Visitors to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward have an opportunity to view the state's marine creatures up close.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The town of Seward serves as an ideal jumping off point for wildlife watching. Small cruise ships depart daily from Resurrection Bay to take passengers through the Kenai Fjords National Park.
Killer whales leaping out of the water, porpoises playing in the wake of tour boats and sea otters floating on their backs while munching on clams are among the sea life visitors can expect to see on scenic day trips.
Seward lies 126 miles south of Anchorage on the east side of the Kenai Peninsula. About 95 miles from Soldotna, the popular tourist destination features quaint shops and eateries along its bustling boat harbor.
Visitors can reach Seward by way of driving the Seward Highway Scenic Byway, the Alaska Railroad or by plane.
The Alaska Marine Highway ferry system, an airport and the highway make Seward easily accessible.
A visitors center at Mile 2 of the Seward Highway is open year-round.
The Alaska SeaLife Center, a state-of-the-art aquarium on the waterfront, focuses on education, research and marine life rehabilitation.
The center brings visitors of all ages close to a Stellar sea lion, seals, sea birds and fish.
Visitors can watch live video of the remote Chiswell Islands or touch sea stars, anemones and other tidal creatures in the touching tanks.
Youngsters enjoy a close-up visit with Woody, a sea lion favorite of the center for 11 years. A new attraction this year is the center’s jellyfish exhibit.
The center is open all year. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the last tickets sold at 6 p.m. from April 15 through Sept. 15, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 16 to April 14.
Downtown, the Seward Museum is open daily in summer with information on history, the Iditarod Trail which originally began in Seward and the 1964 earthquake. Visitors can browse art galleries and gift shops downtown or near the harbor.
Seward offers many outdoor activities from hiking and bicycling to sailing on Resurrection Bay with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Embark for the rich waters of Prince William Sound and the rugged coast of Kenai Fjords National Park. Boat tours take people whale watching, up to calving glaciers, past haulouts for sea lions and past rookeries for colorful puffins and other sea birds.
Other boaters angle for silver and king salmon, halibut, lingcod, rock fish and black bass. The silver salmon derby in 2006 is Aug. 12-20.
Landlubbers can walk right up to Exit Glacier, explore Chugach National Forest trails, visit World War II military installations at Caines Head or take a summer dog mushing tour.
Runners can sign up for the Exit Glacier Run in May. There’s also the vertical challenge of the Mount Marathon Race, which is part of the town’s famous July 4 festivities.
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