Member Spotlight: Major Marine Tours

Q&A With Colby Lawrence of Major Marine Tours

It’s often said that people make the place, and we couldn’t agree more. Our new spotlight series introduces you to Seward Chamber of Commerce members who make our community an incredible place to live, work and play. This week we’re proud to profile locally owned Major Marine Tours.

Operating nine vessels between March and October, Major Marine Tours provides various opportunities for visitors to access Kenai Fjords National Park and learn about its abundant marine wildlife. From observing orcas on their new Orca Quest Cruise to indulging in fresh Alaska salmon on a dinner cruise under the gaze of curious puffins, Major Marine offers something for everyone.

We recently sat down with Colby Lawrence to learn more about the 18-year journey he has taken from captain to Vice President of Marine Operations at Major Marine Tours.

Captain Colby Lawrence is Vice President of Marine Operations at Major Marine Tours. 

What makes your business special or unique? In other words, what are you known for?

Major Marine Tours is known for our great customer service and our close working relationship with the Kenai Fjords National Park. We have Park Rangers on our tours to narrate to guests about the amazing wildlife that we see in Resurrection Bay and the Gulf of Alaska.

Tell us about a product or service that you’re particularly proud of.

We are the only company in Seward that offers a tour into Aialik Bay that visits both Holgate Glacier and Aialik Glacier in a single day. It has been a very popular cruise for us and allows guests to see two very different tidewater glaciers.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

Almost daily, we hear from our guests, “This was the best part of our entire Alaska vacation!” We think this speaks volumes about our company and the amazing place we get to show off.

Horned puffins cruise past a Major Marine tour boat. Photo Courtesy of Major Marine Tours.

Tell us about a community member in Seward who you admire.

Tom Tougas is a generous supporter of all things Seward. He is a great business person and has helped me tremendously.

What do you like most about living and working in Seward?

Seward reminds me of the small town in Nebraska where I grew up. I enjoy knowing my neighbors and seeing all the familiar faces throughout the year. It’s so easy to access the outdoors from Seward that my wife and I also like to get in our RV and head out of town for the weekend. We take our dogs and 4-wheelers and go exploring.

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

In the summer there is nothing like sitting on the deck at our house enjoying the long hours of daylight with my wife and three dogs. In the winter if I could be on a snow machine (snowmobile to you folks from the lower 48) on a daily basis I would be a happy man. Also, one of my favorite spots that Major Marine takes tourists to is Northwestern Fjords, which is a favorite kayaking spot for my wife and me.

Major Marine’s focus on sustainable tourism garnered them an award at the Alaska SeaLife Center’s gala this year. Photo Courtesy of Major Marine Tours.

What would people be surprised to learn about your business or your journey as a business owner?

Our company was just awarded the 2018 Alaska Ocean Leadership Award for Stewardship & Sustainability by the Alaska SeaLife Center. This is a true honor for our company as we take the local environment very seriously and strive to do everything we can to preserve such a wonderful place.

Describe a risk that you’ve taken in your business that paid off.

About eight years ago we decided as a company that we were going to start investing more in Seward for the long haul. Since then, we started running a new trip to Northwestern Fjord, we have installed 10 new tier-3 diesel engines in four of our vessels, and we purchased what is now the Harbor 360 Hotel. Currently, we are building a new 150-passenger catamaran for the 2018 season.

What advice would you give to a new business owner who is working to build a business like yours?

Seward is a growing market. We have seen a solid increase in passengers over the last several years. Growing a business like Major Marine Tours is not something someone could expect to do overnight. I would say start small, provide excellent customer service, and continue to invest in your company.

Feature Image: Visitors marvel at humpback whales feeding about the Spirit of Adventure. Photo Courtesy of Major Marine Tours.

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For more information about Major Marine Tours or to book a trip, click here or call 907.274.7300.

Want more information about Seward or our Chamber of Commerce? Call 907.224.8051. 

 

 

 

Member Spotlight: Miller’s Landing

photo of captain chance millers landing

Q&A With Chance Miller of Miller’s Landing

It’s often said that people make the place, and we couldn’t agree more. Our new spotlight series introduces you to Seward Chamber of Commerce members who make our community an incredible place to live, work and play. This week we’re proud to profile Miller’s Landing, a family-owned fishing and adventure tourism business on Lowell Point, 2.5 miles south of Seward. 

The Miller family homestead was established in 1950 by Grandma Penny and her six children. After the 1964 earthquake, the family started a campground and boat rental business to make ends meet. Although that business lasted only four years, it made such an impression on young Mike that he founded Miller’s Landing in 1982 to help visitors experience this special place.

Today, Mike and his two sons, Chance and Tom, offer guided and self-guided fishing, kayaking, and sight-seeing tours and run water taxis to remote beaches and lodges. The homestead also features a campground and cabins, and their staff offers booking services to help visitors coordinate other lodging options, tours, and services.  

We recently sat down with Chance Miller to learn more about the journey he and his family have taken as small business owners in Seward.

What makes your business special or unique? In other words, what are you known for?

photo of millers landing porch
The porch is a popular gathering spot at the Landing. Photo courtesy Miller’s Landing. 

Miller’s Landing is really special for its unique trips and activities, but what probably sets us apart most is our location. We’re located on Lowell Point just south of Seward on our family homestead. All of our fishing charters and kayaking trips leave and return from here, so there’s really a different vibe compared to trips that leave from town.

We also rent skiffs and kayaks for people to take out on their own, so you see people coming and going from all types of experiences: spending a few days at a public use cabin, watching kids catch their first dolly off the beach, or coming back from a week-long kayaking expedition. A lot of people just relish the experience of being at the end of the road (or the start of it, depending on your perspective!).

What would people be surprised to learn about your business or your journey as a business owner?

Because we’re a family business, people often think that our parents just passed it on to us. That’s pretty far from the truth. I see our purchase of Miller’s Landing as an attempt at land preservation. A lot of homesteads fall apart, get subdivided and sold after the initial homesteaders pass on. I think my grandmother would be happy to see us holding the property in the family and sharing it with others. I’ve worked hard to continue to grow the business, to keep the land working, and also to facilitate my parents’ retirement—all while doing something I love.

Tell us about a product or service that you’re particularly proud of.

In an attempt to maximize our boats’ usage on halibut closure days, we created the Best of Alaska tour. It combines two of our most popular requests, a 4-hour kayaking trip to a tidewater glacier and a 4-hour rockfish and salmon fishing expedition, along with sightseeing to Aialik or Northwestern Fjords. Particularly in Northwestern Fjord, there are so few companies out there that a small group can really experience the remoteness and grandeur of Alaska. It’s also comparable in price to the cost of a full-day fishing charter, so it’s been a huge hit.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

photo of humpback whale feeding near boat at millers landing
A humpback whale feeds near the Fox Willie. Photo courtesy Miller’s Landing. 

We’ve been doing this for more than 35 years, so that’s hard to say! We get a lot of generous words from folks having a good time fishing or kayaking, and we’ve planned some memorable events. However, because we also offer water taxi service and travel all over Resurrection Bay, we often end up offering commercial marine assistance and doing rescues. So I guess it would have to be, “You saved my life!”

Describe a risk that you’ve taken in your business that paid off.

Building our new boat, the Fox Willie, was a pretty big risk that worked out so well that I want another one! Our new passenger inspected vessel had a big price tag, but it also offered more earning potential and exceeded our expectations during its inaugural season last year.

If your life was a book, what would the title be?

“Idiot’s Guide to Running the Family Business”

What advice would you give to a new business owner who is working to build a business like yours?

Don’t do it for the money. Even if you love what you do, there are sometimes parts that’ll feel like work. Those are the parts you need to focus on.

What do you like most about living and working in Seward?

photo of captain dustin cleaning fish at miller's landing
Captain Dustin cleans fish following a Best of Alaska trip. Photo: @bethanybartonphoto

I get a little addicted to the fast-paced nature of running boats and guiding; I sometimes even enjoy the lack of sleep that comes with managing the business. One of my favorite things about the season is the camaraderie between the staff. We get a mix of people who would normally never associate with one another, and by the end of the season, they’re family. It’s an uplifting sense of community built around hard work and play.

How do you spend your free time?

In the winter, I hang out with my wife to make up for being gone all summer. I really enjoy cooking, so feeding people is a big part of how I spend my free time.

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

I’d say Lowell Point, probably at the fish cleaning table, cutting my way through the day’s catch. I also enjoy sitting at my house or in the backyard where it’s quiet.

There are so many great wilderness areas to explore around Seward and Kenai Fjords. If you had a free weekend, where would you go?

I will always be enamored with Kayaker’s Cove; I met my wife there. I’d go there with the skiff and hang out with her when we first met. If I had to choose a boat trip, I’d probably head out West to McMullen for a night and then Taz Basin or Nuka Bay.

Feature Image: Captain Chance often has his hands full during fishing season. Photo courtesy Miller’s Landing. 

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For more information about Miller’s Landing or to book a trip, click here or call 907.331.4040

Want more information about Seward or our Chamber of Commerce? Call 907.224.8051. 

Winter Fun and Special Deals Abound on Second Saturdays!

winter beach in seward, ak

Celebrate Winter with Second Saturdays!

Winter transforms Seward from a bustling visitor hub to an oasis for Alaskans to play and recharge. To celebrate this special season, we’ve launched Seward Second Saturdays, a community-wide event scheduled for the weekends of Jan. 13, Feb. 10, Mar. 10, and Apr. 14. Enjoy quieter trails, fun activities and special discounts before the crowds return!

Make the Most of Your Visit With Our Itineraries 

In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, we’ve developed an itinerary for couples looking for a low-key, luxurious getaway or for individuals looking to recharge.

Looking for fun activities for the whole family? We’ve got an itinerary for that, too

 

Endless Winter Fun

Here are just a few ways to spend a weekend getaway in Seward!

  • Take a private boat charter on Resurrection Bay
  • Ride your fat bike to Exit Glacier 
  • Kayak out to Tonsina Point
  • Cross-country ski freshly-groomed trails on Bear Lake or at Mile 12 
  • Heli-ski in Seward’s coastal mountains 
  • Soak in a hot tub while watching the kids play in a pool overlooking the boat harbor
  • View Seward’s 12 original murals—we’re the Mural Capital of Alaska!
  • Indulge in local seafood while sipping a perfectly paired wine
  • Comb the beach for treasures
  • Walk the docks in the boat harbor to look for sea otters
  • Watch Alaska SeaLife Center Staff care for a baby Beluga whale
  • Shop for some of the nicest clothing, home decor, fabrics and yarns, art, jewelry, and tasty treats in our historic downtown
  • Wash down a mouthwatering burger while enjoying an Alaska brew
  • Get a tattoo from an award-winning artist
  • Stay in a cozy cabin in the woods
  • Enjoy waterfront walk, followed by a relaxing massage
  • Dance to live music with a fun, local crowd

 

Have a question about Seward Second Saturdays or other winter activities? Contact the Seward Chamber of Commerce at 907.224.8051. Are you a business that would like to participate in an upcoming Second Saturday? Contact the Seward Business Network at sewardsbn@gmail.com. 

36 Hours in Seward: Treat Yourself or Someone Special

seward_winter

Special events and deals await at Seward’s Second Saturday!

Winter transforms Seward from a bustling visitor hub to an oasis for Alaskans to play and recharge. To celebrate this special season, we’ve launched Seward Second Saturdays, a community-wide event scheduled for the weekends of Jan. 13, Feb. 10, Mar. 10, and Apr. 14. Enjoy quieter trails, fun activities and special discounts before the crowds return!

In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, we’ve developed an itinerary for couples looking for a low-key, luxurious getaway or for individuals looking to melt away stress and rejuvenate their mind, body, and soul.

FRIDAY

Know Before You Go

Seward Highway is generally well maintained, but it’s always a good idea to check the travel conditions before you hit the road. Make sure your winter car emergency kit is well stocked before you leave home.

As you arrive in town, pick up a map of local businesses participating in Seward Second Saturdays. You’ll find them Harbor 360 Hotel, your lodging provider (see more options below). We highly encourage booking spa services ahead of your trip for the best availability. 

Evening – Dinner and a Movie

Kick-off your weekend escape with a meal that you won’t soon forget. Chef Kevin Lane sources local ingredients at The Cookery (209 5th Ave) to design creative dishes that capture the essence of Alaska. Fact: Foodies from around the state have been known to make a special trip to Seward just for dinner at the Cookery!

The Cookery, Seward Alaska, local food, Alaska produce
Whether it’s local seafood or Alaska grown produce, The Cookery’s inventive dishes never fail to impress. Photo courtesy of The Cookery.

Sip a glass of perfectly paired wine while waiting for your appetizer—the mushroom toast and brussels sprouts are local favorites—and take in local artwork. Dinner specials often highlight fresh seafood and other Alaskan delicacies. 

Between courses, check out incredible art by local artists Bethany Waggoner and Justine Pechuzal. Your visit to this popular local eatery wouldn’t be complete without trying Chef Kevin’s cream cheese ice cream. Guild the lily by adding bacon. Yes, to your ice cream. Trust us on this. 

Plan to eat dinner on the early side if you’re interested in checking out one of Seward’s best-kept secrets: The Skip & Marie Fletcher Winter Movie Series. This volunteer-run event features second-run movies for just $2. On Friday, Feb. 9, catch “The Red Turtle” at 6 pm or “Battlecreek” at 8 pm. 

SATURDAY

Morning – The Ultimate in Pampering

First, make like a local and head to Resurrect Art Coffee House to enjoy a lovingly-made espresso or rejuvenating tea. Soak up the light streaming in through the historic windows—the building, formerly a church, celebrated its 100th birthday last year—and browse jewelry, ceramics, and other art made by Seward residents. 

Next, it’s time to treat yourself. The Retreat, Seward’s only full-service spa, offers indulgences from manicures to full-body massages. A relaxing Tulasara facial ($85, 60 minutes) will leave your skin hydrated and refreshed. Many of the facials and massages include complimentary use of the sauna to flush toxins and a shower to energize you before heading out in into the world. 

Been spending too much time on the computer lately, or have a nagging injury? You might opt for a signature hot stone massage at Three Peaks Massage, a tranquil oasis located downtown ($60/hr). Soft-spoken owner Sarah Hermann focuses on a whole-body approach to wellness that will melt away stress.

Afternoon – Shake & Shop

Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska
The shores of Resurrection Bay offer a relaxing retreat to rejuvenate your mind and soul. Photo: @behendrixson

Whether you’re looking for a lighter lunch or something warm and comforting, you’ll find it at Woody’s Thai Restaurant. Named after the iconic SeaLife Center’s playful sea lion, Woody’s offers fresh, nourishing dishes of Southeast Asia. Start with some crisp summer rolls and share some local favorites like the Tom Yum Soup or Penang curry.

From Woody’s, take a leisurely walk along the paved waterfront path. A short stroll downtown offers stunning views of the fjords and peek-a-boo vistas of Godwin Glacier across Resurrection Bay. Here, sea lions and seals spy on visitors near the shore and you’ll often find an otter munching on shellfish from the rocky bottom of the bay.

Located two blocks from the waterfront in downtown, 5th Avenue Fitness (321 5th Ave.) offers a free day pass for visitors on Second Saturdays. Their belly dancing class (1:30 pm) offers guests of all ages a chance to unwind and let loose to the sounds of the East.

Next, head to historic Fourth Avenue to browse the unique collection of shops in our downtown district. Step inside Seward’s newest retail store, Brown and Hawkins Mercantile which offers a selection of handcrafted goods and jewelry made in Alaska. Browse through items such as Tlingit Botanicals health and beauty products or Happy AK headbands in a setting reminiscent of the early 1900s.

Across the street is Seward’s oldest family-owned business, Urbach’s Clothier, which offers unique clothing lines and shoes for men, women, and children. Look for Second Saturday deals inside! 

A few doors to the north, drop into A Flyin’ Skein to browse a variety of colorful textiles and try your hand at a “make-and-take” cross stitch project for $5.  

Need an extra Valentine’s Day gift or two? You’ll find the perfect treat at Frontier Trading Post. Owner Kerry Romig sources delicious chocolates from around the world, all of which are 10% off on Second Saturday. You’ll also find practical and indulgent gifts like JACARA therapeutic skin care, made right here in Seward!

Evening – Get Artsy

Local artist Justine Pechuzal will help you paint your own canvas masterpiece at the Seward Alehouse on Saturday night. 

No need to hop in the car; you’re still downtown. Grab a bite to eat at one of Seward’s legendary family restaurants: Thorn’s Showcase Lounge (try the fried halibut) or Apollo Restaurant (known for hand-tossed pizzas and generous salads). 

Join local artist and art educator Justine Pechuzal as she hosts a “hot date with paint” at the Seward Alehouse from 6-8 pm. For $35, you’ll receive everything you need—include Justine’s helpful guidance—to create a 9×12″ canvas painting. These paint and sip nights have become popular for good reason, so reserve your seat before they’re all gone! Purchase tickets here

Not quite ready to call it a night? Shortly after paint night wraps up, the Alehouse will be transformed into a dance party with DJ GRE. 

In the mood for live music? Just down the block, the Blue Voodoo Band will be rockin’ vintage-y blues at the Yukon Bar. The live show starts at 9 pm. No cover. 

SUNDAY

Morning – Breakfast with Ms. Gene

Start off your day in Hotel Seward’s intimate Victorian lounge by ordering a signature Eggs Benedict with homemade hollandaise sauce at Ms. Gene’s Place (221 5th Ave). With mimosa in hand, you’ll be transported back to Seward’s early beginnings while dining on Chef Aaron’s newly updated menu.

On your way out of town, take a scenic drive down Nash Road to the other side of Resurrection Bay. The far side of Seward Marine Industrial Center provides access to a pebbled shoreline known as Fourth of July Beach. Dwarfed by the magnificent Kenai Mountains, this local secret is a great place to lose yourself in reflection before heading back to hustle and bustle of the city.

LODGING

Enjoy views of the small boat harbor while soaking in the hot tub or swimming pool at Harbor 360 Hotel. Winter rates start at $89/night, including free breakfast. Mention Seward Second Saturdays when booking to receive 20% off your stay.  Wake up to specialty espresso drinks for only $2.

Kids of all ages will enjoy taking in the wildlife and history display at Hotel Seward. Located in the historic downtown district, you’ll be steps from many shops, the Alaska SeaLife Center, and the Seward Community Library & Museum. During Second Saturday weekends, Hotel Seward offers a 20% discount on rooms accompanied by 15% off of dinner at Ms. Gene’s Place. An open house with complimentary snacks and drinks will be held in the hotel lobby from 11 am – 8 pm. One lucky open house visitor will win a stay in a deluxe room valid through April.

Watch eagles nesting in the lagoon from your room in the north addition of the Breeze Inn. Classic rooms are a good fit for budget-conscious travelers starting at $69/night. Use code “SSS” when booking to receive 10% off your stay.

Looking for peace and quiet this weekend?  Serenity by the Sea on scenic Lowell Point offers charming private cabins perfect for couples on a romantic getaway.

Rates listed are based on double-occupancy and are subject to change. Contact the hotel directly to make your reservation.

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Have a question about Seward Second Saturdays or other winter activities? Contact the Seward Chamber of Commerce at 907.224.8051. 

Visiting Seward with your family? Check out our 36 Hours in Seward: Winter Fun For Families.

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Feature Image: Resurrection Bay painted with pastels soothes even the busiest of minds. Photo: @toneloke79

Member Spotlight: DragonFly Fishing Guides

Q&A With Andrew Scrivo of DragonFly Fishing Guides

It’s often said that people make the place, and we couldn’t agree more. Our new spotlight series introduces you to Seward Chamber of Commerce members who make our community an incredible place to live, work and play. This week we’re proud to profile the Kenai Peninsula’s only Seward-based fly fishing company. 

DragonFly Fishing Guides is a locally-owned small business. Unlike many outfitters in Alaska, DragonFly employs full-time professional guides and Alaska residents. They fish our rivers, lakes and streams year round.

We recently sat down with Andrew to learn more about the journey he has taken as a small business owner in Seward. 

Tell us briefly about your business. What do you do and who are your customers?

We offer fully guided drift boat fly fishing trips on the wildest parts of the Kenai River, as well as hike-in float tube fly fishing on remote lakes in the Seward area. Our customers are people young and old who want to experience Alaska by way of the fly rod, at the pace of the current.

How long have you lived in Seward? What first brought you here?

We moved to Seward from the bush in 2012. It was honestly the beauty that brought us here. We wanted to live where the mountains meet the sea. I’m astounded by the beauty every time it’s nice out!

What do you like most about living and working in Seward?

I haven’t lived in too many other places, and I’m still relatively new to business ownership, but I think Seward is really unique in that all the businesses are working together to be successful. There is a lot of friendly networking going on and mutual support, which is awesome.

photo of hike-in fishing trip
DragonFly’s hike-in trips utilize float tubes to fish isolated lakes.

There’s also a lot of opportunities for businesses to give back to the community, and so many of them do. It’s not really about competing with each other here; there’s a much greater spirit of all being in it together. I think business owners elsewhere don’t have that. People are very supportive of each other too, which makes Seward a great place to live.

What makes your business special or unique? In other words, what are you known for?

We are known for building our business around honesty and providing clients with high-quality fly fishing experiences. We do not mix parties to fill our boats. While we could be making more money by doing that, I think it goes a long way that we don’t. Our clients can tell that we do everything in our power to give them their trip of a lifetime. It’s about them, not us.

What would people be surprised to learn about your business or your journey as a business owner?

I think people would be surprised to learn that about 50% of our clientele are complete novices to fly fishing. So, don’t let that deter you! We can teach you enough to have fun and catch fish in a matter of minutes.

Tell us about a product or service that you’re particularly proud of.

I think our hike-in float tube trips are an amazing and unique experience. Trekking through the wilderness into a remote, isolated lake to leisurely kick around in a float tube, peering into crystal clear water, and fly casting to hungry fish is an entirely different kind of fly fishing experience. That’s exactly what we want for our clients: high-quality wilderness fly fishing experiences tailored to their wants and needs. 

DragonFly Fishing Guides is a popular choice for local anglers.

Tell us about a community member in Seward who you admire.

Fred Moore is a great friend of mine and I admire him greatly for many things: his ingenuity, work ethic, self-sustainability, and don’t get me started on his garden!

How do you spend your free time?

I spend almost all of my free time with my wife, Katy, and our 20-month-old twins, River and Iris; they are truly amazing. Believe it or not, I go fishing when I can.

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

4th of July Beach! I just love it out there, and so do my dogs.

There are so many great wilderness areas to explore around Seward and Kenai Fjords. If you had a free weekend, where would you go?

This time of year, I would probably head up a trail with the family to one of the many rental cabins and dig in for the weekend.

Feature Image: Owner Andrew Scrivo knows the best spots to target salmon, dolly varden, and trophy rainbows. Photo courtesy of DragonFly Fishing Guides. 

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For more information about DragonFly Fishing Guides or to book a trip, click here or call 907.491.1018. 

Want more information about Seward or our Chamber of Commerce? Call 907.224.8051. 

36 Hours in Seward: Winter Fun for Families

winter ice skating in seward, ak

“Seward Second Saturdays” Launches This Weekend!

Winter transforms Seward from a bustling visitor hub to an oasis for Alaskans to play and recharge.

To celebrate this special season, we’re launching Seward Second Saturdays, a community-wide event scheduled for the weekends of Jan. 13, Feb. 10, Mar. 10, and Apr. 14. Enjoy quieter trails, fun activities and special discounts before the crowds return!

To help you make the most of your visit to our seaside town, we’ve developed the following itinerary for families looking for a weekend escape. 

FRIDAY

Evening – A Night at the Movies

Safety first! Seward Highway is generally well maintained, but it’s always a good idea to check the travel conditions and make sure your winter car emergency kit is well stocked before you leave home. 

As you arrive in town, pick up a map of local businesses participating in Seward Second Saturdays from Harbor 360 Hotel or from your lodging provider (see more options below). 

Take advantage of a local secret: The Skip & Marie Fletcher Winter Movie Series shows popular second-run films at steep discounts each Friday at the Rae Marine Education Building auditorium (UAF Seward Marine Center at 3rd Ave between Washington & Railway). This Friday, Feb. 2, families can enjoy “Rudy” at 6 p.m. before “Dunkirk” hits the screen for adults at 8 p.m. Admission is $2 per person, per movie. Proceeds from this week’s (shockingly affordable!) concession sales benefit Seward Prevention Coalition.

SATURDAY

Lace up your skates at Second Lake. Photo: Patrick Lewis 

Morning – Enjoy Your Own Winter Wonderland

Start your day with a hot breakfast at the Breeze, a family restaurant serving up American-style favorites. Feel free to sleep in; breakfast is served until 2 p.m. 

Next, lace up your ice skates, bundle up and head to Second Lake at Two Lakes Park. Seward Parks and Recreation uses an Ice Dragon—an Alaskan made, ice re-surfacing machine—to keep the ice in good condition for skating. There’s often a bonfire going near the shore to warm-up between pick-up hockey games. 

Please note: Relatively warm winter temperatures may result in unsafe conditions for ice skating. If in doubt, stay off the ice.

More comfortable in boots than skates? The short, gently rolling loop trail (0.7 mile) around the park is also a local favorite. 

Afternoon – Visit a Baby Beluga Before Stepping Back in Time

Warm up with homestyle macaroni and cheese at Alaska Seafood Grill across from Seward’s scenic small boat harbor.

You’ll be charmed by Tyonek, a young Beluga calf. Photo: Alaska SeaLife Center

A short one-mile drive will land you at the Alaska SeaLife Center, a world-class public aquarium and our state’s only permanent marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation facility. Experience hands-on exhibits and watch the sea lions, birds and otters play (Adult entrance $24.95, Children $12.95).

Take advantage of a rare opportunity to see a baby Beluga that was rescued from Cook Inlet last fall. Tyonek spends most of his time in an outdoor pool in public view, and interpretive staff are available to talk about the extensive care he receives. For a special treat, upgrade to an unforgettable behind-the-scenes tour of the Center ($74.95 per person).

You’ll find a wealth of historic artifacts inside this modern building. Photo: Seward Community Library & Museum

From the SeaLife Center, wander a couple blocks up Fourth Avenue to explore the historic downtown district. See if the kids can find the 100-year-old, brass cash register located in Seward’s oldest family-owned small business

Cap the afternoon with a visit to the Seward Community Museum (open 12-5 p.m.), featuring a well-curated collection of historical artifacts and photographs. Ask for the Museum Explorers Guide and scavenger hunt activity sheets at the front desk. Admission is free during the winter.

Evening – Go Greek

Apollo Restaurant offers kid-friendly pastas and pizzas that will satisfy even “selective” eaters. The ravioli is a hearty way to fill up after a busy day. 

Traveling with a teen? The Teen Rec Room ($5 admission) is open from 5-10 p.m. and offers music, ping pong, skee ball, computers, Xbox, Netflix, movies, snacks, pool tables, crafts and more. 

SUNDAY

Morning – Slip Sliding Away

The Divide Ski Area at Mile 12 features nordic ski trails for all levels of experience. Photo: Seward City News

Fuel up with hot chocolate and bagels at Resurrect Art Coffeehouse (open at 8 a.m.). Kids can take in the birds-eye view from the loft while you browse local art and jewelry. If you need supplies to play in the snow—from hand warmers to trash compactor bags for impromptu sledding—the friendly folks at the Fish House can take care of you.

Look for bald eagles in the trees surrounding the lagoon as you head out of town. If conditions permit, some of the best sledding and nordic skiing around can be found at the Divide (Mile 12). The consistently groomed trails are ideal for skate skiing.* A map of local ski trails, courtesy of the Seward Nordic Ski Club, may help you find a new favorite ski spot as you head towards home. 

LODGING

Enjoy views of the small boat harbor while soaking in the hot tub or swimming pool at Harbor 360 Hotel. Winter rates start at $89/night, including free breakfast. Mention Seward Second Saturdays when booking to receive 20% off your stay. 

Kids of all ages will enjoy taking in the wildlife and history display at Hotel Seward. Located in the historic downtown district, you’ll be steps from many shops, the Alaska SeaLife Center, and the Seward Community Library & Museum. During Second Saturday weekends, a one-night stay for two, including breakfast, is $80. 

Watch eagles nesting in the lagoon from your room in the north addition of the Breeze Inn. Classic rooms are a good fit for budget-conscious travelers, starting at $69/night. Use code “SSS” when booking to receive 10% off your stay. 

Rates listed are based on double-occupancy and are subject to change. Contact the hotel directly to make your reservation. 

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Have a question about Seward Second Saturdays or other winter activities? Contact the Seward Chamber of Commerce at 907.224.8051. 

Feature image: Local kids can turn just about any frozen surface into an ice rink. Photo by Heidi Zemach for Seward City News. 

Member Spotlight: Adventure 60 North

Q&A With Monica Cooper & Rick Brown of Adventure 60 North

It’s often said that people make the place, and we couldn’t agree more. Our new spotlight series introduces you to Seward Chamber of Commerce members who make our community an incredible place to live, work and play.

Whether you’re looking for half-day kayak trips, multi-day expeditions, ice hiking or gold panning, Adventure 60 North gives year-round visitors an experience to remember. Co-owners Monica Cooper and Rick Brown also provide rentals—from camping gear to satellite phones—for solo adventures into Kenai Fjords National Park.

We recently sat down with Monica to learn more about the journey she and Rick have taken as small business owners in Seward. 

Owners Monica Cooper and Rick Brown
Living the dream: Monica Cooper and Rick Brown have built a thriving adventure travel company. Photo Courtesy of Adventure 60 North.

How long have you lived in Seward? What first brought you here?

We both came to Seward repeatedly on vacation and loved it. Rick moved here permanently in 2003 and I became a year-round resident in 2004. Rick started as a kayaking guide and then later hung his own shingle as Adventure 60 North. I found full-time work at the Seward Chamber of Commerce, and after a few subsequent jobs in marketing and tourism, I found my happy spot at Adventure 60 as general manager and eventually as co-owner with Rick.

 What do you like most about living and working in Seward?

The people, the place, mountains and ocean—what’s not to love?  We both love the outdoors and meeting all the folks that come to visit.

What makes your business special or unique? 

We are open year-round. Rick was always big proponent of winter tourism during my tenure at the Chamber. I told him he needed something for me to pitch, and the next thing I knew, he bought a snowcat. People thought it was crazy, but now we’re celebrating our sixth year of being open all year. Even though the snow isn’t what it used to be, we continue to adapt our services with the changing climate.

Tell us about a product or service that you’re particularly proud of.

Our customer service. We go out of our way to take care of our customers. Sometimes that entails a 45-minute phone call about Seward, climate changeAlaska State Troopers, you name it. We never rush our conversations and make sure to give our clients our undivided attention.

Guests delight in discovering remote corners of Northwestern Fjord. Photo Courtesy of Adventure 60 North.

Describe a risk that you’ve taken in your business that paid off.

Making the decision to stay open year-round has been tough and not always profitable, but we both feel that Seward has a lot to offer in the off-season. Our payoff hasn’t always been in terms of money; it is awesome to see more owners joining us in offering year-round or extended shoulder season activities and services. The momentum created by the Seward Business Network is exciting and can only bring great things.

What advice would you give to a new business owner who is working to build a business like yours?

Hang in there. Things don’t develop overnight. Network, network, network. There is nothing better for you than to pound the pavement with cards in hand and introduce yourself to everyone. In this day and age, many think everything can be done online, but nothing beats meeting people in person and having a good old-fashioned talk. Be prepared to be married to your business, so make sure it is something you love. Passion for what you do and the desire to get up and do it over and over will carry you far.

How do you spend your free time?

We are both hands-on and always available at the shop. When we are able to carve out a little time, Rick heads to the Legion for steak night and I go foraging or bake something crazy.

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

Rick and I love to bond with our staff at the bonfire pit behind the shop. We’re a close-knit family.

Feature Image: The Adventure 60 North crew enjoys a sunny summer day. Photo Courtesy of Adventure 60 North.

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For more information about Adventure 60 North, click here or call 907.224.2600. 

Want more information about Seward or our Chamber of Commerce? Call 907.224.8051. 

Member Spotlight: Seward Ocean Excursions

Q&A With Bixler McClure of Seward Ocean Excursions

It’s often said that people make the place, and we couldn’t agree more. Through our new spotlight series, we’re excited to introduce you to Seward Chamber of Commerce members who make our community an incredible place to live, work and play.

Our series kicks off this week with Captain Bixler McClure, a fifth-generation Sewardite. With ample experience both on the water and under the water, he and his wife, Captain Krystin McClure started Seward Ocean Excursions to help visitors experience our beautiful region. Their year-round, boat-based adventures are the perfect platform for sightseeing, fishing, SCUBA diving, and custom trips

We recently sat down with Captain Bixler to learn more about his journey as a small business owner in Seward. 

Image of Captain Bixler on beach_Seward Ocean Excursions
What cold? Captain Bixler is known for wearing shorts year round.

How long have you lived in Seward? What first brought you here?

We have lived in Seward since 2012, and Alaska since 2009. My grandma and mom were born in Seward. I had visited Alaska and Seward extensively all throughout my life, and after sharing the beauty of Alaska (and especially Seward) with my wife Krystin, it was an easy decision to make it our home.

Tell us about a product or service that you’re particularly proud of.

Winter tours in Resurrection Bay! We love taking people out on the bay in the winter when no one else is out and sharing the beauty, wildlife, and tranquility with our guests. It is amazing to be out on the water with no one else around! We communicate with all of our guests to customize each trip.

Describe a risk that you’ve taken in your business that paid off.

Starting! We bought our boat and set everything up having no idea if the market was saturated, or if it would work out at all.

The starting of the business was a leap of faith. The business “went live” seven days after the birth of our son. That event—and the substantial work and investment to start it—was very questionable at first (especially at the time) but thankfully it all worked out!

Image of Missing Lynx_Seward Ocean Excursions
“Missing Lynx” is named for Bixler and Krystin’s son, who was born one week before they launched their business.

What is the best compliment that your business has received?

Many people have said things like, “This is the coolest thing I have ever done.” So many people are still in touch with us even way after their trip.

Tell us about a community member in Seward whom you admire.

My mother, Sue McClure. After growing up in Seward, leaving, and retiring in California, she moved back here to be with family and be part of the community (City Council, choir, Borough Assembly, the list goes on). Many people here know me as “Sue’s son.”

Ed. note: Sue McClure was recently recognized for outstanding community service at the Seward Chamber of Commerce Community Awards. 

How do you spend your free time?

Any and all outdoor pursuits. Most of the time, this involves our boat, be it fishing, sightseeing, SCUBA diving, or hanging out. Even in the summer, after running trips for 12 hours straight, we often head back out on the boat on our own to go fishing or diving!

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

Anywhere on the ocean! Thumb Cove is one of our favorite places to hang out and explore.

Another favorite is Two Arm Bay in Kenai Fjords National Park. It is so remote and seldom-visited that you feel like you are the only people on the earth.

Feature image: Captain Bixler at the helm of his vessel, Missing Lynx. 

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For more information about Seward Ocean Excursions, click here or call 907.599.0499. 

Want more information about Seward or our Chamber of Commerce? Call 907.224.8051. 

 

Winter Fun Awaits in Seward This Weekend!

Feature image by Luke Davis (@akdronepix)

Seward Second Saturdays Launches This Weekend!

To help you keep cabin fever at bay, the Seward Small Business Network is celebrating Second Saturdays this winter (January – April) with community-wide activities and special offers!

Seward is a haven of unique shops, art, food and quiet natural beauty during the winter. Whether you’re looking for family fun, a relaxing retreat or a bit of adventure, Second Saturdays offer the unique opportunity for Alaskans to come and explore our little town at the gateway of Kenai Fjords.

WHAT: Outdoor activities, live music, and special offers on shopping, dining and lodging!

WHEN: Weekends of January 12, February 10, March 10 and April 14. 

WHERE: All across town. Pick up a map of participating businesses at Harbor 360 Hotel on your way into town.

For more information, visit Seward Second Saturdays on Facebook!