The small port town of Seward is Alaska’s playground. Situated at the head of Resurrection Bay and surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks, Seward combines the best of both worlds, with a bustling downtown environment and a limitless selection of outdoor adventures. The town’s claim to fame is the enchanting Chugach National Forest, which draws tourists who visit Alaska. You should also witness the ethereal scenery at Kenai Fjords National Park, with its gem being the Harding Icefield. If you’re planning to visit, consider the below things to do in Seward, Alaska, for your next vacation in this fascinating destination.
1. Visit Benny Benson Memorial to pay homage to Alaska's flag designer
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
The boy who designed Alaska’s flag is none other than Benny Benson, a 13-year-old orphan who outdid about 700 participants in that 1927 competition. The flag features eight golden stars set on the blue background, forming the Big Dipper with the North Star. At the time of the contest, Alaska was not yet a territory, but young Benny declared his flag design to one day become a state flag. If not a visionary, then he is to be admired for his bold confidence. Take your children to the quaint park in Dairy Hill Lane, where Benny Benson Memorial now stands. Your kids will be inspired to hear his story, and the park is great for walking and chilling with your family.
Benny Benson Memorial
Address: Dairy Hill Lane, Seward, AK 99664
Opening hours: 12am - 12pm (daily)
2. Enjoy a pint of craft beer at Seward Brewing Company
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
This local restaurant creates its beer in an old-fashioned way. If you want a taste of Alaska, make a reservation at Seward Brewing Company. You can either drive by or dine in, whatever arrangement works best for you. But when you have time, take the opportunity to have a sit-down meal or drinking session with your friends in this modern-meets-rustic setting. Order your favorite chips and pizza. You’ll find it to be a refuge. This place also serves hot chocolate.
Seward Brewing Company
Address: 139 4th Ave, Seward, AK 99664, United States
Website: Seward Brewing Company
Opening hours: 11:30am - 10pm (daily)
3. Travel along the beautiful Alaska Railroad
The Alaska Railroad, albeit a transport vehicle, has become a tourist attraction over time. It takes passengers through scenic routes and provides a unique ride-dine-and-sightsee experience. Notwithstanding the sidetracks, this 656-mi (1,056-km) mainline railroad starts from the Seward, stretching to Fort Wainright. Trains that traverse the Alaska Railroad are managed by a company named after the railroad itself. They offer many routes. From September to May, you can take the Aurora Winter Train, which allows you to enjoy Alaska’s beautiful backcountry setting, from Fairbanks to Anchorage on a 12-hour journey, one-way. And when it’s not winter, you have four other routes to choose from on the official website.
Address: 327 W Ship Creek Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501, United States
Website: Alaska Railroad
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Alaska’s glaciers are some of the most beautiful in the world and a chance to walk on one is not to be missed. On this day-long tour, you’ll walk out onto Seward Exit Glacier, a frozen river of ice, complete with towering cliffs and deep, blue crevasses. For this trip, you’ll meet your guides at the Exit Glacier Guides downtown office and gather all the equipment you’ll need for your adventure. Then, you’ll take a scenic van ride out to Kenai Fjords National Park where you’ll begin your hike. After about an hour and a half of strenuous uphill hiking, you’ll reach the edge of the glacier, where you’ll put on your crampons and prepare for your journey onto the ice. Your guide will give you a safety briefing and a lesson on using your crampons before you step out onto the glacier. Once on the ice, your guide will lead you to some of the glacier’s most interesting features and answer any questions you may have about glaciers, from why the glacier is blue to how crevasses form. After about an hour and a half on the ice, you’ll pack up your crampons, hike back to the van, and drive back to the Exit Glacier Guides office, just in time for a well-deserved dinner at one of Seward’s best restaurants.
While this trip is strenuous in nature, you do not need to have any hiking or climbing experience to participate. Your guides will provide all the technical equipment and instruction you need to have a fantastic time out on the ice, though you will need to come prepared with the proper clothing, footwear, camera, and a sense of adventure. For the more adventurous types, Exit Glacier Guides also offers a slightly longer ice climbing version of the trip, which allows you to venture down into those amazing crevasses. Additionally, for those who might want to opt for a less strenuous version of the trip, they also offer a helicopter-accessed hike (and ice climb) to a nearby glacier. Don’t miss this excellent adventure on your next Alaska vacation!
Hike on a glacier!
Price: from 133.90 USD
Alaska is home to some of the United States’ most beautiful terrain, from steep sea-water filled fjords to rugged, deep blue glaciers that stretch for miles. The best way to see it all is by air! Join some of Alaska’s best bush pilots on a scenic flight around Seward, to make the most of your Alaskan vacation. Choose from a variety of trip lengths and flight patterns to best fit your budget, schedule, and interests. Before departure, your pilot will give you a brief safety introduction and then you’ll journey high above the beautiful, rugged landscape below. Along the way, your pilot will explain the different features you encounter and point out any wildlife you might see along the way, while you take photos and enjoy the view. A scenic helicopter tour in Seward is something you won’t want to miss.
15 Minute Glacier Discovery Flight Tour
Price: from 175 USD
6. Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center
The Alaska SeaLife Center is Seward’s public aquarium and Alaska’s only permanent marine mammal rehabilitation facility. A visit to the SeaLife Center is a perfect rainy day activity and a must-do for families with children. A fully interactive aquarium, the SeaLife Center is home to an ever-changing array of exhibits, featuring everything from sharks to sea stars. One of the SeaLife Center’s highlights is an open-air bird room, where you’ll gaze around as puffins fly overhead. The SeaLife Center is open daily for self-guided tours. Those looking for a more personalized visit can sign-up for a small-group behind-the-scenes tour and encounter some of the SeaLife Center’s many permanent marine residents.
Alaska SeaLife Center
Address: 301 Railway Ave, Seward, AK 99664
Website: Alaska SeaLife Center
7. Take a hike!
For those looking to experience the vast wilderness surrounding Seward, a jaunt up one of the town’s many easily accessible hiking trails is a must-do activity. One of the most popular trails in Seward is the Marathon Bowl Trail, whose trailhead is just a short walk from downtown Seward. The trail begins amidst a densely packed old-growth forest, surrounded by towering hemlocks and Sitka spruce. After you make your way up the old jeep trail, you will pop out above the treeline and enjoy a view of Resurrection Bay, from high above. The trail continues upward, meandering through younger trees and bushes until you get to a high alpine bowl, with spectacular views of the Kenai Mountains.
For the more adventurous travellers, a hike up the Mount Marathon Race Trail is sure to be a good workout. The Race Trail rises steeply from the valley floor below, up through steep rocky terrain, to the top of Marathon Race Point. Every year, the trail hosts the Mount Marathon Race on the Fourth of July, where thousands flock into Seward to watch the throngs of runners race up the steep mountainside. After a tough hike to the top of Race Point, you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views of Seward and Resurrection Bay. Be sure to include some hiking adventures in your Seward vacation!
Hiking Trails in Seward
Website: Best Hiking Trails in Seward
The vast Harding Icefield is a remnant of the huge ice field that covered much of North America during the last major glaciation, about 10,000-20,000 years ago. Today, the Harding is about the size of the state of Rhode Island and covers a large swath of the Kenai Peninsula, stretching from Seward to Homer. Many of Harding’s glaciers are tidewater glaciers, or large chunks of moving ice that flow into the ocean, and are only accessible by air or sea. One of the best ways to experience these beautiful glaciers is on a boat tour out into the fjords around Seward. Join a cruise tour operator on a full day whale watching glacier boat trip to a few of the Harding’s many glaciers. Along the way, your boat captains will keep watch for humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, harbor seals, puffins, and sea otters, as you cruise toward your icy destination. Before arriving at the glacier, you’ll be treated to an optional all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, featuring Alaskan salmon, prime rib, and cheesecake for dessert (vegetarian options are also available upon request). Once you arrive at the glacier, your captain will give you plenty of time to take photos and watch for calving ice, before you head back toward town.
The cruise operator, Major Marine, offers a variety of tours to fit every budget and schedule. Their most popular tours are the six-hour cruises to Holgate and Aialik Glacier, though longer and shorter tours are available.
Kenai Fjords Glacier and Wildlife Cruise on Aialik Bay
Duration: 6 hours
9. Step back in time in the Seward History Museum
The town of Seward is steeped in history, from the earliest inhabitants of the Kenai Peninsula to the arrival of the Russian fur-traders in 1792. Seward’s ideal location at the head of Alaska’s northernmost year-round ice-free port made it a popular destination for railroads, fur trading, coal mining, and timbering industries over the years. A visit to the Seward History Museum in the Seward Community Library is a perfect rainy day activity and great for families with children. The museum features a variety of artifacts that beautifully illustrate Seward’s history, from past to present.
Kids can take part in the museum’s scavenger hunt and gain access to the museum’s children’s area. The museum also hosts daily screenings of historical movies about the Iditarod and the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake and Tsunami. Check out the museum’s website for up-to-date hours and admissions fees.
Seward History Museum
Address: 239 6th Avenue, Seward, AK 99664
Website: Seward History Museum
This boat tour combines a whale watching adventure out to Fox Island in Resurrection Bay with a scrumptious all-you-can-eat dinner. It is perfect for those short on time who want to see the vast waters surrounding Seward and all of the Bay’s exciting marine life. On this 3.5-hour tour, your captains and onboard park rangers will point out whales, bald eagles, puffins, sea otters, and seals, as you cruise past steep mountain sides and high alpine glaciers. Upon arrival at Fox Island, you’ll be escorted to an exclusive lodge for your buffet dinner amidst the rugged terrain of Resurrection Bay. After dinner, your boat will take you back into town, so you can get back to your hotel and rest for the next day’s adventures.
Fox Island Dinner Cruise
Price: from 98.73 USD
The vast waters surrounding Seward are famous for fishing. Join your guides and local fisherman on a full day fishing charter, out into Resurrection Bay. After meeting your crew at the Seward Small Boat Harbor, you’ll head out onto the sea. On you way to your fishing locations, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the view. You’ll likely cruise through the Bay’s plentiful marine life and do some whale watching along the way. Once you arrive, your Captain and deckhand will instruct you on the best fishing techniques and give you a short safety briefing.
You’ll be able to fish all day, until your group meets the catch limits or until it is time to head back into town. Upon arrival back in town, your deckhand will fillet everyone’s fish and discuss the process with the group. At the end of the day, you’ll leave your faithful crew behind, with your catch in hand, already daydreaming about your next fishing adventure.
Chartered Fishing Trip
Price: from 297.15 USD
The town of Seward is home to the start of the Iditarod National Historic Trail, making it the perfect place to run alongside some Iditarod race champions. Choose from two different options for your Iditarod adventure - a scenic helicopter flight to a high mountain dog-sledding camp or a trip to a local kennel, for a ride through Seward’s wilderness trails.
For the helicopter-accessed version, you’ll meet your pilot at Seward Airport. You’ll take a 15-minute scenic flight up to Godwin Glacier, where you’ll land on the snow-covered ice at the kennel’s high mountain dog camp. During a two-mile dog sled ride, your musher will tell you all about the history of dog sledding in Alaska and teach you about different dog sledding techniques. After the ride, you’ll get a chance sip hot drinks and play with husky puppies before your helicopter ride back down to the airport.
For the local kennel option, you’ll be transported from your hotel to the Dog Sled Kennel, where you’ll meet your guides and tour the facility. Your guides will give you an introduction to dog sledding and answer all your questions about the canine-filled sport. You’ll have a chance to cuddle with the newest puppies before your guide shows you how they prep to go on a run. After the dogs get harnessed up, you’ll board the wheeled summer sled for a ride through the Alaskan wilderness. Once you return from your ride, you’ll have one more chance to play with the puppies, before your ride back to your hotel.
Regardless of which option you choose, a dog sledding adventure in Seward will certainly be a highlight of your Alaska vacation.
Wilderness Dog Sledding
Price: from 79.99 USD
Helicopter and Glacier Dog Sledding Tour from Seward
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
13. Stoney Creek Canopy Tour
Stoney Creek Canopy Tour takes you over the Northern Pacific Temperate Rain Forest. Way below is the glacial valley. Outside of Seward, the activity happens up in the Resurrection Bay area and includes canopy ziplining and rappels. You will need to make sure that you meet their age and weight requirements, so check before that this is the adventure for you. Nevertheless, young teens and families, including fit grandparents, will love it. The zip lines are fast enough to grip you and the safety standards are high. Allow for about three hours to do everything. Rappell down trees and “fly” through the forest. The views are stunning and the adrenaline will keep you warm. Your guides are enthusiastic, friendly and very knowledgeable.
Stoney Creek Canopy Tour
Address: 1304 4th Ave, Seward, AK 99664
Telephone: +1 907-224-3662
Website: Stoney Creek Canopy Tour
14. Hike up Mt. Marathon
Mt. Marathon is not for the faint-hearted but you’re there for outdoor adventure right? There’s an annual marathon on July 4 where people get to actually race up the steep mountain just outside of Seward. If you miss the event with the concession stands and entertainment, you can still hike it yourself. Ask around about the best trail to do. There’s an easy one and a difficult one which is much more challenging. Either one is a tough challenge in terms of fitness and you need to take your own refreshments. If you have hiking poles, use them as it makes it much easier. You start off steeply through the rainforest, hit a more level area and then its a long and steep climb again with no switchbacks. Nevertheless, you will see some beautiful views and get some wonderful photos. The whole town of Seward sprawls out below the heights.
Address: Seward, AK
On this half-day tour, you’ll venture far from Seward’s small harbor and out into Resurrection Bay. After meeting your guides and getting your paddling gear at the outfitter’s office, you’ll head to the docks, where you’ll board a small jet boat, bound for Bear Glacier, one of the largest glaciers extending from the Harding Icefield. As you leave port, you might see puffins, sea otters, harbor seals, and whales. Once you arrive, your guide will give you a quick paddling and safety lesson, before you take off in your kayaks or on your paddleboards into the glacier’s freshwater lagoon. As you paddle around the house-sized icebergs, you will want to have your camera on hand to capture the beauty of these majestic giants. After a couple of hours of paddling, you’ll head to a small beach, where you’ll walk for a few minutes before sitting down to a cup of hot chocolate and a small snack, in front of a great view of the glacier and its icebergs. Once you finish paddling, you’ll board the jet boat again for another exciting trip through Resurrection Bay.
For this trip, you can choose either a half day or full day adventure. Additionally, you can choose to kayak or paddleboard. This trip is certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity and should be a must-do activity for every Alaska vacation. Be sure to book early - spots are limited and they fill fast!
Bear Glacier Kayaking Adventure with Jetboat Transport from Seward
Duration: 5 hours
Seward is home to shimmering blue oceans, steep, glacier-capped peaks, and majestic old-growth forest. Activities and adventure abound in this lovely coastal town, so when you’re in Seward, be sure to check out these tours to make your next Alaska vacation one to remember.
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