Named for President Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Henry Seward, who negotiated the purchase from Russia in 1867 (for 2 cents per acre!), Seward is a seaside community with about 2,800 year-round residents located on the south end of Alaska.
Not only is it surrounded by mountains, but it’s a port city nestled in an inlet on the Kenai Peninsula and acts as the gateway of Kenai Fjords National Park with glaciers from the Harding Icefield and fishing boats that fill the Seward Harbor.
Connected to the lower 48 states with the Alaska highway, 2 ½ hours south of Anchorage International Airport, and a popular cruise ship port, the city is considered one of the best destinations in Alaska for “anyone with a big bucket list and limited time” due to the many activities and views in such close proximity.
You’ll find many species of wildlife in the area – bald eagle, seabirds, moose, black bear, brown bear, mountain goat, beaver porcupine, snowshoe hare, coyote, lynx.
Of course, the safest way to see the land animals up close is at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
For marine animals, wildlife cruises are your best bet.
See if you can spot sea otter, Dall’s porpoise, harbor porpoise, Stellar sea lion, harbor seal, orca (killer whale), fin whale, gray whale, humpback whale, minke whale, and sei whale.
You can also see them at the Alaska Sealife Center, a mammal rehabilitation center and aquarium.
Here are 19 Seward attractions to help you find the best things to do in Seward, Alaska for your bucketlist trip!
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1. Get out there on the water
There are a large variety of ½-1 days cruises available for every interest and the top of the list for the most popular things to do in Seward!
Try a Park Glacier and Wildlife Cruise, a 100-mile round trip of incredible scenery, with up-close views whales, sea otters, puffins, and mountain goats, and of glaciers that break off and crash into the water, and visit the Chiswell Islands or Cape Resurrection for bird watching.
Or the Kanai Fjords National Park Cruise, a half-day (3 ½ hour) wildlife viewing cruise, traveling 55 miles round trip along the rugged coastline along Bear Glacier, close to sea lion colonies and seabirds, watching for whales, porpoises, eagles and mountain goats, and visit Cape Resurrection.
Or an Evening Glacier Dinner Cruise – Departs from Seward in the afternoon for a 5 ½ hour cruise and glides through Resurrection Bay and into Kenai Fjords National Park, with a plated dinner on board – a Catamaran vessel for the best viewing platforms.
With many other options of locations around the area for various views and stops.
2. Kayaking, Canoeing, Rafting or Mountain Biking Adventures
Pick your location and experience with a variety of options, whether Resurrection Bay, Kayaking/Hiking combination to visit a Historic WW2 Army Fort, around Kenai Fjords National Park, around the Harbor and more, or take a 5-hour rafting trip down a glacial river on the Resurrection River for a thrilling 7-8 mile adventure.
You can also rent a mountain bike to get around – whatever your choice, these are some of the top things to do in Seward, and you’re sure to have awesome views with either a peaceful or adventurous experience!
One of the most fun things to do in Seward is to experience a dog sled ride pulled by a team along Godwin Glacier with sweeping views of huskies and mushers.
Cuddle the husky puppies in training and know that you can go all-year round as they have all-weather sleds suitable for both snowy and dry conditions.
4. Glacier and Lake Hikes, or even Ice Climbing
- Exit Glacier – explore the trails and walk close to an active glacier, accessible by road for those not able to walk far (and the only glacier that is), or take a ranger-led walk, and witness up close how glaciers re-shape a landscape.
Open year round, but not accessible to cars during winter due to snow, it is still open for winter activities like dogsleds, cross-country skiing, snowmobiles, snowshoeing and fat bikes (bikes with fat tires to increase traction), with a hiking trail in a 1-mile accessible loop, or an additional .6 mile on to the Exit Glacier Overlook.
- Harding Icefield Trail – for a longer day hike, take the 8.2-mile round-trip trail leaving from the Exit Glacier area, which ultimately climbs above the tree line to awe-inspiring views of the icefield.
This trail is strenuous, and you must be prepared for snow, wind, storms, temperature changes or even avalanche danger – as hikers gain about 1,000 feet in elevation with every mile, and needs about 6-8 hours for the full hike though even going a shorter distance up the trail gives amazing views.
- Two Lakes Park – located right in town, a family-friendly hike on a rustic trail with several waterfalls and footbridges that cross small streams, winding through a rainforest and around the two lakes.
- Ice Climbing – start with Exit Glacier Guides for this activity, learning the basics on gentler slopes before climbing bigger walls, suitable for beginners who like adventure and are of moderate fitness, or for a higher level adventure, take a private tour by helicopter to a remote glacier!
15 minutes is all it takes to walk the path along Waterfront Park from Madison Street, about .8 of a mile and past the Iditarod Historic Trail Statue, the Sealife Center and the Wildlife Center to the Waterfall, all with lovely water and mountain views the entire way, a relaxing walk to get the lay of the land and discover the variety of things to see in Seward!
- Mount Marathon – while many people know about the grueling Mount Marathon racecourse, most don’t know about the hiking path to the top at Race Point, far less strenuous at 4 ½ miles and 3 different trails, where you can explore a glacial valley on the way and enjoy an incredible view at the end.
- Tonsina Point – from the trail on Lowell Point, this 4.2-mile path goes above rocky cliffs before coming down to a pristine beach, crossing two bridges and through mossy and towering spruce; take some time combing the beach while you’re there.
Tours are available for Stellar Sea Lions and the Octopus Adventure, with seals, birds, fish and invertebrates also available to view.
Their historic downtown and picturesque harbor is a charming place to visit galleries and shops of local artists selling their wares as well as a variety of Alaska products and souvenirs, while the harbor and boats in the marina are beautiful places to capture some great photos.
9. Mural Capital of Alaska
Take an afternoon to explore the many murals around Seward, more than 30, under direction from the Seward Mural Society, each one depicts historical characters, natural landscapes and local events celebrating the spirit and beauty of Alaska.
The walking tour includes 46 sites and 26 panels throughout downtown Seward showcasing the town’s rich history; pick up a map at the Seward Chamber of Commerce and start wherever you choose.
Seward has well-earned its reputation as one of Alaska’s best sportfishing destinations, for both salt- and fresh-water trips, along with shorefishing, and one of the best things to do in Seward.
From simple 1-hour local family tours to combination hiking and/or bus trips to various locations, some near a water wheel and salmon stream, try your luck at panning for gold!
Take a relaxing 4-hour one-way train ride to Anchorage open during the summer months, on an evening ride with long days that provide plenty of light to take in the breathtaking views from their panoramic windows and open areas, and a tour guide providing narration along the journey – departs at 6pm and arrives at 10:15pm, still in daylight!
14. Helicopter or Fixed-Wing Plane Tours
A pricey, but well-worth-it adventure with several options, take a tour overlooking the Glaciers and Mountains, or combine the helicopter tour with Glacier Dog Sledding Tour along Godwin Glacier, or an extended experience over Bear and Aialik Glaciers overlooking a remote lagoon with massive glaciers, cascading waterfalls and turquoise-blue waters, and more.
3-hour trip discovering the beauty of Alaska’s old-growth Pacific forests, with a one-of-a-kind, thrilling way to take in the scenery during this small-group ziplining experience, with a short shuttle trip either morning or afternoons – 5-star rated by travelers as a top-quality experience.
Following training, explore 8 ziplines, 3 suspension bridges and more.
Visit a sanctuary preserve for injured and orphaned animals, generally those who need and will receive a permanent home there, with over 200 acres of habitats for them to feel at home, including black and brown bears, bull moose, wood bison, coyote, fox, porcupine, elk, deer, reindeer, wolf, caribou, muskox, and lynx!
Enjoy the animals by self-touring the scenic 1 ½ mile loop, by walking, biking or by car, or reserve a tour with a personal guide and feed an animal during the 90-minute tour, limited to 10 guests per tour group, and ages 10 and over.
17. Take a Water Taxi
Take a water taxi to Granite Point Mountain Lodge, Bear Glacier, Kayaker’s Cove, Aialik Bay and Northwestern Fjord, Thumb Cove, Humpy Cove, Fox Island Spit, Sunny Cove, Caines Head, Callisto Cabin or Derby Cove Cabin, or Tonsina Beach.
Housing a collection documenting Seward’s past, hosting events throughout the year, and also has a film available to view of when Seward was devastated by an earthquake called the “Good Friday” earthquake of March 27, 1964, a 9.2 magnitude that remains the second-largest quake in recorded history.
19. Treat yourself to a coffee or sweet treat!
- Resurrect Art Coffee House & Gallery – Coffees, teas, with scones, muffins, savories, and art
- 12 Ravens Coffee & books – Located in an old train car, a cozy place with books and unique specialty drinks
- Sea Bean Café – Intimate café coffee house with espresso, teas, chai, smoothies, breakfast options, veg/vegan and gluten-free options
- The Cup Espresso Simpatico – Tiny “cup” shaped building along the highway for a quick drive thru for coffee and more
- Coho Joe’s Dockside Coffee – Café with Coffees and baked goods on the dock, Italian sodas and snacks
- Frontier Trading Post – Espresso, Chai, teas, deli, and groceries
- Mudd Hutt – Drive-thru espresso drinks and snacks
- Harbor Street Creamery – Ice Cream, and coffee
- Nature’s Nectars – Espresso, tea, cocoa, and fruit smoothies
- Sweet Darlings – Gelato, Bubble Milk Teas, home crafted chocolates and candies
20. Dine In at a Fabulous Seward Restaurant!
- Mermaid Grotto Café and Boutique – good coffee drinks and baked goods in the coffee café and the boutique, with an upstairs “Kraken Lounge” with a unique Hawaiian, seafood and more eclectic menu
- The Cookery & Oyster Bar – Traveler’s Choice Award, American, Seafood, Vegetarian friendly, beer, wine, desserts
- Apollo Restaurant – Will cook your fresh catch! Mediterranean twist on pizza, seafood, pasta and steaks
- Gold Rush – Seafood and Burgers
- Salmon Bake Restaurant – Seafood, burgers
- Firebrand BBQ – Texas-style smoked meats and sides
- Ray’s Waterfront – Seafood and Steakhouse
- The Lone Chicharron Taqueria – Mexican street tacos and more
- Chinook’s Waterfront Restaurant – Seafood
- Le Barn Appetit Creperie – Gourmet Belgian Crepes, both savory and sweet options
- Woody’s Thai Kitchen – Authentic Thai food, large portions
- Red’s Burgers – Converted bus for indoor seating, unique burgers
- Zudy’s Café – breakfast, coffees, lunch sandwiches and panini’s, specialize in desserts, wine & beer, with sweeping views of the bay
- Resurrection Roadhouse – Breakfast with buffet option and dinner, dessert, sustainable Alaska tide-to-table seafood, American
- Highliner Restaurant – American, seafood, pizza
- Ms. Gene’s Place – elegant breakfast and dinner
21. Check out the food truck scene!
- Midnight Bento – Asian Fusion street food, Late night bento box
- The Porthole – Near the docks, breakfast and lunch items to grab on the go
- Los Chanchitos – Mexican, breakfast and lunch, burrito’s and bowls, protein meats and fish, tacos
22. Celebrate at the breweries and wineries
- Seward Brewing Company – Pub/Brewery -Craft beers & Bites, contemporary
- Seward Ale House – Beer, wine and spirits
- Stoney Creek Brewhouse – Craft beer brewery and tasting room
- Primrose Provisions – Unique shop with Wine Bar, small bites, charcuterie/deli, snack packs and date night boxes, wonderful views
- Yukon Bar – Right in the heart of town, with live music and entertainment on long daylight hours right up until last call!
- Flamingo Lounge – Craft cocktails
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