Seward Travel Guide + 9 Things to do in Seward
Updated April 2020, Seward Travel Guide + 8 Things to do in Seward was originally written in January 2020
Whether you’re looking for a day trip or overnight trip from Anchorage or arriving in Alaska by cruise ship, Seward is a great place to explore even for those short on time. The city sits on the innermost part of Resurrection Bay, a fjord in southcentral Alaska and dishes up some of the best epic Alaska views- towering mountains, glaciers, sea, forest, and wildlife.
Seward is also conveniently located a short hop over from Kenai Fjords National Park. In this Seward travel guide, you’ll find out the best things to do in Seward, where to eat and sleep, the best day trips, and what hikes to try.
Just starting to plan your Alaskan adventure? Check out the Ultimate Alaska Travel Guide
Things Do To In Seward
Go On A Kenai Fjords Whale Watching & Glacier Cruise
This is one of those things that almost every tourist who’s taken one will light up and excitedly tell you about, but many of us Alaskans put on the back burner and kind of forget about (myself included). Whether you’re a lifelong Alaskan, or you’re visiting for the first time, these wildlife and glacier cruises are well worth the cost for the chance to watch glaciers calving and wildlife up close.
After cruising with Major Marine Tours, I highly recommend them for those wanting to explore Kenai Fjords National Park to see the wildlife that inhabits Resurrection Bay and the Gulf of Alaska.
Shop Kenai Fjords Whale Watching & Glacier Cruises here
Alaska SeaLife Center
The Alaska Sealife Center is a cold water marine science research facility that also serves as an educational center and as a rehabilitation center for injured marine animals. The sealife center is especially perfect for those visiting with kids as there are several activities and interactions that will keep everyone in the family happy.
Tickets for non-resident adults 13+ years are 29.95 and kids 3-12 years are 17.95. Fees are $23.95 and 13.95 for Alaska residents, respectively. Children 2 and under are free. If you want to purchase your tickets in advance, you can get them here.
Wanna travel Alaska on the cheap? Learn how to travel Alaska on a budget
The Seward waterfront park is set between the Sealife Center and the small boat harbor and offers, tent and RV camping, beach access, historical landmarks, a skate park, and playgrounds. The waterfront is a great spot to picnic and watch for otters, birdlife, and even on occasion, whales. Rates for camping are $10 per night for tents and $40 per night for RVs with electric and water hook up or $20 per night without. Read more about camping at Seward Waterfront Park here.
Wander the docks of the harbor for some of the best views of the around Seward and of Resurrection Bay, and have a laugh at the witty names of some of the boats. The water of Resurrection Bay is a beautiful emeraldy-turquoise and can make for some gorgeous photos, especially at sunrise and sunset.
Whether you want to angle at a nearby stream or lake, or from a fishing charter out on the bay, Seward offers some world-class fishing.
Shop Seward and Kenai fishing day trips here
Seward Library & Museum
The Seward Library not only houses shelves of books but also the local museum, with exhibits displaying information on Seward’s history. The colorful building is hard to miss being decorated with iridescent bricks, and home to a vibrant mural on one side of the structure. Entry is $4 per person May-September and free in winter months.
Planning to add Seward to your Alaska road trip? Check out my Kenai Peninsula road trip itinerary
Lowell Point is located just a brief two mile drive south of Seward. If you’re looking for a place to camp that’s quiet but still pretty close to Seward, Lowell Point is a great option. Watch for whales, play in the tidal pools and relax on the beach.
Kayak In Resurrection Bay
Hands down, Resurrection Bay is one of the most beautiful places in Alaska. If you’re a decent kayaker or stand-up paddle boarder you can rent kayaks and SUPs in Seward and paddle along the bay. You can rent kayaks and SUPs from Miller’s Landing for about $80 per day.
If you’re looking for an awesome getaway from Seward, I’d recommend booking a night or two over at Kayaker’s Cove.
Want to kayak Resurrection Bay with a guide? Check out this 3 hour guided kayak trip
Go On A Flight Seeing Tour
Whether you want to land on a glacier, view wildlife from above, take in scenic views from a helicopter, or even fly out to a glacier and try dog sledding there’s likely a flightseeing tour that will for every interest.
Shop different Seward flightseeing tours here
Day Trips From Seward
Visit Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park is comprised of over 600,000 acres of remote backcountry land. Most visitors opt to explore the park’s coastal areas by glacier and wildlife cruising, or by trekking along the trail to Exit Glacier and Harding Icefield. More intrepid visitors will kayak around the fjords or trek into the backcountry.
There is no entry fee for visitors to Kenai Fjords National Park and there is a small Nature Center located near to the toe of Exit Glacier where you can meet with park rangers who will answer any questions you may have. Note that Exit Glacier Road (the only road into the park) that leads to the Nature Center and Exit Glacier is closed to cars/trucks in winters from about October to May, however, it is still accessible by cross-country skiing, snowmachine (snowmobile, for those of you non-Alaskans reading), dog sled, fat tire bike, and snowshoes.
Shop different Kenai Fjords National Park tours, guided hikes, flightseeing and other adventures here
Exit Glacier is one of Alaska’s roadside-accessible glaciers. From the Exit Glacier Nature Center, there is the one mile Glacier View Loop Trail that will bring you to a great viewing point near the toe of the glacier. From the far side of the loop, you can trek an additional 0.6 miles uphill to the Exit Glacier Overlook for an up-close view.
Click here to read up on and book an excellent Exit Glacier guided day hike with Kenai Backcountry Adventures
Harding Icefield is a full-day trek, taking approximately 6-8 hours for most visitors. With roughly 1,000 feet of elevation gain and 8.2 miles return the Harding Icefield Trek will take you from the Exit Glacier Nature Center in a cottonwood forest in a valley along a path meandering up past alpine vegetation and eventually up to a field of ice and snow as far as you can see.
Make sure you have decent hiking boots, lots of layers, and a couple of liters of water. Trekking poles are helpful as there are several parts of the trail near the top where it’s typically snowbound even into July.
Check out this Harding Icefield guided day hike with Kenai Backcountry Adventures
Aialik Glacier Kayaking/SUP
A day trip to Aialik Glacier is a great way to get out and see wildlife and visit a tidewater glacier by kayak. Most trips start with a two hour boat transfer to Aialik Bay where you’ll have the chance to see humpbacks, otters, seabirds, and more. Once to Aialik Bay, you’ll hop into kayaks and paddle around the bay in the presence of icebergs.
Click here to view and sign up for this unforgettable Aialik Glacier kayaking trip with Liquid Adventures
Going dog mushing is a popular activity among tourists who come to Alaska. If you want to try your hand at dog mushing in Alaska, Seward can be a great place to plan a dog sledding excursion from.
Go on your very own 16 mile dog sledding adventure, click here for more info
Hikes Around Seward
Looking for more trekking ideas? Check out the 16 best day hikes near Anchorage
Caine’s Head is a 14 mile return trek the begins from Lowell Point, across a tidal zone that requires timing it with tide tables, up to the historic Fort McGilvary, past beautiful ponds and eventually onto the top of Caine’s Head.
Photos of the Caine’s Head hike provided by my friends Tay & Dave who did the trek this summer (I couldn’t join that time)
Tonsina Point is accessed from the same trailhead as Caine’s Head. This is a much shorter and easier trek, about 3 miles in length that takes you to Tonsina Point in the end. From May to September it’s possible to fish Tonsina Creek.
Click here to join a Tonsina Point kayak & rainforest exploration day tour
The Lost Lake Hike can be done as a through hike between the Lost Lake Trailhead and the Primrose Trailhead, or as an out and back hike from either side, being roughly 15 miles and 7.5 miles respectively. This trek can be done either as a long day hike, or an overnighter.
Wanna visit Caine’s Head by hiking and kayak? Click here to check out this combination day trip
Mt. Marathon is a famous 4.5 mile loop hike in Alaska, owing to the annual 4th of July Mt. Marathon Race that’s held here every year. There are actually two variations of this hike. An “easier” route that begins from the Sheffler Creek Trailhead, and a “hiker” route that begins at the end of Jefferson.
Don’t wanna hike Mt. Marathon on your own? Check out this 4 hour guided Mt. Marathon hike
Must-Pack Items For Hiking Around Seward
- Bear spray: to protect yourself in the event you run into a bear on the trail. You cannot fly bear spray in luggage, so you’ll need to purchase a can on arrival or you can rent a can for the day from Adventure Sixty North for $12.
- Bear vault: mask the scent of your food and protect it from wildlife. You can buy bear vaults here (I use the UDAP Bear Canister), or rent them from Adventure Sixty North for $5 per day.
- Tent: If you’ll be camping, make sure you pack a decent lightweight tent. My two favorites are the MSR Hubba Hubba NX Solo Tent and the Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Man Tent. Adventure Sixty North rents tents for $35 per day.
- Sleeping Bag: Make sure and purchase a sleeping bag that will be cold rated down to the temperatures you’ll need for your hike and the season. I love the Nemo Disco. You can also rent sleeping bags for $20 per day from Adventure Sixty North.
- Backpack: If planning an overnight or multi-day hike you’ll want a sturdy, lightweight pack that will hold all your gear. I use the Osprey Ariel 65L.
- Daypack: If you’re going out on a day hike, you’ll want a smaller pack. I use the Osprey Daylite+, but I don’t love it. I think I will opt for something like the Osprey Sirrus 24 on my next purchase.
How To Get In & Out Of Seward
By car: Seward is at the terminus of the Seward Highway, so really the only way in and out by road is via the Seward Highway. The Seward Highway connects Seward to Anchorage, or you can turn off at the start of the Sterling Highway and head towards Cooper Landing, Soldotna, Kenai, and Homer.
By train: Although a bit pricier, the Alaska railroad can be a great way to travel to Seward, giving you the opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery on the way down the Kenai Peninsula. For $99 (one-way) you can book the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward, or from Seward to Anchorage.
By bus: There are a few bus companies that travel to Seward from Anchorage (and back) that many cruisers use to get between the cities at the start or end of their Alaska cruise. Typically you’ll pay around $55-70 per person for a one-way departure. Book this Anchorage-Seward transfer for only $44.99, or if headed the other direction, this Seward-Anchorage transfer for only $49.99.
By ship: Many visitors to Seward between May and September start or end their Alaska cruise from Seward.
Where To Stay In Seward
| Cityofseward.us |
Orca Island Cabins
| Expedia.com |
Located on a private island in Humpy Cove, Resurrection Bay
Best Restaurants In Seward
Seward has several restaurants, some of which I have personally eaten at and liked are Seabean Cafe, Seasalt Bar & Grill, The Cookery, and Zudy’s Cafe. A must for visitors to Seward is to of course try some fresh Alaskan seafood.
Have Any Questions About This Seward Travel Guide Or Any Of The Best Things To Do In Seward?
Ask your Seward travel questions in the comments section below.