The entire peninsula upon which Seward is located is called Kenai. There is, however, a beach and small town called Kenai, and it's on the opposite side of the peninsula from Seward.
If you love solitude, stunning natural beauty (gentle fields, mountains, crystal blue fjords, deserted beaches and lots and lots of wildlife), then you need to budget about six hours for a roundtrip drive and maybe a picnic lunch in Kenai. The trip from Seward to Kenai is just over 100 miles and will take you about two hours. You'll want to allow more time to take pictures, to stop for a closer look, and even for a few little "mini hikes" along the way.
Here are the basic directions from Seward to Kenai, pirated straight from yahoo maps. :)
SEWARD HWY(AK-9) - go 36 miles
Turn Left on STERLING HWY(I-A1) - go 57 miles
Turn Right on KENAI SPUR HWY - go 12 miles
And you're pretty much there. BTW, you CAN drive onto the beach at Kenai, but please make sure you are driving a four wheel drive and you know what you are doing. Otherwise, you might get yourself stuck, and I suspect it could take quite a while to get help in escaping. :) (NO, we didn't get stuck, but I heard from a local about a guy who did a few days earlier.... it was really the pits.... and then the tide started coming in. You get the picture)
If you'd like to learn more about the sport and practice of dog sledding, I'd suggest that you take a ride out to Mitch Seavey's place. Mitch and his people are long-time participants in Alaska's famous Iditarod dog sledding race, and I understand taht Mitch won it once. Sledding and the raising of sled dogs are Mitch's career, life and passion, and his main operation is situated just outside Seward.
If you'd like to actually RIDE in a dogsled, you can visit Mitch's "Iditaride" facility. No matter the season, it can happen. We visited Seward in June of 1999, and we rode behind a team of dogs pulling a sled with tires. :)
Like I say, it's been a long time since we visited Seward, almost 10 years as I write this tip. I don't exactly remember how to get out to Seavey's... but I remember it was easy to find and not a long drive. Contact info is listed below, which should make it easier for you. When we visited Seward, it was well before Seavey's had a website. :)
Mile 1.1 Old Exit Glacier Rd.
Seward, AK 99664 firstname.lastname@example.org
Exit Glacier and Hiking along Resurrection River
Just north of Seward, is the Exit Glacier Road. Take some time to go hiking to the glacier ($5 per car to enter the national park) or just park at a pulloff and go for a hike along the river. This is some beautiful scenery, take the time to see it.
A long narrow L shaped lake in the middle of the Kenai Peninsula. Doubtless home to a wide range of wildlife and a haven for fisherpeople. We just stopped for a quick photo and then traveled on to our destination of Seward and the Kenai Fjords.
Lowell Point is a small, unchartered community 3 milesw south of Seward. The locals like to say 'It's the end of the road where Alaska begins.'
On the Bay B&B http://www.onthebayak.com/index.html 13710 Beach Drive, 907-224-8237;
Anhels Rest http://www.angelsrest.com/
13730 Beach Drive 907-224-7378 - cabin;
Miller's Landing http://www.seward-alaska.com/millers Beach Drive 907-224-5739 -cabins, camping & RV sites, kayak rentals, tours & lessons, fishing charters, water taxi;
Alaska Saltwater Lodge http://www.alaskasaltwaterlodge.com/ 13970 Beach Drive 907-224-5271- rooms & suites;
Sunny Cove Kayaking Company http://www.alaska.net/~kayakak/ 13970 Beach Drive 907-224-8810 - kayak tours;
Alaska Kayak Camping Company http://www.seward.net/kayakcamp/ 13990 Beach Drive 90-224-6056 - kayak tours;
The Beach House http://www.beachhousealaska.com/ Beach Drive 907-224-7000- cabins;
Ocean Front B & B email@example.com 14150 Beach Drive 907-224-5699;
Victorian Serenity By the Sea http://www.seward-alaska.com/cabin/- cabins
The 'Point' is surrounded by State and National Parks & Forests. A very nicely mainetained trail to Tonsina Creek, then on to Cains Head - site of WWII Fort McGillvary.
Since Lowell Point is unincorporated, it is subject to a 2% Kenai Peninsula Borough sales tax and there is no additional bed tax, so you get extra value for you dollar.
There is a working farm on the 'Point' on the Miller Family Homestead and you can buy farm fresh eggs in the Miller's Landing store.
I'm putting the Aialik Glacier in this category because it is not normally on the Kenai Fjords Tour. On 7 trips in 1996, I never saw it. We always visited the Holgate Glacier. In July, 2001 I was able to see the Aialik Glacier for the first time. The captain announced that they normally weren't able to get in to see this glacier because it is very active. In other words, huge chunks of glacial ice are calving off this glacier at fairly regular intervals. This makes it too dangerous for boats to get near. Lucky for us, the glacier had slowed down a bit while we were there. :-) Both glaciers are in beautiful settings but I liked the Aialik more - perhaps because it was something new...
After running into a couple fellow Floridians on our trip to Alaska, we learned of Miller's Landing on Lowell Point in Seward.
Miller's Landing is a campground/fish camp about 2.5 miles down a gravel road. Park at Miller's and walk around the building to the shore. From there you can see otters playing along the shore and great views of the bay.
We didn't camp there but it seems to be a rustic atmosphere and may be a neat place to stay also.
When the original townsite of Seward was established in 1903, Lowell Creek ran down what is now Jefferson Street. Since it produced from one to three severe floods per year, a diversion dam and tunnel were built starting in August 1939 and finished in November 1940. The diversion dam is 400 feet long with a maximum height of 25 feet. The tunnel, which runs through Bear Mountain, is 10 feet in diameter and 2068 feet long. The tunnel outlet creates the waterfall. When I was there in August 2007, several people were finishing where the water ran into Resurrection Bay. There is a good view of Resurrection Bay from Lowell Creek on the west side of Seward.
I passed the Woodlawn Cemetery going to and from the Camelot Cottages. Although it is in a remote spot, it looked interesting and I stopped for a look. The lady from the Ho-Hum Lodge, which is across the road, came over to help me (she thought I was looking for someone in particular). Her husband maintains the cemetery on his own. By far the most interesting gravesite is Mary Lowell's, since Seward's history started with this special woman.
According to archaeologist, Michael R. Yarborough, the first non-aboriginal settlers in the region were Frank and Mary (Forgal) Lowell. Frank was born in 1848 and died in 1923, and Mary was born in 1855 and died in 1906. They may have settled there as early as 1884. Mary's homestead filing indicates that she settled on her claim on August 15, 1888. The 1890 census showed that the family lived on Resurrection Bay near what is now Lowell Creek. The U.S. Geological Survey in 1911 indicated that Mary was "half Russian and half Knik Indian."
Although Frank abandoned Mary in 1893 and moved to Kodiak, she continued to raise her nine children on her own. They were virtually cut off from much of the world, but apparently lived a very prosperous subsistence lifestyle, building several homes and outbuildings in the area. Unfortunately, although she survived the abandonment by her husband, who divorced her in 1895, by 1903 she had sold to the railroad developers all of her holdings for $4,000 and 37 lots in the town.
"Mary Lowell was basically overrun by civilization," Yarborough said. She died in 1906 from tuberculosis. A number of landmarks carry the family name, including Lowell Canyon, Lowell Creek, Lowell Point and Lowell Glacier. Mount Marathon is one peak on the former Lowell Mountain. Additionally, Mount Alice and Mount Eva are named for two of the Lowell daughters. Mount Alice is the most prominent mountain directly across the bay from Seward, and Mount Eva is the peak directly to the north of Mount Alice.
Kawabe Park is named for Seward businessman and pioneer, Harry Sotaro Kawabe, who was born in 1890 in Japan. He went to Seward in 1915, purchased a laundry and started the successful Seward Steam Laundry. He opened the Seward Assay Office in 1934, then three months later founded Kawabe Investment and Trading, an import and export business. Kawabe Park is located at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Adams Street. It is a stop on the new trolley line and has clean public restrooms.
The Resurrection River is fed by glaciers so the water is not clear. The glacial flour in the water also keeps the river from having very many fish. However, there are companies that provide 8-mile non-whitewater float trips from near the Exit Glacier down to Seward.
Lowell Point is a local name, first reported in 1905 by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. It was named after Frank and Mary Lowell, who settled on Resurrection Bay in 1884. Lowell Point is about 3 miles south of Seward and now has beautiful beach homes overlooking Resurrection Bay. It seemed like the beach was public though, since many people were walking and fishing there. I watched a guy and his family land a nice fish, which probably ended up in the skillet for dinner.
While the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill was an environmental disaster for Kenai Fjords National Park, part of the litigation settlement money paid for a waterfront tract at Lowell Point to be used as a trailhead and access to the Caines Head State Recreation Area (Fort McGilvery during World War II). A 4.5 mile coastal trail goes from Lowell Point to the recreation area; however, due to flood damage in Oct 06, it was closed. People can still take a boat or water taxi to get to Caines Head. When it re-opens, you may get a trail guide and tide information at the Kenai Fjords National Park Visitors' Center on the Seward Small Boat Harbor.
Funny how you can miss something like this on the way up and then on the way back realize just how special it is. A field of wild flowers on the trail leading to the Harding Icefield.