Just Kidding: Activities for kids abound on Kenai Peninsula

School is almost out and the thought of long summer days stretched out doing nothing lurk in the backs of many kids’ minds. However, the reality is that about a week into vacation many begin to complain, “I’m bored.”

The Kenai Peninsula offers a variety of indoor and outdoor activities that should satisfy most kids’ tastes and most parents’ pocketbooks.

The following is a list of places families may want to try out over summer break:

■ Fishing — Combat fishing is not for the faint of heart or those without protective head gear. The high-tension environment doesn’t always provide the best fishing opportunities for novice anglers, especially kids. However there are many stocked lakes on the Kenai Peninsula that may be perfect for those looking for a relaxed experience or who are just learning how to wet a line. For a complete list of stocked lakes on the peninsula, visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Web site at adfg.state.ak.us/. It also has current license requirements.

■ Hiking — Hiking and biking trails traverse much of the peninsula. Here are a few examples:

Russian Lakes Trail — the trail head is one mile down Russian River Campground Road, at Mile 52 of the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing. This moderate trail leads to lower Russian Lake and Russian River Falls.

Resurrection Trail — the trail head is at Mile 53 of the Sterling Highway. This moderate trail noted as “a serious challenge for bikers” is a 38-mile stretch from its trail head on the Sterling Highway to the town of Hope.

Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna behind Skyview High School are for hikers or mountain bikers who’d like to stay closer to town. Visit www.tsalteshi.org.

Other good family hikes include the trails along Skilak Lake Road on the Kenai National Widlife Refuge. Visit refuge headquarters on Ski Hill Road in Soldotna or go to fws.gov/refuge/Kenai/visit/visitor_activities/hiking.html for maps and details.

■ Wildlife viewing — There is no one best place to go for this easy and cheap activity, because the peninsula’s abundant wildlife is always on the move. The best bet is to keep your eyes peeled. The Kenai River flats offer a chance to see birds, moose and caribou, while Captain Cook State Recreation Area in Nikiski is home to everything from birds and fish to moose and bears.

Anyone tired of seeing yet another moose or who needs a respite from slapping mosquitoes can take part in the some of the following activities that may appeal to kids.

■ Bowling — Alaskalanes Family Bowling Center, Kenai, 907-283-3314.

■ Boys and Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula — Boys and Girls Club, Homer, 907-235-2772; Boys and Girls Club, Soldotna, 907-260-7085; Boys and Girls Club, Kenai, 907-283-2682.

■ Museums and art centers — Kenai Fine Arts Center, Kenai, 907-283-7040; Alaska SeaLife Center, Seward 907-224-6300; and Pratt Museum, Homer, 907-235-8635; Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center, Soldotna, 907-262-7021.

■ Theaters — Kambe Theater, Kenai, 907-283-4554 and Orca Theater, Soldotna, 907-262-7003.

■ Indoor inflatable playground and mini-golf — Jumpin’ Junction on Kalifornsky Beach Road, 907-420-0566.

Visit the Kenai Community Library for the Bam! Pow! Read! superhero-themed summer reading program! Open to youth ages 0-17, the program invites young people to log reading hours and to attend an assortment of exciting, superhero-themed programming at the library. Registration begins May 21, reading packets are available beginning June 1 and reading officially begins on June 8! The program ends August 1, with an ice cream celebration, superhero parade (with juggler!) and prizes for all participants. Watch for special events, including a celebration of Our Community Heroes on June 11, and a visit from the Stevens Puppets, who have been an enormous hit for 2 years running. This program is free and open to youth of all abilities. Call 283-8210 or visit kenailibrary.org.

Visitor centers and chambers of commerce have brochures, pamphlets and books for activities in their areas.

Kenai — Chamber of Commerce and Visitors and Cultural Center, 907-283-1991, 11471 Kenai Spur Highway

Soldotna — Chamber of Commerce, 907-262-9814; Visitor Information Center, 907-262-1337. Both located at 44790 Sterling Highway

Homer — Chamber of Commerce, 907-235-7740; and Visitor Information Center, 907-235-7740. Both at 135 Sterling Highway

Ninilchik — Chamber of Commerce, 907-576-3571, located at 16785 Sterling Highway

The Sterling Community Center is open! The center has Open Gym times, snacks, a library, public computers, foosball, ping pong, and other games. There will be more summer activities and events planned, so check out the calendar at sterlingcommunityclub.com, or Facebook “Sterling Community Center” for updates. For more information, call the Sterling Community Center at 262-7224, or e-mail sterlingcommunityclub@live.com.

The Tri the Kenai triathlon, June 14 at Skyview Middle School, includes a kids triathlon for ages 6-14 (100-yard swim, 4-kilometer trail bike, 3-kilometer run). The kids triathlon is open to individual competitors and relay teams. Youth registration is $25; youth team registration is $70. Registration for all events closes June 1. For more information or to register, go to www.trithekenai.com.

Salmon Run Series races will begin on Wednesday, July 8 and continue weekly until Wednesday, August 5 at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview Middle School.

The Salmon Run Series is a series of 5 races. Each race is 5 kilometers long and utilizes a variety of trails in the Tsalteshi Trails system. Just as last year, there will be a youth division. Before each 5k race, there will be a 1k race for children 6 and under. Youth registration will be available for the individual races.

The Salmon Runs are perfect for any type of runner or walker. Proceeds will be used to fund the Kenai Watershed Forum’s summer camps.

Individual races are $10 for Tsalteshi members, and $15 for non-members. All 5 race discount pricing is $45 for members, $70 for non-members. Visit tsalteshi.org.

Pitch Hit Run Baseball & Softball Skills Competition — For boys and girls 7 to 14 years old, May 27 at 1 p.m. at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center. Participation is free. Winners will be compared with other local Alaska event qualifiers for the chance to compete during Major League Baseball’s All Stars Week this fall.

NCRC Open Gym — All ages family gym time, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays and 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. on Wednesdays in June and July. Located at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center. $1/participant; parents must supervise children.

NCRC Teen Center — Open to teens 13 to 18 years old, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday in May, June and July. Located at NCRC. $1/participant. The Teen Center is comprised of two rooms dedicated to teens. There are a variety of recreational activities for the students to participate in including, games, pool table, foosball table, air hockey, table tennis, DDR, Rock Band, video games, computers, and more.

High School Basketball Open Gym — Teens 9th – 12th grade, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center. $1/participant.

NPRSA Skateboard Park — Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily May through September at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center. Register Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with NCRC staff. $10/participant summer ID fee. The Skateboard Park is for skateboards only, offering a variety of ramps for participants to practice and showcase their skills. No bikes allowed in park.

Flag Football — Open to boys and girls 4th through 8th grade. Games will be held on Monday and Thursday evenings during August and September. Located at the Nikiski Pool Fields. Registration deadline is August 1. $30/participant. The Youth Football program is a coed league for boys and girls in fourth through eighth grade.

Geocache Tournament — All ages welcome Sept. 2, 4 p.m. start at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center. GPS required for participation. Bring the whole family.

For more information about North Peninsula Recreation activities, call 776-8800 or visit northpenrec.com.

Visit the Kenai Watershed Forum’s free Kid’s Zone during the Kenai River Festival, June 12-14 at Centennial Park in Soldotna. With 20-plus activities for all ages, there is something for everyone!

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