Once you’ve seen Anchorage and the surrounding area, you might have your sights set on elsewhere in Alaska. The southern city of Seward is another excellent place to base yourself for a few days. There are so many things to do in Seward, I can’t wait to share them with you!
We spent two nights in Seward, but could easily have stayed longer!
Located on the Kenai Peninsula (here’s a blog post on the best things to do on the Kenai Peninsula), Seward is situated in Resurrection Bay’s inner area. Resurrection Bay is a famous fjord with some of the most epic views in the state.
It is also in a prime location to enjoy Exit Glacier and the other natural phenomena in southern Alaska – and is home to wildlife like seals and puffins!
The city of Seward is named after William Seward, who was the US Secretary of State who negotiated the Alaska Purchase in 1867. Until then, Alaska was part of Russia! The city was founded in 1903 as the southern terminus of the Alaska railroad. It’s a young city, but there are certainly plenty of things to do in Seward!
If you’re planning a trip to Seward, you might have a few questions. You might be wondering how to get to the city, how to travel around the area, what there is to do, where to eat and where to stay in Seward.
In this guide, we’ll cover all of that- and more!
How to get to Seward
Most people visit Seward as part of a road trip around Alaska. The scenic Seward Highway connects the city with Anchorage, where there is a main airport with flights to various destinations in the US and Canada.
However, if you don’t have a vehicle, and don’t want to rent one, you could think about taking the scenic train from Anchorage. It takes about 4 hours 20 minutes, and leaves every morning.
There is also a bus which is the most budget-friendly option and takes about 3 hours.
We rented a car through Thrifty Alaska and road-tripped all over Alaska! I have a blog post with our full Alaska itinerary here!
Also, you can use promo code 101247 through September 2022 for 10% off your Thrifty car rental!!
How to get around Seward
Seward is a walkable city, and locals and tourists alike find one of the best ways to explore being their own two feet.
However, there are some other options if you don’t want to walk.
- During the summer, the Summer Shuttle Bus operates. It runs from the cruise ship dock to the Alaska SeaLife Center and returns, taking about half an hour.
- There is a Hertz car rental office, where you can rent a car to drive around – and even drop it off in Anchorage, if you are heading there after.
- The Seward Bike Shop rents bikes by the hour or by the day.
- There are also a few taxi firms.
- If you book on a tour, transport will often be included.
When to visit Seward
Due to its southern location and the fact that it is on the coast, Seward is a lot milder than other Alaska locations.
This makes the city feasible to visit any time of year. In the summer, temperatures reach a maximum of around 63 degrees, and the day temperature usually hovers around freezing in the winter.
There usually is snow in the winter, but certainly not the same amount as there is further north!
That being said, Seward is definitely more active in the summer. More places are open, the days are longer, and the weather is milder. You’ll also be able to do more tours and activities, like kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and driving to Exit Glacier.
Maybe try to avoid Seward in the peak season, when the town is jam-packed and prices are hiked up, but any time in the summer out of school holidays is ideal.
18 Things to do in Seward
Without further ado, here are the 18 best things to do in Seward, Alaska!
1. Kenai Fjords National Park
This is the reason that most people visit Seward.
Kenai Fjords National Park consists of more than 600,000 acres of beautiful fjord land, and it’s a must-do when you go to Seward.
Exit Glacier (which deserves its own section – see the next item on this list!) is in this park, but taking a wildlife cruise or kayaking are also epic ways to enjoy the spectacular natural scenery here.
2. Exit Glacier
One of the most renowned and accessible glaciers in Alaska, Exit Glacier is one of the top things to do in Seward for any tourists visiting the area.
During the warmer, lighter summer months, you can drive right to the glacier and enjoy it up close. It’s actually the only part of Kenai Fjords National Park that you can access by road – and there are an abundance of hiking trails around the area.
The hikes go around the active glacier and are astounding both for general tourists and expert geographers.
Here, you’ll see first-hand the dramatic impact that glaciers have on their natural surroundings. Make sure that you take your camera with you, as you’ll want to remember this in detail!
I’ll cover the best hike in the next item on this list! Also, if you’re looking for the best glaciers to visit in Alaska, check out my post here!
3. Harding Ice Field Hike
There are lots of day hikes in the Seward area. One of the most famous is perhaps the Harding Icefield Hike.
The Harding Icefield stretches across the top of Exit Glacier.
The 8.2 mile hike to get there begins on the floor of the valley and winds up to its top. Here, you can enjoy spectacular views of the glacier and beyond.
It’s certainly not a hike for the faint-hearted; every mile, you’ll gain around 1000 feet of elevation. It will take you 6-8 hours to hike the whole route, and it’s essential to be prepared. Be sure to check with the ranger before you go out as the conditions may change.
If you don’t want to go all the way to the top (like us), you can hike to two view points:
- Marmot Meadows is the first stop, where two paths on your left snake out from the main path. They take you to little platform areas where you can see Exit Glacier
- The Cliffs is the halfway point to the Harding Icefield. It offers fantastic views of Exit Glacier. You can also see the beginning of the Icefield from the Cliffs.
No matter how far you go up, this hike is one of the most scenic things to do in Seward! Be prepared for some epic views!
4. Wildlife Cruise
It should come as no surprise that this rural area in Alaska is home to a plethora of wildlife.
If you are a fan of seals, puffins, otters, and sea lions, be sure to head to Kenai Fjords National Park and take a wildlife cruise.
There are several companies that offer cruises with multiple lengths.
Here’s a great tour option with raving reviews for you!
There are plenty of tour companies that offer kayaking tours in Kenai Fjords National Park; here’s a full list.
Back in Seaward, you can also rent kayaks and stand up paddleboards from Miller’s Landing. At the time of writing, it costs about $80 per day.
6. Turning Heads Kennel
If you want to try dog sledding, here is your opportunity.
Turning Heads Kennel offers a dog sledding tour where you can meet the show’s stars, learn about how dog sledding works, and try sledding for yourself!
For glacier dog sledding, a helicopter takes you to a nearby glacier where you can go dog sledding!
You can book that type of dog sled tour here! We would’ve done this tour but didn’t have enough time in Seward… we’ll do it next time!
7. Charming Downtown
The downtown area of Seward is picturesque, calm, and peaceful.
With picturesque colorful buildings, a waterfront dotted with yachts, and the backdrop of mountains in the distance, downtown Seward is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon walking around.
The harbor area has epic views of downtown and of the bay, and it’s a fantastic place to people watch and enjoy boat culture. Try to catch the sunset from here – it’s epic!
8. Seward Library and Museum
You wouldn’t think that this colorful building contains a library and museum; it’s a great place to visit to learn more about Seward’s history.
The museum documents everything from the founding of Seward to the economy of the city.
Taking a float plane tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park and Harding Icefields is an epic experience in Seward!
Mountain Air offers floatplane tours in the area, and they state that “you can see more of Alaska in one hour of flying than thirty days of driving”.
Indeed, you’ll get to have an experience like no other as you float over this natural world wonder.
10. Helicopter Tour
Taking a helicopter tour over Seward is an unforgettable experience. The glaciers are epic from ground level, but flying high above them, the alpine forests, and the beautiful Resurrection Bay is an experience that you will never forget.
There are a few helicopter tours that you can take, but I recommended one that offers the chance to land on a glacier, like this tour. A glacier landing is something that you’ll never forget!
Most helicopter tours operate from around May to mid-September.
11. Iditarod Trail
The Iditarod Trail is a historical walk by Seward. This trail is from the gold rush and was built to transport people in the area. The Iditarod Trail began in Seward, where people and mail would be dropped off.
From there, they would be taken to other destinations. It’s also the location for a sledding race, which began in 1967. Nowadays, it makes for a pleasant walk, where you can learn about the history and take in the beautiful nature!
12. Alaska SeaLife Center
You won’t be surprised to hear that Seward is full of sealife!
We saw this poor jellyfish after it had washed up on Resurrection Bay during low tide. Isn’t the orange in it beautiful? It made me wonder what other magnificent creatures are under the ocean’s surface here in Alaska!
Well, if you want to learn a bit more about the aquatic creatures that call this part of the state home, look no further than the Alaska SeaLife Center.
Here, you’ll get to see a variety of local sea life, and you can even get up close to them if you purchase one of the encounters!
13. Waterfront Park
This chilled-out little area is next to the SeaLife center. If you’re visiting Seward in the summer and fancy camping, here is your chance – however, it’s also a great spot to go for a picnic or birdwatching. There’s beach access, as well as a skate park and playground.
14. The Alaska Railroad Train
I mentioned this in the how to get to Seward section, but the Alaska Railroad Train definitely deserves its own section.
It’s one of the most epic journeys in the country; the four-hour journey will take you through emerald forests, around beautiful lakes, and through tranquil wetlands. You’ll even catch a glimpse of the Spencer Glacier!
This train connects Seward with Anchorage. If you like trains and are also visiting Anchorage, this is definitely something to do. You can make a day trip of it by paying for the Goldstar service – this is a glass-domed train that serves up drinks and meals and has a viewing platform over the Alaskan scenery!
Speaking of incredible scenery, I have a blog post here on the 50 best and most beautiful places to visit in Alaska! (Yes, Seward is on the list!)
15. Resurrection Bay
There is plenty to do on Ressurection Bay, but my favorite was staying right by the water!
Resurrection Lodge on The Bay is an isolated homestay that is located on the edge of Resurrection Bay. With lovely, cozy rooms and a deck overlooking the bay and mountains beyond, it’s one of the most stunning places to stay in Seward. If you’re driving, there’s free parking here, and the property is on the beachfront!
We stayed here and loved our two nights at this welcoming lodge.
18. Eat delicious local foods
There are so many phenomenal places to eat in Seward! Here are some of the best spots in town:
The Cookery serves up fresh, local produce. They specialize in seafood and include ingredients like Alaskan halibut and oysters. Meat and vegetarian options, such as a cauliflower schnitzel, are also on offer.
This was one of our favorite meals in all of Alaska, so be sure to dine here!
The Lone Chicharron
Owned by the same group of people who run The Cookery, The Lone Chicharron brings a taste of Mexico to Alaska. Choose fish, meat, or vegetarian tacos, which are made in the famous street food style from Mexico City. Also on offer are traditional Mexican dishes like tortas and tex-mex classics such as burritos.
If you want to enjoy a seafront view while you eat, try out Chinooks. This eatery offers delicious seafood such as scallops, as well as non-fish plates like mac n cheese! You can also enjoy a cocktail bar here, so it’s an excellent place for a few drinks after a busy day’s sightseeing.
If you’re after delicious pizza, look no further than Resurrection Roadhouse. With classic pizzas, burgers, and sweet potato fries on the menu, Resurrection Roadhouse is the perfect comfort food destination. On warm, sunny evenings, you can even enjoy an on-tap brew on the sun-drenched deck.
Enjoy your food with views of the harbor at Ray’s Waterfront! As you might suspect from its location, Ray’s offers some great seafood!
Seward Brewing Company
If you’re a beer fan, this is one to visit! Open in the summer months, Seward Brewing Company brews delicious beer. When they close for the winter, they spend the time brewing long-fermentation beer, which is a delightful beverage to enjoy in the summer months!
16. Go Camping & RVing
If you want to wake up in epic nature, camping might be an excellent option for you! You could try camping at Waterfront Park, or drive two miles down the coastline and camp at Lowell Point.
You might even have the chance to see some whales here, and it’s much quieter than Seward central.
For campground information and to make your reservation, check here!
18. Stay at Harbor 360
This hotel is located on the Seward Small Boat Harbor and offers – as the name suggests – beautiful 360-degree vistas of Resurrection Bay and the surrounding mountains. How adorable is this puffins mural on the hotel?
On-site are large and comfortable guest rooms with comfy beds, state of the art facilities, and beautiful mountain views. You can enjoy the hot tub and the hotel pool here – it’s the only hotel in Seward with a swimming pool!
Seward is a special place!
With a friendly atmosphere in town and epic nature all around, you’ve really got the best of both worlds when you stay here.
Spend some time enjoying Kenai Fjords National Park and Resurrection Bay, sure – but also remember to take in the town’s atmosphere and the authentic Alaskan hospitality.
And if you’re heading to Alaska, here are some other posts you might find useful:
- The Ultimate Alaska Itinerary
- 50 Best Places to Visit in Alaska
- 36 Things to Do On the Kenai Peninsula
- Guide to Valdez: 21 Things to Do in Valdez
- The 17 Best Glaciers to Visit in Alaska