The Soldotna Visitor Information Center, 44790 Sterling Hwy., Soldotna, AK 99669 (tel. 907/262-9814 or 262-1337; www.visitsoldotna.com), is located on the south side of town; drive through the commercial strip and turn right after the Kenai River Bridge. It's open daily in summer from 9am to 7pm, in winter Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Besides the usual brochures and free maps, they offer help with lodging, camping, charters, and other services. Anglers should stop in to see the world-record 97-pound king salmon and a 20-pound rainbow trout. Stroll behind the center to the river walk to get close to the water and a handy site for streamside fishing.
In Kenai, the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center, 11471 Kenai Spur Hwy., Kenai, AK 99611 (tel. 907/283-1991; www.visitkenai.com), contains a set of museum galleries. A history and culture exhibit includes first-edition journals of Capt. James Cook, who explored Cook Inlet in 1778, and the "King of Snags," an immense conglomeration of lost fishing lures, rods, and sticks pulled from the river bottom. Large temporary art exhibitions are mounted, too. To get there, follow the Spur Highway past Main Street and look for the large, landscaped building on your left. In summer, admission to the museum is $5, free for students through high school; off season, admission is free. The center is open in summer Monday to Friday from 9am to 7pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm; and off-season Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and Saturday 11am to 4pm.
Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center hosts invitational art shows each summer. Works usually cross media and include contemporary art and traditional Alaska Native work.
In Soldotna, the Peninsula Winter Games and Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race (tel. 907/262-9814), an Iditarod qualifier, are held in late January. Progress Days (tel. 907/262-9814), in late July, offers a parade, rodeo, car shows, and other festival events commemorating the completion of a gas pipeline in 1960.
In Ninilchik, the Kenai Peninsula State Fair (tel. 907/567-3670; www.kenaipeninsulafair.com), south at mile 136 on the Sterling Highway, is the third weekend in August (August 18-20, 2012), with rodeo, music, crafts, games, agricultural and craft exhibits, and other country attractions, plus a few kids' rides. One-day admission is $8 adults, $6 ages 6 to 12 and seniors.