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boats in the harbor at Seward
Seward harbor beckons adventures on the sea in boats large and small.

Seward is Gonna Get You: 7 Epic Adventures with Kids

Nestled among glacier carved fjords, Seward abounds in wildlife and scenery. So what initially was just a cruise embarkation port easily became the favorite stop of our two week Alaskan Adventure!

1. Rolling in on the Coastal Classic

While previous trains have been a total bust for our family, the Coastal Classic on the Alaska Railroad far surpassed our expectations. The bus offered cheaper and faster travel, but the railroad’s path diverges profoundly from the highway. In fact, two of the glaciers along the route can only be seen from the rails! During the four hour ride, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast, stunning views from the glass top car and even hung out on the open back of the train.

2. Visiting Kenai Fjords National Park

One of the most easily accessed National Parks in Alaska, Kenai Fjords protects glacial peaks and marine ecosystems. Bummed to find the Visitor Center (which looks super cool) only opens Memorial to Labor day, we enjoyed the winding drive up to Exit Glacier. Still covered in snow, the Glacier View trail leisurely led us to the stunning ice carved valley. Signs along the path denoted the historic reach of the icy mass. Had two family members been fully recovered from leg injuries we would have continued to the Glacier Overlook. Until next time I’ll pine over pics on the internet:)

3. Catching our own taste of Alaska

No Alaskan trip is complete to an outdoorsman without casting some reels. With plans to fully explore each port town on our cruise, we arrived in Seward early to spend a whole day on the water with The Fish House Charters. As a cool bonus, we actually fished the waters just off the Kenai Fjords National Park. This filled our trip with stunning scenery, glacial guest appearances and tons of extra wildlife like sea lions and an orca!

Initially worried that our family wouldn’t enjoy the venture, I’m proud to say we are now an ocean fishing family. With each fish reeled up, the captain taught us about the species and rules for keeping them. Each family member got 2 halibut, 3 rockfish and 3 cod and threw back lots of sharks, flounder and even a skate. During our scenic return ride with puffins and otters the crew cleaned and filleted our fish. Then Captain Jack’s Seafood Locker packed and held our 61lb bounty for a week and shipped it to our house when we were done with our cruise!

Side Note: Getting around Seward

Greeted at the train station by our amazingly friendly driver from Windsong Lodge, we hopped on the hotel’s bus for a tour of town and a map. Running to hourly from 7am to 11pm, the lodge’s shuttle made hotel transport effortless. At roughly a mile long, locals tout Seward as considered “walkable”. But the town’s free shuttle and an afternoon Turo rental definitely enhanced our sightseeing experience.

seward shuttle stop map
Map of Seward Free Shuttle Stops

4. Checking out the sights

Although the northern part of Seward is dotted with some lovely murals, it really caters to train and cruise passengers with restaurants and tour operators. However, historic Fourth Street on the southern end is lined lovely buildings full of shops and restaurants leading to founders point at the coast. Along with multiple memorial statues, the point houses the original train depot and best meal we found in town at Primrose Cafe.

Iditarod Mile 0 Marker at Founders Point in Seward

Science Alert: 1964 Fire Tsunami

Initially impressed by the ample greenspace along the bay, we learned it is sparsely developed for a reason. On Good Friday 1964, the worst earthquake in US history demolished Seward’s productive waterfront. With a 9.2 magnitude, the initial shock swallowed the dock laden shoreline and covered the bay in flaming fuel from damaged tanks. Then, a 25ft tsunami thrust the fire wave almost a mile into the town. Pummeled by aftershocks and smaller tsunamis for days, the event destroyed the highway, railroad and most structures in town. Seward never recovered its industrial glory shifting instead to a quant tourist town.

seward seawall
Once lined with bustling docks, the Seward seawall protects parks after the tsunami.

5. Exploring the outskirts

Never close to trees without taking a wander, we first ventured to Two Lakes park in town. With a sweet little waterfall and rainforest vibes, the easy stroll took us along the high water mark of the aforementioned Tsunami. Up next we found manmade Lowell Creek Waterfall which funnels glacial meltwater into Resurrection Bay without washing out the roads. As a bonus, playful otters and a chatty bald eagle greeted us along the beach!

6. Getting personal with Alaskan Sea Life

Having seen everything on our list with a half day to kill before we boarded the cruise, we broke down and sprung for the Alaska SeaLife Center. Running $30a/$20c it was a pricey hour, but a fantastically informative respite from the rainy May day. The renowned puffin exhibit didn’t disappoint. The colorful birds were in the heart of mating season; diving, dancing and calling like middle schoolers switching classes. Definitely the cleanest aquarium we’ve ever visited, we didn’t question getting a finger hug from a sea urchin or running our hands through the anemones at the touch pool.

So cool to be up close with Puffins in Seward

7. Hopping on a Cruise

While the kids enjoyed our time in Anchorage, Denali and Seward, their eyes almost fell out of their heads when they saw our ship. With a 60% off second adult and kids sail free, our 7 days aboard Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas proved to be our most cost effective leg of the trip. The efficient cruise terminal and helpful staff made our boarding a breeze. And everything from the food to entertainment, kids activities to spacious room made our adventure feel like a vacation too!

Huge smiles as we board our ship in Seward

Missed Opportunities

Since we were embarking on a cruise, there were a few things we opted out of in Seward that we might have done in a different adventure:

  • Ididaride Sled Dog Tours: At $190a/$95c this felt like a super pricey 6 hours. After considering Turo rental, lunch price and hours of sightseeing research, an afternoon with a 5 time Iditarod winner and puppy snuggles would have been worth it.
  • Whale watching: Although we saw tons of wildlife on our fishing charter, a targeted wildlife cruise through the National Park would have been great too. Windsong lodge offered a great discount for booking both!
kenai lake
Stunning glacial blue waters of Kenai Lake outside Seward, Alaska.

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