Created from towering glaciers and nestled in between ice-capped mountains and pristine ocean waters, Seward, Alaska, is your destination for all things wilderness and exploration.
Seward, pronounced “Soo-word,” is a port city in southern Alaska, located on the Kenai Peninsula. Because of its southerly location, the weather in Seward remains milder during winter and summer, making it an ideal destination for any season.
This picturesque coastal community is a must-see during your Alaskan excursion.
Have limited time for your itinerary or don’t know where to start? Then plan ahead with our 15 things to do in Seward, Alaska!
In This Article…
- 1. Discover the Gateway in Resurrection Bay
- 2. Travel Into the Kenai Fjords National Park
- 3. Jump on a Whale Watching Tour
- 4. Best Sight-Seeing Is Flight Seeing
- 5. Join a Walking Tour
- 6. Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center
- 7. Head For a Dog Sled Ride
- 8. Dive Into History at the Seward Comunity Library and Museum
- 9. Explore More History
- 10. Take a Day to Shop
- 11. Revel in the Local Cuisine
- 12. Spend Spring Break With the Locals
- 13. Celebrate the 4th of July in Seward
- 14. Fish the Silver Salmon Derby
- 15. Celebrate Fall with the Seward Music and Arts Fest
- Seward FAQ
- Now you can Experience the Most Ideal Things to do in Seward, Alaska
1. Discover the Gateway in Resurrection Bay
Also known as Blying Sound or the Harding Gateway, the Resurrection Bay has been dubbed the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park. This famous fjord has some of the most majestic panoramic views in all of Alaska.
The outer reaches of the bay are home to an expansive ecosystem of marine life, from basking harbor seals to humpback whales. Even the occasional mountain goat can be seen on the cliffs overlooking the sea.
Most visitors explore the bay on a half-day boat tour or coupled with a Kenai Fjords tour. Just make sure you dress warmly for your excursion!
2. Travel Into the Kenai Fjords National Park
After traveling through the gateway, you’ll reach the Kenai Fjords National Park, where you can revel in the geological history of surviving ice-age glaciers.
Explorers can hike, kayak, or embark on wildlife tours here. Bird watching is particularly popular in the area, so keep your eyes open for puffins!
The park spans 699,983 acres and consists of almost 40 glaciers. The main attraction within the park is the Exit Glacier, an active glacier open year-round with hiking trails and ranger-guided tours of the area.
Here, you can see up close how glaciers shape the landscape and how plant life thrives in the rocky remains left behind by retreating ice.
Sealegs feeling a little shaky? Rent a kayak into the Kenai Fjords instead of a cruise for a more peaceful and personal exploration.
3. Jump on a Whale Watching Tour
Too tired for hiking or walking? Book a wildlife boat tour and experience the bay and fjords from the comfort of your seat.
Part glacier cruise, part whale watching, part sight-seeing; many cruises offer half-day tours for those who want to squeeze in a little nature excursion during their packed day.
Book your tour from late February to early May and take in the sights of gray whales migrating from the Mexican Baja coast to the Bering and Chukchi seas. These whales travel up to 7,000 miles to reach their feeding grounds in early spring.
4. Best Sight-Seeing Is Flight Seeing
Don’t miss out on the chance to see the stunning aerial views of Seward.
The rich green forests, pristine blue waters of the bay, snow-peaked mountains, and striking glaciers can be seen best from the sky.
Catch a ride on one of the helicopter tours in Seward and sight-see from above the clouds with one of the experienced local pilots.
From 15 minute flights to hour-long flights, this unforgettable adventure gives you a birds-eye view of all the popular destinations in Seward. If you’re lucky, your pilot will even land your helicopter on one of the glaciers during your tour!
5. Join a Walking Tour
Just want to keep your feet on the ground for a bit and experience Seward like a local? Join one of the walking tours around the city for the best inside scoop on where the locals go.
What better way to learn about the city you’re in than to hear it first hand from those who live there? Most walking tours frequently occur throughout the day, so you can schedule them around the other activities you have planned.
Jump into a tour showcasing the historic downtown, Founder’s Monument, and the Iditarod National Historic Trail. Make sure to ask about the mural tour, as Seward is Alaska’s mural capital!
6. Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center
If your wildlife tour didn’t get you close enough to all the fantastic animals in Seward, spend the afternoon at the Alaska SeaLife Center. Get up close with sea lions, tufted puffins, wolf-eels, and the giant Pacific octopus.
Online tickets are required for entry. Make sure you get there earlier in the day- the center closes at 5 pm.
Purchase an exclusive tour along with your standard entry ticket for more sea life adventures!
7. Head For a Dog Sled Ride
Take in the scenery of gorgeous glaciers and mountains with friendly dogs by your side!
Do as the Alaskans do and mush through the wilderness. Strap into your sled and hang on tight because once you reach the glacier, the dogs know it’s time to run.
Opt for a kennel tour, too, so you can meet the friendly Alaskan Huskies that pull the sleds or cuddle with the adorable puppies waiting to meet you.
No trip to Alaska is complete without meeting the stars behind the state’s most popular sport!
8. Dive Into History at the Seward Comunity Library and Museum
Connect with local culture when you experience local history.
The Seward Community Library and Museum is a multi-use public library, museum, and archival center. You can’t miss this stunning stop because the exterior is reminiscent of mermaid scales changing color in the day’s light!
On the first floor, you’ll find the history museum sponsored by the Resurrection Bay Historical Society. Discover historical memorabilia that chronicles the town’s timeline from the first Indigenous inhabitants to natural disasters that reshaped the community.
This year, the museum and library curated movie showings running from mid-May to the end of August. Showings included the “Iditarod National History Trail: A History” and “Waves Over Seward: The Good Friday Earthquake.”
9. Explore More History
Seward’s location has made it an important location for many of Alaska’s historical events. After you’ve toured the museum and taken in some history, head to one of Seward’s landmark sites.
The town is mile zero for the Iditarod National Historic Trail– Alaska’s only historic trail. Established for the dog-team mail route during the Gold Rush, the trail is 2,300 miles long and weaves through many Alaskan villages.
Much of the path through Alaska isn’t accessible, but there are many spots in the Kenai Peninsula where you can visit this historic trail.
Other historical discoveries in Seward include:
- Learning about the construction of the Alaska Railroad
- Seeing how the 1964 earthquake- one of the state’s most devastating earthquakes- changed the landscape
- Checking out Seward’s oldest business, Brown & Hawkins
10. Take a Day to Shop
Lost some outdoor gear or need more layers? Perhaps you’re looking for some handmade pottery or ceramics to take home with you?
Seward has several retail stores, art galleries, and gift shops in the downtown area. You can browse and buy anything you might need to complete your trip.
Grab the best outdoor gear before heading out on your hike, or pick up beautiful crafts at boutiques like the Mermaid Grotto or Nakao Ceramics.
Don’t forget to grab a souvenir for everyone in the family before you leave!
11. Revel in the Local Cuisine
No guide would be complete without recommendations for the best cuisine in the area. Connect with the local culture through food at these top restaurants and cafes! Coffee Shops and Cafes:
13 Ravens Coffee and Books- Grab a coffee and a browse through the books at 13 Ravens for a quiet start to your morning. The butterscotch latte is divine!
Zudy’s Cafe- Need a little more sustenance to get your day going? Zudy’s Cafe has you covered. Along with their coffee and tea selection, they serve a wide variety of pastries, cakes, and sandwiches.
Coho Joes Dockside Cafe- Coffee with a view is what you’ll get at Coho Joes! Located right on the harbor with a stunning panorama of the mountains, Coho Joes is the spot to grab your coffee before heading right out on your boat tour.
Resurrect Art Coffee House & Gallery- What’s better than coffee, scones, and art? We’d argue nothing, so make sure Resurrect Art Coffee House & Gallery is on your list! Restaurants:
The Cookery- Next to tourism, fishing is the most popular industry in Seward, so there’s no shortage of fresh fish! The Cookery prides itself on creating a menu showcasing regionally farmed meats, fresh daily oysters, and local produce from the Kenai Peninsula.
Lone Chicharron- Also owned by the Cookery team, Lone Chicharron switches up the game with this taqueria for those who’ve had a little too much fish during their stay.
Apollo Restaurant- A Mediterranean take on seafood is what you’ll find at Apollo’s. Just spent the day fishing, and now you want to eat your catch? Apollo’s will prepare it for you!
Smoke Shack- Influenced by southern home cooking with a Mexican flare, the Smoke Shack is a breakfast and lunch joint located in an old train car. Don’t miss the cheesy grits for breakfast or the Cuban for lunch.
Seward Brewing Company- Just looking for good food in a laid-back atmosphere? Head to Seward Brewing Company for craft beers and an American pub menu.
12. Spend Spring Break With the Locals
Not many people think of Alaska when they think of spring break, but this is one of the best times to visit Seward!
As the weather warms up and the days get longer, the wildlife comes to life, and seasonal businesses open back up in preparation for the busy summer season.
Be the first to check out new offerings from local shops and catch the gray whale migrations up the coast during the spring season.
Head to Lowell Point Beach to see the tidepools and all the creatures that inhabit the area. The spring new moon creates a low tide which is perfect for observing the expansive marine ecosystem.
13. Celebrate the 4th of July in Seward
If you’re planning your trip around the 4th of July, you won’t just be catching the fireworks display. The Seward 4th of July celebration packs in a festival, fireworks, and the Mount Marathon Race.
Spend your days exploring the festival booths filled with local foods and crafts, catch the boat parade off Seward Harbor, or cheer on contestants of the 5k marathon.
There’s even a mini-marathon for kids 2-6 years!
Don’t miss the midnight fireworks display from the boat harbor or bay on the 3rd. Then, head downtown on the 4th for the annual parade.
14. Fish the Silver Salmon Derby
If you’re in Alaska for fish and only fish, visit Seward during the end of the summer season for the city’s salmon derby.
In early August, the silver salmon make their way into Resurrection Bay and usher in the annual fishing derby. The Silver Salmon Derby is one of the state’s oldest and largest fishing derbies, and participants can win up to $10,000 for their tagged fish.
Fish from sailboats, kayaks, or just on the shore- all anglers are welcome at the derby!
15. Celebrate Fall with the Seward Music and Arts Fest
Close out the summer season and celebrate the start of fall with the Seward Music and Arts Fest.
Also Read: IDEAL Things to Do in Skagway, Alaska
This event is perfect for the whole family! A free attraction downtown, the festival features live music, booths chock full of Alaskan crafts, and local food vendors. The music and arts fest is the perfect end to your summer stay in Seward.
There’s no end to the travel options, but one of the best scenic options is to take the train along the Alaska Railroad. Travel from Anchorage to Seward one way, or round trip. The train ascends into the mountains, offering a view you can’t find via bus or car. The train ride from Anchorage to Seward takes around 4 hours, so plan accordingly!
You can also reach Seward via bus, car, or plane. And if you’re already on one of our cruises, well, we’ve got you covered.
Because of its location, Seward is one of the towns in Alaska with milder temperatures. Of course, the dead of winter isn’t always the most pleasant, but the rest of the months offer temperatures ranging from 40 degrees to 60 degrees.
Still not sure what to pack, though? Check out our guide on what to pack for your Alaskan Cruise!
Now you can Experience the Most Ideal Things to do in Seward, Alaska
But there’s still so much more than these 15 things to do in Seward, Alaska. This small town packs a big punch and offers tourists the chance to explore and connect with Alaskan culture.
Whether it’s your only stop in Alaska or one of the many stops in your great Alaskan excursion, Seward will embrace you with open arms and warm smiles.
To read more about suggestions and destinations for your next Alaskan cruise, see our other guides and tips for experiencing Alaska.