Why Seward? Because whether you’re looking for magnificent glaciers, rugged mountains, world-class fishing and touring, or the feel of rustic small-town Alaska, Seward offers so much of the best of the Great-land!
Worlds 25 Wildest: New Trips
Worlds 25 Wildest: New Trips

Listed by National Geographic Adventure Magazine as one of the top ten destination resorts in the United States, Seward is a postcard waiting for the scrapbook. Whether by car or train, the journey along Alaska Hwy 1 (Alaska’s only National Scenic Byway) makes the visit worthwhile in itself. Upon arriving in Seward, guests are treated to one of the most spectacular vistas in the world. Perched on the end of the road, Seward is complemented by the rugged Chugiak Mountains which descend right into the Pacific Ocean creating a scene of intense natural beauty whether it is basking in the light of the unending summer day or the quite majesty of the snow covered winter night. Click here for Seward Travel and Tour Information

Resurrection Bay and the Pacific Ocean
Kayaking on the bay

Why Seward?Resurrection Bay and the Pacific OceanLocated at the end of a deep fjord, Seward is a natural harbor town. Resurrection Bay is protected on all sides, making it a great location for kayaking, sailing and small boat use. The mouth of the bay opens into the Gulf of Alaska. This rich fishing ground is home to the really big halibut. At the end of the day it is not uncommon to see 200, 300 and sometimes even 400 pound halibut at the fish cleaning stations. In early July, the Silver Salmon start schooling at the mouth of the bay; and in August they start heading up the streams and rivers. These same waters are home to Orca, Humpback, Finn and Gray whales, dolphins, porpoise, sea lions, seals, otters and many species of birds. Seward is also the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park and its many glacier-filled valleys. The park is home to several spectacularly active tide-water glaciers calving huge ice chunks into the ocean. Click here for Seward Travel and Tour Information

The Mountains

Why Seward? The Mountains
Seward is surrounded by majestic mountains to the North, East and West. They jut straight out of the ocean to over a mile in height. From downtown Seward it is 1 1/2 miles to Mt. Marathon. It is 1 1/2 miles not to the base of the mountain, but to the summit 3029 feet up. Every year on the 4th of July we have a race up Mt. Marathon. This race is the second oldest running race in America (second only to the Boston Marathon). What makes our mountains special is that they are pristine. Walk 100 feet off the highway or a few feet off a hiking path, and you’re walking on land that shows no sign that man has ever been there. Our streams are filled with salmon, trout and dolly varden. Our woods have moose, wolf, fox and bear. Our skies are filled with geese, swan, eagles, falcon and raven, the “Trickster.” In our mountains, if you see a rainbow, there may actually be gold at its end. Click here for Seward Travel and Tour Information

Our History

Why Seward? Our History
Seward’s past is an integral part of the history of Alaska. Long before white settlers arrived, this area was home to several groups of Alaska natives who relied on the salmon-rich streams and protected coastal waters for their survival. Then, on Easter Sunday of 1793, a Russian ship exploring the Gulf of Alaska was caught in a severe storm. With their ship badly taking on water and the waves mounting, all hope of survival was lost. But then the men spotted a cluster of rugged islands guarding the entrance to a bay. The bay afforded the men shelter from the storm, offered them a place to beach their battered ship, and gave the men a new chance to live. Since that Easter Sunday, the bay has appeared on nautical charts as Resurrection Bay. When Secretary of the Interior William H. Seward purchased Alaska from the Russians in 1867, Resurrection Bay was an active fur trading center. When gold strikes in the interior of Alaska sparked several gold rushes, Seward became a busy transportation center. Because of it’s depth and proximity to the currents of the Gulf of Alaska, Resurrection Bay is one of the northern-most ice free ports in Alaska.

Old Seward

A majority of the freight, people, and gold entering and leaving Alaska crossed over Seward’s bustling docks. The Iditarod Trail, a network of trails leading across Alaska to Nome began in Seward. Much of this trail is the present-day route of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race that runs 1,100 miles from Anchorage to Nome. As the amount of freight passing through Seward increased, the Alaska Railroad was eventually constructed, linking Seward with the inland city of Fairbanks in 1923. Because of the town’s central importance to transportation in Alaska, Seward was nicknamed the “Gateway to Alaska.” During World War II, an Army garrison was stationed in Seward to protect the transportation interests there. Numerous outposts, bunkers, and artillery batteries were constructed around the bay, and a special submarine sensing cable was strung under the waters of the bay. Although the submarine warning system was activated one night, historians still debate whether any Japanese submarines ever did enter Resurrection Bay during the war. In 1964, the residents of Seward were rattled by the

Old Seward after quake

Good Friday Earthquake and subsequent Tsunami. Most of the dock facilities part of the railroad yard were swallowed by the sea. But the spirit of the people of this small community remained steadfast, and Seward’s waterfront has been rebuilt. In the decades to follow, Seward lost its title as the Gateway to Alaska. The Alaska Highway connected the state with the ‘Lower 48,’ air traffic was on the rise and Anchorage was a growing port city. But Seward is still a major port city, the harbor still boasts a fleet of commercial fishing boats, and the residents of Seward open their town every year to hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world. Much of the waterfront that was home to wharfs and piers prior to the ’64 Quake is now oceanside camping, parks, and playground. At the south end of town near the old railroad depot, the Alaska SeaLife Center is a world-renown center for research, rehabilitation, and education relating to the fantastic marine life of the North Pacific and Bering Sea. Seward’s future is bright. Click here for Seward Travel and Tour Information

Sea Life Center
Travel Hints
Many parts of vacationing in Alaska will be different than elsewhere, especially if one hasn’t traveled overseas or to neighboring countries. Our attitude toward life is a bit more down to earth, more practical, than in the “Lower 48.” Here, being practical gives one greater social status than wealth.
How does this effect your travel plans? For you gals, whatever you are planning to bring in jewelry and makeup can be cut in half. Think of comfort more than style when packing clothes–that good pair of shoes that will keep your feet dry on the trail will do just fine in the nicest restaurants. Guys, you’re going to love it here. Leave your ties, button down shirts, sport jackets and slacks. Getting dressed up for a night out on the town means putting on a clean shirt and pants.
When packing, I always recommend starting with the best rain gear your budget can afford. You may come up here and never see a drop of rain; on the other hand, it may rain every day you’re here. Even if it doesn’t, a rain jacket makes a great wind breaker. Add a couple of layers underneath the rain gear and you will be toasty warm and able to enjoy the beauty of the day. Keep in mind, rivers are about 35 degrees, the ocean is around 40 degrees, and few lakes are warmer than 45 degrees. So even on warm days, the air temperature out on a fishing or tour boat will be, let’s say, refreshing. A good pair of trail shoes that will keep your feet dry will be worth their weight in gold. If you have a little mud on your shoes when you go out to dinner the waiter will know you have visited the State of Alaska–the one that starts 100 feet off the highway. This is a good thing.
When you are making your lodging reservations, it is important to ask the proprietor if your room has curtains that block the light out. Living here, the days get longer gradually, and you get used to sleeping with the sun still above the horizon. Visitors generally find if difficult to fall back to sleep when they wake up at 3 in the morning and the sun is up. The long days also play havoc with your eating schedule. With the long days and a busy travel schedule it is easy to loose track of time and find restaurants closing when you’re ready to eat. This is especially important to keep in mind if you’re traveling with children. As you may know, hungry children get grouchy. Of course if you want to see wildlife, the middle of the “night” is the best time–that is to say shortly after sunrise or before sunset. In addition, the roads and trails are empty. After dinner is a great time to take a short drive or a walk on one of the local trails. If you have a long drive day, think about an extra early start and breakfast down the road a few hours.I have traveled all over the world and have found when it comes to customer service, Alaska is more like an unindustrialized than an industrialized country. It’s not that people care less about your needs; the truth is that they care more. But after you’ve lived here for a while you get so used to shipping delays, lost packages, damaged goods and weather delays that you just start taking “stuff” in stride. Life in Alaska moves a little slower. Here is another thing to keep in mind that may help in those difficult situations: Most of the Alaskans that you will come in contact with have a short summer season to make their annual income. It won’t be uncommon for the person on the other side of the counter from you to have been working 10 to 16 hour days for 20, 30 or even 100 days without a day off. This is not an excuse for poor customer service, but a little empathy can make a big difference when you’re trying to get on the next tour.
Last, don’t forget what I mentioned earlier. The real Alaska starts 20 minutes out of Anchorage. Half the population of Alaska lives in and around Anchorage; it’s just another big city. If you want to visit a big city, go to New York or New Orleans. I recommend if you arrive in Alaska via Anchorage, not to linger on your arrival but get out of town, even if it means a late drive. Waking up to the wilderness smell and slow pace of rural Alaska is worth the effort. Save The Alaska Heritage Center and other Anchorage activities until the day of or the day before your departure because you will want to be close to the Airport anyway.
Tours & Activities
Tours & ActivitiesKenai Fjords Nat’l Park Boat Tours; Summer Dog Sled Tours; Fishing; Seward Town Attractions and Tours; Alaska Railroad Tours;
Kayaking; Flight Seeing; Bicycling; Boat Rentals; Horseback Riding; SCUBA diving; Rafting Tours and outdoor activities is where Seward really shines. Before I get into describing tours I would like to share my philosophy on booking tours. I do not make my living selling tours. I am an Inn Keeper, and as such, I try to provide a quality service to my guests. My goal is to find tours that fulfill your individual needs while making the best use of your limited vacation time and money. Most tour companies pay a 10% commission to booking services, while others do not pay a commission. This is OK because compensation is not my goal. Of course I do need to be compensated for the cost of providing this service, and you want discounts. So I split the commissions I’m paid. Half I keep, and the other half I give to you in the form of a discount on your room reservation with me. If you find a price lower then what I have quoted, please let me know because for the most part I can match or beat any special offers, and I’m not always aware when specials change.

I only recommend tours in the Seward area. I make it a point to take the tours I recommend. Tour descriptions and recommendations are based on personal experience and comments made by previous guests. Tours are booked directly with tour companies. I will provide you with confirmation numbers so you can communicate directly with the tour companies if needed. Reservation change and cancellation policies are provided by the tour companies. If you are not aware of a company’s policies at the time you are making your reservation, be sure to ask me. I look forward to providing you with the best possible stay while you’re in Seward.
I’ll start with my four favorite tours. –Tom Swann, A Swan Nest Inn

My first recommendation is one of the boat trips
to the tide-water glaciers in the Kenai Fjords National Park. No where else in Alaska will you have the opportunity to see more kinds of marine life in the span of one tour and throw in the experience of seeing building-size chunks of ice calving into the ocean. Wow!!! While in Alaska this is a must-do. There are a dozen different tours offered by three major companies, all of which are very good (Kenai Fjord Tours, Major Marine and Renown Charters). Which is best for you will depend on your individual needs, what other tours you’re planning and, of course, how much time you have available If you get seasick, let me know as there are some alternatives worth discussing. These tours run between $120 and $175 per adult, and some offer on-board meals or buffets.

Second is Seward's summer sled dog tours.
That’s right; believe it or not, Seward has a couple of the best sled dog tours in Alaska. Mitch Seavey, winner of the 2004 Iditarod Sled Dog Race has a summer-time, land based tour operation that is second to none. IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours is one of those tours that you will keep talking about for days. I can’t tell you how many times I have had a guest tell me it was the highlight of their trip. This is a land based tour so the ride is not on snow but rather on a wheeled sled through the woods. If you want to know what the Iditarod and dog sledding are all about and meet the dogs that will race across 1100 miles of the roughest terrain in the world in the dead of winter, then this tour is a must-do. On the other hand, if the thrill of gliding across a snow-covered slope behind a team of a dozen Alaskan huskies is what you’re looking for, Seward is still the place. Summertime visitors to Seward can fly to a glacier for a ride on snow. Godwin Glacier’shelicopter tours are a bit expensive but the memories will last a lifetime. The land based and glacier based tours are different enough that doing them both is not redundant. I highly recommend these tours. Tours run $59 per adult for IdidaRide to $400 per adult for Godwin Glacier.

Third, the halibut fishing out of Seward is world class.
Third, the halibut fishing out of Seward is world class. If you’re a big fisherman then you probably already have heard about the halibut fishing here. If you’re not a big fisherman, the thrill of catching a big halibut is still available. The charter captains supply all the gear and the deck hands will be happy to help you to land a big one. The salmon fishing out of Seward is also good, with numerous runs occurring throughout the summer. So what do you do with 50 or 100 lbs of halibut filets? We have a couple businesses that will freeze and hold your filets until you get home to receive the shipment. When your friends are over to see your pictures, you will be able to serve them fresh Alaskan halibut for dinner. With about 100 charter companies in Seward, picking a good one is the tricky part. That’s were I can help. Halibut Charters run about $200 to 225 per person.
Fourth is the town of Seward its self with historic downtown
Fourth is the town of Seward its self with historic downtown, museum, Sea Life Center, art and gift shops, restaurants and harbor shops all within walking distance of each other. Seward is a great place to take a day and just walk around or hike one of our local trails. This is one of the few towns in Alaska that you don’t need a car to get around. A taxi ride from one end of town to the other is about $5.
Seward's downtown
has been a center for trade and commerce from its beginnings. Dog teams would carry supplies from Seward along the Iditarod trail to the mining towns of Iditarod and Nome and points between.Activities in Seward:
The Alaska Sea Life Center is a 55 million dollar facility dedicated to research, animal rehabilitation and education. If you’re at all interested in what is happening under the surface of the water, the Sea Life Center is definitely worth a visit ($14 for adults, summer hours 8am to 8pm).
• Seward’s History goes way back, and our museum is small but quite interesting (open daily in the summer–$3).
• At 2pm daily, the Seward Library shows a couple of films on the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake. This 9.2 quake is the largest to hit North America in recorded history. Between the earthquake, tsunami and the subsequent fires, it is surprising anything survived, ($5 and well worth your time).
• At about 5pm the fishing charters start coming back in, and it is always entertaining to see what they bring in. There are two fish cleaning stations, one at each end of the harbor (no charge).

Other great tours that I recommend include:

Alaska Railroad:
The train leaves Anchorage daily at 6:30am, arriving in Seward around 11:00. It departs Seward at 6:00pm and arrives back in Anchorage around 10:00. It is a two hour drive between Seward and Anchorage, but the train takes a leisurely 4 hours so you have plenty time to take in the scenery while enjoying morning coffee or an after dinner drink. Most of the route is through uninhabited territory which is only accessible by the train. This is an outstanding way to see the back country. The food is good onboard and reasonably priced. The railroad continues past Anchorage to the Mat-Su Valley, Talkeetna, Denali Park, and Fairbanks. Contact me for more information about timetables. ($109 per adult round trip between Seward and Anchorage)
Resurrection Bay is surrounded by mountains or islands on all sides, making it a great area for beginning kayakers. Half day, full day and multi day tours are all available. All the local kayak companies will provide the training necessary for beginners to take tours. For the advanced kayaker, there are multi-day guided tours or you can rent kayaks by the half day or full day for an adventure on your own. Sea taxis will get you out to remote areas. Small cabins or bunk-room style accommodations are available at the mouth of the bay at Kayaker’s Cove. For more comfortable remote accommodations Little Orca Island has some wonderful Yurts which are accessible by sea taxi or kayak. For a once in a lifetime kayak experience, try a full day tour to one of the tide water glaciers with an evening at the remote Little Orca Island. (Kayaking tours start at $59 and go up.)
Flight-seeing Tours:
Most of Alaska is only accessible by air, and a flight-seeing tour should be on your list of things to do. It’s the only way to get a grasp of just how vast and remote most of Alaska is. Regular planes, pontoon planes and helicopters are all available here. Seward is the best jump off point to fly over the Harding Ice field and its glaciers or out over Prince William Sound. If you’re a hiker or biker, think about a flight to a back country lake and then an easy downhill hike or bike out. The same goes for you freshwater fisherman. Fly in and out or fly in and hike out. The helicopters can set you down on the glaciers for guided treks. While in Alaska you pilots might think about getting your seaplane certification. (Flights start at $50 and go up.)
Bicycles are available to rent in Seward. Use them around town, or better yet, take the bus to Exit Glacier and ride the 10 downhill miles back to town. The Resurrection River Trail, Iditarod Trail and Trail Lakes Trail are all good mountain bike trails. For more advanced riders, the Lost Lake Trail is a beautiful and challenging ride.
Boat Rentals:
Whether it’s a small fishing boat to troll for salmon or a multi-day sailing excursion you’re looking for, a Seward business can fill the bill.
Horseback Riding:
Horseback riding tours are available here in Seward on the Resurrection River delta, or about a one hour drive to Cooper Landing for backcountry rides. (Rides start at $60.)
SCUBA Diving:
Dive Alaska runs a dry suit SCUBA boat out of the harbor. The high oxygen concentration of the water at this latitude make for some extraordinary diving. If you are not dry suit certified, Dive Alaska will provide the training.
Two rivers for rafting are within an hour’s drive. Hope River Rafting offers the adventurous guest Class 4 and 5 rapids down a pristine remote canyon. The tour companies provide the dry suits because you are definitely going to get wet. Rafting on the Kenai River is gentle with little in the way of rapids. Drifting down this river is a great way to see the natural beauty of the back country. Drift fishing with either flies or spinners is very popular on the Kenai also.

A Swan Nest Inn offers an in-house tour booking service for your convenience. Many of the tours booked through our booking service come with special discounts offered only to our guests. Click here for more information.Travel Hints