7 Things to Do in Seward
Nestled at the base of Mount Marathon and providing easy access to the diverse landscapes of Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward is brimming with adventures and activities. Whether you’re into learning about Alaska animals or want to paddleboard among icebergs, Seward holds many key ingredients to the perfect Alaska vacation.
1. Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center
This wildlife rehabilitation and marine research facility is home to seals, sea lions, puffins, otters, and other marine wildlife. The Alaska SeaLife Center serves as a valuable research, education, and wildlife response center in Alaska. Providing lifesaving help to stranded and injured marine wildlife, the center’s response and rehabilitation teams nurse injured animals back to health with the goal of returning them to their natural habitats. Veterinarians, mammalogists, and marine biologists offer behind-the-scenes tours that show how they care for the animals.
Visitors are treated to up-close views of marine mammals and birds in two-story enclosures, allowing them to marvel at Steller sea lions, harbor seals, and seabirds both above and underwater. Special animal encounters — like sea otter encounters, puffin feeding sessions, and giant pacific octopus experiences, teach visitors about the daily lives of the resident creatures. The Alaska SeaLife Center also houses many species of birds, including eiders, horned puffins, and tufted puffins. Watch the birds dive and swim through the seabird diving pool or get hands-on with marine invertebrates at the Rocky Coast Discovery Pools.
2. Explore Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park is a natural wonder boasting stunning mountains, deep fjords, tidewater glaciers, ice fields, and some of the best whale watching in the state. Day cruises are the easiest way to venture along the jagged coastline for up-close views of glaciers and marine wildlife including humpback whales, orca whales, Steller sea lions, puffins, sea otters, and more. Fully narrated full and half-day cruises venture through Resurrection Bay and into the coves and fjords of Kenai Fjords National Park to visit tidewater glaciers and view whales and other marine wildlife.
Also easily accessible from Seward on the only road into Kenai Fjords National Park is Exit Glacier, descending from the Harding Icefield as it carves its way through the Kenai Mountain Range. A 2.2-mile (round-trip) hike takes visitors from the Exit Glacier Nature Center parking lot to the Exit Glacier Overlook for awe-inspiring views of the glacier flowing into the Outwash Plain. For a longer trek with views overlooking Exit Glacier and the massive Harding Icefield, grab your hiking poles and ascend the Harding Icefield Trail, which climbs about 3,000 feet over 4 miles.
3. Soar Over Seward on a Flightseeing Trip
One of the best ways to experience the full impact of Alaska’s vast wilderness and endless natural beauty is from a bird’s-eye view. Embark on a guided flightseeing tour via floatplane or helicopter for stunning aerial vistas of mountains, fjords, wildlife, and glaciers. Glide through the Chugach Mountain Range and over Kenai Fjords National Park for quick, round-trip journeys or get out and explore with tours that combine flightseeing with glacier landings and dog sledding adventures.
Perfect for all activity levels, flightseeing excursions venture deep into Alaska’s backcountry, providing easy access to some of its most remote areas.
4. Get Up-Close Views of Glaciers
Private charters, small vessels, and catamarans explore the fjords and bays in the waters outside of Seward that are home to towering tidewater glaciers. These tours travel through Resurrection Bay and into the waters of Kenai Fjords National Park to spend time in front glaciers and watch for calving, where chunks of ice crash into icy waters. Private charters take adventurous visitors out for kayaking trips among the icebergs, offering overnight backcountry camping options to maximize your glacier viewing.
For those who want to stay on land, the impressive Exit Glacier is viewable from Exit Glacier Road, just outside of Seward, and by foot from hikes along the one-mile Glacier Loop Trail or the 4-mile Harding Icefield Trail.
To truly grasp the enormity of Seward’s ice floes, embark on a flightseeing trip for stunning aerial views. Helicopters and floatplanes soar over Bear Glacier, the largest in Kenai Fjords National Park, and the 300-foot ice wall of Aialik Glacier. Plan a guided ice-climbing or glacier-hiking expedition or embark on a dog sled tour to actually touch one of these massive marvels. Unwind at one of the area’s wilderness lodges, where you can easily explore the serene waters on paddleboards or in sea kayaks while listening to the occasional booming sounds these massive rivers of ice.
5. Take to the Water on a Kayak or Stand-Up Paddleboard
In Seward, you’ll find an abundance of fjords, marine wildlife, icebergs, and crystal-blue waters. One of the best ways to explore this marine wonderland is from a guided kayaking and paddleboarding tour. From 3-hour outings to multi-day sea kayak camping adventures, there are excursions for everyone. Travel through Kenai Fjords National Park and Resurrection Bay for up-close views of glaciers and wildlife.
To access Bear Glacier, the largest glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, visitors can take a short boat trip from Seward to the beautiful Bear Lagoon, filled with massive icebergs that have calved off the glacier. Guided stand-up paddleboard and kayaking tours include all equipment, snacks, and a padded dry suit, and take you among the spectacular ice formations in calm lagoon waters.
After a day of paddling past tidewater and hanging glaciers, backcountry campers can soak in mountainside views while listening to calving slabs of ice from remote waterfront campsites and public use cabins.
6. Go Fishing
To experience some of the best angling on the Kenai Peninsula, book one of Seward’s many fishing charters. Head out to fishing hot spots in Resurrection Bay and beyond to fish for all five species of Pacific salmon, halibut, rockfish, and lingcod. Pick a charter to target a specific fish or book a combo trip to catch more than one species. Once you’ve caught your limit, charter companies can process, freeze, and ship your catch home for you. For true sport fishermen and women, the Seward Silver Salmon Derby in August is a must and draws anglers from across the country. The winners that catch the largest silver salmon split the pot that’s usually over $100,000.
7. Take a Hike!
The mountains surrounding Seward are a playground for hiking enthusiasts, and the town even hosts an entire event centered around Seward’s most famous trail. The annual Mount Marathon Race happens every 4th of July weekend, where advanced runners from all over the world congregate to race up and down the steep slopes of the 3,022-foot Mount Marathon peak that presides over the town. Nearly the entire town, plus visitors from all over the state, come to Seward to cheer on the athletes.
For those that want to a slower pace, the Mount Marathon Jeep Trail is a less strenuous trail up the mountain that passes by a beautiful waterfall and features stunning views of Resurrection Bay. Other popular trails in town are Tonsina Creek Trail that travels along the Resurrection Bay coastline and connects to a network of trails, campsites, and public use cabins in Caines Head State Recreation Site that can be accessed by foot during low tide. Other popular hikes just outside of town are the trails in the Exit Glacier area and the Lost Lake Trail, a 16-mile point-to-point trail that connects to the Primrose Trail and leads to panoramic views and a turquoise lake in a beautiful alpine setting.
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