#1: Alaska SeaLife Center
Alaska SeaLife Center is Seward’s top destination for visitors and Alaskans from all over the state. I have mentioned the Sea Life Center in other posts because it is a perennial favorite for so many people including my family.
Every year there are new marine mammals and other aquatic species in the aquariums. Since the Sea Life Center mission is education and rehabilitation, the center is a critical point of rescue for animals in need from around the state. The Sea Life Center releases rescued animals back into the wild whenever possible. Those that cannot survive in the wild become residents of the center, or they are placed in an appropriate facility. Last year they rescued a beluga whale calf. The whale survived but was unable to return to the wild, so it was placed in a zoo elsewhere. The resident seals and sea lions are some of the most popular animals for visitors. The specially designed aquariums make it possible to view sea life from outside or underwater. While many people can see marine mammals in the wild, it is not often that people have an opportunity to watch their graceful antics underwater.
Educating people about sea life in Alaska is an essential part of the Alaska SeaLife Center. The displays appeal to people of all ages. Salmon are an integral part of life for most Alaskans. Aquariums with salmon show the life cycle of the fish in different stages of growth as well a display identifying the five species of Pacific salmon. Touch tanks are very popular with the children who visit the center. The octopus tank is also a favorite. Our visit in May was exciting because we were lucky to see the newly hatched octopi. They were the size of an emoji.
While many visitors enjoy the fish and marine mammals, The SeaLife Center has a seabird aviary. Rescued birds from around Alaska populate the aviary. This is my favorite part of the Sea Life Center. I love watching the birds both above and below the water as they dive and swim deep into the aquarium below. The aviary is loud with bird calls. Visitors may walk right out into the aviary to view the birds up close without glass or wire barriers.
For more information about the Alaska SeaLife Center visit their website.
#2: Exit Glacier
Exit Glacier may be a quick, 10-minute drive from Seward, but the scenery is so beautiful. The white speckled mountains angle straight into the river below. Visitors will want to stop and enjoy the view. There are pullouts in the best places where people can take as much time as they like to photograph and take in the spectacular scenery.
Exit Glacier is part of the Harding Icefield. It is one of the smaller glaciers, but it has the distinction of being one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska. Exit Glacier and Mendenhall Glacier (near Juneau) are two glaciers that visitors can access from the road. Exit Glacier is a receding, valley glacier. It has receded well over 200 feet since 2013. This glacier received its name in 1968 by an expedition that crossed the Harding Icefield that concluded after descending the last glacier, “Exit Glacier” which they crossed before returning to Seward.
Exit Glacier is part of the Kenai Fjords National Park. While the glacier is accessible year-round, the visitor’s center is open only in the summer months. A short, easy trail leads directly to the glacier. During the summer, park rangers have programs and nature walks for visitors to join. The trail system is accessible in the winter. While the entrance road may be snowed in, people can still enjoy activities such as skiing, snow machining and dog mushing on the snow-covered trails in the park.
For more information visit:
#3: Kenai Fjords By Boat
Nothing says Seward like the ocean colliding with the mountains. The best way to see the beauty of the fjords is to get out on the water. Daily excursions are easy to schedule during the summer months.
While the scenery is spectacular when viewed from the water, watching the wildlife in their environment is thrilling from the deck of a boat. Whales, dolphins and other marine mammals are often sighted. Seabirds are frequently out fishing. Visitors should bring a good set of binoculars to get the most out of a boating excursion.
Kenai Fjords boating excursions are limited to the summer season. Time your trip to Seward with a trip out on the water. Be sure to check when the tours are operating if you are traveling in early summer or late fall. Viewing Kenai Fjords from the water is an unforgettable experience, but be sure to dress warm! The weather can be cold even in the summer.
Here are some places to get more information about Kenai Fjord boat site seeing trips.
#4: Mount Marathon Trails and the Mount Marathon Race
The hiking trails in the Seward vicinity will keep hikers of all levels busy. While short walks near town are fun, by far, the most popular is the trail that goes up Mount Marathon. If you happen to be in town during the 4th of July celebration, the Seward will swell beyond imagination for the annual Mount Marathon Race. This is an international event, and anything can happen. It is not a race for a newcomer! The trail has a host of hazards that range from the rugged terrain to poor weather conditions.
Even if you don’t participate in the Mount Marathon Race, watching it is also exciting. The pulse of town goes way up with the arrival of all the participants. Side events and special activities before and after the race keep everyone busy. Overall, Seward is a fun place to be for Independence Day, especially if you thrive with all the extra people and activities. Be sure to arrive early or make reservations far in advance, or you may be out of luck with a camping spot or a hotel stay.
For more information about the 4th of July Mount Marathon Race, you can go to their website.
#5: Charter Fishing and Other Water Activities
Charter fishing is huge in Alaska, especially during the summer. Nothing beats getting out on the water and catching salmon or halibut. Even if the fishing is slow, enjoying the sights from a boat is a top choice for visitors and residents that spend any time along coastal Alaska.
If the cost of a charter is out of range for a family, the next best thing is to bring along your kayaks or tow a boat. Many RVers arrive in Alaska with their own watercraft. While the marine weather in Seward is generally settled in the summer, it can change quickly. It is easy to stay informed with frequent updates on the local radio station or with a VHF radio.
Whichever way you get out on the water, be sure to file a float plan with somebody or the Coast Guard. While boating accidents are rare, the water temperatures and frequent weather changes make it especially important for people to get help right away.
If you love sailing, there is a small sailing organization where you can take lessons or possibly charter a boat. Sailing is another way to get out on the water and enjoy Seward.
Resources for Seward:
The official City of Seward website is a great resource. It includes the latest parking fees, season passes, as well as the most recent campground information. The city has a campground map that makes easy to get details for RV size and pull-through information. The website also has a community calendar of events to help time your arrival for a special event.
Coming Soon… a Seward Youtube video…
writes for Iris Blume Publishing. She is an Alaskan who has a love for traveling and writing. Join her as she rediscovers and shares her home state.
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