Situated at the head of Resurrection Bay on the Kenai Peninsula, Seward is one of the oldest and most picturesque destinations in Alaska. The historic downtown district is known for its charming shops and restaurants as well as the busy harbour and gateway to visiting Kenai Fjords National Park.
Seward is most visited during summer between June and September as the temperatures are mild. The months of March to May are also popular due to it being whale migrating season and whale-watching cruises operate from Seward during this time.
The natural beauty and being in easy reach of fabulous wildlife and nearby glaciers makes Seward a popular choice for those wanting to explore Alaska. Here are some of the top things to do in this town and the surrounding area.
1. Holgate Glacier
One of the most beautiful glaciers in the nearby National Park you can get up close to this glacier whilst taking an Alaska cruise tour.
When you are near to the Holgate Glacier, you can see the magnificent colours. The gorgeous blues of the ice, the sapphire coloured tips and the stark white contrasts. You may also have the chance to see glacier calving, which is when chunks of ice break off the glacier itself.
The best way to see this glacier is by tour, which are bookable locally or in advance depending on what you are looking for.
2. Seward Boat Harbour
This busy harbour is the heart of the town and there are so many different boats that dock and connect here. Hundreds of fishing charter boats, cruise liners and freight, as well as the US Coast Guard and the US Navy.
Even if you are not taking a tour, it is an interesting marina to explore as there are lots of different people to see and boats to admire. In the evening you will see the fishers coming back with their catch and cleaning the fish.
Otters are known to frequent the harbour and you’ll see waves of jellyfish swimming here and you might even see seals too. A lovely place to enjoy the scenic views and busting atmosphere.
3. Resurrection Bay
Seward is fortunate to have been developed at the head of resurrection bay. The fjord in the Kenai National Park is sheltered from the harsh ocean and is a beautiful place to visit.
It received its name from the Russian trader and merchant, Alexandr Baranov. He was caught in a storm and sheltered here, the storm then subsided on Easter Sunday. Therefore, the name resurrection bay.
Again, to truly enjoy the beauty and wildlife here you should take a boat tour or cruise. Remarkable glaciers, breaching whales and eagles flying ahead are all experiences you can have here in resurrection bay.
4. Kenai Fjords National Park
This expansive park is the main reason tourists frequent Seward and the surrounding area. This majestic National Park is the absolute epitome of Alaska.
Beautiful glaciers, calving ice, and fabulous views of the wildlife living here. You can see amongst others, sea otters, orcas, pilot whales, harbour seals, stellar sea lions, eagles, puffins and many other birds. An absolute haven for wildlife enthusiasts.
You can explore the area by a few different means. Boat tours and cruises are popular ways to see the park, and helicopter tours are a great way to see the amazing scenery. Booking a tour is easy, there are many to choose from so you can pick the right one for you.
5. Alaska SeaLife Center
All of Alaska’s marine mammals and bird life in one place, this center shows its visitors the diversity of the state.
Puffins are the main attraction as you can rarely get so close to these shy birds. But the reason the center exists is to educate visitors and provide research to improve the conservation and protection of the precious natural feature of Alaska.
You will find the center on Railway Ave in Seward, and it is definitely somewhere you should visit whilst in town if you are interested in animals and sea creatures.
6. Bear Glacier
The longest Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park built by the flow of two separate ice falls coming together. It is a popular point to visit during your stay in Seward.
You cannot get too close to this glacier as where the ice is melting, rock and other debris has been picked up over time. It is not a tidewater, calving glacier as it cuts its own travel making it very unpredictable.
It is a fascinating spectacle watching the ice fall into the freshwater lake below the face. You mustn’t forget your camera on a tour here.
7. Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures
A unique way to see the mountainside in Alaska, by zipping through the forest. Enjoy an exciting ride through the trees with amazing scenery surrounding you.
At Stoney Creek you can enjoy a three-hour canopy tour which includes eight exhilarating ziplines, woodland aerial walkways all whilst experiencing panoramic Alaska views. The zips start off easy but soon move on to more exciting rides. Including the 1,100-foot line across the valley over a reflecting pond stopping at a platform 75 feet up on a Sitka spruce.
You should book your tour in advance to make sure you can visit at the time and date to suit you. And don’t worry, all safety equipment and briefings are included.
8. Horseback Riding Tours
There are some trails in Seward that are only reachable by horseback, so you will have the spectacular scenery to yourself.
You can view bald eagles up close, seeing where they nest and watching them feed in the trees above. Ride right under where they are perched and feel part of the natural landscape. The trail will bring you right to the shore of the bay, where you can see beautiful views and enjoy the tranquillity of your floral surroundings.
Riders over the age of 6 can participate and all safety helmets, equipment and guides are included in your tour.
9. Alaska Railroad
Some visitors choose to visit Seward by taking the classic Alaska railroad from Anchorage. You can ride in comfort and enjoy the amazing scenery from the train carriage as you pass some amazing sights.
Instead of flying in from Anchorage or arriving in Seward by cruise, the railroad is an excellent alternative to consider when choosing how to arrive. You can enjoy the beauty of the area whilst you sit back and relax.
If you are looking to take a trip to Seward from Anchorage, then you should consider taking the Alaska Railroad.
10. Helicopter Glacier Dog Sledding
An activity you won’t regret in Alaska is the states favourite Dog Sledding, and from Seward you can do this combining a helicopter ride too.
From Seward airport you can take a tour by helicopter to the Godwin Glacier to where you will meet your dog sledding team. During the ride you will enjoy the fantastic scenery of snow fields, mountains and lakes.
A team of huskies and a professional guide will carry you across the snow fields and on the way you will learn how dog sledding is used here. For travel and hunting during the harsh winters, as well as the competitive races. After your ride you may even get the chance to play with some adorable Husky puppies too.
11. Seward Community Library & Museum
If you are interested in the history of the area this is the place to visit. There are many different exhibits, artefacts and films about ancient as well as more recent history. This includes the 1964 Tsunami.
There are some videos produced by residents explaining their experiences in Seward which are really moving. As well as a children’s area for little explorers where they can play and read about fun history facts.
Find the library and museum on Sixth Avenue in Seward but remember to check opening times before visiting as they vary.
12. Miller’s Landing
This private homestead is a secluded campground and fishing camp with the opportunity to enjoy some adventure activities on Resurrection Bay.
Many people who camp here enjoy the ability to get straight out onto the water. Whether that is by renting kayaks, taking a kayak or boat tour or going out fishing on the bay. You can also do enjoy some amazing observations of the natural wildlife.
Whilst fishing from the beach front, it won’t be unusual to see otters and sea lions nearby. The location has everything you need for a comfortable yet secluded stay.
13. Stand-Up Paddle boarding
If you are looking for a different type of water sport to try, then why not give stand up paddle boarding a go? It is a growing trend in Alaska becoming more and more popular with visitors.
It is great because, instead of sitting at eye level, as in kayaking or rafting, you have a higher vantage point when standing up. This means you can see farther, and in clear waters, deeper. If you are new to this you can take beginner lessons, but it is really easy to get the hang of.
Humpy Cove near to Seward is the best place to get kitted out and start to enjoy the sights from an alternative point of view.
14. Seward Silver Salmon Derby
One of the oldest and largest fishing derbies in Alaska, the Seward Silver Salmon Derby brings in fishers from across the state and beyond.
Those who wish to take part, purchase tickets and compete with others to catch the most prize worthy Coho or Silver Salmon in Seward. Prizes are awarded for tagged fish and the heaviest weight, for example 1st prize in 2018 was $10,000 + weight of the fish in Silver hook, Kaladi Brothers Coffee.
The festival is held annually in August and festivities continue throughout the weekend. It is an excellent time to visit to see the master fishers at work!
15. Bear Creek Weir
There are two seasons of Salmon here to view. The first in May and June, millions of smolts are released into Bear Lake which swim down Bear Creek to salt water at the head of Resurrection Bay. Then between July and September, tens of thousands of sockeye salmon swim seven miles up the creek, followed by the Coho salmon in late July and September.
If you are wanting to view the salmon swimming upstream, you can’t miss it in Bear Creek in the summer. Watching the salmon doing what comes naturally is an excellent activity and families really enjoy it.
You don’t need to book a tour or take a special trip. Bear creek is easy to get to from Seward, a short stop whilst travelling in or out of town.