The small Alaskan town of Seward is located along the bay, making it a prime location for whale watching, seafood sampling and surreal hiking. Here are a few of my favorite Seward activities.
When your first meal in Alaska is set to the contrast of a city-wide tsunami siren and a pink, glittering sunset over the bay, you know you’re in for a wild, Wanderlost adventure.
My Alaskan adventure began in Seward, Alaska, where my family and I had a rental car, a vague agenda and hours and hours of mountainous roads ahead. We opted for the car over cruise route because we need the freedom to explore on our own (can you tell I’m a product of my parents?).
Seward was a great way to start the trip because it’s close to the Anchorage Airport (127 miles), and it gives you a good taste of what’s to come on your Alaskan adventure: mountains, oceans, fishing boats, potential tsunamis, and lots and lots of Sockeye salmon.
With a population of 2,500, Seward is a small, charming fishing town built along the Kenai Peninsula Borough. It’s adjacent to the Kenai Fjords National Park, which offers stunning hikes and glacier views. Even within the city’s 21 square miles, you’ll find bike paths, shopping and aquatic adventures, making Seward a great stop for any nature-loving Wanderlost traveler.
If Seward is on your Alaska agenda, pencil in a stop at Exit Glacier. As part of the Harding Icefield, Exit Glacier is one of the easiest glaciers to access in Alaska. It offers a beautiful, marked trail to the top of the glacier, along with stunning stopping points along the way.
In addition to its breathtaking aesthetics, Exit Glacier is also a somber reminder of glacial recession due to climate change. Scientists are closely watching and monitoring this recession to keep tabs on the glacier’s future.
To note, if you plan to visit Alaska before July, Exit Glacier may be too snow-filled to climb to the top. We went in the middle of June, and were just a couple of weeks too early for the well-marked climbing path, which left us relying on the old “feel your way up” and “slide your way down” strategy instead.
With close proximity to the ocean, Seward offers a variety of whale watching tours. We opted for the smaller, more intimate fishing-style boat, but you can choose a larger yacht if you’d prefer.
This half-day whale watching tour took us close to dozens upon dozens of whales, but as the journey went along, we realized whale sightings were only part of the prize. We got some of the most immaculate, remote views of Alaskan nature.
I’m talking gigantic glaciers with sporadic ice caps breaking off and going kerplunk into the ocean, and striking, foggy mountains with pristine, glassy reflections mirrored on the water.
And, on some twists and turns, we even saw … wait for it … seals and puffins(!!) soaking up the sun. (Puffins. Seals. Puffins. Seals. Ahh! Cuteness overload!)
OK, OK, back to whale watching. (But, guys, PUFFINS!)
If you have half a day and some extra pocket change, definitely head out on a whale watching excursion. Tours start around $100 in Seward, and typically leave in the early morning to catch the whales during their most active times.
Know before you go
This may sound obvious, but Seward is cold, even in the summer months. I brought a fleece jacket and didn’t take it — or the sweatshirt underneath it — off the whole trip (except for sleeping and showering, I promise!).
The entire state of Alaska remains cool all summer, but if you’re staying along the shore in a town like Seward, the extra wind will have summer in Alaska feeling more like October on the east coast.
Obviously a trip to Alaska is worth the extra layers (didn’t you see they have puffins!) — my point here is to make sure you pack all the warm clothes you need!