36 Hours in Seward: Quiet Trails, Returning Whales, and More!

Special events and deals await on Saturday, April 14!

Winter and spring transform Seward from a bustling visitor hub to an oasis for Alaskans to play and recharge. To celebrate the shoulder 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!

Melting snow and sunny days are making us want to get outside, so we developed an itinerary that encompasses all that mother nature has to offer just minutes from downtown Seward.

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 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 at the lodging providers listed below. We highly encourage booking tours and activities ahead of your trip for the best availability. 

Evening – Explore the Lost Lake Winter Trail

Take advantage of longer days and catch a beautiful sunset—it’s light until 9 pm now—over Resurrection Bay. A short hike (3-4 hours round trip) on the Lost Lake Winter Trail affords you expansive views. Pack snacks and enjoy hot beverages in the winter wonderland surrounding Dale Clemens Cabin. Bring a headlamp to find your way back along the well-marked trail in case you linger too long at the top of the hill.

A sweet and savory mix of maple frosting and Chef Kevin Lane’s famous bacon make this doughnut a special treat. Photo Courtesy of The Cookery.

SATURDAY

Morning – Fuel the Fire   

Take advantage of a local secret: The Cookery only offers brunch during the off-season. Each Saturday, Chef Kevin Lane presents a new doughnut creation; surprise yourself with an early morning appetizer. After a doughnut and a selection of mimosas—the Alpenglow is a refreshing taste of Alaska currant mixed with champagne—try the house-smoked brisket hash. The light hollandaise melds potatoes, egg, and brisket into one of The Cookery’s signature creations.

Afternoon – Wildlife Watching Above and Below the Water

To fully explore Seward, you need to get on the water. This time of year, both Major Marine Tours and Kenai Fjords Tours offer gray whale watching cruises in Resurrection Bay. Orcas, humpbacks, and other returning marine wildlife may also be spotted on these tours. These four-hour excursions start at $80 per adult and $40 per child. 

Experienced divers should call Seward Ocean Excursions for a dive-focused trip in the bay. Above the water, you’ll be treated to an array of Stellar sea lions, puffins, seals, otters, and possibly even some gray or humpback whales. Under the surface, you’ll likely find octopus, rockfish, baitfish, wolf eels, invertebrates and more. 

A bluebird day and fresh snow for the win! Photo Courtesy of Silverton Mountain Guides.

If you’d prefer to see the ocean from above, take advantage of the fresh snow last week and hop on a heli-ski adventure with Silverton Mountain Guides. These professionals know the best snow in the surrounding mountains and get you there via private helicopter. Enjoy the trip of a lifetime where it’s possible to see whales on your line down the mountain from summit to sea.

Evening – Buckets of Butt

Step into the 1960s, replete with vinyl-covered seating and a showcase of Jim Beam’s famously caricatured whiskey bottles at Thorn’s Showcase Lounge. Their lightly breaded halibut chunks are a local favorite and an Alaskan beer will help you recover from a long day of activity.

Late Night – Play that Funky Music

The Yukon Bar never fails to bring some of Alaska’s most talented musicians to Seward. The oldest bar in town provides live music every weekend throughout the year.  This weekend DJ Shawn LaRose plays all of your favorite 90s hits. You can also reserve a spot to learn how to tie-dye before the party gets started from 5–7 pm.

Late Late Night – What Happens at The Pit…

If you’ve still got the energy after the Yukon, The Pit Bar is the late-night local favorite. Open until 5 am, you can keep the party going long after downtown closes. The Pit is also the only place to get bar snacks after 10 pm, and will often cook up a pizza for those with late night munchies.

Hikers take in Bridal Veil falls after a leisurely paddle. Photo Courtesy of Adventure 60 North.

SUNDAY

Morning – Get on the Water

With a 24-hour advance notice, book a kayak trip with Adventure 60 North to explore Resurrection Bay ($138 per person). Launch from Lowell Point and hug the coastline to Tonsina Beach. Keep an eye out for eagles, diving birds, porpoise, harbor seals and sea lions.  After landing at Bridal Veil Falls, you’ll take a short hike to the base of the waterfall where you’ll explore the falls and enjoy a small snack and a hot drink. When you’re ready, you’ll stroll back to the boats to paddle to Tonsina Point for a second landing. Guides provide a sandwich lunch and help you experience the magnificent surroundings including the captivating ghost tree forest. A leisurely paddle back to Lowell Point will prepare you for the beautiful drive home up the Seward Highway.

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.

Looking for a relaxing getaway in Seward? Try 36 Hours in Seward: Treat Yourself Or Someone Special.

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Feature Image: Spectacular views from Dale Clemen’s Cabin on the Lost Lake Trail. Photo by Mariah Butters

 

Member Spotlight: Millane’s Serenity By the Sea Cabins

Q&A With Laurie Millane of Serenity By the Sea Cabins

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.

If you’re looking for tranquil black sand beaches and secluded cabins tucked away among tall trees, Thom and Laurie Millane’s Serenity by the Sea Cabins is the place to go. Perfect for couples, partners, friends or small families, they’ll also welcome your furry friends. Serenity by the Sea Cabins is one of the few family-owned lodging options open all year-round; they host adventurous Alaskans looking for a quiet getaway in the winter months.

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

The Millane family bought the Serenity by the Sea Cabins on Lowell Point and made the move to Alaska. Photo Courtesy of Laurie Millane.

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

Originally from Wisconsin, we came to visit our daughter, Stephanie, who works year-round for Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking in 2011. After several trips, we decided to buy some cabins for sale on Lowell Point. It took a lot of hard work from our family, including our daughter Stephanie and our son Thom Jr., our friends, and our significant partners, but we’ve created a place to call home and share with visitors from all over the world.

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

Our biggest asset is our location on Lowell Point. People comment on how great it is to stay in our cozy, cute, little cabins under the Sitka spruce. It feels remote while still being close to town. It’s a short walk to the beach where we frequently see a variety of wildlife, and awesome trails add to the appeal. We are also one of the few lodging options in Seward that allows pets.

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

The best reward for all of our hard work is hearing guests say how much they enjoyed their stay and that they want to come back. We also pride ourselves on keeping the cabins very clean and cozy. We strive to use organic cleaning products and organic/eco-friendly lodging supplies whenever possible. 

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

We have always had family ties in Alaska but never had a plan to buy cabins in Alaska. However, when the opportunity arose we took it.

Quaint cabins and comfortable outdoor space are just steps from the black sand beaches of Lowell Point. Photo Courtesy of Laurie Millane.

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

Pace yourself, make small improvements, and don’t try to do too much at one time. Always have money set aside for “emergencies” that will arise. Remember, in Alaska everything costs more and takes longer to get.

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

“Really? You’ve Got to Be Kidding!”

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

There is no one compliment that stands out at the moment, but we are very proud of all our great reviews in Trip Advisor, Airbnb, and social networking channels. A favorite compliment is when our guests come back time and time again. 

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

Seward locals are one-of-a-kind; they made us feel like part of the community right away. The views and outdoor activities also can’t be beat with Kenai Fjords National Park at our doorstep. We love introducing our guests to all that Seward has to offer and share in their excitement.

Laurie and her dog Kuma welcome pets at the cabins. Photo Courtesy of Laurie Millane.

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

There are so many locals committed to volunteering and making Seward great all year-round that it would be hard to single out one person. I guess if I had to choose one it would be my daughter, Stephanie. She has gone above and beyond to spearhead events and activities that bring tourism to Seward in the off-season. Her work developing Second Saturdays as part of the Seward Business Network has brought noticeable increases in winter tourism, which benefits all of Seward’s year-round small businesses. She’s currently organizing Twinklefest, which is sure to bring people to town during the holiday season. Her work to make Seward a year-round travel destination is admirable.

How do you spend your free time?

What is this free time you speak of, and where do I get some?

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

Strolling down Lowell Point Beach is always a great way to recharge.

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 would like to camp somewhere in Day Harbor, kayak, SUP, and then go and try some ice climbing.

Feature Image: Nestled among towering Spruce Trees, the Aialik Glacier Cabin is a great place to unwind. Photo Courtesy of Laurie Millane.

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For more information about Serenity By the Sea Cabins, click here or call 907.224.3635

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

Catch Spring Fever With the Last Second Saturday of the Season

Celebrate Spring with Second Saturdays!

The off-season transforms Seward from a bustling visitor hub to an oasis for Alaskans to play and recharge. To celebrate this special time of year, 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!

Participating Businesses for April 14

Downtown

Homer artist Felicity Jones will be at Brown & Hawkins Mercantile

A Flyin’ Skein
$5 make-and-take button tassel

Big Bay Beginnings Child Development Center
20% off general admission

Brown & Hawkins Mercantile
Meet the artist: Felicity Rae Jones of Homer, 11:30–5:30
Flame the Owl (Bird TLC), 12-1 and 2-3

5th Ave. Fitness
Open to the public, 11-3

Frontier Trading Post
Free coffee or tea drink with $50 purchase

Once in a Blue Moose
Presenting Ravenlady Pottery; $10 off purchases of $50 or more

Port City Players presents Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Church of the Nazerne. Two showings: 1 pm and 7 pm

Don’t miss the Port City Players production of this beloved musical!

Sew’n Bee Cozy
Make-and-take craft project, select sale items

Seward Community Library and Museum
Drop-in crafts and free museum entry

Starbird Studio (221 4th Ave)
20% off purchase, 4–8 pm

The Frame Cottage
Free drawing – 20% off personal framing

The Painted Whale
Paint & Sip at The Breeze Inn (registration required)

The Ranting Raven
In-store specials and clothing sale

The Yukon Bar
Sip-and-tie dye, 5–7 pm
Live music by Sean Larose, 9:30 pm

Urbach’s
30% off shoes and boots

Photo: Jeremy Welles

Harbor

Harbor 360 Hotel 
20% room discounts for walk-ins

Kenai Fjords Tours Gift Shop
30% off Skhoop and Helly Hansen

Sailing, Inc.
20% off learn to sail package

Seward Ocean Excursions
10% off spring tour of Resurrection Bay

Woody’s Thai Kitchen
Great thai food!

Out of Town

Seward Nordic Ski Club @ Mile 12 (Divide Ski Area)
Spring party, ski games, bonfire, hotdogs

The Pit Bar & Liquor Store
Mermaid Sip-and-paint (reservations required)

Make the Most of Your Visit With Our Itineraries 

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 Shoulder Season 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 rescued marine mammals
  • 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 Seward 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. 

Member Spotlight: Marathon Helicopters

Q&A With Mike Culver of Marathon Helicopters

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.

Pilot and owner Mike Culver at Marathon Helicopters specializes in flight-seeing tours, utility flying, and helicopter services for a number of other companies in Seward. From exploring mountain tops to extended tours of the Kenai Peninsula, Mike brings passengers close to wildlife and offers glacier views from unique angles. He also provides helicopter assistance to many locals that require supply drops at extremely remote sites.

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

Mike pilots his helicopter over the scenic Kenai Peninsula. Photo Courtesy of Marathon Helicopters

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

Originally, I worked for a different helicopter company based in Wasilla.  They assigned me to Seward for the three years that I worked for them. After my contract was over, I didn’t want to leave so I started Marathon Helicopters in 2016. We’re now starting our third season.

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

The group of folks I have working with me are the best. Seriously, the best. We all love where we work and what we do. We provide fun and exciting tours for visitors and a very helpful service for our friends with businesses in Seward. I consistently hear from my passengers how positive their interaction was with everyone in the company.

From spectacular photo shoots to aerial sightseeing, a helicopter ride is sure to be a trip to remember. Photo Courtesy of Marathon Helicopters.

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

I love The Sea Life Center and all of the things they provide to Seward and Alaska. Anything we can do to assist The Seal Life Center is a win for us. Last fall, we were able to help them retrieve their camera data that was located on Barwell Island. 
 
We also work with the Seward Middle School each year with a challenge to the students to achieve perfect attendance along with all passing grades. Those that succeed receive a free helicopter tour for themselves and two others. We had three students achieve this goal last year.
 

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

Get out and meet the community you will be working with. There are so many people willing to give good advice in areas where they may have gone wrong. Take advantage of this. As they say, there’s no point in reinventing the wheel.

A short flight brings you to Godwin Glacier in Resurrection Bay. Photo Marathon Helicopters.

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

Marathon Mike

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’m fortunate to have a helicopter at my disposal, so options are endless. I would grab a few friends and find a new spot on a map that someone is interested in, load up some gear and take off for a couple nights.

Feature Image: Mike hovers the helicopter over Bear Glacier Lagoon. Photo Courtesy of Marathon Helicopters.
 

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For more information about Marathon Helicopters, call 907.224.3616. 

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

 

Member Spotlight: Alaska Marine Coatings

Q&A With Mike Ritz of Alaska Marine Coatings

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.

Alaska Marine Coatings was created in 2013 by husband and wife team Mike and Tiffany Ritz to bring quality, cost-effective coatings to Seward’s marine community. Their expertise covers anything a vessel needs to preserve: decks, hulls, tank coatings, insulation or flooring. They work with USCG/ABS inspected transportation vessels from companies like Crowley, Foss, and Lynden Transport. AK Marine Coatings prepares and coats giant work boats, tugs, barges, and commercial fishing vessels, but has also been known to take on smaller projects for local businesses such as repainting metal deck railings at Harbor 360 Hotel.

We recently sat down with Mike to learn more about the journey he and Tiffany have taken as small business owners in Seward. 

The power couple in charge of brightening up the boats of Seward: Mike and Tiffany Ritz. Photo Courtesy of AK Marine Coatings

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

To say that a company like ours encounters many challenges in Alaska’s harsh environment is an understatement. With projects in places like the Arctic, western Alaska, and the Aleutians, we have to be resourceful and strong in order to finish a job. I’m proud that we have managed to complete over 200 projects in less than perfect weather while being good stewards of the environment and operating in a clean, responsible manner.

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

We started our business without ever having to take a loan or assistance. AK Marine Coatings has been self-sufficient since inception and runs off of the income that we earn from each project.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

This past year we’ve been recognized for our work on TV, radio, and in magazines, which is an honor. Being awarded Seward Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Business of the Year was a major highlight. We pride ourselves on bringing jobs to Seward’s economy and it was amazing to be recognized for our contribution.

Neither wind, rain, sleet nor snow keeps Alaska Marine Coatings from finishing a job. Photo Courtesy of AK Marine Coatings

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

Our decision to travel to remote locations to perform the work we do is always a huge risk. Giving firm, fixed estimates for work that is weather dependent and has so many other variables meant that, at times, we barely broke even. It’s a huge expense flying people, materials, and equipment into some of the more remote Arctic locations to work. Sometimes we came out ahead, sometimes we didn’t. It is a process that we are learning to master.

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

Blaine Bardarson told Tiffany and I when we first started that we would never experience emotions like we would running our own business. Emotions run high when it’s your own money and your family’s future on the line. My best advice is don’t give up and prepare for the many valleys in your business’s path, but also remember that they make the peaks so much more enjoyable!

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

An executive with a coatings manufacturer brought me up in 2011 to coordinate the coatings on the 9 million dollar AMHS Tustumena. That was originally a two year contract, but we never left.

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

Up until I quit my job in 2014, I never intended to be in business for myself.

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

I appreciate the inclusive, supportive attitude of the businesses in our community. The scenery and the wildlife are amazing too. But mostly the people of Seward make it a great place to live and work.

M/V Christian shows off its bright blue paint job. Photo Courtesy of AK Marine Coatings

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

Seward is a very unique place with so many successful business people that it’s hard to pick just one. In no particular order, Joe and Tom Tougas, Blaine and Jean Bardarson, and Jim and Rhonda Hubbard have supported us immensely. We started only with the knowledge of our industry and a strong desire to make this work; these people and others helped us learn how to effectively run a business.

How do you spend your free time?

My wife and I love to fish, view wildlife, and spend time in the beautiful surroundings of Seward. We love any time we get to really embrace and enjoy the beautiful place in which we live. On the rare occasions we have free time, you’ll usually find us somewhere near Resurrection Bay or on our boat on the water.

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

When In Combat and the Bullets Start Flying, by Mike and Tiffany Ritz

Is there anything exciting on the horizon that you’d like to share?

We are well into our fourth year and are focusing on industry/safety training. Purchasing new equipment for our crew will make things more efficient and safe for our team and also improve the quality of our work for our customers. We are driven to positively influence Seward’s economy and only hire workers who live in the community. This pushes us to go after larger contracts so we can provide better wages for our employees, so they, in turn, can support Seward businesses.

Feature Image: The travelifts at the Seward Marine Industrial Center help Alaska Marine Coatings give Crowley’s fleet a face lift. Photo Courtesy of AK Marine Coatings

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For more information about Alaska Marine Coatings, call 907.422.7640. 

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

Member Spotlight: Exit Glacier Guides & Liquid Adventures

Q&A With Brendan Ryan & Ryan Fisher

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.

Co-owners Ryan Fisher and Brendan Ryan have been shaping the Kenai Peninsula’s adventure travel industry since 2004, when their company, Exit Glacier Guides, pioneered ice climbing tours in Seward. In 2013, they took over the helm at Liquid Adventures and have been growing Seward’s Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) scene ever since. These friends and business partners continue to push the boundaries of guided tourism by creating safe, exciting, and novel adventures for visitors to Seward and the Kenai Fjords National Park. Specific experiences include paddling around towering icebergs in Bear Glacier Lagoon, kayaking expeditions in remote Northwest Fjords, heli-accessible alpine hikes, and exploring deep crevasses on Exit Glacier. Exit Glacier Guides also provides convenient and economical transportation to Exit Glacier with a shuttle that leaves every hour from downtown Seward.

We recently sat down with Brendan to learn more about the journey he and Ryan have taken as small business owners in Seward. 

Co-owners Ryan Fisher (left) and Brendan Ryan (right) relax after a successful summer of guiding. Photo courtesy of Exit Glacier Guides.

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

Our goal is to provide unique, ground-breaking new tours with the best-trained guides in the area. We have a very extensive training program in place for both companies, and for Liquid Adventures we only hire guides with extensive prior guiding experience. We believe this provides our clients with an exemplary and safe guided experience.

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

We’re proud to be offering a new kayaking trip this year, the Aialik/Northwestern Explorer, that explores the fjords using a custom-built, brand new catamaran as a ride out. This vessel is not shared with any other companies, which means that our captain and guides can choose whether to paddle with our clients in Northwestern Fjords or Aialik Bay for the day, depending on factors like the weather, wildlife activity, and crowds.
 
We’re very excited to offer a trip that allows us the flexibility to provide our clients with the best paddling experience we can, specific to the day. Kenai Fjords is a very dynamic environment and we wanted to create an experience that can flex with the day’s conditions. Best of all, we’ve worked out a way to offer this trip at the same price as most other kayaking day trips to the fjords while offering a more private and exclusive experience.
 
How long have you lived in Seward? What first brought you here?

I’ve been in Seward for a little over 16 years. I originally planned to stay for a couple weeks while visiting a friend, but that quickly changed to permanent residency.

Kayakers glide across aquamarine waters of Northwestern Fjords. Photo courtesy of Liquid Adventures.

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

The two things I love most are the access to the outdoors and the tight-knit community. It’s nice to run into people I know everywhere I go, and I always know I can rely on people in the community to help out when needed. Seward and the surrounding areas are an adventurer’s haven for back-country skiing, ice-skating, camping and climbing expeditions. A lot of our “just-for-fun” exploration becomes a jumping-off-point for developing new and exciting trips for our guests.

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

Ryan and I spent our second spring surviving off of ramen and hot dogs for about two months while we scrimped to re-open for the upcoming season. Things were pretty lean back then, but we wanted to put all of our income back into the business itself. We learned that there are a lot of ways to make ramen!

Hanging glaciers dwarf kayakers in Northwestern Fjord. Photo Courtesy of Liquid Adventures

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

“This trip was life-changing.”

How do you spend your free time?

Snowboarding Mt. Alice and Tiehacker among other mountains around Seward is a favorite pastime. Running trails with my fiancée keeps me on my toes—she runs the Mount Marathon Race every year!

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

Scrimp and save. The first years will be hard, but don’t give up. The feeling of creating something from scratch is incredibly rewarding.

Feature Image: The crystal blue walls of Exit Glacier’s crevasses inspire novice and experienced climbers alike. Photo courtesy of Exit Glacier Guides.

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For more information, call Liquid Adventures at 907.224.9225 or Exit Glacier Guides at 907.224.5569.

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

 

Member Spotlight: Alaska Northern Outfitters

Q&A With Captain Sean Carlin of Alaska Northern Outfitters

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 features Alaska Northern Outfitters, a world-class deep sea sportfishing charter targeting halibut, salmon, lingcod and rockfish out of Seward. Fishing charters explore the Kenai Fjords National Park and soak up the beauty of the giant glaciers and majestic wildlife with owner-operator, Captain Sean Carlin. The 50′ catamaran, Sea Quest, is the only sport vessel with an upper deck allowing companions to view wildlife without disturbing fishermen below.

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

Captain Sean (upper right) and crew reel in the catch of the day. Photo courtesy of Alaska Northern Outfitters.

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

We have a reputation for being family-friendly. We are the only vessel in the fleet to allow clients to share a rod with a partner for an extremely discounted price: our Companion/Shared Pole deal. This unique set-up allows spouses to come aboard to check out wildlife or help fish, effectively combining fishing and marine wildlife viewing. It is also great for younger children to accompany a parent at a reasonable cost and gives fishing enthusiasts the chance to take home more fish with two permits sharing one pole. Over the years we have built up a following of mostly Alaskan locals looking to fill the freezer for the year with the fact that we always stay out the latest and fish the hardest.

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

The Sea Quest was the first boat I ever worked on. Back then, I never thought I would be able to buy the business and build it up to what it is today. But at 23, I made my dream a reality.

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

Our dedication to client satisfaction and our Companion/Shared Pole deal that lets anglers bring a friend for only $149 sets us apart from others.

Everyone gets a piece of the action onboard the M/V Sea Quest. Photo courtesy of Alaska Northern Outfitters.

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

A major risk was custom-building the M/V Sea Quest in 2006. However, it has paid off as one of the most sought-after fishing platforms in Seward. Largest and newest goes a long way when looking for a comfortable fishing experience.

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

I’ve lived in Seward for 12 years. My passion for fishing and adventure brought me to Alaska when I was 18.

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

I love the small town community that surrounds the fishing industry. Everyone has a lot in common and seems to have migrated to this magical place for one reason, ADVENTURE!

David vs. Goliath. The little ones love reeling in big fish, too! Photo courtesy of Alaska Northern Outfitters.

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

Tom Tougas is a great man who has helped many small businesses in Seward get a start. He has played a major part in shaping the community into what it is today.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

“That was the best day of my life!” is definitely my favorite compliment.

How do you spend your free time?

Fishing, fishing and on the weekends…fishing!

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

The Pursuit of Elusive Creatures by Capt. Sean.

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

Taz Basin or Nuka Bay

Feature Image: Spacious decks offer fishing fun for the whole family! Photo Courtesy of Alaska Northern Outfitters.

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For more information about Alaska Northern Outfitters, click here or call 907.224.2665. 

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

 

Member Spotlight: The Painted Whale

Q&A With Justine Pechuzal of The Painted Whale

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

The Painted Whale is a specialized art company operated by local artist and art educator Justine Pechuzal. Offerings include mural tours, art classes, and art events like Paint ‘N Sips. She is also the creator of The Statehood Mural, The Whale Mural, and The Friendship Across Water Mural in Seward. In addition, Justine has worked with rural Alaskan communities making collaborative school murals.

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

Justine Pechuzal’s mixed media artwork roves small galleries around town from The Cookery restaurant to Resurrect Art Coffee House. Photo courtesy of The Painted Whale.

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

In the summer of 2017, I started doing walking tours showcasing public artwork that makes Seward the “Mural Capital of Alaska”. Tours last 90 minutes and cover approximately 1.5 miles meandering between nearly a dozen murals in the historic downtown area.  Visitors learn about the cultural and historical themes presented in each mural relevant to life in Seward and Alaska (i.e. The Iditarod Trail & dog mushing, commercial fishing, the Mount Marathon Race, Kenai Fjords National Park).  Tours also educate guests about the creators of the murals, both established Alaskan artists and local Seward talent, as well as the creative and logistical process.  For visitors new to Seward it is a fun and engaging way to connect with what our community is all about.  

My favorite personal public art project was the whale mural across the street from the SeaLife Center. The image came from my kayaking experiences and inspired my company name.

Tiny artists access their inner creative during a Percent for Art mural project in Bethel, AK. Photo courtesy of The Painted Whale.

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

Art can often seem inaccessible, whether someone is looking at an abstract painting or drawing an animal. My goal is to help people connect with art through positive experiences in interpretation or creation.

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

I came to Seward in 2005 to work as a guide for Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking and have been a year-round resident since 2009 (when I got the Statehood Mural commission.)

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

I appreciate the diverse, yet tight-knit community and amazing natural environment of Seward. Coming from the dry desert of Arizona, it’s a joy to live by the sea with so many recreational opportunities. The size of our town makes it easy to plug into activities and make things happen.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

Last summer, a mural tour participant said the guided mural walk was her favorite Seward activity, although she had done a boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park, fishing charter, and Exit Glacier visit. She said the tour was unique and personal.

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

I may be a little biased, but I greatly admire the path blazed by Jennifer Headtke, the Seward Mural Society founder and owner of The Ranting Raven. It is amazing that she, with the help of a dedicated group of volunteer artists, was able to take an idea and turn it into a long-term program. There are very few communities our size with the breadth and quality of our public art collection.

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

I never imagined myself as a business person, but have learned that if there aren’t art jobs out there, you have to make your own. Therefore, almost everything that I have done thus far in my business feels like a risk. It’s been a lot of worthwhile work, but it’s a little early in the game to know about the pay-off!

Locals’ creative spirit comes alive at the Seward Alehouse Paint ‘n’ Sip. Photo Courtesy of The Painted Whale.

 How do you spend your free time?

When not working on art, I love to play outdoors. Baking is also a fun hobby because its edible!

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

I find the mountains and ocean calming, or if the weather is bad, curling up with a coffee at Resurrect Art is a close second!

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

Wilderness Muse

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 love paddling the area near Fox Island and the Resurrection Peninsula. There are so many fantastic rock formations and the wildlife is bountiful.

Is there anything exciting on the horizon that you’d like to share?

My biggest creation to date is arriving at the end of the summer: a baby! Adding a tiny human to the art/work/life balance will take creativity. And giving tours with a big belly should be memorable.

Feature Image: The iridescent tiles of the Seward Public Library frame Nichole Feemster’s “The Irresistible Story” during the start of a mural walking tour. Photo courtesy of The Painted Whale.

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For more information about The Painted Whale or to book a mural walking tour, click here or call 907.521.0311.

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

Seward’s Place in Iditarod History

It’s a fair question: What’s a coastal town located approximately 1,000 miles from Nome have to do with the Iditarod?

Although Seward’s connection to Nome stretches back to the early days of the gold rush, our community also maintains a modern-day connection to the Iditarod race through some very special local residents. 

The Seward–Nome Route

The National Iditarod Historic Trail, first known as the Seward–Nome Route, actually pre-dates the famous serum run of 1925. The 2,300-mile trail system was originally developed to transport mail and supplies arriving by steamship in Seward’s ice-free port to communities in the Interior during the gold rush era. 

Nome’s port was ice-bound and inaccessible to steamships from November until roughly July each year. As a result, Seward was a critical link to the outside world for Alaska’s northern villages. From 1909 until the mid-1920s, dog sled teams were the primary method of transportation along the trail. 

Today, you can access two portions of the historic trail near Seward:

  • From the Iditarod monument marking Mile 0 of the trail, a paved coastal walk north parallels the shore of Resurrection Bay for nearly a mile to the boat harbor.
  • Nash Road intersects with the trail at mile 2.1, where visitors can hike four miles north to Bear Lake. From that point north, the trail appears and reappears periodically as links between public use cabins and current hiking trails.

The 1925 Serum Run

By 1925, when the diptheria epidemic struck Nome, the newly-constructed railroad carried supplies arriving in Seward to Nenana, located 420 miles north. From Nenana, dog sled teams transported supplies the remaining 674 miles to Nome. This portion of the journey typically took 25 days.

Responding with urgency to the growing epidemic, the first relay of dog teams carrying an initial supply of the life-saving serum covered that same distance in less than six days. The treacherous trip was completed in extreme sub-zero temperatures, with blizzard-like conditions and hurricane-force winds. 

After an additional shipment of serum arrived in Nenana via Seward, a second dog sled relay was dispatched. The second relay took approximately seven days, and included many of the same drivers, and also faced harsh conditions. 

This heroic story is a catalyst for one of the fiercest races still held today; a partnership between man and dog that covers some of the harshest terrain in Alaska: The Iditarod. Today, the race begins in Willow, just north of Anchorage. 

Modern Day Mushers

Happy dogs get a training workout at the Seavey’s homestead in Seward. Photo courtesy of Seavey’s Ididaride.

Seward’s legacy in “The Last Great Race” endures with two local families that will participate in the 2018 Iditarod—including the reigning champion!

In 2017, Mitch Seavey and his son, Dallas, brought home the gold and silver respectively in a finish that is almost becoming routine. A Seavey has won the Iditarod since 2012, with the other often coming in close second.

Mitch’s kennel is located on the outskirts of Seward, on the family homestead near Exit Glacier. Seavey’s Ididaride educates guests about an important mode of transportation in Alaska from some of the best mushers in the state. In the summers, they offer visitors rides around their property on wheeled sleds pulled by champion canines athletes.

Turning Heads Kennels keeps a portion of their team on Godwin Glacier during the summer for training and dog-sledding experiences for visitors. Photo: Kalani Woodlock Photography.

Four-time Iditarod finisher Travis Beals and his partner Sarah Stokey also offer visitors a chance to meet their racing dogs at Turning Heads Kennel. In addition to wheeled rides on their property, Turning Heads offers a helicopter-accessible dog sled tour of Godwin Glacier. There, a team of dogs spends the summer giving visitors snowy sled rides with stunning views overlooking Resurrection Bay.

Feature Image: Three-time Iditarod winner and Seward resident, Mitch Seavey. Photo: Seavey’s Iditarod Racing Team/Seavey’s Ididaride Tours

For more information about Seavey’s Ididaride call 907.224.8607.

For more information about Turning Heads Kennels call 907.362.4354. 

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

Member Spotlight: Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking

Q&A With John Page of Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking

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.

Since 1996, Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking has offered both novice and experienced paddlers guided kayaking tours in Resurrection Bay, around remote Fox Island (in conjunction with Kenai Fjords Boat Tours) and in Kenai Fjords National Park. Kayak tours often encompass calving glaciers, hiking through a temperate rainforest, exploring an underground WWII fort or a boat/kayak combo tour.

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

John Page’s passion for kayaking and exploring the outdoors has helped him grow Sunny Cove into a thriving tour company. Photo courtesy of Sunny Cove Kayaking

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

Since Sunny Cove’s origin, we strive to share our love for Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park by providing our clients with exceptional tours. Kayaking is the vehicle we use to help people explore and appreciate the amazing natural world that surrounds us. From a startup of two people, we have grown into a company of 16. Our managers, Kat Page and Stephanie Millane, have been with the company since 2006. Lead guides Matt Barnes and Danny Meuninck have more than seven years with Sunny Cove. Many of our guides return for multiple seasons. Our professional staff are committed to excellence and passionate about what they do.

We believe Resurrection Bay, Fox Island and Kenai Fjords National Park should be preserved for future generations. To help make that happen, Sunny Cove operates in an environmentally sustainable fashion and advocates for others to do the same. We have limited our footprint to locations best able to absorb our passing while still providing our guests with an authentic wilderness experience.

We practice Leave No Trace ethics and our guides share these practices with our guests and community. Our commitment to sustainable tourism has been recognized by Adventure Green Alaska as a Gold Level Certified Business.

Kayakers explore the rocky shores of Resurrection Bay. Photo courtesy of Sunny Cove

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

In 1996 I started Sunny Cove. It grew out of the desire to experience living on Fox Island and the need to be making a little money while there. I had guided kayaking for other companies in Prince Williams Sound and Kenai Fjords. I found I enjoyed sharing the place I loved with others. When Tom Tougas, then owner of Kenai Fjords Tours, built the Day Lodge on Fox Island I approached him about offering kayaking tours. He said yes and Sunny Cove was born. I would check my 3 pound/first generation cell phone to see if there were kayak guests at the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge. Kayaking to work made for an interesting morning as I was often escorted by some of the locals (sea lions, otters and orcas). Two years later I started offering tours from Lowell Point and in Kenai Fjords National Park.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

“Your guides are the best!” We love it when we hear kayaking with Sunny Cove was the highlight of a person’s vacation. It means our guides again succeeded in providing a fun, informative and unique experience to our guests. Engaging each paddler and making their tour a once in a lifetime memory is our goal. Our guides love what they do and it shows.

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

I came North in 1983. An opportunity to test skis for Powder Magazine in the Ruth Glacier was the draw. I canceled my return flight three times as I was amazed by the wildness and beauty of Alaska. I moved up the following year and Alaska has been home since.

Alaska’s been a great playground for me to pursue my passions and challenge my abilities. While working on a book about Wrangell – St Elias National Park, I learned photography. I gained organizational and people skills while serving as executive director of several nonprofit companies. Covering the first four years of the World Extreme Skiing Competition in Valdez tested my skiing abilities. Alaska provided great opportunities to try new things, learn a bunch, fail a bit, and grow.

Guests have a chance to explore all the nooks and crannies of Fox Island, including the company’s namesake. Photo courtesy of Sunny Cove.

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

Seward’s proximity to mountains, ocean and recreational opportunities makes it easy to love. It’s always a thrill to share this area with our family, friends, and guests. The community here is incredible and we all pull together to make this unique town not only a “must see” destination for travelers but also a place to call home.

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

I’m on Lowell Point Beach nearly every day. Walking along the shoreline, listening to the waves, watching the soaring eagles, and enjoying the marine wildlife is the perfect way to gather my thoughts and relax.

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

So many choices—so little time! Kayaking along Resurrection Bay, exploring the trails of Tonsina Point, camping at Caines Head and hiking to Ft. McGilvray or the Alpine Loop is a great weekend getaway. Encounters with the local otters, sea lions and eagles are just a bonus, not to mention the whales cruising the bay looking for dinner. Spending time exploring my own backyard never gets old.

Feature Image: Visitors are treated to breathtaking views from the water on a tour of Resurrection Bay. Photo Courtesy of Sunny Cove. 

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For more information about Sunny Cove Kayaking, click here or call 907.224.4426. 

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