On our latest epic adventure to Alaska, we had the privilege of exploring the awesome town of Seward, Alaska and this place was adventure and beauty wrapped into one awesome weekend! In this post, we’re sharing our favorite activities, places, and food spots for an adventurous weekend in Seward! We’re especially highlighting our favorite activity while in Seward, which was the Gray Whale Watching cruise by Major Marine Tours. We’re here to share our experience, and why this is the best way to experience Alaska’s marine wildlife!
This post is sponsored by Harbor 360 Hotels and Major Marine Tours. We were given accommodations and a 4-hour wildlife tour, but all opinions and thoughts are 100% completely our own!
The Essential Guide To Seward, Alaska
Where is Seward, Alaska?
Good question! Seward, Alaska is located in the South Central region of the state, next to Resurrection Bay. The city is home to about 3,000 people, but during the tourism months (May – September) the town can swell with up to 30,000 residents and guests! Seward, Alaska is known for their successful fishing endeavors, wildlife tours, and the beginning/end points for the Alaska railroad system.
During our time in Seward, Alaska, we stayed at The Harbor 360 Hotel. This was an incredible place to be because of the accessibility to activities, central location, and amazing service! Almost every night we would come back from a full day of adventures and Berty and I would soak in their hot tub and look out their huge windows to the beautiful mountains!
The Harbor 360 Hotel and Major Marine Tours are intertwined, which makes it easy for guests to create an entire experience in Seward, Alaska – activities, hotel, and more – all in one place. The hotel will actually help guests transition from a cruise ship or train depot on to their next journey and handle most of the logistics!
Other accommodations besides hotels include camping in the Chugach National Forest and Kenai Fjords National Park or reserving a cozy Airbnb. If you think you want to reserve an Airbnb in Seward, Alaska, click this link to get $40 off your first reservation!
Camping? Make sure to read this post: Car Camping 101: The Complete Guide To Sleeping In Your Car
Adventures In Seward, Alaska
There are so many incredible things to do in and around the city. Because we came in the springtime, our activities were limited (we’re going to have to come back and explore it fully in the summertime!) but we wanted to share a few awesome adventures we DID experience!
Skip To Activities:
One of the most accessible hikes in Seward, Alaska is the trail to Exit Glacier. From the trailhead, there is a network of short trails (the longest being about 0.9 miles from the parking lot) with various viewpoints of the massive glacier. When the weather is good and the path is safe, you can walk to the toe of the glacier for an up-close look at this huge chunk of ice! Exit Glacier is melting at an alarmingly fast rate, so you may have a different experience (and see a different glacier!) each time you visit.
When we arrived (late April) the road to the trailhead was closed. We parked at the gate and walked an extra 3 miles to the base of the glacier, and it was absolutely worth it! In the end, the hike was incredible and we were happy to see the glacier in this crazy time of year.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can opt to overnight backpack the Harding Icefield Trail for some spectacular views of Exit Glacier, meadows, and forests. This journey begins on the same trail system as the hike to Exit Glacier, but you continue to climb in elevation to where the ice field stays permanently year-round. You can camp at the base for an incredible summer experience!
Read More: The Complete Alaska Road Trip Packing List
Seward, Alaska is well-known for its picturesque harbor and amazing views of the bay. The first day we arrived, Berty and I grabbed our cameras and wandered around the marina taking pictures. A snowstorm had just passed through that afternoon, so everything was covered in a fresh blanket of snow! It was also really fun to walk up and down the docks reading all the boat names. Some are really clever!
If we came again, we would recommend coming by during sunrise or sunset. You would get some pretty incredible light during those times, and the setting would be perfect for beautiful photopgraphs!
Read More: Our Complete Travel Photography Gear List
One of the biggest highlights of our time in Seward, Alaska was taking a wildlife viewing tour with Major Marine Tours. During our time there, they were offering the seasonal Gray Whale Watching expeditions. We were excited to see these migratory mammals that just returned from Baja California!
During the summer they have anywhere from 3.5-hour cruises to 8-hour expeditions that search for wildlife, visit several glaciers in the Kenai Fjords National Park, and the ability to learn about the area from knowledgeable park rangers. In the spring months (March, April, May) they offer the Gray Whale Watching tours, Orca Expeditions, and 3.5 – 6-hour tours. Each tour comes with its own unique experiences, so no matter if it’s your first or tenth time visiting, there will always be something new to explore with Major Marine Tours!
Our Gray Whale Watching Tour Experience
We boarded the boat with about 40 others and had the option to sit outside under a covered area or sit inside where the staff was serving snacks and coffee. We opted to not sit at all and wander around the vessel! We were too excited to sit down so we spent most of our time outside where all the action was.
This was my (Emily’s) first time really using a 100-400 lens. I was looking forward to capturing the details of wildlife on the mountain and in the water, and finding hidden spots too far away for the human eye to see alone! As seen in the picture above, this lens allows you to zoom in SUPER close to subjects so you can capture every last detail without actually getting up close. Case in point in the picture below too – we were very far away from these lounging seals on the rock, but I captured every last hilarious detail with this lens! Doesn’t this look like a renaissance painting? Haha!
We were so happy the whales came out to play. We saw a handful of tails pop up out of the water, and every time they did there was a chorus of “oohs” and “ahhs” on board! We loved that the captain of the ship didn’t necessarily have a strict course or direction – if someone saw something interesting, we would turn our route and investigate!
Besides some incredible views of wildlife, we got to see spectacular mountains, formations, and forests. It reminded us a little bit of the Pacific Northwest, Cape Flattery in particular. It was cool to see these towering structures in the water and the mountains that just dove straight into the sea.
During this tour, we were able to boat around the entire Ressurection Bay in search of Gray Whales. It was incredible to experience Alaska this way, and see it from the water! If you are looking for guided adventures, knowledgeable tour guides, and convenient fun, you really should consider booking an afternoon with Major Marine Tours. The staff strives to give you a holistic experience with Alaska’s wildlife views and scenery, and they’ve been doing it for over 25 years! This tour was the highlight of our trip to Seward, Alaska and we would do another again in a heartbeat!
Food & Coffee Recommendations
Resurrect Art Coffee House: This old church turned coffeehouse is filled with funky art, jewelry, and locally made pieces. You’ll have to pay attention when finding it through – the outside still structurally looks like a church!
Smoke Shack: A converted train car right next door to the Harbor 360 Hotel (convenient, right?) provides good sandwiches – perfect for lunch food and to-go meals. We grabbed a bite to eat to bring with us before our whale watching tour, and it was the perfect amount of food!
Chinooks: For great food, good service, and a stunning view of the marina and bay, look no further than Chinooks. We were able to order local beers, fresh seafood, and spend time in a fun Alaskan atmosphere. This restaurant sits on the waterfront, so any table would give you an amazing view.
Have you visited Seward, Alaska? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below!
READ MORE ALASKA POSTS
10 Adventurous Around Anchorage, Alaska (coming soon!)
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