4-Day Itinerary in Seward: Alaska's Gateway to the Kenai Fjords
Arts & Culture
Seward is a rare gem, a hard working scenic fishing town tucked in between the majestic Chugach Mountain Range and the massive Harding Icefield, an endless expanse of white and blue glacial ice. Our family commercial salmon fishes out of Prince William Sound and we own a cliffside home that overlooks Resurrection Bay. My husband was born and raised in Seward and it is where we met in 1978. It is a classic, easy to navigate, unspoiled Alaskan town that offers much in the way of outdoor adventure! Enjoy breathtaking scenery, kayaking, hiking, abundant wildlife viewing, incredible seafood, and even a glacier you can walk to, as well as world-class fishing and hunting right outside your door. Learn about the Alaska native culture at the historic museum and discover Alaska's marine ecosystems at the impressive Sealife center. Seward also marks the beginning of the famous Iditarod Trail and in fact you can meet some of the champion dogs and little pups, as well as take a sled dog tour. Immerse yourself in the Alaskan wilderness and the serene beauty of this gorgeous little coastal town.
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Where to stay
Harbor 360 Hotel
This relaxed waterfront hotel boasts views of Resurrection Bay and the Kenai Mountains.
Orca Island Cabins
Camping meets glamour at this private island hotel, where guests stay in beautifully curated and equipped yurts. With nearby shoreline property in scenic Humpy Cove, you are just a water taxi ride away through Resurrection Bay, and kayaking, fishing, stand up paddle boarding and more are also included with your stay.
Seward Gateway Hotel
This contemporary hotel is conveniently located with access to the best of Seward, and is a perfect basecamp for visitors on their way to the breathtaking Kenai Fjords National Park.
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Day 1: Hit the Town
Enjoy the spectacular scenery on your drive from Anchorage on the Seward Highway, or take the scenic train ride from Anchorage as it winds in and out of the rugged coastline and backcountry wilderness. You should arrive late morning. Check into your accommodations and then hit the town. Main street is a special treat, while shopping on either side you can find all kinds of Alaskan art, souvenirs, and friendly salespeople who will have stories to tell. Alaskans love to tell stories! Stop in for ice cream at Sweet Darlings, wander down to the Ranting Raven, my favorite gift store, and shop for clothing at Urbachs, which has been a family business since 1916, run by 96 year old "sharp as a tack" Dorothy Urbach who arrives every morning for work when she's not fishing or traveling. There is a wonderful health food store, Frontier Trading Post, which is worth a peek for the organic coffee drinks and homemade soups. After scoping out the town walk down to the Sea Life Center, the only facility of its kind in Alaska, and discover close encounters with Salmon, Crab, all manner of Alaskan fish, Octopus, Sea Birds, Puffins, Sea Lions and Harbor Seals, and a touch tank which is sure to delight the little ones. You could easily spend a couple hours here as there are educational displays and events; it is a world class Marine Research Facility. They also have a wonderful gift shop. Dinner is at the highly rated Cookery which serves up fresh Alaskan Seafood. The oyster bar is a special treat!
Day 2: Choose your Hiking Adventure
Coffee in the morning at Resurrect Art Coffee House while perusing the local Art on the walls. Head to Lowell Point which is the end of the line, on a dirt road to the edge of town. Walk on the beach and beach comb. Watch for the many whales spouting as they play in the bay. If you are up to it take my favorite hike Tonsina Creek Trail which starts at Lowell Point. It is a 3.4 mile in and out trail that takes a couple hours to complete depending on how fast you hike and how long you stay out at Tonsina, admiring the open views of the bay. As an alternative you can do a much easier" in town" hike to 1st and 2nd lakes. Great for children, our little grandson loves it and calls a little area on the lake "Pirate Island." It is a gentle hike in the forest that leads to a calm little lake where locals swim in the summer. You will find Blueberries, Cranberries and other wild fruits along the many Alaskan trails in the long warm days of summer. There is so much time to enjoy Alaska in the summer as the sun hardly sets...
Other options are kayaking, renting bikes to ride around town, checking out the new library and museum, or walking around the harbor with its workboats and colorful sail boats. Enjoy dinner and a drink at Ray's Waterfront Restaurant, an upscale fine dining establishment at the harbor with lovely views of all the activity.
Day 3: Enter Exit Glacier
Today, grab breakfast at your hotel and head out to Exit Glacier for an amazing hike partly on boardwalks out to an active glacier that is a part of the famous Harding Ice Field. There is a visitor Center there also that is very educational and interesting. There are different trail loops to walk on and all are an easy to moderate hikes perfect for families. If you are very adventurous you might consider glacier hiking and climbing where you don crampons and navigate the extraordinary features of the ice field. After your adventure, stop at Seavey's Homestead to visit the Iditarod Dogs and learn about the race that 3 generations of the Seavys have participated in and won numerous times. Cuddle the puppies and then take a sled ride with a musher through the beautiful Alaskan wilderness. Dinner is at Exit Glacier Salmon Bake a hidden gem with its rustic decor and delicious food.
Day 4: Cruise the Kenai Fjord
Have breakfast at the Sea Bean Cafe downtown with its home cooked food and vegan options. Head to your 7.5 hour Kenai Fjord Cruise and be prepared to be wowed! This popular cruise explores the majestic KF National Park. See pods of Orcas and breaching humpback whales, wildlife, glaciers, and stunning scenery. Puffins (everyone's favorite) are a common sight, along with numerous other seabirds. A complimentary deli lunch is served. This will take up most of your day, but if you still have enough energy, you can take an evening stroll along the gorgeous waterfront pathway that starts at the harbor and goes along the water to the end of town. Another popular option in Seward is climbing Mount Marathon, famous for the fourth of July race which attracts runners from all over the United States. Dinner is at Chattermark Seafood Restaurant with its nautical decor and relaxed setting. It is a wonderful way to end the day located right on Main Street in downtown.
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This is part of our ongoing series on travel in Alaska.