Travel Tuesday: Seeing Seward, Alaska, through a Toddler’s Eyes

by Sue Durio on August 22, 2023 in Travels,

Seward, Alaska, is like a beautiful child’s picture book that has come to life. It might not be the first destination that comes to mind when traveling with littles. But maybe it should be. This family friendly, walkable harbor town on the Kenai Peninsula has enough natural beauty and outdoor fun to keep even the youngest in your travel party exclaiming “Wow!”

Exit Glacier is one of the few glaciers easily accessible on foot, through a network of flat
trails that extend from the visitor’s center to the toe of the glacier. This overlook on the drive there gives
a glimpse of its massive size. Photo: Ryan Glanzer

Take an Ididaride

Future Ididarod racers spend their first few months at the Seavey’s center in Seward getting lots of cuddles with visitors. They will begin training at 8 months old to eventually pull 20 pounds of weight each. Photo Sue Durio

What toddler doesn’t love to cuddle puppies? There’s no better place to get some puppy love than at the Seavey family’s Ididarod Racing Team training facility.  With three Ididarod championships and years of racing experience, the Seaveys know how to take care of dogs, and they love sharing these talented athletes with visitors. Book a Sled Dog Tour to be mushed around the family’s homestead on wheeled sleds pulled by 14 excited Alaskan Huskies.

Back at the kennel, your kiddos can play with 8-week-old future racers and try on the parkas worn on the Iditarod. Children under 2 visit for free.

Visit the SeaLife Center

Kids delight in seeing – and touching –the fascinating marine life at Seward’s SeaLife Center. The center is dedicated to marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, and marine research and education. Photo Sue Durio

Head downtown to the Seward SeaLife Center where your littles can have close encounters with all manner of Alaskan marine life.

It was the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster that brought attention to the need for improved facilities to treat injured wildlife and spurred the center’s launch. Today it is home to puffins, octopus, harbor seals, sea lions and more, including five abandoned newborn harbor seal pups rescued this summer. Watch as stellar sea lions get their morning snack, touch colorful starfish, and marvel at the swimming prowess of deep-diving puffins. The center is open daily from late May through September, and entrance is free for visitors under age 3.

Head to the Playground

Set along the picturesque shoreline with stunning views of Resurrection Bay, Seward’s Waterfront Playground is a treat for young and old alike. Photo Sue Durio

Despite Seward’s small size – less than 15 square miles of land and fewer than 3,000 residents – it is home to a dozen-plus parks and playgrounds that draw youngsters of all ages. Perhaps the most stunning is the Waterfront Playground overlooking Resurrection Bay. The kiddos can scramble, slide and frolic while you take in the view. Watch for eagles swooping overhead and otters floating just off shore.   

Explore Lowell Point

No entry fee needed to explore Seward’s rocky beaches and tidepools, like these at Lowell Point a short drive south of Seward. Photo Sue Durio

Make the short drive just south of Seward to the Lowell Point State Recreation Site for a morning of exploring nature. This rocky beach is a popular launch pad for kayakers, and a frequent hang-out for sea lions, otters and eagles. When the tide goes out, the science lesson gets even more interesting. Explore the tide pool for the living treasures left behind, like hermit crab, sea urchin, or sea cucumbers.

When your young explorers are ready to make a move, head to the kid-friendly Tonsina Trail for a meandering hike through spruce forest with ocean views.

Enter Exit Glacier

Seward’s many kid-friendly hikes introduce trail goers to Alaska’s native plants and natural beauty. Along the way you may spot tree moss, dwarf fireweed or even wild Alaska blueberries. Photo Sue Durio

Don’t miss the drive out Exit Glacier Road to the only part of  Kenai Fjords National Park accessible by car, and be rewarded with views of the magnificent Exit Glacier. With several short, easy hikes starting from the nature center, the entire family can enjoy the scenery. Kiddos age 4 and older can even earn their Junior Ranger Badge.

Signs along the road mark Exit Glacier’s retreat over the years, and one at the entrance keeps hikers alerted to the day’s wildlife sightings. As with all Alaska hikes, come prepared with bear spray and know how to use it.

Tour the Boat Harbor

The Seward Boat Harbor in the heart of town is home to hundreds of fishing and charter vessels. Photo Sue Durio

The sounds, smells and activity of the busy Seward Boat Harbor are enough to keep any traveler entertained. Load up the backpack or stroller and mosey to the docks to watch fishermen preparing for their charter or unloading the day’s catch. Spot otters and sea lions taking a harbor float, while boats ease in and out of their slips. If your young crew can tolerate a longer outing, book a half-day Kenai Fjords wildlife cruise in Resurrection Bay’s protected waters for a chance to see a whale up close.

Stop in the Wildlife Refuge

This trio of orphaned moose – named Arnold, Pip and Jo – hang out in their protected enclosure at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. In addition to touring the grounds, visitors can also purchase tickets for up-close moose and bear encounters. Photo Sue Durio

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is the perfect rest stop on your drive from Anchorage to Seward. At this 200-acre sanctuary for injured and orphaned animals, youngsters can get up close with animals they’ve only seen in picture books. From the 1.5-mile loop, enjoy your toddler’s excitement watching a black bear munch on its grassy breakfast, marvel at a porcupine’s mane of quills and stare down an eagle on its perch. All safely enclosed but just feet away. The center is open year-round and free to kids under age 4.


Cover photo Photo by McKayla Crump on Unsplash.

Freelance writer Sue Durio is a regular contributor to Texas Lifestyle magazine, where she shares her love for adventure travel and unique destinations. Contact her at