Bore tides. Panning for gold. Animal lover paradise. Connecting Anchorage and Seward (127 miles), Seward Highway is pure wonder and is easy to explore. Also known as Alaska Scenic Byway, it runs through Turnagain Arm, Chugach National Forest, and Kenai Peninsula, ascends to 1000 feet at the mountains and then dropping down to the sea level within an hour. With a little planning and plenty of time, you will have a lot of fun there.

Here are the must-see places south of Anchorage, along the Seward Highway. You can visit them all during your trip to Seward (or on the way back from Seward to Anchorage) or take a separate trip.

Potter Marsh

Located at the south end of Anchorage, Potter Marsh is part of Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge and known as a premium spot for birding. We didn’t see much of the waterfowl (lack of the binoculars or too much giggling from the kids?) but really enjoyed the views and boardwalk. Lots of spawning salmon in Rabbit Creek underneath the boardwalk.

Salmon run in Rabbit Creek. Potter Marsh, Alaska
Potter Marsh, Alaska

McHugh Creek

Looking for a scenic picnic spot? Try McHugh Creek day use area in the beautiful Chugach State Park. You will find picnic tables, restrooms, trails, and nice scenery.

Entrance to the park is south of milepost 111.

Beluga Point

Watch for beluga whales (relatively small white whales) and maybe orcas hunting belugas. “Beluga” comes from the Russian word “belyi” – white. Didn’t see either of them but had a lot of fun climbing the rocky beach. The views are amazing.

Did you know there is Bore Tide surfing in Alaska? Even if you are not into surfing, check the schedule and watch for Bore Tide, right from the Beluga Point. It’s a unique thing happening in Alaska. We missed that, didn’t even know it existed at the time!

Rocky cliffs of Beluga Point (across the railways). Seward Highway

Windy Point

Dall sheep and mountain goats gather at this point of Seward Highway to lick the salt deposits and munch on plants. We were lucky to see a bunch of them, paying little attention to the crowds and clicking cameras. Be very careful and watch after your kiddos here, as cars pass this part of the highway without slowing down too much.

Windy Point, Seward Highway
Mountain goat posing at Windy Point, Seward Highway

Indian Valley Mine

Found in 1910 and now listed as National Historic Site, Indian Valley showcases an early mining settlement back from early 1900th. It’s an excellent place to pan for gold with kids. Keep change clothes on hand or some rain gear for the little ones – there is no way they will be staying dry after shaking and swirling a pan dozens of times! Leo was skeptical about this activity, but kids and I really enjoyed it. Especially when we finally picked our very real gold pieces (very tiny though). The host is helpful and generous. This place was a highlight on our trip back from Homer to Anchorage and a lot of fun despite the rainy weather. Oh, and there’s the cutest outhouse on-site.

Some of the Indian Valley Mine feathered residents
Panning for gold. Indian Valley Mine
Mission accomplished: tiny bits of real gold. Indian Valley Mine

Bird Point

Another great place to watch the tidal phenomenon – Bore Tide. Scenic views of the Turnagain Arm from the overlooking platform (similar to Beluga Point). Restrooms on site.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Located in a beautiful setting, AWCC is an animal sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaskan wildlife. Don’t leave Alaska until you visit this place, where you can watch a large variety of local animals, many of them up close: wolverine, lynx, brown bears, porcupines, wood bison, black bears, a grizzly bear, fox, coyotes, wolves, moose, elk, muskox, caribou, reindeer, bald eagle, and great horned owl.

Some of them were rescued: from the forest fire, after losing mom in early infancy or after being captured. You can learn many interesting stories from the displays, make sure to check them out. I remember one about porcupine who became a pet after some family found it abandoned in a wild. It’s been living as part of a family for 3 years, sleeping in the same bed with a child.

Moose having leisure time. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

We had luck with bears. Their habitat is huge, so seeing them up close may only happen during their feeding time.

Bear standing up at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

If you were lucky to see giant Alaskan veggies grown by locals in the Mat-Su Valley, you might wonder where they are ended up eventually. Well, now you know! 🙂 .

Mike Miller, Executive Director of The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center with bears
photo credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

As usually, dress in layers. There is a glacier right across the sanctuary and you can feel its breath even on a hot day. Comfy shoes are also a must.

You don’t need much to explore Seward Highway: check out the schedule for Bore Tide and pack plenty of snacks and water. Be very cautious walking at the beach during low tide: mudflats works like quicksand and are very dangerous. Keeping a safe distance with wildlife is important too: even “harmless” animals can charge without warning. Also, no feeding the wildlife, please. It won’t make any good for them to get used to human food or have a close encounter with you or your lovely kids.