphone charging stations, so it is great for travellers, especially if you are passing through after a long day of exploring.
7. Fishing charters
The local tours in Soldotna offers some of the most enjoyable Alaskan fishing experiences. You can enjoy fly and spin fishing adventures on the Kenai river, taking you to the best places for the fish you are looking for.
Favourites include the giant Rainbow Trout and wild Alaskan King Salmon or Steelhead, but there is also the Sockeye Salmon that is sought after too.
Just tell your tour operator or guide what you want when booking or if you are a beginner ask their advice, they really know their stuff. Whatever kind of fishing trip you are looking for, Soldotna Alaska will not disappoint.
8. Hiking Local Trails
You can find plenty of hiking trails in Soldotna which are perfect for visitors, from easy walks to longer more difficult hikes. On all of these trails you must be wary of the wildlife you may find. These include moose and black and brown bears.
Egumen Lake and Hidden Creek are amongst the easier hikes, whereas Skilak Lookout and Fuller Lakes are for the more experienced hikers.
If you are interested in serious hiking you can find books and maps at the visitor centre. Remember if you are going hiking, you need to make sure you have enough supplies especially water for the whole duration of your trip.
9. Soldotna Farmers Market
During the summer months you will find the Farmer’s Fresh Market every Tuesday. This is where local farmers sell their fresh produce right on the Kenai river.
There is also a Saturday market located on Kenai Spur Highway, at Corral Ave which is within the Soldotna school bus turn around.
When you visit either market you will not only be able to pick up some excellent fresh produce, but you will also get to enjoy the local atmosphere of a friendly market day.
10. Bear watching tours
Whether it is a boat tour or an air tour you can take an amazing tour to see bears close up and personal directly from Soldotna. You can also enjoy some amazing photography opportunities, especially from above.
Of course, your safety is paramount, and your guides will know the best places to view bears at different times of the year. They will also carry bear spray just in case.
There are a few different tour companies that offer this service, you can even take air tours as well as boat tours. So, do your research and choose the best one for you.
11. Farnsworth Park
A nice place to enjoy the outdoors in a safe environment. There is a large play area with swings, slide and climbing frames which was upgraded in 2010.
The surrounding area has a large grassy space with benches and picnic tables for the use of visitors. An added bonus is bathroom and water facilities which again is great for families.
Of course, the park is best visited during the summer months when the sunlight hours are long and you have plenty of time to enjoy the park.
12. Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
This National refuge spans more than one town within the Kenai Peninsula and the fjords are amazing places to visit.
You can enjoy many different outdoor activities including hiking, mountain biking and observing the diverse wildlife. You can also try kayaking and canoeing out on the water during the warmer months.
Public cabins are available to stay in within the park if you want to stay and explore the area. Or if you just want to visit for the day, there are cruises and boat tours where you can see the best bits.
13. Soldotna Regional Sports Complex
If you didn’t have enough adventure and activities to keep you entertained outdoors, here you can enjoy some indoor fun too.
There’s an Olympic-sized ice rink where you can enjoy ice skating and games. Or you might prefer the volleyball or tennis courts? You may even be lucky enough to catch a performance by the skating production team.
14. Jumpin’ Junction
If the kids in your party need to blow off some steam, this is an excellent place to visit. There’s a black light mini-golf course, bouncy castles and soft play as well as a games and entertainment centre.
The centre is for kids of all ages with separate places for under 4’s and for older children. If you are travelling as a family in Soldotna this is a great place for the children to enjoy.