The best Tourist Attractions in Seward, Alaska

The best Tourist Attractions in Seward, Alaska

The best Tourist Attractions in Seward, Alaska

The famous Iditarod dogsled race to Nome starts in Anchorage each year, but the real beginning of the original trail was in Seward on the waterfront at 4th Avenue and Railway, to be exact (look for the Mile 0 marker). The Iditarod Trail was blazed in 1908 so gold prospectors could haul supplies in dogsleds north to the mines around Nome. The lucky ones mushed their dogs back to Seward’s port with sleds full of the precious metal, sometimes millions of dollars worth at one time.

Today Seward (pop. about 3,000) is known as the headquarters of the Kenai Fjords National Park and as a busy shipping and fishing community. The town has two separate business districts. the Small Boat Harbor and downtown, which is several blocks south of the harbor. The streets are easy to negotiate, as they’re laid out in a neat grid (Seward is said to be the only planned community in Alaska).

If you didn’t pick up a walking-tour map at the dock, you might want to drop by the Seward Chamber of Commerce in the old rail car downtown at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Jefferson.

1. The best Attractions & Things to Do in Haines, Alaska

1. The best Attractions & Things to Do in Haines, Alaska

The town’s newest attraction is the Alaska SeaLife Center, downtown at the corner of 4th and Railway. This haven for sick and injured marine animals is funded by Exxon Corporation as reparation for the Exxon Valdez oil spill. 

Resurrection Bay Historical Society Museum in Seward, Alaska

Across the street from the old rail car, down 3rd Avenue, is the Resurrection Bay Historical Society Museum. Besides an excellent collection of Native baskets from around the state, the museum has gold-rush memorabilia and artifacts from the 1780s when Russians had a shipyard at Resurrection Bay.  But what stands out is the photo collection from the 1964 "Good Friday Earthquake": the strongest earthquake ever recorded in North America, which shook the Alaskan coast and destroyed the Seaward waterfront.

Millionaire’s Row in Seward, Alaska

If you follow 3rd Avenue north, you can’t miss Millionaire’s Row, a string of elegant private homes built in the early 1900s by officials of the Alaska Central Railroad. The home of Frank Ballaine is there his brother was John Ballaine, founder of both Seward and the railroad.

Brown & Hawkins in Seward, Alaska

Over on the 200 block of 4th Avenue is Brown & Hawkins, a general store that dates back to 1904 and is listed on the National Historic Register. 

Kenai Fjords National Park  in Seward, Alaska

Clustered around the Small Boat Harbor north of downtown are restaurants, gift shops, tour companies and the Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center (1212 4th Ave.). We like to stroll around the harbor and see how many different kinds of boats are tied up there: In one day, we’ve spotted commercial fishing craft, charter fishing boats, sailboats, sightseeing boats, research vessels, and Coast Guard cutters.

Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward, Alaska (1)

If you’ve got wheels, the place to go is Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. Take the Seward Highway north out of the city and turn left on the designated route at Mile 3.7. Follow the route for about 9 miles /14 km to Ranger Station. Rangers lead nature walks from. Don’t get too close to the glacier, and don’t venture onto the icefield unless you’re properly equipped and have had experience hiking on glaciers.

Two Lakes trail starts behind in Seward, Alaska

Even if you’re car-less, you can still get out in the wilds: There are several accessible hikes from town. The Two Lakes trail starts behind the AVTEC building at 2nd and B, and continues for a mile around the base of Mt. Marathon, showing off Resurrection Bay and the harbor area. If you’re ambitious, you can try the progressively steep climb to the top of Mt. Marathon. The trailhead is marked at the western end of Jefferson Street.

Lowell Point Road in Seward, Alaska

You can also walk the Lowell Point Road south of town along the shore of Resurrection Bay toward Caines Head State Park. North of town, there’s a series of Chugach National Forest trails leading away from the Seward Highway, ranging in length and difficulty from gentle woodland walks to strenuous mountainside climbs.