Best Things to Do in Seward, Alaska – Your Ultimate Guide

Published: March 15, 2024

Nestled between the serene marine beauty of Resurrection Bay, rugged, glacier-carved valleys and ice-capped mountains, and breathtaking landscapes of Kenai Fjords National Park rests quaint Seward, Alaska. Seward may be small in size, but this charming Alaskan community the gateway to unparalleled seacoast adventures in Alaska, from wildlife and glacier cruises to fishing, hiking and sightseeing to flightseeing!

tour boats docked at the Seward Boat Harbor in Seward, Alaska; mountains in background

Experience uniquely Alaskan adventures based out of Seward, Alaska

A hub of Alaska history and culture, Seward has a vibrant energy. This quaint seaside town is home to wildlife and natural wonders and the perfect place for an Alaska vacation. The original Iditarod Race Trail and the Alaska Railroad’s route both start here, and for some travelers, Seward is a cruise ship port and the beginning of their Alaska mainland adventures. The list of fun things to do in Seward, Alaska, is sensational, from cruising through the waters and marine life of awe-inspiring Kenai Fjords National Park to enriching wildlife encounters at the Alaska SeaLife Center, to scenic Seward hiking and tasting the local cuisine.

Other unique activities you can find in Seward include kayaking among icebergs, hiking to Exit Glacier, close enough to feel a chill, and exploring on foot local art, culture and Alaskan lifestyles.

two canoes at a dock in Pederson Bay in Kenai Fjords National Park

An immersion in nature, visit three of Alaska’s amazing National Parks. (Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge)

Why Visit Seward?

Seward is among the most popular among Alaska vacation destinations due to its adventure-rich location on Alaska’s seacoast south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. Its proximity to Kenai Fjords National Park and world-class salmon and halibut fishing make it a distinct destination. Seward is also full of history. The tiny town is named after William H. Seward, lead on Alaska’s purchase from Russia. Seward had a diverse set of attractions for all ages and activity levels. There are things to do for everyone at any pace.

Top Things to Do in Seward

It’s tough to narrow down the best things to do in Seward, Alaska, because there are so many! What’s your pleasure? Glacier cruises and dog mushing? Hiking and kayaking? Whale watching, salmon catching, walking downtown, or lounging in a remote wilderness lodge? Here are the top things to do in Seward, Alaska and what makes it a “must-visit” Alaska destination:

#1: Explore Kenai Fjords National Park

Travelers can’t imagine Seward without imagining Kenai Fjords National Park, which ranks high in any Kenai Peninsula travel guide. It’s one of Alaska’s extraordinary places, wowing visitors with glaciers and wildlife, landscapes and lodges, and other Alaska outdoor fun. It’s also beloved for its accessibility. A short drive to Exit Glacier near Seward gives visitors the most spectacular viewpoint of the Harding Icefield. And to really see Kenai Fjords out on the water, it’s easy to plan a day trip from Seward on a guided cruise, getting up close to glaciers and marine wildlife including whales on an Alaska whale watching cruise, as well as sea otters and seals. 

A view of Exit Glacier from the Harding Icefield Trail, with Fireweed in the foreground. Photographed by Amber Simon.

#2: Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center

The Alaska SeaLife Center is one of Seward’s most charming attractions. Among the best family-friendly activities in Seward, Alaska, at the Center visitors can get close to Alaska’s marine wildlife, sometimes literally touching them. They also learn about Alaska’s marine ecosystems from hands-on exhibits and experienced marine research staff who share the Center’s wildlife conservation efforts. There are also popular feeding times for popular residents, like stellar sea lions, seals, and an array of birds and fish.

#3: Enjoy a Glacier and Wildlife Cruise

Glaciers and marine life are the stars within Kenai Fjords National Park. When cruising through Resurrection Bay, it’s difficult not to see a glacier carving across mountains, floating in the water, or calving off in chunks with surprising splashes. Cruise operators give their passengers up-close glacier views and wildlife encounters that are so exciting you’ll get chills – from the glaciers, the boat rocking after a whale breach, and the fun photographing everything you’re seeing. Plan a spectacular glacier cruise or a whale and marine life wildlife tour on a Resurrection Bay wildlife cruise.

Whale Watching and Lunge Feeding at Resurrection Bay

#4: Try Your Hand at Fishing

Seward is one of Alaska’s sportfishing hot spots, with a reputation as a prime location for hard-fighting salmon and hearty halibut. Whether you’re fishing from the shore or from a fishing boat, during the Silver Salmon Derby or just during a lazy day out fishing in the sun, we can introduce you to the area’s most experienced captains, all-inclusive fishing packages, and the best of Resurrection Bay fishing fun!

#5: Kayak in Resurrection Bay

Among the most unique things to do in Seward, Alaska, is kayaking around Resurrection Bay’s pristine waters. As a kayaker, you can choose a variety of routes and destinations. You can also choose guided glacier kayaking tours, or self guided experiences exploring peaceful coves with a beach landing for lunch. Stopping on the water and hearing tiny waves clap against the side of your kayak while an otter crunches on a mussel nearby is Alaska outdoors personified. No matter where you go, you’ll likely see marine wildlife – curious otters and seals abound and the occasional whale too. Some kayak trips start with a water taxi ride to outstanding stops like Bear Glacier. Alaska Tours will steer you to the operators for a Seward kayaking day trip with intimate knowledge of the bay, ideal for both beginners and for more experienced kayakers.

Resurrection Bay Kayaking Tour

#6: Hike to Exit Glacier and Harding Icefield

Exit Glacier might not be Alaska’s biggest icy attraction, but it’s among the most popular and accessible – drive right up for breathtaking views and glacier exploration. Hiking to Exit Glacier from the visitors center is a short, mostly flat, paved stroll through woods to emerge right in front of the glacier itself. More trails spread from there, offering different perspectives of the southern Alaska scenery. A hearty hike up to the Harding Icefield will have you peering over an ocean of glaciers. The best time to visit for views and photography is summer, when the sun sparkles off the glacier and melting ice makes natural music. While the road to Exit Glacier is closed to cars during the winter, skiers and snowmachines often make this entirely worthwhile trip.

Hiking Exit Glacier

#7: Discover Seward’s Art and Culture

Seward residents are creative and independent, which Seward’s vibrant arts and cultural scene reflects. You’ll see how art reflects Seward’s life at galleries, museums, coffee houses, and annual events like the Seward Music and Arts Festival. Visitors immersing themselves in this local culture will quickly and fully appreciate Seward’s uniquely Alaskan community spirit.

#8: Walk Along the Waterfront Park

The free things to do in Seward, Alaska, are plentiful. Visitors spend hours walking along Seward’s scenic waterfront, perfect for a leisurely day. Watch fishing boats and kayakers come and go, and the occasional otter and puffin cruise along the water. Mesmerizing mountains and marine wonders of Kenai Fjords surround the area. A lovely stroll with a seat and snack at Waterfront Park creates a relaxing day, a refreshing break, and a budget-friendly way to enjoy Seward.

#9: Visit the Seward Community Library & Museum

The Seward Community Library & Museum is a gem, preserving and telling Seward and Alaska history with exhibits about the Iditarod Trail’s origins and local wildlife. This is an insightful and free way to learn about Seward’s fascinating past and present. And there are plenty of activities for kids!

Seasonal Activities in Seward, Alaska

Summer Adventures: Lost Lake – Mt. Marathon – Silver Salmon Derby

Seward’s fun, beauty and adventure peak in summer. There’s a seasonal buzz as visitors, residents, and Alaska’s weekend warriors arrive for Midnight Sun magic. The area’s renowned hiking trails lead to postcard-perfect views of Lost Lake, the glaciers of the Harding Icefield, and the town and bay below majestic Mt. Marathon. Speaking of, the Mt. Marathon Race on July 4 turns Seward into a multi-day party, complete with fireworks and food, celebrations and tough athletes. Most folks prefer the relative ease and unmatched thrill of hooking into a fighting fish during the annual Seward Silver Salmon Derby. By late summer, the berry picking is berry good, too! Alaska Tours tailors trips for these warmer months, showcasing Seward’s seasonal diversity and offering the best of summer in Alaska.

Downtown Seward, Alaska with Marathon Mountain on the horizon.

Winter Wonders: Exit Glacier – Dogsledding – Snowmobiling

Few Alaska landscapes are more picturesque on a sunny winter than those surrounding Seward—the mountains, water, and town – magical and breathtaking. There are also plenty of breathtaking winter adventures around Seward: cross-country skiing is a quiet glide through the woods or to Exit Glacier; snowmobiling is a ripping ride around the backcountry; and dogsledding in an Iditarod musher’s sled pulled by a talented dog team is an unforgettable thrill. And, if you’re VERY lucky and if it remains clear at night, you might even get a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

Dog sledding on a glacier in Seward.Seward, Alaska, is an unmissable South Central Alaska travel destination. If you’re traveling to Alaska, contact us at Alaska Tours to learn more about many exciting packages which include Seward and the Kenai Peninsula so you can book your Seward dream trip today!