The main thing visitors seem to enjoy about the drive to Seward (drive south from Anchorage) is the rocky coastline along Cook Inlet. There are small waterfalls dotting the landscape, a few glaciers, and the town itself is very well-maintained and also hosts an aquarium with otters, seals, puffins, etc. I admit, I like the town as well, but I never get the feeling I've left civilization when I'm there. I suppose I'm just the type of person who opts to take the road less traveled and socialize with the true Alaskan populace, not the business-owning, busy socialites of Seward. Seward has truly become the visitors' destination, being only a couple hours from Anchorage and consisting of almost nothing but Inns, B&B's, seafood dining, and breath-taking panoramas. The biggest downside for me is the highway which leads to Seward. With so many short trips available to weekend vacationers, locals flock to a dozen different locations along this highway. It leads to Ski Resorts, fishing, wind surfing, hiking, glacier trekking, cruises, whale watching and on and on. Unfortunately, that makes for a dangerously crowded road with a bunch of people going too fast and causing lots of accidents. Traffic regularly gets backed up for hours with fatal accidents. The thought of getting hit by one of these impatient drivers is enough to make me choose Valdez. That, and the fact that I would have to drive through the congested city of Anchorage to get there.
I'm a true Alaskan. I want silence and solitude, a highway where I see another traveler only every half hour, and a town that minds its own business, unless they see you're not catching any fish. In this case they'll be the first to let you know what you're doing wrong.
In the end, both destinations are beautiful, and if you're willing to fly, it's only a 45-60 minute ride to Valdez from the area of Anchorage. Though I personally don't like the drive to Seward, there is another option. In the summer there are fantastic train rides available to Seward, Denali and Fairbanks. If a traveler wants things done for them, it's best to book a package tour or book a train ride, cruise and hotel separately for Seward. Though some things are missed without a package tour option, you still get a little more freedom to wander around. Ultimately, there is no wrong choice when it comes to choosing a vacation destination in Alaska.
Watch my videos of Valdez fishing and bear watching here.