Fun, scenery draw crowds to Seward

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Known as the "Gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park," Seward is a picturesque town on Resurrection Bay, 126 miles south of Anchorage.

A popular destination for tourists, the town is on the east side of the Kenai Peninsula, about 95 miles from Sol-dotna, and features quaint shops and eateries along its bustling small boat harbor.

Seward will celebrate its centennial this year with special events including the Centennial Invitational Art Show in April and May and the Centennial Parade in July.

Visitors can reach Seward by way of the Seward Highway Scenic Byway, the Alaska Railroad, bus, air or cruise ship.

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 wildlife rehabilitation.

The center brings visitors of all ages close to Stellar sea lions, seals, sea birds and fish. Get nose-to-nose with sea lions, watch live video of the remote Chiswell Islands or touch sea stars and other tidal creatures in the touching tanks.

The center is open all year. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from May 1 through Labor Day.

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 browse art galleries and gift shops downtown or near the harbor. A quaint trolley gives rides.

Seward offers many outdoor activities with stunning views of surrounding mountains.

Embark for the rich waters of Prince William Sound and the rugged coast of Kenai Fjords National Park. Popular boat tours take people whale watching, up to calving glaciers, past haulouts for sea lions and rookeries for colorful puffins and other sea birds.

Other boaters angle for silver and king salmon, halibut, lingcod, rock fish and black bass. The halibut derby runs May through August and silver salmon derby is Aug. 9-24.

Landlubbers can walk right up to Exit Glacier, explore the 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 on May 18. There's also the vertical challenge of the Mount Mara-thon Race, which is part of the town's famous July 4 festivities.

Winter highlights include the Decem-ber Holiday Train and the Seward Polar Bear Jump-off Festival, an icy swimming event in January.



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