Are you looking for the perfect day trip outside of Anchorage, Alaska? Are you looking for adventure, pampering and some mind blowing seafood? We have just the plan for you. Our “Half-way to Homer” route will take you along some of the most scenic alpine views. Wildlife is abundant along the route. Every turn and bend in the road offers majestic views of the towering snowy peaks. There are ample opportunities to take day hikes and wander the Alaskan countryside.
First stop will be at the grocery store in Anchorage. There aren’t a lot of affordable options along the way to grab some water and snacks. Hit a Safeway, save yourself a few bucks. If you are partial to picnics, pack a lunch. Lets go! Head south east on the New Seward road. The road winds along the Turnagain Arm inlet. Along the route which is located in the Chugach State Park, there are a number of pull offs to check out the bay and learn about the sea-life that lives in it. Leave a little early in the morning if you want to avoid some of the crowds that have the same idea as you.
The beauty of this route is just how much it has to offer. For couples that like to hike, there a dozens of trail heads that offer parking and maps of hikes appealing to the gentle walker to the skilled trekker. Locals rave about the Bird Creek trail. A good description and map is available here.
A Spa with a View
Our next stop is at the Alyeska Resort, Spa and Tram. The resort offers high end accommodations, but you don’t have to be a guest to sign up for one of their many spa treatments. Treatments include many natural Alaskan products. Once your muscles have been massaged, how about lunch? Even better yet, how about lunch with a million dollar view? On the second level of the resort, snag your tram tickets. They offer a number of different options that get you on the tram and much of your lunch price covered. There are two dinning options at the top, a fine dining restaurant, and a cafeteria option. The food is ok. The view is outstanding! The tram ticket is good for unlimited trips up and down the mountain. Just scan you ticket and board the tram to the top. The journey takes 7 mins. It goes by quick, so have the camera all prepped and ready.
The resort offers a number of other outdoor adventures including helicopter and airplane rides exploring the area, as well as guided hikes and fishing. Yes, you could stay there all day…or even all week!
As you leave the resort turn left back onto the Seward highway. Another 20 or so miles you will see a sign for Portage. Take the left turn and follow the river. The water color is so unique due to the minerals in the water. Portage lake, depending on the season of your visit has floating ice chunks that have tumbled off the surrounding mountains. The lake has a nice visitor’s center, and walking path at the lake’s edge. Dip a toe in. The water hovers around freezing for much of the year! There are a number of campgrounds and day use picnic areas along the road to the lake as well. In the summer months, May through Aug, you can board a small ferry that can take you on a scenic cruise around the lake.
Leaving Portage, the highway is a little less “user friendly”. Frost heaves and the rough Alaskan winter takes it toll on some parts of the road. While it is very drivable, there are some potholes and bumps and jumps. Stop along your way at some of the roadside waterfalls that line some of the slow traffic pullouts.
Seafood in Seward
The little hamlet of Seward takes two things very seriously, fishing and tourist trapping. The open marina is lined with hundreds of pleasure and fishing vessels. The large fish processing facility anchors the inlet, then feeds out to the shoreline lines with fishing gear retailers, tourist traps, and some of the greatest fish houses this side of the Klondike. Our fave is the renowned Chinook. Just saying the name makes me hungry! Call ahead to assure yourself of a window side table. Ask for something away from the bar area if you are looking for something a little more quiet. The views of the coming and goings of the fishing fleet and rookie sailors is beyond entertaining.
Chinook’s liquid libations menu is impressive. The restaurant attracts sailors and seekers from around the globe, and the offering matches its eclectic clientele. As you would expect, the seafood offering is a must. While the list of selections is limited, you are not short-changed on the quality. We elected for the King Crab. A-Maze-zing! A word of warning: prices are steep, similar to what you would expect seeing on the lower 48. It is what it is. Don’t go cheap, and go else where.
What we didn’t find
We didn’t find a good place for dessert. Help us and our readers out. What do you recommend in Seward for the sweet tooth?
Point your car back toward Anchorage. Take your time on the beautiful drive back. Watch out for moose on the road around dusk. The drive takes a couple of hours. We would recommend fuelling in Seward, as there aren’t many offering between there and Anchorage.
We hope that you enjoy your trip ‘North to Alaska’!