A Visitor’s Guide to Best Things to Do in Seward, Alaska

Published: June 15, 2024

Nestled between the serene marine beauty of Resurrection Bay, rugged, glacier-carved valleys, ice-capped mountains and breathtaking landscapes of Kenai Fjords National Park, rests the quaint and charming port of Seward, Alaska .

Seward may be small in size, but this charming Alaskan community on the Kenai Peninsula in South Central Alaska is the gateway to unparalleled seacoast adventures in Alaska, from wildlife and glacier cruises to fishing, hiking and sightseeing and 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 located just south of Anchorage, Seward is a quaint seaside town and home to marine life, wildlife and natural amenities making it the perfect place for an Alaska vacation. The original Iditarod Race Trail and the Alaska Railroad’s route both start here, and for many cruiseship travelers, Seward is a vibrant port and the beginning of their Alaska mainland adventures. The list of fun things to do in Seward is long from day cruises beginning in the waters of Resurrection Bay out to see glaciers and marine life in awe-inspiring Kenai Fjords National Park to enriching wildlife encounters at the Alaska SeaLife Center, to scenic Seward hikes and tasting the local Alaskan 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 Seward by foot to see local art and learn about Native Alaskan culture and Alaskan lifestyles.

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

Immerse yourself in nature by visiting one of Alaska’s amazing National Parks near Seward: Kenai Fjords National Park. (Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge)

Why Visit Seward?

Seward is among the most popular among Alaska vacation destinations due to its adventure-rich opportunities based in it’s location 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 draw for many Alaska wildlife enthusiasts and anglers but Seward has a diverse set of attractions for all ages and activity levels. There are things to do for every visitor at any pace. Seward is also full of history. This tiny town is named after William H. Seward, lead on Alaska’s purchase from Russia.

The Best 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 just relaxing at a remote wilderness lodge?

Here are the top 10 things to do in Seward, Alaska and what makes it a “must-visit” Alaska destination:

#1: Explore Kenai Fjords National Park

Most visitors to Seward make Kenai Fjords National Park a “must see” part of their itinerary as this seacoast destination in Alaska ranks high in any Kenai Peninsula travel guide. It’s one of Alaska’s most extraordinary places, wowing visitors with glaciers and wildlife, seacoast landscapes and lodges, and plenty of opportunities for Alaska outdoor fun. To really see the expanse and highlights of Kenai Fjords, you need to get out on the water and it’s easy to plan a day trip from Seward such as a guided marine life and glacier cruise, getting up close to calving glaciers and marine wildlife or an Alaska whale watching cruise. And a short drive to Exit Glacier near Seward also gives Alaska visitors the most spectacular viewpoint of the Harding Icefield.

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 one of the best family-friendly activities in Seward, the Center allows visitors to 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 Alaska Sealife Center residents, including stellar sea lions, seals, and a diverse 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. Kenai Fjords 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 in your kayak, 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. We’ll help steer you to friendly operators for a Seward kayaking day trip with intimate knowledge of the bay, ideal for both beginners and for more experienced kayakers alike.

Resurrection Bay Kayaking Tour outside of Seward.

#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 – you can drive right up to it for breathtaking glacial 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 and while the road to Exit Glacier is closed to cars during the winter, skiers and snowmachines make this an entirely worthwhile trip even off season in Alaska.

Hiking Exit Glacier near Seward, Alaska.

#7: Discover Seward’s Art and Culture

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

#8: Walk Along the Waterfront Park

Some of the best things to do in Seward are free! Visitors can spend hours walking along Seward’s scenic waterfront, perfect for a leisurely day. You can 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 and a lovely stroll followed by a snack at Seward’s Waterfront Park creates a relaxing day, a refreshing break, and a budget-friendly way to enjoy this peaceful setting.

#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!

#10: Discover the Best Seasonal Activities in Seward

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

Seward’s fun, beauty and adventures all peak in volume during the summer season (May to August). 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. The exciting and challenging 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 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 with Marathon Mountain on the horizon.

Winter Wonders: Exit Glacier – Dogsledding – Snowmobiling

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

Dog sledding on a glacier in Seward.

If you’re traveling to Alaska this year, contact us at Alaska Tours to learn more about many exciting tour itineraries which include Seward and the Kenai Peninsula.