Are you planning a road trip to Alaska? Are you wondering what the best stops on the drive from Anchorage to Seward are? Well, you have definitely come to the right place. I love Alaska and have road-tripped there several times.
The Seward Highway which you will be traversing from Anchorage to Seward has garnered many awards for its stunning beauty. Among them are National Forest Scenic Byway, All American Road and Alaska Scenic Byway.
So get ready for some of the most stunning scenery you will never forget on your drive from Anchorage to Seward alongside mountains and their glaciers, through forests, and alongside glacially silted Alaskan waters.
Read 9 Things To Know Before Traveling To Alaska if this is your first time visiting!
When you drive the 125 miles from Anchorage to Seward, you will want to allow ample time in your day that will afford you the luxury of stopping to view the sights along the way. And of course, time to take pictures, ooohing and ahhhing the gorgeous scenery you will be seeing all along the way.
Above all, you will want to customize your trip. These are my suggestions for the locations that wowed my family and me from Anchorage to Seward.
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The Seward Highway as it wraps around Turnagain Arm from Anchorage to Seward.
13 Best Stops On The Drive From Anchorage To Seward
1) Anchorage Is Alaska’s Cosmopolitan City & The Beginning Of The Seward Highway
Mountains. The sea. Urban wilderness. Anchorage has it all! Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city. And while you might think so, Anchorage is not the political capital of Alaska. Anchorage is the economic capital of Alaska and filled with big-city amenities.
Anchorage has lots of the popular “big box” stores, so it is naturally a good location to stock up on everything you will need on the drive from Anchorage to Seward. There are fine dining restaurants to discover and high-end shopping to be done in Anchorage if you have the time.
There is a wilderness to be explored as well. It is not uncommon to see a moose strolling through town. Birding is a popular sport and the mountainous backdrops of Anchorage make one wonder if the sky is actually real, or an exquisite painting!
There is an eleven-mile bike/running/walking trail called the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail that offers gorgeous views of the mountains on one side and the water on the opposite. Part of it ventures into Earthquake Park, a stunning reminder of the damage done to Alaska by the 1964 earthquake.
Look Here: Anchorage: 1-Hour Trolley Tour
Look here: Anchorage Museum General Admission Ticket
Look Here: Anchorage Small Group City Highlights Tour
Anchorage’s stunning landscape.
2)Turnagain Arm Has Dramatic Shorelines
Heading south, just about as soon as you leave Anchorage, you will be mesmerized by the very dramatic shorelines of the Turnagain Arm portion of the Seward Highway.
I do not think anyone can dispute these first few miles are among the most beautiful and jaw-dropping you may ever see!
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Fun Fact: Turnagain Arm received its name from the famed British explorer James Cook when he discovered it was not the “Inside Passage” he was looking for. And had to “Turn Again” back into open waters.
The Seward Highway hugs Cook Inlet on your right and the Chugach State Park is nestled right next to the road on your left. It is really quite the scene: the mountains literally next to the sea. Breathtaking.
You may want to take advantage of one of the many pullouts to park and get out of your vehicle during this portion of the drive. You can snap breathtaking pictures of the Chugach and Kenai mountains. Dall sheep and beluga whales make their homes here, so be on the lookout.
You might wander out onto the beaches for some shell seeking and picture taking. You can walk for miles and miles if you really wanted, to absorb the gorgeous views.
The waters of Cook Inlet ahead of you and the mountains sloping down behind you make for some dramatic scenery.
A somber note: do NOT venture out onto the mudflats of Turnagain Arm. PEOPLE HAVE DIED! The coastal silt acts like quicksand and the rushing water drowns them. Please be careful!
Turnagain Arm and the dangerous mudflats. Beware of the mudflats!
3) Check Out The Turnagain Arm Bore Tide
What the heck is a bore tide, you ask? It is a wave of water that literally rushes down Turnagain Arm. It is really water forced to flow into the narrow channel.
It can be quite dramatic with twenty miles per hour winds and a six-foot bore tide wave. Some of the largest bore tides in the world are found in Turnagain Arm.
You will be able to see the bore tide along the road on the Seward Highway just south of Anchorage. To see the most spectacular bore tides, which do actually occur every day it is best to check local bore tide charts for times.
Before you plan your trip read this: 7 Stops To Include For The Perfect Alaska Itinerary
My family and I plotted and planned and waited for the Turnagain Arm bore tide to rush by us, only to be a bit disappointed because it was modest at best. Still, it was a unique experience.
If you are serious to see massive bore tide, you definitely want to consult tidal charts and the full/new moons. If you do, and you see the massive bore tide that Turnagain Arm is legendary for worldwide, please let me know how it was.
Another perk that comes with a bore tide is wildlife viewing. Can’t you just imagine how cool it would be seeing sea lions or otters surfing the bore? How memorable would that be?
Here is a bore tide viewing location along the Seward Highway at Turnagain Arm from Anchorage to Seward.
4) Stop At Beluga Point Lookout For Stunning Views
There are many stops along the drive from Anchorage to Seward, but one of my favorites is Beluga Poing Lookout. It is located about 16 miles south of Anchorage on the Sterling Highway.
Here you will be able to see an almost 180-degree view of Turnagain Arm. It is a great location to perch to view the bore tide. The adjacent beach holds many surprises and treasures.
Beluga Point Lookout is a popular spot to watch for wildlife, and there are many interpretive signs explaining the area. The forested mountains right next to the water make for a feast for your eyes!
Do not miss out on glorious picture taking opportunities. Make Beluga Point Lookout one of your scheduled stops when driving from Anchorage to Seward.
Breathtaking views of Turn Again Arm from the Beluga Point Lookout.
5) You Will Find Plenty Of Hiking Along The Seward Highway
The drive from Anchorage to Seward along the Seward Highway means countless opportunities for hiking, running, or even walking. You will notice many access points as you drive along, all branching off Seward Highway.
All you need to do is pull into a day-use parking lot along the roadside, and begin your adventure. What you do is up to you!
It could be something as lovely as walking along a meandering forest stream, to a challenging ascent up a forested trail. There are varied landscapes all waiting for you to discover and enjoy!
This is a glimpse of what you will see on the Seward Highway from Anchorage to Seward.
6) Girdwood Is An Alaskan Resort Town
Girdwood is situated right off the Sterling Highway, about 36 miles south of Anchorage. It is a beautiful town in a green lush forest surrounded by the Chugach Mountains. You can also see several glaciers spilling out from the snow-capped mountains.
Girdwood is home to the internationally known Alyeska Ski Resort. No matter what season you are in on your drive from Anchorage to Seward, there is something to do and see in Girdwood.
One summer my family and I hiked up Aleyaka Mountain at the resort and rode the ski gondola back down to the ground. The views at the top were unforgettable.
Girdwood has lovely restaurants and shops and is a great choice to stop for souvenirs or refreshments.
Read next: How To Pack Lightly For Your Alaska Trip
This spectacular view is from atop Aleyska Mountain in Girdwood!
7) Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center Is Worth Your Time
Located about 50 miles out of Anchorage, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a non-profit organization worth the visit. The conservation center provides a home for orphaned, ill or injured wild animals. Those unable to care for themselves.
There is an admission fee onto the grounds, and there you will be able to drive or walk their 1.5-mile viewing loop to safely view their wild animals.
When my family and I visited, we watched the afternoon feeding of black bears. Some of the other animals we saw included moose, owls, wolves, and porcupine.
The gift shop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is very large and has quite an extensive inventory of souvenirs for you to look at. I think you and your family would enjoy this attraction during the drive from Anchorage to Seward.
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This family of caribou is an example of the wild animals you can see at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
8) Portage Glacier Is Worth The Side Trip
The Portage Glacier Access Road is found nearly next to the Wildlife Conservation Center off the Seward Highway. You will travel about five miles until you reach the Begich Boggs Visitor Center. It is very impressive and worth a visit.
Unfortunately, Portage Glacier is retreating (melting) and is no longer visible from the telescopes at the visitor center. However, there are interesting and interpretive exhibits that let you touch an iceberg and walk through an ice cave.
Portage Glacier remains one of Alaska’s more popular roadside attractions and if you want to view the glacier up close, you can take a one-hour boat cruise from the visitor center.
If you are more adventurous, there are numerous hiking trails that lead to the glacier.
Stunning Portage Glacier.
9) Whittier Alaska Has Unspoiled Wilderness
Whittier is located 11 miles off the Seward Highway and just 6 miles past the Portage Glacier Visitor Center on the access road. It is a tiny town with an interesting history and a port town located on Prince William Sound.
My favorite memory of Whittier is driving through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. Whittier was a secret military installation during World War II, and to provide access to the Seward Highway a tunnel was blasted through solid granite for a train supply tunnel.
In 2000 the tunnel was overhauled to include auto traffic as well. Now both trains and vehicular traffic travel through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. BUT not at the same time.
There are schedules available if you are short on time. When we visited, we happily sat in line and waited our turn as the train traveled first. Such a unique story and an amazing experience!
Whittier has a gorgeous harbor, where the mountains meet the sea. Various kinds of boat charters are available, as well as kayaking and even scuba diving, due in large part to the pristine waters of Prince William Sound.
Stop for a bite to eat, drive the tunnel or simply look around this historic town that played such an important part in World War II. You will not be sorry you stopped at Whittier during your drive from Anchorage to Seward.
The charming boat harbor in Whittier Alaska.
10) Tern Lake Is A Mecca For Wildlife
You will find Tern Lake at mile marker 90 at the junction of the Seward Highway and the Sterling Highway. (The Sterling Highway leads you west to the sister cities of Soldotna and Kenai, and then south to Homer.)
Read about Homer: 20 Unique Things To Do In Homer
Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Tern Lake is home to a vast array of birds, fish, and wildlife. And it all depends on the time of year you choose to visit, what type of animals you will see.
Bald eagles, black bears, and Dall sheep call Tern Lake home. At dusk, you may sight a beaver or muskrat. Salmon returning home to spawn is one of the most interesting things to see in the summer in Alaska.
And you just may be able to spot some at Dave’s Creek, near the picnic area.
For raw beauty and the sheer abundance of wildlife, Tern Lake is a great stop on your drive from Anchorage to Seward.
The stunningly beautiful Tern Lake
11) Moose Pass Is A Peaceful Little Town
On my last trip to Alaska, I stayed in Moose Pass with my family. It is a tiny little burg along the Seward Highway at mile marker 98 and only 30 miles outside of Seward to the south.
I will always remember the view of the mountains outside of our windows. Located on the shores of Upper Trail Lake and literally surrounded by the Chugach National Forest, Moose Pass has gorgeous views in all directions.
Although it is just a tiny little peaceful town, Moose Pass could make a good base for hiking and kayaking and all things outdoors.
The scenery from Moose Pass. Everywhere from Anchorage to Seward are beautiful landscapes to see!
12) Visit Exit Glacier To See It Up Close And Personal
At mile marker 123, and less than four miles away from Seward is Exit Glacier Road. It is slightly longer than 8 miles and leads to the Exit Glacier parking lot and its Nature Center.
Exit Glacier is one of the Kenai Fjords National Park’s most popular tourist destinations in Alaska because it is so easily accessible. Exit Glacier originates in the Harding Icefield in the Kenai Mountains.
One of the things you might remember most about your visit to Exit Glacier is how fast and how far it is receding. Exit Glacier is a stark and visible indicator of glacial recession likely due to global warming.
There are markers all along the walkways indicating where the glacier was in the progression of years that they mark. There are bathrooms, running water, and picnic tables for lunch or a snack if you so desire at Exit Glacier.
There are many levels of hikes to select from, and it is best to gather information from the rangers in the Nature Center. However, most begin with the Glacier Overlook walk. It is stroller and wheelchair accessible and will take you about 90 minutes round trip and will take you out to view Exit Glacier.
There are many other hikes to choose from with various degrees of difficulty, and the rangers at the Nature Center can provide information to help you choose which is hike best for you and your family.
This picture shows my daughter Victoria’s displeasure at the receding of Exit Glacier since she last visited in 2005.
13) Seward Is The Gateway City
Seward Alaska is located at the terminus of the Seward Highway. It serves as the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park. Seward boasts impressive landscapes and a multitude of marine wildlife that call Resurrection Bay their home.
Did I say impressive landscapes? Seward is where the mountains greet the ocean. The vistas are striking and unforgettable. And due to its location, Seward has rather temperate and mild temperatures all year long.
Besides visiting Exit Glacier, one of my favorite things to do when I am in Seward is taking a wildlife and glacier cruise right out of the Seward harbor. You will NEVER ever forget seeing and hearing a glacier calving.
Or seeing whales, puffins, and otters in their natural habitats in Resurrection Bay.
There are several companies that offer cruises, and several different lengths of time they are offered. If it helps, I took a four-hour cruise once, and a 7.5-hour cruise another time I visited. Both were awesome. It depends on your budget and how much time you have.
Tickets here: Seward: Kenai Fjords National Park 6-Hour Cruise
Tickets here: Seward: Kenai Fjords National Park 7.5-Hour Cruise
Tickets here: Seward: Self-Guided Audio Tour
Seward’s boat harbor in Resurrection Bay, where the mountains meet the sea.
Packing Tips For Your Trip To Alaska
I think that using these useful packing tips will enhance your trip from Anchorage to Seward and help you remain organized while there.
A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring with you on your Alaskatrip. This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind. You can keep your most valuable documents safe and secure next to your body.
If you have a pouch already you may not want to or need to invest in a new one, like me. If it does not come with the RFID protection, these RFID sleeves would be handy to prevent identity theft. This configuration comes with enough passport and credit card sleeves that the entire family would be protected.
I was never a fan of packing cubes until I tried them out! Now I am sold. These Bagail packing cubes are the exact ones I use whenever I travel. I cannot believe how much more organized I am now!
If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery. This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry withme on all of my trips.
It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone like I have. And wow is it fast! I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about. And if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.
My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek Selfie Stick and Tripod for my birthday. It has Bloothtooth connectivity so it is very easy to use. It is made of durable aluminum and is very lightweight and easy to carry. I love mine and I think you will enjoy it too!
Travel Locks are an important consideration. I always travel with locks for my luggage. I lock my luggage in my hotel room or Air BnB if there is no room safe for me to use.
Hydration is so important. You want to remain hydrated to support your immune system which in turn will be stronger to fight off any germs you will encounter during your travels. You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.
I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for travel and it will fit nicely in the pocket of a backpack or your purse. Also when filled with water, it is not too heavy to carry.
Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium. Then this set of collapsible silicone foldable water bottles would work well for you. Would not take up much space in your suitcase at all. And you will be receiving a set of two.
You will want to bring a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc.. This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great.
It is very affordable and is available in many color options for you to choose from. The fact that it folds down into a zippered pouch will make it easy to pack.
Perhaps you need a more substantial backpack for your international travel. This antitheft backpack has a charging port, is water-resistant and can comfortably carry up to a 15.6″ laptop.
It comes in a range of colors to choose from and it is inexpensive as well.
You will be walking more than usual when visiting Alaska. A sturdy and comfortable pair of walking shoes is a must-have. These waterproof all-season shoes are extremely affordable and yet fashionable.
Mostly everyone is familiar with the Skechers brand, and these Air Run high fashion sneakers come in a lot of colors to match your outfits and are still affordable.
And let us not forget the beach shoes for Alaska’s pebbly beaches. These quick dry slip on aqua shoes are a great selection. They come in a ton of bright colors for men, women, and children.
You may be visiting Alaska in warmer weather, and you may want a pair of sandals to wear exploring. I highly recommend these Vionics adjustable strap orthotic sandals.
I have several pairs of these exact Vionic sandals in several colors that I bring with me *everywhere* I travel. They are very comfortable. I also sometimes bring along my Vionic Tides flip flops. The toe post is so comfortable which makes wearing these super comfortable.
Bring a lightweight scarf or shawl. Both men and women wear scarves, both decoratively and as a layering piece to keep warm. This cotton unisex lightweight scarf is versatile and can be worn in any season.
And here’s another option to consider: this lightweight sunscreen shawl scarf would do double duty to protect you from the sun in the warmer seasons as well as being a fashion accessory layering piece.
We all need to protect our eyes from the sun’s harmful UVA/UVB rays. These unisex polarized sunglasses come in a lot of lens colors and frame designs and are extremely affordable too.
If you are fond of the aviator-style of sunglasses these polarized aviators may interest you. I like polarized sunglasses because they remove the glare off the water and help you to see things more clearly. This will be very helpful in Kotor.
Don’t forget to bring along a universal power adapter on your trip to see the pretty towns in Alaska if necessary. This worldwide power plug is a great example and will charge your phone at the end of your busy days.
And this world traveler adapter kit can charge several devices at the same time. This is what you will need when there are several people traveling in your group, or if you bring several electronic devices on your trip that require charging at the same time.
If you are in need of new luggage, this expandable soft side spinner luggage is affordable and comes in lots of colors. If you like hard-sided better, then you may favor this hard-sided luggage set better. Both sets come with TSA approved zippers locks and 8 wheels per piece. Either will be great for the plane or train or even your car depending on how you plan to travel to Alaska.
Have you ever visited Alaska and made the trip from Anchorage to Seward along the Seward Highway? Was your experience as epic as mine was? Do you have any other stops to add to my list for others to explore? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.
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