Kodiak is for kids! With museums and wildlife centers, outdoor programs and activities, as well as great beaches and wildlife, your family will find plenty to do on the Emerald Isle.
Fisheries Research Center and the National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center both have fun, hands-on displays for kids. The Fisheries Research Center is a look into the marine world that surrounds Kodiak. There’s a 3,500-gallon, 10-foot cylinder aquarium where you can watch the species of the cold saltwater environment surrounding Kodiak. And there’s also a touch-tank, where you can look, handle, and learn about the variety of species in the area’s tide pools like sea stars, anemones, mussels, and clams.
At the Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center kids will love exploring the complete skeleton of a grey whale. Part of the center’s grey whale project, you can learn about how these creatures’ migration from Baja to the Bering Sea as well as their evolutionary developments and the seven-year process of discovering and transporting the skeleton to the museum.
The center also coordinates educational programs, from guided hikes to nature photography classes to owl pellet dissections. For those interested in Kodiak’s most famed residents, there’s a 15-minute video on brown bears.
Hit the trails, the beaches, or the tidepools with the kids. The options are numerous—and close to town!
- Near Island - Visit the fisheries center and North End Park, and walk the beaches. Take pictures of the waterfront and have a picnic. The park is forested, with excellent spruce groves that are silent havens for birds and squirrels. Over at the boat harbor on Ramp 3, you can often spot sea lions lazing about on the floats. See if you can identify the bull, females, and pups.
- Fort Abercrombie State Park - Take the kids fishing at this stocked lake, play among old WWII bunkers, visit a military history museum, or join one of the ecology programs. There are plenty of activities at this park, located just a few miles from town. You can take short walks to beaches, go tidepooling, visit scenic spots, or play volleyball at the camping area. There’s also a covered picnic area. Just beware of sly foxes wanting some lunch, too!
- Pillar Mountain - For older kids, consider a climb up this popular very mountain. It's a moderate, 2.5-mile climb to an alpine summit that overlooks town. (You can also drive, as there’s a road to the top.) You’ll recognize the peak, since it dominates the sky over Kodiak. There are three wind turbines on the mountain; another three are scheduled for construction in 2013.
Whale watching, sea kayaking, horseback riding and bird watching are all great activities for the family as well. None of them require any experience, and the trips can be tailored to your needs. Hop in a tandem sea kayak and paddle in protected coves, silently stalking puffins or seals. If you have older kids and really want to immerse yourself in sea kayaking, check out a course at the Alaska Kayak School.
If you want to get on the water to look for birds or whales, consider a charter boat. Lean over the edge and look for the spout of a humpback whale or the bright beaks of puffins.
If you don’t want to go on the water, consider bird watching from land on a guided hike with the Audubon Society, or traveling the rocky shoreline looking for whales and birds. Another land-based adventure is horseback riding, where you’ll travel over the tundra without getting your boots wet! There are numerous outfitters for most of these adventures, and you can ask that they tailor the adventure for your kids.
Sea Kayaking & Whale Watching
There are a number of reputable sea kayaking and whale watching companies in town that can take you where you want to go. If you're looking to paddle, check out Orcas Unlimited and Kodiak's Wildside. Magnum Charters, Kodiak Adventures Unlimited, and Kodiak Alaska Dinner Cruises host whale watching tours in the area.
There are two horseback riding options, one in Bells Flats and the other out the road in Pasagshak with the Kodiak Cattle Company.
Looking for an indoor activity or just want to explore the town? Visit the bowling alley in the Elk’s Lodge, play at Baranof Park, or head to the Recreation Center, where the kids can swim and ice skate. There are also bikes for rent at the Heritage Inn downtown.