Seward, Alaska – a breathtaking land shaped by glaciers, and nestled between mountains and ocean. This is the ancestral homeland of the Sugpiaq people, and is well-known as the ‘gateway’ to the Kenai Fjords. In Seward, the mountains and the ocean literally touch each other which makes for absolutely gorgeous views.
Explorers and pioneers have been drawn to Seward’s Resurrection Bay since Alexander Baranov first sought refuge there from a storm in 1792. Since then, adventurous travelers have made their journey to Seward to hike their stunning trails, experience their abundant wildlife, paddle and fish in their vibrant waters, and explore the historic community.
Because Alaska is a vast state with incredible geographic diversity, planning a vacation there can feel overwhelming at first. Seward is the best destination in this MASSIVE state for people with a limited time and a big Alaskan bucket-list. The dizzying variety of wilderness excursions guarantees that travelers of all ages and ability levels will enjoy this magical place.
“Distill the essence of coastal Alaska into one place — wild, dynamic, and scenic, rich with the signatures of glaciers, light with the marks of people, unforgiving in stormy seas, unforgettable in warm sunshine — and you have Kenai Fjords.”
— National Geographic
ALASKA STARTS HERE.
Seward is located at the head of Resurrection Bay, a stunning fjord on the Gulf of Alaska. Nestled between the mountains and the ocean, this small town is home to approximately 2,800 year-round residents.
A full range of services is available to ensure a comfortable visit, including: a hospital, a pharmacy, several grocers, a post office, a public library, and a variety of restaurants, nightlife, and retail shops.
Seward is directly connected to the ‘Lower 48’ via the Alaskan Highway. The closest commercial airport to Seward is Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. From there, pick up a rental car, RV, or hop on a shuttle bus to enjoy the scenic 2.5 hour drive to Seward.
From mid-May to mid-September, the Alaska Railroad offers visitors a relaxing way to take in the sights. Seward is also a popular cruise ship port.
Local travel experts are happy to answer your questions about Seward. Feel free to call or email when planning your visit.
Seward Visitor Center
Hours: Weekdays – 9 AM to 4 PM
Address: 2001 Seward Highway
The Alaska SeaLife Center generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems.
The Alaska SeaLife Center is the only facility in Alaska that combines a public aquarium with marine research, education, and wildlife response.
While primarily dedicated to marine research and education, the nonprofit Center is the only permanent marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation facility in the state.
The Alaska SeaLife Center lies at “Mile 0” of the scenic Seward Highway on the shores of Resurrection Bay. Visitors to their “windows to the sea” have close encounters with puffins, octopus, harbor seals, sea lions, and other marine life while learning about the work their researchers conduct both in the field and in their laboratories.
Alaska Sealife Center
Address: 301 Railway venue
In the summer of 2013, Stoney Creek LLC owner Mark Wildermuth purchased a large tract of land about five miles north of Seward, Alaska. The vision? Developing a canopy tour of the forest, offering unparalleled views of the Alaska landscape and surrounding mountains.
Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures is a great Alaska eco-adventure like no other. This unique outdoor experience involves being securely clipped into gear and traversing from one treetop platform to another through the beautiful Pacific Temperate Rainforest, building on anticipation and suspense, surprise and discovery. The tour is exciting, as well as informative about the surrounding area.
As an aerial adventure neighboring the Chugach National Forest, their roots are in the trees. Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures has committed to being sustainable and eco-friendly to honor our Earth. From the design and construction of their course, they have kept the preservation and conservation of the spruce giants on their course alive and well. They built the course around nature and are proud to say that no trees were cut down in the construction of the course. Many people do not understand the importance of sustaining our land for future generations so they have taken it upon ourselves to educate their guides to be environmentally aware especially on the wildlife and flora on their 80 acres. Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures guides take their time to inform guests on the irreplaceable nature of the environment, educating them on the immediate flora and fauna on each eco-platform.
The Seavey family arrived in Alaska four years after statehood, and moved to the Seward homestead in the aftermath of the great Alaska Earthquake. Over the course of 56 years and four generations, they’ve become the preeminent mushing family, winning seven Iditarod races and Mitch holds the Iditarod speed record of 8 days 3 hours 40 minutes and 13 seconds to cover 1049 miles by dog team.
For the past 28 years, the Seaveys have invited guests to visit their homestead during the off season, providing summer dog sled rides and kennel tours to the public to keep the pups in shape and out of trouble. Check out the tours, and you’ll be helping train the next Iditarod champions!
Seavey’s Iditarod Racing Team
Home of Iditarod Champion Mitch Seavey
Iditarod Champions 2004 · 2013 · 2017
Kenai Fjords, Seward’s beloved backyard, is sometimes mistaken for a more tropical location because of its stunning turquoise waters, steep granite faces jutting out of the ocean, and lush vegetation.
When you want to explore the coast of Alaska, the marine wildlife off the coast, and the beautiful southeastern Alaskan fjords, there is no better way to do it than on a guided boat tour. I had the pleasure of experiencing the great Alaskan fjords on a cruise from Major Marine Tours.
About Kenai Fjords National Park
Surrounded by steep mountain walls and glacier-carved fjords, Kenai Fjords National Park provides the perfect habitat for humpback whales, orca whales, Steller sea lions, sea otters, Dall’s porpoises, mountain goats, bald eagles, puffins, and a vast number of seabirds.
The fjords for which the park is named are deep, water-filled bays carved by the movement of glaciers long ago. More than half of Kenia Fjords National Park is covered in ice, with over 35 named glaciers flowing from the massive Harding Icefield.
Major Marine Tours
Stop by to learn about Seward’s history at the museum, located near downtown Seward at Sixth Avenue and Adams Street.
The Seward Community Library & Museum is a unique combined public library, museum, archives and community center serving Seward and the surrounding area providing opportunities for equal access to information, technology, lifelong learning, community enrichment, and the preservation of Seward’s heritage.
The museum is a partnership between the City of Seward and the Resurrection Bay Historical Society (RBHS), whose collection of objects, photographs and archives is housed and exhibited in our museum spaces.
Museum Admission: Winter Admission is free. Summer admission is $4.00 a person. Children ages 12 and under and members of the Resurrection Bay Historical Society are free. We only accept cash, no cards.
Seward was devastated by the Good Friday Earthquake on March 27, 1964. The 9.2 magnitude quake remains the second largest earthquake in recorded history. Learn more about this event in the film Waves over Seward, shown daily during the summer.
If you visit the museum around 2pm you can see also see a film about the Iditarod.
Seward Community Library & Museum
Address: 239 6th Ave, Seward, AK 99664
Adventure60North will teach you the ropes with a gold panning demonstration in their elevated troughs. Personalized how-to demonstrations will have you panning like a pro, while providing some local humor and history along the way.
Find more than gold:
Learn how to pan, searching for gold and semi-precious stones that we also find around Alaska. Some treasures can include, Red Jasper, Hemalyke, Fluorite, Quartz, Amethyst, Red Agate, Tourmaline, and Garnet.
You will pan in elevated wooden troughs with proven pay dirt so there is a possibility of everyone taking home their very own Alaskan Gold and gems!
If you want to sleep that is as memorable as Seward itself, a stay at the Nauti-Otter is a must. With a hostel, rustic-looking cabins, and yurts all individually themed around Alaskan culture and wildlife, you’ll be thanking yourself for not booking a boring hotel room. This is a creative, glamping adventure that will definitely be one of the highlights of your stay in Seward.
Seward’s historic downtown and picturesque boat harbor are home to quaint galleries, quirky shops, and one of the largest public mural collections in Alaska.
From top-of-the-line outdoor gear to handmade local crafts, there’s something for everyone in the shops and galleries around Seward. Dozens of local artists sell their wares in the historic downtown shops. The harbor area also offers and array of Alaskan products and unique souvenirs.
Out of all of the galleries in Seward, this one is my favorite. Clothing, textiles, sculptures, paintings, hiking gear, books, and novelty gifts. This gallery also supports local artists, who have produced some astounding work. I’ve spent quite a bit of money in this amazing shop.
Forests, Tides & Treasures
Address: 1313 4th Avenue Boat Harbor
Phone: 907 831 1995
Website: Forests, Tides & Treasures
Spend an afternoon exploring the 30+ vibrant paintings dotting Seward, proudly known as the “Mural Capital of Alaska.” Under direction from the Seward Mural Society, each painting depicts unique historical characters, local events and natural landscapes while celebrating the beauty and spirit of Alaska.
There are hundreds of hikes all through Alaska, but many of the state’s best hikes are easily accessible from Seward. All types of hikes from multi-day adventures to after-dinner strolls, a trip to Seward without a memorable walk is an opportunity missed.
Exit Glacier trail is a Seward classic. Extremely easy hike to the base of a glacier by all ability levels. The stroll to the glacier only takes about 45 minutes. As far as hikes go, it has an extremely ‘tourist trap’ feeling and your feeling of adventure will possibly be interrupted as you dodge baby strollers and large groups.
INSIDE TIP: If you want to get up close to the glacier, do not hike to the EXIT GLACIER OVERLOOK platform. Since this platform was built many years ago, the glacier has receded quite drastically. Instead, choose the lower route and hike along the glacier runoff stream all the way up to the glacier itself.
Harding Icefield hike starts at the same location as Exit Glacier, you will leave behind the large tour groups as you ascend 3000 feet on a strenuous hike that is said to be one of the most spectacular day hikes in Alaska. Experience breathtaking vistas and the vast Harding Icefield, which feeds nearly 40 glaciers. Although the view from the top is well worth the effort, shorter hikes to Marmot Meadows or the Top of the Cliffs overlook offer incredible views of Exit Glacier and the valley.
15-mile through-hike. An old mining trail and one of the most beautiful hikes in Alaska. On a clear day, you can see the Gulf of Alaska once you reach the top. The terrain ranges from deep green forest, blueberry bushes, tundra, and snow.
You can save this hike for an after-dinner event to help with digestion. A one-mile loop through the woods starting in the center of town. Footbridges cross small streams and several waterfalls can be found on this well-maintained trail.
Full trail description here: Cains Head Tail – A photographers dream.
This is a steep incline gaining 3000 feet of elevation in less than a mile, but the views are worth it. For a more scenic, leisurely climb, take the ‘Jeep Trail’ that will lead you to the Marathon Bowl. This is a stunningly beautiful valley with a stream that is perfect for a lunch stop.
“Mount Marathon is the toughest 5K on the Planet.”
— Outside Magazine (2017)
This is the home of the Mount Marathon Race, which is regarded as one of the hardest short-distance mountain races in the world. Up to 30,000 people descend on Seward on July 4th each year to watch the mayhem and celebrate Independence Day.
The first organized race was held in 1915, making it the second-oldest footrace in the United States, second only to the Boston Marathon.
Learn more about this historic race at: mmr.seward.com
One of the biggest treats when staying in Seward is the opportunity to meet some of the fun and colorful locals. You’ll be surprised at how welcome you feel in this small town. There is a small selection of watering holes throughout the ‘downtown’ area, many catering to different niches within this small community. Fishermen, artists, musicians, LGBT, and old-timers. Just ask a few questions about Seward, and the conversation will begin.
208 4th Ave, Seward, AK 99664
This curio-bedecked plush leather lounge serves the strongest drinks in town – and is said to have the best halibut around (mains $14 to $18).
The Jim Beam decanter collection is valued at thousands of dollars; and I’ve heard that the ashes of some of their dearly departed regular customers are in a few of them.
A local restaurant and brewing company with the polish and atmosphere of a well-established national chain.
I have to say Yukon Bar is my personal favorite watering hole in Seward. Quirky with a billion items in bric-à-brac covering the walls and ceiling. An eclectic clientele of Seward characters… it’s easy to fit right in.
Tuesday: Open Mic Night
|Thursday: Dance Party
Friday & Saturday: Live Music
End your night at the Pit Bar. Open till 5 AM. They have the largest tequila selection in Seward. This is the place to go when all of the other bars have closed for the night. An apt name for this venue… but a lot of fun if dive bars are your thing.
Sunday: Bloody Mary Bar - 8 AM to 2 PM Monday: Open Mic Night Tuesday: Karaoke