Alaska Excursions

Alaska Excursions

A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.

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Photos and stories from the last great race.

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Seward

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City by the sea offers wildlife viewing and more

Seward is certainly one of the more accessible Alaskan communities, located just a few hours’ drive from Anchorage. But you can also get there by boat, air and even train if you want. No matter how you choose to make your way to the edge of Resurrection Bay, you won’t be disappointed. This city-by-the-sea offers everything from world-class wildlife viewing to a chance to reach out and touch a glacier.

Seward is also awash in Alaska history, starting with its early days as an access point to the rest of the state. Resurrection Bay, upon which Seward sits, was discovered early as a crucial ice-free refuge for explorers. Shortly after its founding at the turn of the century, Seward earned its spot on the map as Mile 0 of the Iditarod Trail, which was developed as a trail to early gold deposits in Interior Alaska. Later, Seward’s history books were further colored by the devastating impacts of the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake and subsequent tsunami. All told, Seward holds hundreds of years of history among its winding streets.

Today, the town is a bustling destination for visitors of all persuasions. Outdoor opportunities range from the challenging Mount Marathon race on the Fourth of July to a comfortable ramble up to the base of Exit Glacier just outside of town. The Alaska SeaLife Center brings the animals of Alaska eye-to-eye with visitors, while those looking for an experience on the water will have opportunities that range from charter boat fishing for salmon and halibut to tours of the area’s spectacular fjords. Add to that trails and kayak tours and Seward offers the quintessential Alaska experience.

Galleries, gift shops and restaurants fill out the Seward visitor’s experience, with most comforts of home available in this town of some 3,000. Read on for some of the events and attraction highlights found in this dynamic community.

ALASKA SEALIFE CENTER
The center serves as a marine research center and an educational institution with 55,000 square feet of exhibit space where visitors can observe live animals ranging from a 2,000-pound Steller sea lion to the missile-like diving puffins.
Where: 301 Railway Ave.
When: Summer hours (May 11-Sept. 16) 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Fridays-Sundays; winter hours (Sept. 17-May 10) 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
Cost: $20 adults, $15 children ages 12-17, $10 children ages 4-11; family and group discounts
Phone: 907-224-6300, 888-224-2525
Web: www.alaskasealife.org

KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK
Arguably the greatest asset of the Seward area is its natural surroundings, with fjords diving into calving glaciers, coves and beaches prime for the discovering and mountains soaring into the sky. One of the more accessible features of the park is Exit Glacier, located at Mile 8.6 of the Herman Leirer/Exit Glacier Road. There, you can take an easy stroll to views of the glacier, or launch a longer hike on the Harding Icefield Trail. The Exit Glacier Nature Center is open daily 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day with daily ranger programs. The park also has extensive coastline accessible by tour boats and kayak expedition companies. Public-use cabins are available for a fee in the park, and Exit Glacier has a 12-site walk-in tent campground.
Where: Outside Seward
When: Open daily year-round; Exit Glacier Road closed to cars in winter but open to skis, snowshoes, snowmachines and dogsleds
Cost: Free; tours have a range of prices
Phone: 907-422-0500
Web: www.nps.gov/kefj

SEWARD INFORMATION CENTER, KENAI FJORDS
Located near the small boat harbor, this information center has interpretive displays of the Kenai Fjords National Park as well as maps, brochures and publications. Videos area available on request.
Where: 1212 Fourth Ave.
When: 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, Memorial Day-Labor Day; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. rest of year
Phone: 907-224-7500

Seward Community Library Museum
The Seward Community Library Museum is a great place to get a sense of one of Alaska’s earliest communities, from its early days as the starting point of the Iditarod Trail to its use as an early ship-building port. Seward Museum has recently merged with the library, so that historical information may be accessed in one convenient location.
Where: 239 Sixth Ave. (corner of 6th and Adams)
Phone: 907-224-3902
Call for hours and cost.

SEWARD EVENTS

FOURTH OF JULY AND MOUNT MARATHON RACE
Experiencing a population explosion on the Fourth of July to some 30,000 people, Seward’s downtown area becomes virtually blocked off to anything but pedestrian traffic. The premier event: a lottery-entered footrace up and down the mile-and-a-half-high, 3,000-foot trail on Mount Marathon complete with cliffs, waterfalls and scree fields draws competitors from around the world. Fireworks displays, an abundance of street vendors and the annual Main Street Parade are only a few of the events to expect amidst this bustling holiday atmosphere.
Where: Seward
When: July 4
Cost: Varies by event
Phone: 907-224-8051 (Seward Chamber of Commerce)
Web: click here

SEWARD SILVER SALMON DERBY
For anglers seeking the adventure of catching one of the most notoriously feisty sportfish, the silver (or coho) salmon, Seward offers its annual Silver Salmon Derby. With a first prize of $10,000 for the largest fish caught during the tournament and one tagged fish worth $50,000, as well as dozens of ways to win available daily, shore fishermen, personal boaters and those choosing to hire charter vessels can experience the fun.
Where: Resurrection Bay
When: Aug. 10-18
Cost: Daily tickets are $10; tickets for the full event are $50
Phone: 907-224-8051
Web: click here

POLAR BEAR PLUNGE
For the winter vacationer, observation of, or even participation in, the annual Polar Bear Plunge is a must-do. For over two decades, costumed daredevils have leapt into the formidable waters of Resurrection Bay each January to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. The weekend also includes events ranging from auctions to turkey bowling and karaoke.
Where: Seward
When: Jan. 18-19
Cost: Jumpers preregister and raise a minimum of $750 for the benefit of the society
Phone: 907-224-5230
E-mail: polarbearseward@yahoo.com

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