Nestled at the edge of the spectacular Resurrection Bay on the picturesque Kenai Peninsula, Seward, Alaska, enchants visitors with its intriguing past, unparalleled natural charm, and a plethora of thrilling outdoor pursuits. This delightful coastal town, steeped in captivating history and adorned with awe-inspiring landscapes, honors William H. Seward, the United States Secretary of State who played a pivotal role in acquiring Alaska from Russia in 1867. Seward offers an exceptional and quintessentially Alaskan experience that caters to adventure-seekers, nature aficionados, and history buffs.
Encircled by soaring mountains, lush woodlands, and pristine waters, Seward’s idyllic setting provides a sanctuary for those yearning to explore the wonders of the Last Frontier. The region’s striking vistas and assorted wildlife have mesmerized generations of travelers, fostering a profound appreciation for the beauty and power of the natural world.
Positioned as the entrance to the breathtaking Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward allows unmatched access to the extraordinary fjords, marine glaciers, and flourishing aquatic life that define this remarkable part of the globe. The town also functions as a hub for a wide range of outdoor activities, including trekking, paddling, angling, observing wildlife, dog sledding, and glacier excursions, guaranteeing that heart-pumping experiences are always within reach.
Seward’s rich heritage is inextricably linked to the broader narrative of Alaska, from its early days as a trading outpost and maritime port to its vital contribution to the Alaska Railroad’s development. The town’s historic downtown area, replete with charming boutiques and local landmarks, offers a portal into the past while also featuring a delightful mix of modern retail outlets, art galleries, and culinary establishments.
With its enthralling combination of historical significance, natural marvels, and adrenaline-pumping recreational activities, Seward, Alaska, attracts globetrotters from all corners, promising a one-of-a-kind Alaskan adventure that leaves an indelible impression and a longing to return to this magnificent destination.
Seward is the gateway to the magnificent Kenai Fjords National Park, home to incredible glaciers, fjords, and diverse wildlife. Embark on a boat tour to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the park’s tidewater glaciers, such as Holgate Glacier and Aialik Glacier, as they calve huge chunks of ice into the ocean. Keep your eyes peeled for marine life, including whales, seals, sea otters, and an array of seabirds.
For a more up-close experience, opt for a guided kayak tour, which allows you to navigate the park’s pristine waters and get closer to its wildlife and glaciers.
Seward, Alaska, nestled along the picturesque Kenai Peninsula, promises visitors an unforgettable mix of natural splendor, rich history, and thrilling outdoor adventures. As the gateway to the awe-inspiring Kenai Fjords National Park and a treasure trove of local heritage, Seward is a destination that will captivate your imagination. Here’s an in-depth guide to help you plan your trip to Seward, encompassing transportation options such as the Alaska Railroad and the Alaska Marine Highway System, along with cruise ship information.
Several methods are available to get to Seward, depending on your preferences and starting point:
With its breathtaking natural beauty, intriguing history, and welcoming atmosphere, Seward, Alaska, is a destination that offers a diverse array of experiences for every traveler. Whether you choose to arrive by car, Alaska Railroad, the Alaska Marine Highway System, or as part of a cruise, you’ll be captivated by the town’s enchanting allure.
Remember to plan your trip well in advance, as accommodations and transportation can fill up quickly, especially during the peak tourist season from May to September. Embark on your journey to Seward and create lasting memories in this magical Alaskan retreat.
Seward, Alaska has a rich and storied past that dates back thousands of years to the indigenous peoples who first inhabited the region. This coastal gem has undergone numerous transformations, from a trading outpost and maritime port to a crucial player in the Alaska Railroad’s development. Let’s explore the fascinating history of Seward, Alaska, and uncover the events and personalities that have shaped this picturesque town.
Long before European explorers arrived in Alaska, the area surrounding present-day Seward was inhabited by the Alutiiq people. The indigenous tribes of the region lived off the abundant resources provided by the land and sea, hunting and fishing to sustain their communities.
In the 18th century, Russian explorers and fur traders ventured into the area, establishing a presence along the Alaskan coast. The Russian-American Company, led by Alexander Baranov, set up trading posts to capitalize on the lucrative fur trade. However, by the mid-19th century, Russia’s interest in Alaska began to wane due to financial difficulties and the country’s inability to defend its vast North American territory.
In 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, a deal known as the Alaska Purchase. This acquisition proved to be a strategic and economic boon for the United States, as the territory was rich in natural resources, including gold, timber, and fish. The town of Seward was later named in honor of William H. Seward for his role in this historic transaction.
Seward was officially founded in 1903 by the Ballaine brothers, who had acquired a significant portion of land in the area. The town’s strategic location on the ice-free Resurrection Bay made it an ideal site for a deep-water port, and it soon became an important maritime hub for shipping and trading. The Ballaine brothers also played a critical role in the construction of the Alaska Central Railway, which would eventually become the Alaska Railroad, connecting Seward to the rest of the state and facilitating the transportation of goods and people.
The Alaska Railroad’s completion in 1923 had a profound impact on Seward’s economy and growth. The town became a vital transportation hub, with the railroad serving as a vital link between Alaska’s interior and the coast. Industries such as fishing, timber, and mining flourished in the region, and Seward’s population grew as people flocked to the area in search of opportunity.
On March 27, 1964, at 5:36 PM, Alaska experienced the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America. The Great Alaskan Earthquake, also known as the Good Friday Earthquake, registered a staggering magnitude of 9.2 and lasted for nearly five minutes. The earthquake’s epicenter was located approximately 75 miles east of Anchorage, but its effects were felt throughout the state, with the coastal town of Seward among the hardest hit. This is a detailed account of the devastation caused by the earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Seward, Alaska, and the community’s remarkable resilience in the face of adversity.
When the chaos finally subsided, Seward was left with a landscape of devastation. The tsunami had destroyed much of the town’s waterfront, while the fires had razed entire neighborhoods. In total, 12 people lost their lives in Seward during the earthquake and tsunami, and many more were left injured or homeless.
In the days following the disaster, emergency responders and volunteers from across Alaska and the United States arrived in Seward to assist with rescue efforts, provide medical care, and distribute supplies. The town’s residents, faced with the monumental task of rebuilding their community, displayed incredible resilience and determination.
In the months and years following the 1964 earthquake and tsunami, Seward embarked on a remarkable journey of recovery and reconstruction. The town received federal and state aid to rebuild its infrastructure, including the construction of a new harbor, rail facilities, and a protective breakwater. In addition, new residential areas were developed on higher ground to minimize the risk of future tsunamis.
The rebuilding process not only restored the town’s physical infrastructure but also allowed Seward to reimagine itself as a center for tourism, research, and education. The establishment of the Alaska SeaLife Center, a world-class marine research and education facility, and the continued growth of the tourism industry have played significant roles in Seward’s ongoing recovery and economic development.
The 1964 earthquake and tsunami left an indelible mark on the town of Seward, Alaska, but it also revealed the extraordinary resilience and spirit of its residents. Through determination and hard work, the community came together to rebuild their town and forge a new future for Seward. Today, the town stands as a testament to the strength and resolve of its people, who persevered in the face of unimaginable adversity.
In the decades since the earthquake, Seward has continued to grow and evolve. The town has embraced its natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities, becoming a popular tourist destination and gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park. Its rich history remains an integral part of its identity, with events such as the annual Mount Marathon Race, which dates back to 1915, and historical sites like the Alaska SeaLife Center and Seward Community Library & Museum serving as reminders of the town’s storied past.
As we explore the history of Seward, Alaska, we gain a deeper understanding of the events and people that have shaped this enchanting coastal town. From its humble beginnings as a trading outpost to its vital role in Alaska’s transportation network, Seward’s rich heritage continues to influence its present and future.
Discover the excitement of dog sledding with a summer mushing tour. Visit a local kennel where you can meet the energetic sled dogs and learn about their care and training. Then, embark on a thrilling dog sled ride through the surrounding Alaskan wilderness. Some tour operators even offer helicopter rides to a glacier where you can experience dog sledding on snow.
Seward Waterfront Park is a beautiful recreational area along the shoreline of Resurrection Bay. The park features a walking path with stunning views, picnic areas, playgrounds, and a campground. It’s an ideal spot to relax, enjoy a picnic, or take a leisurely stroll while watching for wildlife like sea otters and bald eagles.
Head to Tonsina Point on the Lowell Point Trail for an opportunity to spot various bird species, including bald eagles, black-legged kittiwakes, and marbled murrelets. The trail takes you through lush rainforest and along the scenic coastline, culminating at Tonsina Creek, where you can witness the annual salmon migration.
The Caines Head State Recreation Area is a haven for hikers and history buffs. Embark on a trek to the remnants of Fort McGilvray, a World War II coastal defense installation. The hike offers stunning views of Resurrection Bay and the chance to explore the area’s military history. Be sure to check the tide schedule before attempting the hike, as portions of the trail may be inaccessible during high tide.
Seward is renowned for its lively Fourth of July celebration. The festivities include a parade, live music, food vendors, and fireworks. The town’s spirited atmosphere attracts visitors from all over Alaska, making it a memorable experience for all.
Ididaride Sled Dog Tours offers a unique opportunity to learn about the history and culture of dog sledding in Alaska. Visit an authentic dog mushing camp, meet the sled dogs, and take a ride on a wheeled sled through the beautiful Alaskan wilderness. The tour also includes a chance to meet the puppies and learn about the future sled dog athletes.
No matter your interests, Seward, Alaska, offers a range of activities and attractions that showcase the town’s natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant community. From exploring the wonders of Kenai Fjords National Park to immersing yourself in the local culture, you’re sure to find something that captures your imagination in this charming coastal town.
Take to the skies on a flightseeing tour for a bird’s-eye view of the majestic landscapes surrounding Seward. Soar over the Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Resurrection Bay while marveling at the glaciers, snow-capped peaks, and rugged coastline below. Some tour operators also offer glacier landings, giving you the chance to set foot on these ancient ice formations.
The Chugach National Forest is a vast and diverse wilderness area that offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Hike the popular Ptarmigan Lake Trail to reach an alpine lake surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, or try your hand at salmon fishing in the Russian River.
The Seward Marine Industrial Center is a hub for commercial fishing and marine research activities. Take a tour of the facility to learn about the local fishing industry, marine research projects, and the center’s role in supporting Seward’s maritime economy.
Indulge in the fresh seafood and local flavors of Seward’s diverse culinary scene. From casual cafes to fine dining establishments, you’ll find a range of eateries to suit your tastes. Some local favorites include The Cookery, known for its creative Alaskan cuisine, and Chinooks Waterfront Restaurant, which offers fresh seafood dishes and stunning bay views.
Seward’s prime coastal location makes it an excellent spot for whale watching. During the summer months, you can spot humpback whales, orcas, gray whales, and even beluga whales in the waters of Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park. Join a whale watching tour for the best chance to see these magnificent creatures up close.
If you’re visiting Seward in August, consider participating in the Seward Silver Salmon Derby, one of the oldest and largest fishing derbies in Alaska. Anglers from all over the world flock to Seward to compete for cash prizes and bragging rights while helping to support local fisheries management and conservation efforts.
With its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and diverse recreational opportunities, Seward, Alaska, offers a wealth of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure, wildlife encounters, or a taste of local culture, you’re sure to find something to inspire and delight you in this captivating coastal town.
The Lost Lake Trail is a popular hiking and mountain biking destination in the Chugach National Forest, offering a challenging yet rewarding trek. The trail takes you through dense forests, past cascading waterfalls, and up to the stunning alpine Lost Lake. The trail is about 15 miles round-trip, but the views and wildflower-filled meadows make it well worth the effort.
Learn about Seward’s fascinating past at the Resurrection Bay Historical Society, located within the Seward Community Library & Museum. The society is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of Seward and Resurrection Bay, offering exhibits, artifacts, and photographs that showcase the area’s rich heritage.
Two Lakes Park is a peaceful, picturesque park located in the heart of Seward. This serene spot features two small lakes, perfect for a leisurely paddle in a canoe or kayak. The park also offers walking paths, picnic facilities, and a playground, making it an ideal destination for a relaxing afternoon with family or friends.
Unwind after a day of exploring with a visit to a local brewery. Seward Brewing Company is a popular spot in town, offering a range of handcrafted beers brewed on-site. Enjoy a pint in their cozy taproom, or sample a flight to taste a variety of their unique brews.
Capture the beauty of Seward and its surrounding landscapes with a guided wildlife and photography tour. Expert guides will lead you to prime locations for spotting wildlife, such as bears, moose, and eagles, while offering tips and techniques to help you capture stunning photos of the area’s natural wonders.
If you’re visiting Seward during the first weekend of the month, be sure to check out the First Friday Art Walks. Local galleries, shops, and restaurants showcase the work of Alaskan artists, offering a festive and cultural atmosphere throughout the downtown area.
Seward, Alaska, is a treasure trove of adventure, natural beauty, and unique experiences. From exploring the dramatic landscapes of Kenai Fjords National Park to delving into the town’s rich history and vibrant arts scene, there’s truly something for everyone in this charming coastal destination.
Experience the Alaskan wilderness from a different perspective with Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures. This thrilling zipline tour takes you through the lush rainforest and over pristine creeks, providing an exhilarating and unique view of the area’s natural beauty. The tour includes eight ziplines, three suspension bridges, and two rappels, making it an unforgettable adventure.
The Seward Community Garden & Art Park is a lovely green space in the heart of Seward, featuring community garden plots, sculptures, and murals created by local artists. This vibrant park is a wonderful place to relax, enjoy the colorful artwork, and learn about the local gardening initiatives that contribute to the community’s well-being.
Seward’s Small Boat Harbor is not only a hub for marine excursions but also a great place to stroll and soak in the atmosphere. Walk along the waterfront, watch fishing boats come and go, and observe the bustling harbor activity. The area is also home to several restaurants and shops, making it a great spot for a leisurely exploration.
For those seeking a more adventurous experience, Seward offers excellent rock climbing opportunities. The nearby Exit Glacier area, in particular, has numerous climbing routes suited for various skill levels. Local guiding companies, such as Exit Glacier Guides, offer rock climbing excursions and instruction led by experienced guides.
Located at the Seward Waterfront Park, the Seward Tsunami Memorial commemorates the lives lost during the devastating 1964 earthquake and tsunami. The memorial features a series of interpretive panels that detail the events of that tragic day and the impact on the community. The memorial serves as a poignant reminder of the power of nature and the resilience of the people of Seward.
Seward, Alaska, is a picturesque coastal town that boasts a rich cultural scene, with numerous art galleries showcasing the work of local and Alaskan artists. These galleries highlight the region’s unique artistic talent and offer visitors a chance to bring home one-of-a-kind pieces, handcrafted gifts, and souvenirs that capture the essence of Seward’s culture and natural beauty.
Ranting Raven Gallery is a prominent art gallery in Seward, featuring an eclectic collection of Alaskan art, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and pottery. This family-owned gallery is dedicated to promoting local artists and showcasing the diverse range of talent within the community. As you explore the gallery, you’ll find an array of unique items, such as handcrafted jewelry, wood carvings, and glassworks, that make perfect gifts or mementos of your time in Seward.
Another must-visit destination for art enthusiasts is the Resurrect Art Coffee House and Gallery, a charming combination of an art gallery and a coffee house. Housed in a historic church, Resurrect Art showcases a rotating selection of artwork, including paintings, photography, sculptures, and mixed media pieces, created by talented Alaskan artists. In addition to enjoying the captivating art, visitors can savor delicious coffee and baked goods while appreciating the gallery’s cozy atmosphere and friendly staff.
In addition to these prominent galleries, Seward is home to several other art venues and events that celebrate the local arts scene. Be sure to explore the town’s many boutique shops, which often feature handmade crafts and locally made products. Additionally, keep an eye out for seasonal art events, such as the annual Seward Music and Arts Festival, which showcases local artists, musicians, and performers in a lively celebration of creativity.
With its stunning natural beauty, fascinating history, and vibrant arts scene, Seward, Alaska, offers an unforgettable experience for travelers of all interests. Whether you prefer outdoor adventures, delving into local history, or immersing yourself in the world of art, you’ll find a wealth of experiences to enjoy in this enchanting coastal town.
This eatery offers grilled salmon dinners served with soup, coleslaw, rice pilaf, and bread. The menu includes options for vegetarians too. A great spot to enjoy local seafood while taking in beautiful views of the mountains and harbor.
Address: Mile 0.5 Sterling Hwy, Seward, AK 99664
For delicious barbecue cuisine, head to Smoked & Grilled. Menu items include pulled pork sandwiches, slow-smoked ribs, meatloaf, and grilled salmon platters. All sides are made fresh daily including potato salad, macaroni salads, baked beans, slaws etc. Check out their reviews online which describe the food as juicy, tender, and flavorful.. A cozy family-owned establishment perfect for lunch or dinner
Address: 408 Third Avenue Seward, AK 99664
Phone: +1 (907)-224-4866
If you want a waterfront view along with upscale American fare, then give Harbor Restaurant a try. Enjoy dishes such as shrimp scampi, jambalaya, burgers, steaks, fish tacos and other seafood options. The dining area features large windows providing breathtaking panoramic views of the Kenai Fjords and Resurrection Bay
Address: 417 Second Ave, Seward, AK 99664
Phone:+1 (800) 478-0978
Warm and inviting atmosphere, serving breakfast and lunch specialties along with a variety of coffee drinks. Try one of their popular burgers or wraps, homemade soups and sandwiches along with smoothie bowls, milkshakes, etc. Open only till 3PM but worth checking out for quick bites during exploring downtown Seward
Address: 405 Fourth Ave Seward, AK 99664
Recommended by locals and travellers alike for its laid back ambiance, scenic setting and excellent menu. One of Seward’s most popular establishments serves premium pub-style grub like burgers, hot wings, flatbread pizzas, clam strips, crab legs, halibut and king salmon etc. Visitors who love seafood won’t be disappoi
For barbeque enthusiasts, Dinos offers both indoor and outdoor seating, featuring Alaskan wild game and traditional smoked meats cooked low and slow. Options include reindeer sausage, black bear ribs, caribou chops, buffalo burgers, and elk brisket sandwiches among others. Located less than five miles outside of Seward.
Phone: +1 (907) 224-5717
For those looking for unique culinary experiences, check out Liquid Sunshine Food Truck, where gastronomy meets creativity. They feature locally sourced ingredients and bold spices for fusion dishes that redefine comfort food. Meat lovers might appreciate their pulled pork queso burrito or bacon jam grilled cheese sandwich. Vegetarian options also available!
Another fantastic choice for seafood lovers! Happy Halibuts Cafe offers sustainable and responsibly-caught Alaskan seafood in various forms ranging from classic plates such as shrimp scampi, fried cod, or fish & chips. Healthier alternatives include miso glazed salmon, sesame seed crusted salmon, salmon cakes, or smoked salmon tacos. Also, don’t forget about the option for build-your-own poke bowl!
Phone: +1 (907) 422-2699
Indulge in fresh caught Alaskan seafood from a company dedicated solely to high-quality processing and distribution of sustainably managed resources. Stop in for freshly smoked products, live or frozen shellfish, filleted fish packaged for travel, and grab n go snacks and meals such as smoked salmon dip, salmon spread, caviar tins, and prawn crackers. An essential stop when leaving town after a trip!
Phone: +1 (907) 422-3130
If you prefer rustic charm, this cozy lodge is nestled in the foothills near the Harding Icefield Trailhead. Accommodations range from private rooms to shared bunkrooms perfect for families or groups. Enjoy delicious home-cooked meals, guided hikes through the national park, and stunning mountain views. Onsite activities may vary depending on seasonality, but all guests can access complimentary hot water and showers year-round.
If a modern boutique experience appeals to you, consider staying at Hotel Seward Harborview which offers well-appointed guest rooms complete with upscale amenities. Centrally located within walking distance of local restaurants, shopping venues, and harbor attractions. Many rooms offer balconies or patios with marina or mountain vistas that make for beautiful photographic memories. This family-owned establishment has received Certificates of Excellence from TripAdvisor multiple times since opening in 2013.
Those seeking budget-friendly lodging might prefer Breeze Inn Motel, offering clean and comfortable rooms right off the Sterling Highway. Although lacking frilly extras found in higher end properties, they do provide cable TV, private baths, free Wi-Fi, and outdoor parking for vehicles or bicycles. Nearby eateries and services can easily supplement basic necessities.
A unique resort located on Fox Island, one hour away by ferry from Seward. Experience wildlife viewing opportunities without leaving property boundaries while enjoying luxurious amenities, fine dining inspired by locally sourced ingredients, nature walks, kayaking adventures, fly-fishing excursions, beach bonfire gatherings, marine transportation services, and more. Private cabins feature oceanfront porches for observing whales, puffins, and other native fauna.
For those who love the authentic feel of staying in converted rail cars, Salty Dawg Lodge fits the bill with nostalgia infused into each room while maintaining modern amenities like flat screen televisions, coffee makers, and en suite facilities. Guests have access to a large communal area where homemade cookies and ice cream treats await daily during peak summer months. Easy walking distance to downtown Seward’s shopping, dining, and sightseeing attractions makes this quirky lodging an excellent value.
For couples desiring an intimate, adults-only retreat with sweeping panoramas overlooking Resurrection Bay, Water’s Edge Resort should be top pick. Each room features a wood burning fireplace and jetted tub suitable for relaxing moments after days spent engaging in outdoor pursuits. Convenient trails lead directly from the property for easy access to hiking, jogging, or snowshoeing in th
A unique option ideal for families wishing to immerse themselves in Alaskan wilderness while also embracing comforts. Travel aboard customized buses equipped with sleeping berths and convertible seating areas perfect for group activities or reading. The journey to scenic campsites brings encounters with diverse landscapes, glaciers, mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, streams, flora, fauna, and marine life while learning about local history from experienced guides. Evening campfires add to unforgettable experiences.
An upscale boutique bed & breakfast surrounded by lush gardens and breathtaking vistas across Resurrection Bay. Relax under sun-kissed skies while listening to nearby birds chirping on your own private deck or patio. Choose between cozy rooms, suites, or lofts adorned with artwork showcasing Alaskan themes while indulging in decadent signature breakfasts made fresh daily using organic products sourced from local farms. Enjoy evening refreshments around the fire pit on the lower deck gazebo or take advantage of complimentary cruise tickets (available May-September).