Along the eastern coast of the Kenai Peninsula and at the head of the Resurrection Bay, the small town of Seward, is located just 127 miles south of Anchorage. It is also the end point of the famous Seward Highway route.
Most tourists who go to Seward are looking for adventures ranging from glacier walks to kayaking or whale watching. Seward is the starting point for those who want to explore a more natural side of Alaska, at the Kenai Fjords National Park and the Kodiak Island.
Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Seward (AK)
1. Waterfront Park
Seward Waterfront Park extends from the small boat harbor to the SeaLife Center and contains six separate camping areas, playgrounds, a skate park, picnic areas, beach access, and free city Wi-Fi. Located right next to the water and near everything in the downtown, the location cannot be beat. So, imagine waking up to the view of the mountains across Resurrection Bay!
There is also a trail along the entire park, with several historical landmarks such as Founder’s Monument, Mile 0 of the Historic Iditarod Trail, and the Old Railroad Depot. In addition, the trail on the water leads to a big playground that any kid would approve of.
2. Kenai Fjords National Park
With nearly 40 floating glaciers composing one of the largest icefields in the country, Kenai Fjords National Park is the treasure of Seward. The park gets its name from the many fjords carved by glaciers as they slowly fall down the mountain from the ice field. Since in the Kenai Fjords you visit only a small part on foot, through hiking (of all levels), a larger part needs to be done by boat or kayak trips. The most adventurous can cross the waters in a kayak and blend into the environment while hikers will enjoy the 8.2-mile hike on the Harding Icefield Trail.
Upon arrival at this admission free park, go to the Visitor Center and take a map of the park. And remember to always carry a bear spray and keep in mind that summer is the best time to visit the park.
3. Seward Cruise Ship Terminal
An Alaska cruise is an adventure like no other, and the Seward Cruise Ship Terminal is the gateway to the Kenai Fjords wonderland. When booking a cruise in Alaska, chances are you will depart either from Whittier or Seward. The deep-water harbor in the Resurrection Bay protected waters is where your cruise will dock and depart from. The popular 7-14 day Alaska cruises, round-the-world itineraries, and special charter cruises function mostly from May to September.
The terminal is also located close to stores, restaurants, and accommodations, and with their storage facilities you can explore the city while waiting for your cruise.
4. Lost Lake Trail
Also called the Primrose trail, this moderate 15 mile-trail features a scenic lake surrounded by mountains, alpine vegetation and lots of marmots. At the Lost Lake Trail, you are in for a treat with two glaciers to the east and one to the west. Part of the creek rushes along a deep stone chasm.
From May to September this is the perfect hike or even to go on a bike ride along the ridge of mountains, but during winter, it is mostly a snowmobile trail. You can either hike in and back or do the entire traverse. But if you can only do one side, be sure to pick the Lost Lake side instead of the Primrose one. And regardless of the time of the year, be prepared for black flies and be aware of optical illusions.
5. Seward Boat Harbor
Seward Small Boat Harbor is your typical small beach town harbor from where many tours depart and home to some friendly sea otters. Hiring a tour is the best way to see the Kenai Fjords National Park because boats visit areas that are not accessible by road or on foot.
Sail there to see how glaciers form in the sea and set up your camera to observe seals, sea lions, black bears, puffins, humpback whales, and orcas. Day cruises ranging from 3.5 to 9 hours or multi-day charters which allow for customized itineraries.
6. Seward Helicopter Tours
Flightseeing is the ultimate experience in Seward, and the Seward Helicopter Tours provides several options of tours and activities. From 15-minute scenic flights to dog sledding in remote areas, you will definitely be amazed.
Some itineraries even allow time for a glacier landing and a brief tour of the area. Amongst the options they offer are rides to places where you can go kayaking, hiking, practice yoga, and go ice climbing. All trips depart from the local airport and flying over Resurrection Bay and the Gulf of Alaska is sure to be one highlight of your Seward trip.
7. Mount Marathon
The steep mountain embracing Seward, Mount Marathon became even more famous when its famous race was born out of a challenge. In 1915, bar regulars made a bet that none of them could run to the top of the mountain in less than an hour. The ascent trail is just under a mile, but at 3,022 feet altitude there is a steep climb.
The winner of the first Mount Marathon race lost the bet by completing the race in 62 minutes. The race still takes place every summer, and the courageous hikers who finish the trail are rewarded with stunning views of Resurrection Bay and the town of Seward below.
8. Alaska SeaLife Center
Created a few years after the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, the Alaska Sealife Center is dedicated to research, education and rehabilitation of Alaska’s unique marine environment. Visitors get an up-close and personal look at the marine animals raised in Alaska.
Main activities include encounters with Steller’s sea lions, seals, exotic duck species, and the giant Pacific octopus. They also do an outstanding job educating the public about how to protect wildlife and the ocean with engaging hands-on exhibits. The gift shop has an excellent range of items, including local and indigenous arts, perfect stop to get your Seward souvenir.
During summer humpback whales, gray whales and even orcas and mammoths visit the Resurrection Bay surroundings to feed, and you can witness this by hiring a boat tour. Departing from the Seward Small Boat Harbor, tours last either half a day or a full day. They usually happen from May to September when the mammals migrate northward from Mexico and California.
When it comes to wildlife sightings nothing is ever guaranteed and nature is very unpredictable. Even if you do not see any whales, the boat rides are still impressive with the Alaskan background as your setting.
10. Resurrection Bay
The calm waters of the sheltered Resurrection Bay are home to Seward and known as one of the most reliable places to view marine wildlife in the world. Also called Blying Sound and Harding Gateway, the bay is actually a fjord on the Kenai Peninsula.
Boat tours around the bay are one of the most popular attractions in the area. Water taxis, kayak tours, anglers, and recreational boaters use the bay to access nearby Kenai Fjords. So, navigate hidden caves and small islands in the bay to see whales, sea lions, otters, bald eagles, puffins, mountain goats, and bears.
11. Smoke Shack
Smoke Schack is a train-themed smoked meat and burgers specialized restaurant at the Seward Boat Harbor. Even though they are known for the barbecue, you cannot go wrong with the breakfast burrito or the eggs benedict. And the staff is kind enough to always make sure you have a refill of water and coffee.
The downside is the small space with limited seating, so be prepared for a long queue or arrive early. And if you get to choose, sit at the outside patio to admire the view and maybe witness a bald eagle appearance.
12. Benny Benson Park
Across the street from the Seward Small Boat Harbor, Benny Benson Park is named after the Alutiiq boy who in 1927 designed the Alaska state flag when he was only 13 years old. The park has a quarter mile elevated walkway that circles the Seward Lagoon and a memorial to honor Benny Benson.
Bird watchers enjoy Seward Lagoon the most because of the frequent appearances by bald eagles, kingfishers, and colorful ducks. But make sure to also look for salmon and river otters. The boardwalk loop around the lagoon makes for a perfect walk early in the morning when the streets are still calm.
13. Sunny Cove Kayaking – Fox Island
The picturesque and unspoiled Fox Island is considered the heart of the Resurrection Bay. Its flat-rock beach Halibut Cove makes for a perfect stop after a morning of kayaking amongst the marine animals. The one-hour wildlife cruise through the protected waters of Resurrection Bay takes you to Fox Island. There you can go kayaking, walk along the beach looking for heart-shaped rocks and enjoy a crab cake at the cozy Day Lodge.
14. Exit Glacier
Another incredible stop on Seward Highway is the Exit Glacier, one of the most fascinating places you will see at Kenai Fjords National Park and the only glacier you can drive to. The trail starts flat and paved, accessible to anyone, including wheelchair users. Along the walk you see signs showing the years when the glacier reached that point, which is a little scary. In fact, the signs start on the road in the 1800s. Then the trail becomes heavier, with steep points and rocks.
If you have time and disposition, going ahead, on the same trail, you will reach the top of the mountain where the Harding Icefield glacier is located. But be aware that this 8-mile steeper path represents another 900 ft of elevation.
15. Resurrect Art Coffee House and Art Gallery
This 100-year-old building, which used to be a church, now specializes in providing espresso and delicious treats baked right there in the basement. The owners, Mike and Micheley, installed a beautifully comfy soapstone stove to warm customers all winter long, adding to the welcoming ambiance.
Besides offering free Wi-Fi, the Resurrect Art Coffee House and Art Gallery exhibits artwork from local artisans and a beautiful view from the loft sitting area. Their live music events and writer’s group readings makes them a favorite gathering place for locals and tourists.
16. Seward Community Library and Museum
Curated by the Resurrection Bay Historical Society, the Seward Museum is on the first floor of the Seward Community Library and their collection documents Seward’s past and history. The museum also hosts several events throughout the year focused on people from Alaska, exhibiting artifacts and historical documents.
The library itself deserves attention because of its diverse collection of paper books, e-books, audiovisual materials, local documents, public computers and online databases, research room, children’s room and a great reading area facing sea and mountain views. Given its fast wireless internet, this is also a great place to work during your holidays, if you really need to.
17. Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures
There are many ways to experience the wonders of Alaska, and the zip lining offered by Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures is a thrilling adventure for all ages. The instructors take safety very seriously by teaching body positioning and breaking technique.
Even though for the most part the zips are in the trees of the Pacific temperate forest, the canopy view is breathtaking. There is one big zipline where you go over a lake and get to have a fresh perspective of Seward! Their 3-hour zipline canopy tour features 8 ziplines, 3 suspension bridges and 2 rappels.
18. Lowell Point
Just under a 10-minute drive south of Seward, Lowell Point is a region of the Kenai Peninsula established at the mouth of Spruce Creek. Part of the community of Lowell Point, Miller’s Landing is literally the end of the road and it was not until 1980s that electricity and running water made it there.
Away from Seward, the views of Lowell Point include the Resurrection Bay, the City of Seward itself, Mount Alice, Caines Head. You can also spot the barrier islands that protect the region from the Gulf of Alaska: Fox Island, Hive Island, and Rugged Island. So, rent a car and drive to this charming small oceanfront community.
19. Tonsina Point
From Miller’s Landing, take an easy 1.5-mile old lodging trail to Tonsina Point where during summer you can see thousands of pink and chum salmon crossing upstream. The trail is a great way to entertain the kids by showing them all the fish and jellyfish around. Because of the 1964 earthquake, there is a ghost forest of standing petrified trees in Tonsina Point, which makes for a scenery like no other.
For those who want to go further, the North Beach is only 3 miles away and you can only hike there during very low tide from Tonsina Point. Along the way spot dog salmon coming in and salmon berries sprouting down the hillside.
20. Exit Glacier Salmon Bake
Open from May to September, the Exit Glacier Salmon Bake specializes in seafood in a quiet wooded setting just down the road from Exit Glacier. Pick your choice from fresh Alaskan salmon to halibut and red snapper after your tour at the glacier. Their menu includes steaks, burgers and salad and pasta, as well as Alaskan Microbrews and bottled domestic beer.
You can also book a cabin rental in the grounds of this authentic Alaskan restaurant & pub. And be sure to pay extra attention to the furniture handcrafted by the owner, Vince.
21. The Painted Whale Seward Mural Walking Tours
With over 30 vibrant paintings, Seward is known as the Mural capital of Alaska. In 1999, a group of local artists and art lovers began volunteering their talents to paint the town. The group is now Seward Mural Society, part of the non-profit Seward Arts Council. The paintings honor the unique historical characters of Seward, as well as the beauty and spirit of Alaska.
The murals range from wildflowers to The Giving Tree and even the local senior prom. Look out for the most detailed and stunning painting of the Kenai Fjords, painted by the renowned Ed Tussey. It is on the east side of the Chamber of Commerce Building, just beside the visitor center.
22. Dog Sledding Ride – IdidaRide
Experience the unique thrill of dog sledding on a glacier at the Kenai Fjords National Park or a ride through the rainforest to a river-cut canyon surrounded by mountains! There are many operators providing this service in around Seward and some of them give you the option to go behind the scenes. Besides the dog sled ride, you might get the chance to go on a tour of a racing kennel, meet the dogs, cuddle adorable husky puppies, and listen to stories from the locals.
Furthermore, you can include in your experience a lift off in a helicopter to enjoy incredible views on your way to this amazing adventure. Dog sledding is more common in summer, but during winter you can also do a multi-day expedition near Willow, Alaska.
23. Two Lakes Park
Located in the area where the town of Seward borders the Chugach National Forest, the one-mile trail circles two small lakes through a pine and fir forest and runs through a small waterfall. At the foot of Mount Marathon, the Two Lakes Park is perfect for those who want to stretch their legs and want to try this easy hiking trail.
Looping around two lakes, the trailhead offers a lovely picnic area to enjoy the surrounding wilderness. Suitable even for children, as you walk around the loop-trail watch out for the salmon that live in the First Lake.
24. Bear Creek Weir
Bear Creek is a lush riparian habitat running through a temperate Sitka spruce rainforest. Moreover, this is a fun little filler activity, given that it only takes around 20 minutes to check it out.
From July to September look out for the Spawning Coho, a type of salmon. But the true protagonists, the Sock Eye Salmon, are most present in July. You can watch them running against the water flow and jumping at the point where water level changes. The Bear Creek Weir is monitored by the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association. In addition, they also offer a viewing spot to watch salmon management techniques and to learn more about the salmon life cycles.
25. Snagg’n Wagon
Seward is one of Alaska’s premier sportfishing destinations and Snagg’n Wagon offers an economical way to enjoy this ultimate Alaskan experience. Sangg’n Wagon has got you covered from fishing package rental to guided fishing and fish cleaning tours and seasonal pass.
Located by the Seward waterfront, they also vacuum seal your fish right on the beach. And even if you are a beginner, the staff will happily give you advice and fillet your fish at the end of the day.