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When it comes to visiting Alaska, there’s a definite hierarchy in the destinations most people visit. Depending on which season(s) and region(s) you’re planning to explore, you’ll probably hit some of the “big” cities (Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau), plus a few of the smaller touristy ones (Denali, Seward, Ketchikan, etc.) depending on your mode of transport and travel style.
Then there are the even smaller Alaskan communities that still have infrastructure for tourists – but are so far off the beaten path that most people either don’t have the time or inclination to visit.
Over my many years of visiting Alaska, I’ve slowly been working to travel further and farther into The Last Frontier; sure, I grew up visiting Hope (population 79) – but I only just made my first visit to Chicken (population 12) in 2023! I also made sure to visit another small community, Seldovia (population 238), during my trip to Homer in 2022. This post is a guide all about visiting Seldovia from Homer – if you’re trying to do the same.
Below you’ll find all the basics to plan your trip to Seldovia, from transportation logistics to meals to accommodations and – of course – what there is to do once you get there! Hopefully, this inspires you to dedicate some time during your adventures on the Kenai Peninsula to this small, once-bustling, now-delightfully-quiet town.
In this post, I promote travel to a national park that is the traditional lands of the Alutiiq (Sugpiaq) and Dena’ina Ełnena peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
How to Travel to Seldovia
As Seldovia is not connected to any other communities in Alaska by road, you’ll need to take a boat or fly to get there. Here are the main marine options to reach Seldovia if you want to visit – either as a day trip, or for a longer time:
- By AMHS Ferry – If you want to bring your car to visit (which is not necessary), the Alaska Marine Highway System (aka the Ferry) does connect Homer and Seldovia. The 2024 schedule hasn’t been released as of writing this in late 2023, but the current proposed schedule suggests you will be able to ride the ferry on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.
- By Seldovia Bay Ferry – If you don’t want to bring your car, there’s another ferry option: the Seldovia Bay Ferry. This ferry runs several times per day (usually four times daily, six days a week) and is a great option if you want lots of flexibility in terms of going to/from Seldovia.
- By Water Taxi – If you’re looking for a less formal and more frequent way to travel to Seldovia from Homer for a longer visit (especially overnight), water taxis are the way to go. Mako’s is the most commonly recommended, though many of the fishing charter companies are willing to let you book custom transportation if you’re willing to pay.
- By Day Boat Tour – If you only want to plan a Seldovia day trip, there are a few companies that offer day trips here; I booked with Rainbow Tours, who allowed us a few hours in Seldovia – the perfect amount of time for a day trip from Homer!
You could also fly to Seldovia if your budget allows; Smokey Bay Air offers daily flights (based on demand), and K-Bay Air offers charter flights. These flights from Homer to Seldovia are short (<15 minutes) but can be a great way to get there quickly and enjoy some flightseeing in the process.
Things to Do in Seldovia
Once you arrive in Seldovia, you might be wondering “what on earth is there to do?” For a community of less than 300 people, the answer is – to be completely honest – not a lot… and that’s part of the charm of visiting! You don’t need a lot of time to visit and you don’t need to jam-pack a day trip to see it all; instead, you can plan a relaxing escape with a few of these things to do in Seldovia to fill your days with no rushing about.
Explore the Seldovia Museum & Visitor’s Center
Whether you’re fresh off the ferry or just day-tripping to Seldovia, the Visitor’s Center/Seldovia Museum is a good first place to visit: it’s home to the basics of the town, where it makes sense for visitors to go and things to do depending on the day (as well as relevant info like tides and trail conditions if you’re planning to explore outdoors).
The Museum is home to small exhibits about the Seldovia Village Tribe, peoples who came before, and the history of the community – including its many roles in the modern/European industries that defined Alaskan industry as a whole (the fur trade, logging, mining, fishing, etc.). It’s an essential stop to add some context to your visit.
Stroll the Boardwalk
After visiting the Museum, you’ll have a sense of why the modern Seldovia Boardwalk is important; it’s an relic of and homage to the large boardwalk that used to define the Seldovia waterfront before the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake that transformed so many communities in Southcentral Alaska (Seldovia included).
Today, a short stretch of historic boardwalk remains on the Seldovia Slough is lined with a few shops and residences and is a nice place to stroll if the weather is good.
Admire Chainsaw Carvings All Over Town
Pre-pandemic, Seldovia played host to a truly unique Alaskan festival: the Seldovia Craft Invitational Chainsaw Carving Competition. While the name is a mouthful, the final products are delightful – and you can see them all over when walking around town. From giant mosquitos to whales to walruses to the “Seldovia” sign near the city dock, Seldovia is proud of these works of artistry and you can spot over 40 of them as you visit. (I couldn’t find a good walking tour guide for them; maybe I’ll make one after my next visit!)
Visit Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
The influence of Russian Orthodox missionaries in Southwest, Southcentral, and Southeast Alaska can still be seen today – including in Seldovia. Russian fur traders and missionaries were some of the first non-Native people to arrive in this part of what would become Alaska, and they left their mark typically in the form of Orthodox churches and/or cemeteries.
In Seldovia, it’s worth the short climb up to Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church even if the church isn’t open; you can peer through the windows to admire the simplicity and beauty of this building that dates back to roughly 1891 (a church likely stood on this spot for over 200 years!). There’s also a sign with some basic information about the building and Seldovia’s Orthodox history.
Spend Time at the Beach
While you might not think of beaches and Alaska in the same sentence, Seldovia – and the Kenai Peninsula as a whole, including Homer, Seward, etc. – is actually a great destination for spending time at the beach due to the miles and miles of coastline.
You (probably) won’t be laying out a towel and slathering on a bunch of sunscreen – though you might see locals doing so on a particularly nice day – but you can absolutely enjoy some excellent beachcombing, especially at low tide. (Here’s a guide to Seldovia’s tides from NOAA.)
There are two main beaches in Seldovia: Inside Beach – an easy walk from town – and Outside Beach, which sits at the end of the Otterbahn Trail. Speaking of trails…
Hit the Trails on a Hike
Seldovia has some lovely “urban” hikes – and by urban, I just mean that they’re near town, not that Seldovia has anything resembling an urban jungle you’ll need to navigate!
The Otterbahn Trail is by far the most popular; this 1.9-mile out-and-back trail has relatively little elevation change and tons of foot traffic – though you should still be attentive for wildlife in the area as you do hike through wooded areas and low-lying marshlands (via boardwalk) as you approach the beach. I hiked this one during my visit and it’s a really lovely walk through the old-growth Spruce forest.
The other trail that I hear mentioned a lot (but haven’t hiked myself) is Rocky Ridge Trail. This trail isn’t in most hiking guides (like AllTrails, which is what I use), but here’s a handy guide if you’re looking for a less popular trail to hike during your visit.
Where to Eat in Seldovia
No matter how long you spend in Seldovia – even if just a day trip –, you’ll probably need a snack. There aren’t a ton of options in a community this small, but I still did a bunch of research to make sure I was eating at the best spots during my (short) visit, and here’s what I found:
- The Seldovia Boardwalk Hotel’s Pub & Grill is definitely a popular spot, with great views of the harbor. The food is tasty but pretty standard for Alaskan restaurants.
- Linwood Bar & Grill is a year-round watering hole, and a good spot to experience local color. The food menu is basic – soups, salads, and sandwiches/burgers along with appetizers and a couple of seafood options. Oh, and there’s pizza – of course – because no Alaskan community seems to be able to exist without a pizza place!
- I chose to grab a snack – they’re famous for their “Seldovia Sweet Biscuits” – at Jack and Aiva Restaurant, and then return for lunch during my visit. It’s a homey little spot that’s a nice alternative to the other two – and less busy as it’s like 50 feet further down the road!
- For breakfast and lunch, Perry’s Cafe at the Sea Parrot inn is a good option; it too is only open seasonally.
As you can see, there aren’t a lot of choices; there are more than enough options for a day trip, overnight, or even a weekend getaway… though you might start to feel like a local when you get recognized returning to the same spots over and over!
Where to Stay in Seldovia
Speaking of overnights, I do want to include a quick section on accommodations even though the vast majority of people only visit Seldovia for a day trip. As with restaurants, your options are limited, so this won’t take long!
- The Seldovia Boardwalk Hotel is what I would consider the ‘go-to’ for where to stay in Seldovia; its waterfront location is central and prime for those who want to be right in town. They also have 11 rooms, making it the biggest accommodation if you have a group or need more space.
- The Sea Parrot Inn is a quirky little hotel with four unique rooms for groups of different sizes.
- Central Suites of Seldovia offers fully equipped suites if you’re planning a longer stay and want more amenities; it’s not on the water but is close to everything.
- The Seldovia Harbor Inn is small and homey, more like a B&B than a hotel, but you’ll be on your own for breakfast.
- Thyme on the Boardwalk is located on the boardwalk and offers both cottage and suite rentals away from the “hustle and bustle” of the city dock.
- Alaska Dancing Eagles Vacation Cabin Rental is also on the boardwalk and has fantastic views from its large over-water porch. This is a great option for families!
- House on the Rock B&B is located at the other end of town from the boardwalk, away from the “crowds” (using that term loosely) but with great views of Seldovia Bay and Cook Inlet thanks to their unique location.
And that just about covers it! Have any other questions about how to visit Seldovia, what to do there, or how to fill your time in this way-off-the-beaten-path Alaskan community? Let me know in the comments below!
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