Seward, Alaska is known as the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park and the beginning of the historic Iditarod trail.
From glacier hikes to whale watching cruises, you’ll have a long list of bucket-list adventures to enjoy during your visit.
In this post, I’m going to share the best things to do in Seward, Alaska.
- How to get to Seward
- 1. Kenai Fjords National Park
- 2. Walk around the Seward Harbor
- 3. Stay at a Public Use Cabin
- 4. Sail Resurrection Bay
- 5. Taste a Local Beer at Seward Brewing Co
- 6. Bird Watching
- 7. Hike to Exit Glacier
- 8. Alaska SeaLife Center
- 9. Tide Pooling
- 10. Go on a Whale Watching Tour
- 11. Start the Iditarod National Historic Trail
- 12. Orca Island Cabins
- 13. Eat Local Food
- 14. Fish for Salmon or Halibut
- 15. Get caffeinated at a Coffee Shop
- 16. Caines Head State Recreation Area
- 17. Explore Bear Glacier
- 18. Shop in Downtown Seward
- 19. Take a Helicopter Tour
- 20. Harding Ice Field
- 21. Plan a Backpacking Trip to Lost Lake
- 22. Get Festive
- 23. Watch a Mountain Race
- 24. Lowell Point State Recreation Area
- 25. Sea Kayaking
How to get to Seward
Seward is located 130 miles south of Anchorage, which is usually a 2.5-hour drive down the Seward Highway. During the summer, you can travel to Seward using the Alaska Railroad or on a cruise ship.
25 Best Things To Do In Seward, Alaska
1. Kenai Fjords National Park
Seward is the gateway to one of the most visited national parks in Alaska, Kenai Fjords National Park! The park was created in 1980 and encompasses over 600,000 acres abundant with glaciers, stunning fjords, rugged coastline, and incredible wildlife. There are plenty of ways to explore the park including, hiking, whale watching tours, sailing, camping, sea kayaking, dog sledding, and more! There is no fee to access this national park, which makes it one of the top free things to do in Seward. For local information, stop by the Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center.
2. Walk around the Seward Harbor
I always like to stop by the Seward Small Boat Harbor because it’s a great place to spot wildlife. Since the harbor is a salt-water lagoon connected to Resurrection Bay, you’ll find Stellar sea lions and sea otters swimming around the docked boats. It’s also a great place to scan for birds when fish is being processed at the top of the docks.
3. Stay at a Public Use Cabin
Feeling adventurous but not interested in sleeping in a nylon tent for the night? Reserve a public use cabin! These state cabins are equipped with all the glamping basics as well as an extra layer of security and comfort. One of my favorite public use cabins in Seward is the Dale Clemens Cabin, which can be found on the way to Lost Lake. If you don’t want to hike up a mountain, check out one of the beach-side cabins at Caines Head State Recreation Area.
4. Sail Resurrection Bay
I went sailing for the first time last summer with Resurrection Bay Sailing Charters. I can’t even tell you how exciting it was to learn about heeling (when a sailboat leans over in the water) and use the power of the wind to get us from the harbor all the way over to Humpy Cove. We also experienced a super up-close and intimate encounter with a humpback whale, which never would’ve been possible on a larger cruise boat. It was amazing!
5. Taste a Local Beer at Seward Brewing Co
If you’re looking for things to do in downtown Seward, grab a beer at Seward Brewing Company. Besides the variety of local craft beer that is available, you can also eat some pub food. Unfortunately, the brewery was closed for the 2021 season but will be re-opening in May 2022!
6. Bird Watching
You don’t have to spend too much time in Alaska before seeing the national bird of the United States! The bald eagle is commonly seen all around Seward. If you’re really into bird watching, you can hop on a boat to look for puffins, cormorants, gulls, and kittlitz’s murrelet.
7. Hike to Exit Glacier
One of the easiest hikes in Kenai Fjords National Park is Exit Glacier. You can hike a wheelchair accessible, 1-mile loop that will take you to a spot overlooking the glacial outwash, then continue for another .6 miles along the Glacier Overlook Trail to an overlook of Exit Glacier. This trail is perfect for families with small children and it’s one of the best hikes in Seward.
8. Alaska SeaLife Center
Seward gets twice as much rain as Seattle. So, if you’re looking for things to do in Seward on a rainy day, why not visit the Alaska SeaLife Center! Combining a public aquarium with marine research, education, and wildlife response, the Alaska SeaLife Center is a great place to support. You can have close encounters with puffins, octopus, harbor seals, sea lions, and other marine life and you can visit the center year-round!
9. Tide Pooling
Alaska actually has the highest tides in the United States with tidal ranges up to 40 feet! Personally, I think watching the tide go in and out is so relaxing. But when the tide is low you can scope out the coastline looking for the marine life that become exposed. In Seward, you can find sea cucumber, sponges, hermit crabs, sea stars, anemones, barnacles, sea weed, and more. Make sure to follow proper etiquette when tide pooling and be careful of slippery algae.
10. Go on a Whale Watching Tour
Whale watching tours are the first thing I’ll recommend to anyone visiting Seward. You just can’t beat the amount of wildlife you are able to see within one day! From sea lions to Dall’s porpoise, you’ll get to see so much more than whales. The coastline and fjords around Resurrection Bay are absolutely stunning to see as well and this is the best way to do so.
Read: Alaska Whale Watching Guide: Best Time and Place to See Whales
11. Start the Iditarod National Historic Trail
A monumentlocated along the shoreline of Resurrection Bay in Seward marks Mile 0 of the Iditarod, which is the only National Historic Trail in Alaska, and the only winter trail in the entire National Historic Trail system. Nearly 2,400 miles of trails connect the communities of Seward and Nome. Today, you can follow the footsteps of early 1900s gold rushers and dog mushers by walking a paved segment of the trail. Soon, this trail could become part of theAlaska Long Trail, which would be the longest thru-hike in the state.
12. Orca Island Cabins
If you’re looking to add a luxury experience to your Alaska trip, you’ll want to pack your bags for Orca Island Cabins. Located across Resurrection Bay in Humpy Cove, these unique yurts sit on a private island and are fully equipped with comfort in mind. I’m finally planning a stay here next summer and I’m looking forward to watching whales breach from the comfort of my yurt!
13. Eat Local Food
Alaska will never disappoint when it comes to amazing food. Seward has a decent variety and you should definitely try some local seafood while you’re here. Think Alaskan king crab, salmon, halibut, scallops, and oysters. For breakfast, I enjoyed the Mer Babe from Mermaid’s Grotto. It was basically a breakfast crunch wrap.
14. Fish for Salmon or Halibut
Seward is probably the most popular place in Alaska to hop on a fishing charter. Most visitors are looking to spend the day salmon fishing or halibut fishing. Sometimes you’ll end up catching other species like lingcod and rock fish. If you don’t like boats, you can fish for salmon from the shoreline! When the run is good, you can watch fish jumping like crazy in Resurrection Bay.
15. Get caffeinated at a Coffee Shop
I love waking up in a small town that is full of coffee shops! So, skip the instant coffee and head to Resurrect Art Coffee House for a delicious cup of coffee. Inside you’ll find an art gallery, gift shop, pastries, good Wi-Fi and tons of seating! If the line is too long for you, check out Sea Bean Cafe on 4th Ave. Walking around and getting caffeinated falls under cheap things to do in Seward.
16. Caines Head State Recreation Area
Caines Head State Recreation Area is a 6,571-acre recreational area located seven miles south of Seward. You can reach this area by foot or boat. It’s a beautiful area to explore with shale-covered beaches, mossy forests, and cabins you can rent. During World War II, Caines Head became the spot for defending Seward. Today, you’ll find what’s left of an abandoned fort. You can reach Caines Head from the coastal Tonsina Trail that starts at Lowell Point, but keep in mind that you will need to hike during low tide.
17. Explore Bear Glacier
As you’re exploring the waters surrounding Kenai Fjords National Park, someone will most likely point out Bear Glacier since it’s the largest glacier in the park. It’s known for Bear Glacier Lagoon, which is a lake that forms between a glacier and its moraine. A trip to this area is an unforgettable experience as you’ll be able to kayak or SUP around GIANT icebergs! It’s best to go on a guided tour if you want the best (and safest) experience.
18. Shop in Downtown Seward
If you look at a map of Downtown Seward, you’ll notice that it’s quite small! You can walk around the whole town in one day. When you walk down 3rd and 4th Avenue, there will be a lot of shops and restaurants. One of my favorite shops to visit is Sweet Darlings. They have drool-worthy gelato and delicious saltwater taffy that you can purchase by the pound. If you’re looking for art, stop by Ranting Raven.
19. Take a Helicopter Tour
One of the coolest ways to see a place is on a flight-seeing tour! Seward has a variety of helicopter tours that’ll get you a front row seat to Alaskan glaciers, waterfalls, and wildlife. You can even add-on a glacier landing, dog sledding, or overnight experience. Helicopter flights start at $199 USD.
20. Harding Ice Field
My favorite hike in Kenai Fjords National Park is Harding Ice Field. The hike takes you through the forest, across a meadow with beautiful wildflowers, up the tundra, and ends at a rocky overlook of a 700-square-mile sheet of ice. It’s other-worldly and very impressive to see! The trail is 8.2 miles roundtrip and starts at the Exit Glacier Nature Center parking lot. This is the perfect day hike in Seward.
21. Plan a Backpacking Trip to Lost Lake
Lost Lake is an alpine lake nestled in the Chugach National Forest, and the trail is actually part of the Iditarod National Historic Trail (INHT). It’s a popular hiking and biking trail in the summer and it’s one of the best Alaska backpacking trails to thru-hike. At 16 miles one-way, the Lost Lake Traverse follows an alpine ridge full of lakes and vistas. You can either start from the Lost Lake side or the Primrose side. Campers will find some bear boxes and pit toilets near the designated campsites by the lake.
22. Get Festive
Every year, Seward has some fun events and what better way to get to know the locals than by participating yourself! The Seward Mermaid Festival is one of the newer festivals and was created in partnership with Seward Harbor Opening Weekend. If mermaids aren’t your thing, check out the Seward Music & Arts Festival.
23. Watch a Mountain Race
Seward has an annual July 4th celebration filled with events, contests, fireworks, and a parade. However, the biggest draw during this time is the Mount Marathon Race. Thousands of people come to Seward to watch racers compete in one of the hardest short-distance mountain races in the world. The 3.1-mile course climbs 3,022 feet and is followed by a fast and dangerous descent. This is a fun and busy weekend in this small seaside town!
24. Lowell Point State Recreation Area
Lowell Point State Recreation Area is only 19 acres, but it’s a great place to visit, especially for families. You can enjoy a day at Lowell Point Beach, watch the tide come in, and look for sea otters and Stellar sea lions offshore. You may also spot some shorebirds. From the upper parking lot, you can access the trails to Tonsina Point, Derby Cove, North Beach, Fort McGilvray, and Caines Head.
25. Sea Kayaking
One of the best ways to explore the area surrounding Seward is by paddling. Sea kayaking is a great way to see the beautiful coastline, along with coves that are much harder to explore on any other kind of boat. You can also get up-close encounters with marine life! If you’re not interested in guided trips, stay across Resurrection Bay at Kayakers Cove. They offer private cabins and hostel-style accommodations, and have kayaks available to rent on-site.
Other things to do in Seward
Besides the incredible things to do in Seward that I’ve already listed, there’s still so much more to do! You can go surfing, forage for berries or mushrooms, wander for wildflowers, visit the Seward Library, have a camp fire on the beach, swim in a lake, go camping, or try your luck in the Silver Salmon Derby.
Answering Your Questions
Is Seward Alaska worth visiting?
You should definitely add Seward to any Alaska itinerary! It’s one of the most scenic places in Alaska where towering snow-capped mountains meet the sea. You won’t run out of things to do here.
What is Seward AK known for?
Seward AK is known for being the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park and one of the best places to see whales in Alaska.
How many days do you need in Seward?
I would recommend at least spending 2 days in Seward. There are a lot of different tours and activities offered here.
Is Seward Alaska Safe?
Seward is a small town and not much really happens here, in regards to safety. Use your common sense, keep an eye on your valuables, and be mindful of wildlife (bears) when you’re hiking.
Do you need a car in Seward Alaska?
Seward is really small and you don’t need a car if you’re only trying to get around Seward. Unfortunately, Uber isn’t much of a thing there but if you need to go somewhere not in walking distance, you can hire a taxi.
How long is the train ride from Anchorage to Seward?
The train ride from Anchorage to Seward on the Alaska Railroad is four hours long.
How many days do you need in Kenai Fjords?
You need at least two days in Kenai Fjords National Park. One day can be spent seeing the park on a whale watching tour and the other day can be spent hiking in the park.
Can you see Northern Lights in Seward Alaska?
It’s possible to see Northern Lights in Seward but your chances are low in comparison to other locations in Alaska.
Is it worth staying in Seward?
Absolutely! The community in Seward is amazing and there’s so much for you to do there, especially if you want to see glaciers, whales, fish, and fjords.
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Do you have any questions on best things to do in Seward, Alaska? Let me know in the comments.