Seward, Alaska is a scenic town flanked by rugged mountains on one side and the salmon-filled Resurrection Bay on the other. It's the only town on the eastern side of the Kenai Peninsula. With its incredible beauty, the rich fishing grounds of Resurrection Bay, access to the Kenai Fjords National Park with hundreds of tidewater glaciers and prolific marine and wildlife, you've got to love Seward. Voted an All-American City in 2005, Seward provides everything the Alaskan visitor is looking for - wildlife, glaciers and wilderness.
Although Seward does have a small airport, the majority of visitors reach Seward by rental car, bus line, cruise ship or via the Alaska Railroad. The Park Connection Alaska bus line offers two trips each day between Anchorage and Seward, with connecting service through to Talkeetna and Denali National Park. The Alaska Railroad also offers daily summer service between Anchorage and Seward, and many consider this segment to be the most scenic train trip in the state. The highway to Seward is a national scenic byway as well, so we recommend traveling one direction by rail and the other by bus. Seward is a main port for Gulf of Alaska cruises that travel to and from Vancouver, BC. Many cruise passengers never even spend one night in Seward, a definite mistake in our opinion.
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Seward was founded in 1903 when Alaska Railroad surveyors needed an ice-free port to serve as the ocean terminal for the rail line and Seward prospered as an important cargo and fishing port. Take a walking tour of town that includes a stroll by Millionaires Row, a group of houses built around 1905 by railroad officials and bankers who had just arrived in the newly created town.
Be sure to take a stroll around the Small Boat Harbor, picturesque and always a hub of activity centered on fishing boats, charter vessels and a large number of sailboats. Seward's harbor bustles with cruise ships, fishing charters and sailing opportunities. Wildlife cruises leave around the clock for Kenai Fjords National Park to look for whales, seals and sea lions.
Fishing charters are also a must for the avid angler as well as the novice. Halibut and salmon are the catch of Resurrection Bay and a range of options and operators are available to fit your schedule and expectations. Monster halibut weighing over 300 pounds are caught each year in nearby waters.
The 'Annual Seward Silver Salmon Derby' in Mid-August is one of the largest sportfishing events in Alaska with more than $100,000 in prizes.
The Mount Marathon Race is part of Seward's annual Fourth of July festivities. The race is to the top of Mount Marathon at 3,022 feet and back down, and has grown to draw competitors from all over. Thousands descend on Seward to celebrate and watch the race.
The Alaska SeaLife Center offers up-close viewing of marine mammals and sea birds. It is a seven-acre waterfront public aquarium that combines research facilities with wildlife rehabilitation and public education. View distinct habitats of marine birds, Steller sea lions, seals, fish and otters. Outdoors, step right to the edge of Resurrection Bay, teeming with Alaska marine wildlife. Injured, abandoned and orphaned animals are cared for with the end goal to return them back to the wild whenever possible.
Exit Glacier, part of Kenai Fjords National Park, is land accessible about 4 miles out of Seward. Exit Glacier Nature Center is open daily in the summer and offers interpretive programs, exhibits and information. There are several trails in the Exit Glacier area that afford excellent views of the ice and surrounding mountains. The Harding Icefield on Exit Glacier is a great place to explore.
Like many towns in Southcentral Alaska, Seward began a new era of history in 1964 after the Good Friday Earthquake caused fires and tidal waves that destroyed 90 percent of the town. The only reminder of the natural disaster is at the public library where the slide show covering the earthquake, 'Seward is Burning,' is shown. The town has completely rebuilt its fine Small Boat Harbor and waterfront facilities with a $10-million dock designed to be earthquake proof.
The Resurrection Bay Historical Museum features artifacts and photographs of the 1964 earthquake, the Russian era in Resurrection Bay and Seward's role in the Iditarod Trail. St. Peter's Episcopal Church, built in 1906, contains the famous mural of the Resurrection by Dutch artist Jan van Emple who used Alaskan models and the nearby bay as the backdrop.