11 Awesome Things to Do in Seward, Alaska

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Fewer than 3000 people live in the town of Seward, yet it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Most of these people arrive during the short and extremely busy summer season to visit Kenai Fjords National Park.

We’ll be joining them (you?) in the summer of 2017, as we visit the Kenai Peninsula on our crazy road trip from New York to Alaska (and back!). I’ve made a list of 11 things to do in Seward, in preparation for our trip. Sharing the list here today, for the benefit of other travelers. Hope you find it useful!

11 Awesome Things to do in Seward, Alaska

11 Awesome Things to do in Seward, Alaska

1. Drive the Scenic Seward Highway

The road that takes you from Anchorage to Seward is in itself an attraction. It is so beautiful, it’s been awarded the highest rank in scenic byways: An All American Road. This awesome drivelapse video shows you exactly what it looks like –

Unless you’re getting to Seward by train or on a cruise ship, you’re going to drive this road into town and out of it. There you go, one awesome item to check off your “Things to do in Seward” list!

Here’s more information about the Scenic Seward Highway.

2. Visit Kenai Fjords National Park

Like any national park, Kenai Fjords NP deserves an entire blog post in its own right. Or possibly an entire travel blog! I may do that after we visit (write a post, not start a blog about the park). For now, I’ll just mention the three things every visitor to the park should include in his or her itinerary –

The Exit Glacier Area

This is the only area in the park that’s accessible by car. If you don’t have a car, there’s a shuttle that can get you here and back from Seward itself. The Exit Glacier visitors centre offers ranger talks and guided tours (free of charge and no need to make reservations in advance). More information about Exit Glacier area activities available here.

The Harding Icefield

The Harding Icefield is the huge – 300 square miles or 777 square km – sheet of ice that covers a large area in the lower arm of the Kenai Peninsula. It produces Several major glaciers, Exit Glacier being one of them. You can get excellent views of this ancient mega-glacier by hiking the Harding Icefield trail. This 8.2 miles round trip is strenuous and only suitable for advanced hikers.  The rest of us can try to walk a shorter part of the trail for a glance at the icefield.

If you’re an able hiker, you may be interest in the ranger-lead trail excursions. They’re available once a week, so check the park website for more details.

The Kenai Fjords Boat Tours

This is a Seward activity as much as it is a national park activity. There are several operators which offer boat tours of essentially the same area. Major Marine Tours is the company that offers boat excursions of various lengths where you’ll have an official park ranger on board to provide commentary.

Views of the Kenai Fjords boat tour
Views of the Kenai Fjords boat tour

3. Meet the animals at the Alaska SeaLife Center

The Alaska SeaLife Center is a research institute and rehabilitation center for local marine wildlife. It’s not very cheap to visit but the money goes towards research and wildlife rescue, so hey, that’s eco-tourism! You can see many varieties of Alaska wildlife up and close here, including several types of seals, birds, fish and other marine critters.

Summertime opening hours: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm (8:00 am on weekends).
Admission Fee: $21.95 (discount rates available for children under 12 and senior citizens).

The Alaska SeaLife Center’s website

4. Stroll along Waterfront Park

Walking along the shoreline north of the Alaska SeaLife Center, will get you to what is known as Waterfront Park. A mix of a campground (operated by the city of Seward) and a trail/promenade that takes you along the Seward waterfront and harbor. Historic signs along the ways, and the views of the gorgeous Resurrection Bay make for a nice combination for a stroll in town. And it’s free!

Seward Harbor
Seward Harbor

5. Or stroll the trail at Two Lakes Park

If you’re looking for a short and easy hike – or a stroll really –  very close to town, then Two Lakes Park provides just that. On the foothills of Mt Marathon, you are still within the town’s limits as the trail takes you from one small lake to another.

6. Learn about local history at the Seward Museum

This small community-managed museum is a good option for spending a rainy hour or two indoors, learning about local history, including the big earthquake that hit the town in 1964.

Admission fee: $5
Check their web page for opening hours.

7. Experience Dog Sledding 

The Seavey family is an Iditarod legend. Several members of the family hold personal records in this famous Alaskan Trail Sled Dog Race. When not racing, they offer three kinds types dog sledding tours where you can experience the tradition of the “mushers”. Not cheap but probably one of the most awesome things to do in Seward. Check out the details of the tours on their website.

 

8. Hit the trails!

Hikers will find several excellent trails all around the Seward area. Caines Head Trail, Lost Lake trail, Tonsina Point Trail and others offer a variety of trail types and attractions. You can filter options by trail length and level of difficulty here  or see recommendations for good hikes around Seaward here.

Views from the Lost Lake trail near Seward
Views from the Lost Lake trail near Seward

 

9. Ride the tree tops.

Love ziplining through rich green foliage? Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures will take you on a tour along 8 zip lines through the temperate rainforest with views of the mountains of Resurrection Bay all around you. It’ll cost you $149 to fly through the forest for three hours. Full details on their website here.

10. Go fishing

If you’re into that kind of thing – and admittedly, we’re not – there’s no shortage of fishing charters in Seward. After all, this is one of the most lucrative fishing harbors in the entire country. Local tour operators will be happy to take you to where the big fish swim and help you get them out of the water. They  and even clean them up and ship them back home.

11. Get up and close with sealife and icebergs

Several companies offer guided kayaking tours of Resurrection Bay and nearby glaciers. Some offer SUP options as well. With no engines to scare them away, marine creatures – including whales – may be fairly close. Kayak Adventures Worldwide, Liquid Adventures and Sunny Cove Kayaking all offer intimate marine tours around Seward.

Kayaking near Seward, Alaska

So, what do you think?

We intend to cover the entire Kenai Fjords NP experience, walk the waterfront park, maybe hike a trail or two and possibly add one more excursion. How about you? Which of these activities would you choose? Leave us a comment to let us know!

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6 Comments


  1. Great list! A couple things that I would like to add – a trip to Bear Glacier lagoon is an unforgettable experience. Kayaking or SUP-ing around gigantic icebergs the size of Costco will take your breath away. Not to be confused with Bear Lake, 6 miles out of town, which is also amazing and an incredible salmon run at the end of the summer!

    Reply

    1. Great tip, Kelli! I’m not sure I would be up for Sup-ing but maybe my husband and my boys. I’m sure we’ll be back in Seward some day and hopefully we can budget in such an awesome activity in our future list of things to do in Seward!

      Reply

  2. Great list of ideas, Anne! I’m off to research a little more before booking one last tour for our 2-week Alaska vacation. We are headed “way” North or the first time, Aug 22-Sept 6, 2018. We will tour land (Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali, Seward, Aug 22-27) then sail on a major cruise liner for the sea portion of our vacation (Seward, Hubbard Glacier, Icy Strait Point, Skagway, Juneau, Tracy Arm, Ketchikan, Vancouver, Aug 27-Sept 3) and finally, spend 3 days in Vancouver. Reading your posts has helped me make some decisions about our time in Seward, Thank you!

    Reply

    1. Sounds like a fantastic trip! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it thoroughly and create memories that will last you a lifetime!

      Reply

  3. Hi Anne, thanks for the info, you have put in a lot of research
    We arrive in Seward 29th August 2018 by train from Anchorage
    We are staying 2 nights there and then getting on a ship and sailing all the way to Sydney Australia
    We are unable to do much involving a lot of walking or spend 8 hours on a small boat (my husband has vertigo) so this may not go well
    I would love to go dog sledding if this is not to rough for your back, see bears, etc
    I would also love to see the Glacier close up
    As you would have gathered we are in our late 70’s and I in particular are not very strong (some people this age are amazing)
    Any hints you can give me would be much appreciated

    Reply

    1. Hi Erin,
      I’m sure you’re going to love Seward! Definitely go visit the Sealife center. It’s a lovely place with lots of animals and actually great views to the bay too. We spent quite a while just standing on their deck, viewing otters in the water outside the center! Do visit the National Park visitors center and hike the trail that goes towards the glacier but don’t try to press forward to see the glacier. Even if you make it to the end of the trail, you still won’t be very close to it. The park keeps building viewing platforms but the glacier keeps receding 🙁 We got to the end of the trail and the glacier was about half a mile away. We could see it but it wasn’t close up. Some people kept hiking to get closer but that was off-trail and we preferred to avoid that.

      What you could do in order to get close to a glacier is fly. Depending on your budget, you could take a relatively short flight from Seward that will put you on a glacier for a short walkabout. You’ll get superb views (weather permitting) and I bet it’s going to be tons of fun. Here are some options – Seaward Air, Seward Helicopters, Scenic Mountain Air and Miller’s Landing. We haven’t tried any of them so please research this thoroughly and don’t consider this a recommendation – just an idea.

      As for dog sledding, keep in mind there’s no snow on the ground near Seward during summertime. You could either do summer dog sledding like these guys offer which basically means riding a “sled” with wheels on it, or you’d have to go for an expensive excursion which combined a helicopter flight to a glacier with dog sledding on the glacier. I’ve seen these offered by Seward Helicopters and Miller’s Landing which I linked to earlier.

      I hope this helps! Don’t forget to just meander around the harbor and soak up the atmosphere. We actually enjoyed that part quite a lot! Enjoy your visit to Seward!

      Reply

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