Family Friendly Activities and Restaurants in Seward, Alaska
Our recent early summer trip to Alaska with the family was simply incredible, and I can't say enough nice words about the people who live in that state and make it great. Of course, the gorgeous views and family friendly outdoor activities don't hurt either. In this post I will focus on the family friendly eats and activities we experienced in and around Seward.
Resurrection Bay Cruise + Seavey's Iditarod Sled Ride and Kennel Tour:
We spent our first night in Alaska at the Sheraton Anchorage, then headed south to Seward where we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express (links to both reviews above). Doing so allowed us to take advantage of a few can't-miss activities in the Seward area.
We purchased a package that included a sled dog ride/kennel tour at Seavey's Iditaride , home to two-time Iditarod champion Alaskan musher, Mitch Seavey as well as a 4 1/2 hour boat ride in Resurrection Bay including a salmon lunch on Fox Island. The boat tour leaves at 12PM and the sled dog experience can either be done before or after the cruise. The price together was $162.17 per adult and $78.22 per child 11 and under. I didn't think this was a bad price at all for an entire day of Alaskan fun - including lunch and transportation if you required it.
We opted to do the sled dog experience at 8:30 AM since mornings are usually more predictable with a young kid, and the time zone difference still had us up early anyway. We drove the 10 minutes or so from downtown Seward to the Seavey's Iditaride experience, but they will pick you up for no additional charge with advance notice. When you arrive at the kennel, head into the main building/gift shop to check-in and then wait for the tour to start.
We were treated to some great stories by a man who works there and has completed the Iditarod many times himself (though not Mitch Seavey). His stories were very interesting and his storytelling was even better.
After hearing some stories from the trail from a man who has done it more than once, it was time to see the dogs. My four year old was almost exploding with excitement by this point. Once we got within sight, the dogs were exploding with excitement, too!
We got to give them pets, kisses, nuzzles, etc. Not all the dogs are super snuggley, but we were told which ones we could interact with. The husky above is actually the only Siberian Husky they have, and it was in the movie Snow Buddies. My daughter had seen that movie and was thrilled to meet a super star in person.
After learning about the dogs and getting to pet a few, it was time to load up in the "sled" and go for a 20-30 minute ride, complete with some picturesque stops along the way. If you are wondering whether kids might like this, check out this smile taken shortly after the sled ride started.
In the winter this ride would obviously be on snow, but tires and gravel work in the summer just fine. I do suggest bringing layers, even in the summer as it was pretty cool when the sled was moving.
We had so much fun cruising through the trails, and they even let Little C "start" the dogs at one point by giving the verbal command! Be prepared for a very loud visit as the dogs were just super pumped - especially the younger dogs who were very vocal! One dog on our team was 12 years old Iditarod veteran. My 12 year old husky I have at home is ready for a nap after a walk around the block!
After the ride there was a little more time to pet the dogs and then we headed to meet the six week old puppies! For my four year old this part was at least as much fun as the ride itself, though she was a bit nervous holding the pups and preferred to hand both to me and pet them while I held the cute fluff balls. The roughly 90 minute experience ended with some more stories, and a chance to look at a racing sled and racing jackets that keep you warm through insane Alaska temps.
This was a very fun and memorable way to try out "sledding", and it is safe for young kids and reportedly even pregnant moms. We had a blast and would absolutely return to Seavey's Iditaride.
Kenai Fjords Resurrection Bay Cruise:
This family friendly 4.5 hour boat cruise departs from downtown Seward (free parking included) promptly at 12PM. I highly advise getting there early - maybe even 45-60 minute early to get a window seat on the boat. We were stuck in the middle of the boat away from direct window access thanks to getting there only about 15-20 minutes early. This will impact your viewing for the duration of the cruise, other than the times you head up top to take a peek.
While we waited to set sail a park range came around to talk to my daughter and give her a workbook she could complete in order to earn her very first Junior Ranger badge. I was totally geeking out about this having several Junior Ranger badges myself from our family vacations.
A family boarded at the last minute taking up the "extra" seats around us at the table, so we were seated with a family we didn't know for four hours. This could have turned sour easily when many on-boarded started getting seasick, but luckily no one at our table got sick and my daughter got along well with their kids. It is another thing to keep in mind though if your party is smaller and the cruise is pretty full.
The cruise itself was narrated by the very knowledgeable and interesting captain. They are pros at spotting wildlife, so we got a chance to see sea otters, orca whales, humpback whales, mountain goats, bald eagles, various birds, and more. My photos of these awesome animals are all basically garbage, but getting to see them in person in their natural habitats was amazing.
In addition to wildlife spotting, we got up close with some of the coastline of Alaska. We didn't get close to glaciers on this cruise, though I think they do get up close to some glaciers on some of their longer cruises that go out of the bay.
There was a stop for lunch on Fox Island where the park ranger did a presentation and awarded the Junior Ranger badges to the kids.
The lunch served on the island featured salmon, salad, mashed potatoes, veggies, rolls, and prime rib. It was served buffet style and was neither award winning nor terrible. It was more or less typical buffet food, but with an Alaskan twist. There was also lemonade, water, and a cash bar.
If you wanted to pay an up-charge of about $12.50 you could add a 1/2 pound of Alaskan King Crab which I happily did and enjoyed. You had to order to the crab before arriving on the island.
Sadly the weather was pretty crummy that day, so we only spent a few minutes outside, but there were some perfect flat rocks for skipping out into the water! They also have some packages that include overnights on Fox Island if you wanted more time to enjoy this private island.
The only bad thing about this cruise was the sea-sickness I mentioned earlier. The waves got to be a bit much for some stomachs, and in fact the only tours they were running that day were ones that stayed in the bay like ours due to the weather. Once one kid lost their lunch, others quickly followed. Thankfully we stopped just short of a full epidemic, but the smell was pretty bad for a bit. I must say that the staff were very prepared for this and cleaned up the incidents quickly and like pros. I was so so thankful everyone at my table stayed strong, because it would have turned a nice cruise into a hot mess in a hurry if we ended the day covered in puke.
Despite that issue, this was a great experience and I absolutely recommend their cruises...just stay away from those who look a bit green.
On the way into Seward we tried to visit Exit Glacier - a glacier you can easily walk via various trails from the parking lot. We honestly didn't really know what to expect, so went there I guess expecting to park in the parking lot and walk along a busy pathway to the glacier. What we found was a very quiet and very wooded trail to the glacier.
While the signs indicated bears were pretty used to humans, this human was very not used to (and totally unprepared for) bears. We walked a few steps down the beautiful but creepy trail and then turned around and headed right back to the rental car I would have loved to see the glacier, but without a larger group, or bear spray, or anything, it just felt like an incredibly dumb idea for my four year old and myself. We were both a little freaked out and sometimes you gotta know when to turn around and try again another time.
There are some guided park ranger walks at Exit Glacier, as well as bear spray for sale in Seward. This time we settled for a viewing from a little further away.
The Salmon Bake:
After our Exit Glacier failure, we headed to the Salmon Bake. It is located a bit out of town on the same road as the sled dog rides and Exit Glacier. The building looked fun and funky and it was a very laid back and family friendly joint. They have cabins you can stay in as well as a restaurant.
They serve lemonade in mason jars and have their own (delicious) root beer on tap.
There is cornbread brought out as an appetizer and between the cornbread and mason jars it felt almost like a Southern style restaurant complete with very friendly service.
I went with the namesake entree, the Salmon Bake, which is salmon broiled and served lightly sweetened and spiced with a baked potato and baked beans. It was so fresh and basically melted in my mouth. I couldn't nearly finish the whole thing, but enjoyed every bite I could squeeze in. They have a small kids menu in the $6 range. The dinner for my daughter and myself rang in at around $50 with tip, so not cheap my any stretch, but delicious with great service and I would return there without hesitation.
Chinooks in Seward:
We didn't get a chance to have a "full meal" in Seward, but we did sneak in a dessert at Chinooks which everyone referred to as the "fancy" restaurant in town. The seafood that walked by me to other tables looked delicious, and they have a very big emphasis on Alaskan seafood including halibut, salmon, king crab, spot shrimp, and scallops with local seafood specials While we didn't get a chance to try their seafood, their view of the harbor I can attest to being top notch.
My kiddo selected a lemon tart type dessert that we devoured within minutes. The prices here were similar to the Salmon Bake. While it was the "fancy" restaurant in town, we saw several families eating dinner, and received very good service ourselves even though all we ordered was dessert.
We were able to do all this in about a 24 hour period in Seward, and we loved every minute of it. For this part of the trip my husband had not yet arrived from Texas, so we got to have some pretty fun mom and daughter Alaskan adventures. At the end of our day in Seward we hopped into the car and headed toward Cooper Landing to spend a few nights in a cabin on a horse ranch. Stay tuned for that part of the adventure!