On Alaska’s south-central coast lies a small town nestled between soaring mountains, sprawling glaciers, and beautiful waters – Seward, Alaska. It might seem like a small town–and it is–but there’s no shortage of things to do in Seward, both indoor and outdoor. There’s something for just about everyone.
Hit the road with us, and let’s take a look!
Table of Contents
- About Seward, Alaska
- Best Time to Visit Seward, Alaska
- 15 Best Things to Do in Seward, Alaska
- 1. Visit Kenai Fjords National Park
- 2. Explore Resurrection Bay by Kayak
- 3. Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center
- 4. See Lowell Creek Waterfall
- 5. Check Out the Seward Boat Harbor
- 6. See the Holgate Glacier on a Cruise Tour
- 7. Hike Mt. Marathon
- 8. Visit The Seward Community Library and Museum
- 9. Check Out Bear Glacier
- 10. See the Salmon at Bear Creek Weir
- 11. Explore Downtown Seward
- 12. Take a Whale Watching Cruise
- 13. Treat Yourself to a Helicopter Glacier Tour
- 14. Tour Turning Heads Dog Sledding Kennel
- 15. Visit Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures
- Are You Ready to Visit Seward?
- Planning Your Alaska Roadtrip
About Seward, Alaska
Named for the U.S. Secretary of State who helped purchase Alaska from Russia, Seward became a city in 1903. Because it was the ocean endpoint of the Alaska Railroad, the town was an important shipping point for goods coming into and out of interior Alaska.
Seward also functioned as “mile zero” of the famous Iditarod Trail, a network of dog sled trails, many of which are around today. These days, however, the famous race starts north of Seward in Anchorage.
A massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 1964 destroyed much of the town and nearby railroad. You can still see remnants of this quake today. Seward has become an even more popular tourist destination in recent decades, with the establishment of nearby Kenai Fjords National Park in 1980 and a cruise terminal in more recent years.
Best Time to Visit Seward, Alaska
The peak season in Seward is summer, when temperatures range between the low 50s and mid-60s. You can expect the most crowds and generally the highest prices for tours and accommodations. Fall is also an excellent time to visit, as you’ll be competing with fewer fellow travelers, and the weather is still relatively mild.
Winters are cold but not as frigid as one might expect in Alaska, with average low temperatures in the low 20s. However, you’ll always have things to do in Seward, regardless of the season. It just depends on what you want to do.
Pro Tip: Read What’s The Best Time Of Year To Visit Alaska? to help you decide.
15 Best Things to Do in Seward, Alaska
We’ve rounded up a list of our fifteen favorite things to do in Seward for travelers of all types.
1. Visit Kenai Fjords National Park
Location: South and West of Seward, AK 99664
About: Alaska is home to some of the country’s most breathtaking National Parks, and Kenai Fjords is undoubtedly among them. The park’s 40 glaciers and namesake fjords (long, narrow sea inlets surrounded by high cliffs) are the main attractions.
Hop on a boat or kayak tour where you can see much of the park. You also shouldn’t miss Exit Glacier, the only part of the park accessible by road and the only part with developed hiking trails. You’ll marvel at the dramatic land and seascapes that enormous glaciers have carved. And don’t forget the extraordinary diversity of wildlife, including bears, moose, seals, and whales.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 10 – Truly a can’t-miss if you’re in Seward. These views are genuinely unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere, and you’ll get a real taste of wild Alaska.
2. Explore Resurrection Bay by Kayak
Location: South and East of Seward, AK 99664 (the town is on the shore of the bay)
About: Resurrection Bay (named by sailors who sheltered there during an Easter storm) has been called the “gateway to the Kenai Fjords,” as this waterway is the primary path boaters and kayakers will take to the National Park. However, the bay is beautiful in its own right. Either on your own or via a guided tour, you’ll get a look at the area’s unique wildlife, with picturesque fjords and mountains as backdrops.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8 – Getting out on the water is one of the best ways to see Seward and the surrounding area, and the various routes and tours make kayaking an adventurous choice.
3. Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center
Location: 301 Railway Ave, Seward, AK 99664
About: If you want a closer look at the fantastic sea animals that call the Seward area home, head to the Alaska SeaLife Center. The center combines a public aquarium with a marine and wildlife research facility. It also includes an aviary where you can get up close with puffins, kittiwakes, and other Alaska seabirds that fly right over your heads!
Tours and experiences include encounters with puffins, sea otters, an octopus, and behind-the-scenes looks at animal care and the research process.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 9 – A good choice for those with a deep interest in Alaska’s wildlife and their study and care. Prices are $30 for adults and $18 for kids.
4. See Lowell Creek Waterfall
Location: Lowell Point Road/Railway Avenue, just past University of Alaska Fairbanks – Seward Marine Center, Seward, AK 99664
About: This waterfall may be human-engineered, but it’s still an excellent spot for a picture! This water comes from the Lowell Creek, which was rerouted into a tunnel under the nearby mountains to prevent it from flooding Seward. It’s right by the roadside, so it’s easy to get to.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8 – A fabulous picture, and a free, quick stop that you can add to any Seward road trip.
5. Check Out the Seward Boat Harbor
Location: Central Seward, near 4th Ave/Mariners Way
About: You might be able to access Seward by road, but boats also play a massive part in the local community here, from fishing to tourism. Stroll along the harbor and check out the more than 100 commercial fishing boats and dozen or more tour boats.
There’s also plenty of shopping and dining if you need a sightseeing break. If you’re lucky, you might even see a harbor seal or otter!
Morton Road Trip Rating: 7 – Walking through the harbor is a fun way to get a sense of Seward’s local flavor and culture.
6. See the Holgate Glacier on a Cruise Tour
Location: Inside Kenai Fjords National Park
About: Holgate Glacier may not be the biggest glacier in Kenai Fjords, but it’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. Ride a boat from Seward to this glacier to check out the magnificent blue-white mass of ice. It’s a popular spot for those who want to see glacier “calving” – where large chunks fall into the ocean with a thunderous crash.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 9 – Alaska is one of the few places in the United States where you can still see glaciers, and this is a superb and highly accessible choice.
7. Hike Mt. Marathon
Location: Traditionally starts at 1st and Monroe (hiking trail) or 4th and Adams (race trail), Seward, AK 99664
About: Mt. Marathon looms over Seward, soaring more than 4,800 feet into the air above the harbor. There are two ways to get up to the top. The first, using the hiking trail, is 4.5 miles round trip and moderate in difficulty. It winds through a glacial valley on the way to the top.
Up for an adventure? Try to conquer Mt. Marathon on the race trail! It may only be 3 miles, but the modest length belies the difficulty.
As you slog up the mountain and carefully pick your way down the steep descent, imagine hundreds of people running this trail at full speed every year! The Mt. Marathon Race is a Seward tradition you won’t want to miss if you’re there in early July.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8 – A beautiful but very challenging journey for experienced hikers or adventure sports enthusiasts. Not for the faint of heart, regardless of which trail you pick!
8. Visit The Seward Community Library and Museum
Location: 239 6th Ave, Seward, AK 99664
About: This unique organization is a combination public library, museum, archives, and community center dedicated to Seward’s citizens and its history. The museum on the first floor tells the story of Seward from its original native inhabitants to modern times, using artifacts, photos, and documents. Upstairs, you’ll find the town’s library.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 6 – History lovers will enjoy learning more about how Seward came to be the town it is today.
9. Check Out Bear Glacier
Location: Inside Kenai Fjords National Park
About: Bear Glacier is the longest glacier in Kenai Fjords, ending in a picturesque iceberg-filled lagoon that’s a favorite for kayakers. You can paddle near massive, building-sized chunks of ice, giving you a once-in-a-lifetime view. Just don’t get TOO close–they’re prone to breaking or rolling at any time.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 9 – Paddling in a glacial lagoon just feet from enormous icebergs the size of houses is the kind of “only in Alaska” experience that makes the long trip here more than worth it.
10. See the Salmon at Bear Creek Weir
Location: 33580 Bear Lake Rd, Seward, AK 99664
About: Alaska is famous for its salmon, and you can observe two essential parts of these fish’s life cycle here at Bear Creek Weir. In May and June, millions of young fish are released into Bear Lake, where they eventually make their way to Resurrection Bay. Months later (between July and September), tens of thousands of the grown salmon swim back up Bear Creek, trying to leap the artificial falls to spawn.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 9 – Salmon are among Alaska’s most iconic wildlife, and getting an up-close look at them is a nice way to spend an hour or two.
11. Explore Downtown Seward
Location: Seward, AK 99664
About: Seward’s downtown is centered around 4th Avenue and the Seward Highway and includes a variety of shopping, dining, and even some glimpses back into history. Though the 1964 earthquake destroyed much of the town, some original buildings still stand. Check out the public art in the streets – Seward has been called the Mural Capital of Alaska!
Morton Road Trip Rating: 7 – There’s something for everyone in downtown Seward, and you’ll love the charming local shops and restaurants.
12. Take a Whale Watching Cruise
Location: Generally departs from Seward Harbor, Downtown Seward, AK 99664
About: The waters around Seward and Resurrection Bay can be positively teeming with whales at certain times of year – more than 22,000 overall! Experienced guides from several different companies offer tours that get you up close and personal with these majestic animals. Terms range from a few hours up to a full day and can cost several hundred dollars per person. If you’re on a budget, though, you can find tours around $100.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 9 – It’s one of the most expensive options for your trip to Seward. But it’s a unique experience that treats you to both amazing animals and a better look at the breathtaking scenery around Seward.
13. Treat Yourself to a Helicopter Glacier Tour
About: To truly appreciate the size and scope of this incredible natural wonderland, treat yourself with a helicopter tour. You can cover much more ground and gain a perspective that few ever get on this small town nestled in the vast Alaska wilderness.
Bear Glacier and Aialik Glacier are popular destinations for expeditions that last between 30 and 120 minutes. Keep in mind that these are pricey tours. Expect to pay several hundred dollars per person at a minimum.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 10 – You can only truly appreciate Alaska’s vastness from the air, and you’ll never forget those birds-eye views!
14. Tour Turning Heads Dog Sledding Kennel
Location: 31722 Herman Leirer Rd, Seward, AK 99664
About: Two mushers operate Turning Heads. They lead what they call an “elite team of canine athletes” and act as ambassadors for dog sledding, Alaska’s state sport. You can take a tour of the kennel and learn more about the dogs and the mushing lifestyle. Even in summer, you can experience a dog sled ride, but winter tours are also available for adventurers looking for an authentic taste of Alaska.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 7 – You get to learn about an exciting element of Alaska life, and who doesn’t like a bunch of very well-behaved, beautiful dogs?
15. Visit Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures
Location: Tours leave from 1304 4th Ave, Seward, AK 99664
About: For a fun, daring adventure that provides a one-of-a-kind tour of the forests near Seward, check out the zipline tours at Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures. They’ll teach you to navigate a series of ziplines that zig zag from tree to tree in woods near the Chugach National Forest. Upon landing, you’ll head into the canopy for a three-hour adventure.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 7 – These zipline tours will certainly get your heart pumping and give you a great view of forest climates near Seward.
Are You Ready to Visit Seward?
If you’re like most people who come to this small but impressive Alaska town, you’ll find there are more things to do in Seward than you have time for! The area’s incredible natural beauty would take a lifetime to explore on its own, not to mention the fun you’ll have soaking up the local culture.
While future vacations might take you to tropical islands or deserts, you’ll never forget the majestic beauty of the glaciers and fjords that make Seward, Alaska, the trip of a lifetime.
Looking for RV camping in the area? Here are the Best Campgrounds on Alaska’s Beautiful Kenai Peninsula.
Planning Your Alaska Roadtrip
Alaska is a big place with many wonderful places to see and things to do. If you’re planning a trip and feeling overwhelmed, check out our Complete Guide for Planning Your RV Trip to Alaska.
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