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: 60 Degrees Adventure Charters

Q&A With Laura Schneider of 60 Degrees Adventure Charters

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. We’re proud to present one of the few multi-day charter options in Seward, 60 Degrees Adventure Charters.

Laura Schneider and Kenneth Cardwell create customized trips to explore the waterways of Seward and the Kenai Fjords National Parks for families or groups of friends. Whether it’s fishing, wildlife viewing, kayaking or other water sports, beachcombing or hiking, these two adventurers have done it all and enjoy sharing their passion for exploring and sharing the treasures of the Resurrection Bay and the fjords with their guests.

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

Captains Laura and Kenneth regale guests with stories from years of working in Alaska waters. Photo Courtesy of 60 Degrees Adventure Charters.

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

What makes 60 Degrees Adventure Charters special is our flexibility. We help guests craft a custom itinerary that’s perfect for them. It may be four days of halibut fishing, a focus on whale watching, becoming an expert kayaker, or balancing time on the water with evening campfires on the beach and hikes to a glacier, the only limitation is our guests’ imaginations! We love creating multi-day excursions that allow visitors the best chance to truly experience Alaska’s wonders from the water.

Cooking and putting together bright, fresh recipes that plate well and taste delicious is another of our passions. We showcase local ingredients whenever possible, including beef and pork raised in Alaska and freshly-caught fish. Veggies that grow well in Alaska are complemented with other items from the market. Sometimes, I even make goat cheese that I share with guests.

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

Our boat, the M/V Caroline offers transportation, lodging, meals and outdoor excursions all wrapped up in one inclusive experience. 60 Degree Adventure Charter’s extended tours focus on our guests interests, and reveal some of the most beautiful views anywhere in the world. We serve as your captains, tour guides, chefs and hosts and will regale you with tales from Alaska, delicious home-cooked meals, and expert suggestions on wildlife viewing, fishing, kayaking, hiking, beachcombing, and more.

Get up close and personal with a tidewater glacier on your customized adventure. Photo Courtesy of 60 Degrees Adventure Charters.

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

I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and earned a degree in Information Technology from the US Naval Academy. After a tour in Japan, I started commercial fishing in Alaska and was hooked. Kenneth was also a commercial fisherman for seven seasons. Years of commercial fishing has now led us to owning a charter company in our new home where we can show visitors all of the wildlife, mountains, glaciers and ocean that we love.

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

We chose to move to Seward one year ago because it is one of our favorite towns in Alaska. I first visited when bringing friends’ boats from Prince William sound after the fishing season. I always walked away from my visits wishing I had been able to spend more time here.

Seward is also a thriving tourism market, but there were few multi-day charter companies. So we saw an opportunity for growth and started 60 Degrees Adventure Charter to meet that need. This also allowed Kenneth and I to spend our whole year working together. Not only did we build something that allowed us to be out on the water we love so much, we’re also able to share that passion with others.

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

Getting to know people over the winter and the beautiful view every time you drive into town! The views from Seward from mountains to see are incredible!

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

We have been overwhelmed by how supportive the charter community has been to us. Everyone has helped with tips and referrals and genuine goodwill. We could not be happier to be part of this great group of people.

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

We love hiking up to Lost Lake with our dog Elri.

Feature Image: M/V Caroline offers guests a luxurious experience exploring Kenai Fjords National Park. Photo Courtesy of 60 Degrees Adventure Charters.

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For more information about 60 Degrees Adventure Charters or to book a trip, click here or call 907.521.8196.

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

New Vessel Joins Major Marine Fleet

Major Marine Tours Welcomes a New Vessel to its Seward Fleet

SEWARD, Alaska—Major Marine Tours is kicking off the 2018 summer season with a new addition to its fleet of vessels! The Kenai Fjords 360 is a custom-built, high-speed catamaran is named for its 360-degree wraparound top deck. This design offers passengers unparalleled wildlife and scenic viewing opportunities. 

The state-of-the-art catamaran arrived in Seward from La Connor, Wash., last week, and will go into service for Major Marine Tours beginning mid-May.

“This custom-built catamaran was designed so our passengers could have a unique and memorable experience viewing glaciers, wildlife and scenery,” said Tom Tougas, owner of Major Marine Tours.

“As a locally-owned company that has been investing in Alaska’s tourism industry for more than two decades, we are certainly thrilled to introduce this new vessel to our fleet. We’ll be able to take more Alaskans and visitors out to experience and appreciate the stunning beauty of Kenai Fjords National Park.”

Designed with passenger comfort and the environment in mind

In addition to the wheelhouse being located on the second deck to allow for top-deck viewing, the Kenai Fjords 360 is also the fastest catamaran of Major Marine Tours’ fleet. The new vessel has the ability to cruise up to 30 knots (about 35 miles per hour).

Environmental sustainability is a top priority for Major Marine Tours. The Kenai Fjords 360 is powered by EPA Tier III, fuel-efficient and low-emission Caterpillar C32 engines, minimizing its environmental footprint.

The 150-person capacity catamaran was designed with passenger comfort as another priority. Features include snack and beverage bars on the first and second decks, a large galley for dining, and three restrooms on board.

The vessel’s new home

The Kenai Fjords 360 will board directly behind the Seward Harbor 360 Hotel, a Major Marine Tours accommodation. Both are conveniently located less than a block from the Alaska Railroad Depot.

The Kenai Fjords 360 is the ninth vessel in the Major Marine Tours fleet and will support Major Marine Tours in its six-hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise. The cruise visits an actively calving tidewater glacier, provides opportunities for whale and wildlife viewing and features Major Marine Tours’ Alaska salmon and prime rib buffet.

About Major Marine Tours

Major Marine Tours offers world-class wildlife and glacier cruises from Seward and Whittier, Alaska. Major Marine Tours is a locally-owned, family company celebrating over 25 years of sharing the beauty of Alaska with its guests. Seward cruises explore the tidewater glaciers and abundant wildlife of Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park, and the Whittier cruises explore the dense concentration of glaciers and waterfalls found in the calm, protected waters of Prince William Sound. Most cruises feature National Park Ranger narration and an Alaska salmon and prime rib buffet, freshly-prepared on board and served during the cruise. For more information, visit majormarine.com

Member Spotlight: A Flyin’ Skein

Q&A With Cindy Clark of A Flyin’ Skein

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.
 
A Flyin’ Skein is a yarn store and more. Not only does owner Cindy Clark supply Seward with a variety of fibers, but she also has art supplies, jewerly-making supplies, and offers classes for a variety of crafts. She is always expanding what she does. She caters to creative clientele who have exciting new projects and want to experience fiber with new techniques and color blending.
 
We recently sat down with Cindy to learn more about the journey she has taken as a small business owner in Seward.

 

Owner Cindy Clark makes her yarn store a haven for creative endeavors. Photo Courtesy of A Flyin’ Skein.

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

A Flyin’ Skein is known for customer service. We will help in any way with anything we can, even if it isn’t yarn related. In addition to helping people in person, I’ve done Facetime sessions with customers who have a problem with their knitting and don’t know how to fix it. I’ve also even shown customers how their keyless systems work on their new cars, others how to navigate their new iphones or ipads and fixed problems for them. I’ve given the term “full-service yarn store” a whole new meaning!

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

In my other life I was an Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technician. I never imagined being known as ‘The Yarn Lady”. I thought I’d have a quilt or bookstore. But here I am, more than ten years later and it is my passion. I love being able to empower people. Sometimes people feel as if they are powerless over lots of stuff in their life; learning to make something and control how it happens is very satisfying. It also gives people the opportunity to believe in themselves. If you find out that you can do something you thought was impossible, other doors will open because of the confidence you gained. Some people I’ve taught can’t imagine how they survived without it; knitting is not only a creative outlet but a great strategy for stress relief as well.

Sheep Shades Yarn is hand-dyed, custom-colored yarn available in Seward. Photo Courtesy of A Flyin’ Skein.

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

Last summer we introduced Sheep Shades Yarn – our very own colors of yarn, hand-dyed in Seward Alaska. It has been a big hit and a very enlightening experience; the logistics of keeping up with the high demand has been a learning experience. Most people don’t realize that yarn and quilt stores are vacation destinations for visitors or at least a significant factor to vacation planning. Stores that produce something that can only be acquired at that one store has a magnetic pull for those looking for something unique.
 

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

We now have classes that are based on personal schedules. On the webpage is a tab for Classes, you can see everything we do, fill out the form for what you want to learn, along with the days and times that are good for you and we create a class for you. You can even request a craft or class that isn’t listed and if it is possible, we’ll create it. We also started DIY or Make n’ Take kits. You can either sit in the store and make the craft or buy the kit to take home and make later.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received? 

“The only reason I come to Seward is to go the yarn store.”

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

Go to the Small Business Development Center, they have the answers to all the questions you could possibly have and they can help with the finances to get you up and going.
 
A yarn shop is a refuge for people looking to relieve stress. Photo Courtesy of A Flyin’ Skein.

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

Cindy Capra is one of the most creative people I know and she inspires me to expand my skills and knowledge. She is also my go-to person when I have an idea and she helps me work out the details. She has always been, and continues to be, my biggest supporter and advocate.

 

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

My husband came up on a fishing trip and when he got home announced that he wanted to move to Alaska. I responded with “I’ll be ready at two.” We came up two months later. He had been to Homer but not Seward. When we got to the Homer turnoff, we decided to see what Seward had to offer and it felt like home. We moved here the next spring.

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

I just love Seward, the views, the people, and even the weather. Best of all, there are no bugs or slithery things. I’m from Florida, the land of cockroaches and snakes.

How do you spend your free time?

In my free time I’m knitting, crocheting, preparing classes, updating the webpage and searching Pinterest; sometimes I’ll be really irresponsible and read a book. My mind is always “on”. I have a hard time not thinking about how to make the store experience better.

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

Curled up in my chair, binge watching an old TV series with a project, hoping to not drop any stitches while laughing or crying at whatever I am watching.

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

Aside from yarn, A Flyin’ Skein has everything you might need for any craft project. Photo Courtesy of A Flyin’ Skein.
Never Saw That Coming!!!

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 am not much of an adventurer. I’m more of a homebody. If I have a free weekend it is usually spent being a little lazy, at least in the morning, but by the afternoon, I’m either working on a new project or finishing a Work-In-Progress (WIP) that has been hanging around for too long. Don’t ever ask a crafter how many WIPs they have; it ranks right up there with never ask a woman how old she is.?

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

I’m always on the lookout for new classes or techniques to introduce and a couple of new Sheep Shade colors are being examined.

Feature Image: Shades of summer brighten up this little corner of Seward all year round! Photo Courtesy of A Flyin’ Skein. 

***For more information about A Flyin’ Skein click here, call 907.224.KNIT (5648) or head down to 223 4th Avenue in Seward.


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

Member Spotlight: Ukanuzit

Q&A With Shelly Shank and Melissa Houselog of Ukanuzit

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.

In 2014, Michelle Blalock, Melissa Houselog, Brad Entwisle and Shelly Shank opened a local thrift store, Ukanuzit. They are supported by items donated by the community, which they then sell for reasonable prices. While they are not a non-profit, they do give back to the community in the form of scholarships, prizes and donated items for charities and events.

We recently sat down with Shelly and Melissa to learn more about the journey all four owners have taken to run a small business in Seward.
These four have made Seward a hot spot for second-hand shopping. L to R: Melissa Houselog, Shelly Shank, Michelle Blalock, Brad Entwisle. Photo Courtesy of Ukanuzit

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

Shelly: We all love this community. We have a very giving and caring community and we are proud to be part of it.
 
Melissa: Ukanuzit has been fulfilling and a true labor of love. Our customers are the best!

 

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

S: Last year, blogger Trent Jonas rated us the #1 thrift store in the State of Alaska. Since the Seward community is so great about donating items to us, we have a ton of inventory to turn over and are making a name for ourselves as a “funky boutique” with a lot to offer.

Family fun means dressing up at Ukanuzit! Photo Courtesy of Ukanuzit.

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

S: Our prices are lower than the thrift stores in Anchorage. We actually have a customer base that travels from Anchorage to shop with us.

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

S: We are proud of the relationships that we have gained. Our store seems to be a great meeting place for some.
 
M: Knowing that we have helped keep tons of stuff out of the landfill and keeping prices low so we can offer treasures to people in Seward is truly a heartwarming and rewarding experience. It really is a dream come true.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…Ukanuzit brings happiness to all! Photo Courtesy of Ukanuzit.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

S: People tell us we are the best thrift store they have ever been to.
 
Describe a risk that you’ve taken in your business that paid off.
 
S: Jumping into our business was our biggest risk and it has paid off with a lot of hard work and support.

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

S: The biggest one would be to “Make sure there is a need for the business”.
 
 Feature Image: Kids find rainy day fun dressing up at the local thrift store. Photo Courtesy of Ukanuzit.

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For more information about Ukanuzit click here, call 907.224-5268, or head down to 339 5th Avenue in Seward.

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

 

Member Spotlight: Alaska Surf Guides

Q&A With Scott Reierson of Alaska Surf 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.

Owner and guide, Scott Reierson, offers remote Surfing & Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) adventures to people looking to go deeper into Alaska and experience some truly hidden gems. Alaska Surf Guides is based out of Seward, Alaska and uses helicopter & bush plane to access back country beaches for half-day and multi-day adventures. Their Heli-Surf Trip combines the thrilling experience of helicopter flightseeing while offering unmatched access to remote surf breaks. Surf/sightseeing in a fixed wing bush plane not only allows visitors a taste of this unique and necessary form of Alaska transportation, but it allows them to scour the coastline in pursuit of rarely surfed Alaska waves.

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

Seward local, Scott Reierson, takes surfers on an adventure of a lifetime to breaks on the rugged Alaskan coast. Photo Courtesy of Alaska Surf Guides.

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

We are the only Seward company flying visitors to consistent surf breaks around the area. I consistently study weather patterns, currents, swells and new surf spots that are only accessible by air. In an age where the “surf safari” is dying out, it’s taking more and more extreme measures to get to undiscovered surf breaks. With over 6500 miles of coastline, Alaska is becoming the last frontier for the epic surf trip. Our helicopter and bush plane trips are a new way of discovering and riding waves without the crowds and competition you would find at well-known surf spots.

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

Our Cabin Retreat Overnight Trip is an incredible opportunity for adventurous surfers to escape the crowds and experience the surreal scenery of Alaska’s remote coastlines and captivating wildlife. With up to a half hour of helicopter flight-seeing, a home-cooked meal, and a night in a hand-built cabin located right on Alaska’s gulf coast, this is trip is truly an diamond in the rough. Waking up next to the crashing ocean and being the first and only one out on breaking waves is a true Alaskan experience you won’t find anywhere else. ​

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

I include all gear and either a surfboard or paddleboard in the price of my trips. This means I had to buy a whole fleet of wetsuits of all different sizes for anyone who might want to book a trip. It was a big risk and expense, but it makes Alaska Surf Guides stand out from other operations. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to squeeze in a surf trip on their Alaska vacation, since not a lot of people are coming here just for surfing.

Surfing the fjords near Seward. Photo Courtesy of Alaska Surf Guides.

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

We offer trips geared towards all different skill levels. As surfers know, wave size changes on a daily basis. So, we are transparent with our clients about the level of experience recommended for any particular condition. We plan each trip according to the wave direction, wind, tide and surf break, so we can tell clients exactly what to expect. After we land at the remote beach, we discuss the associated hazards and nuances of that particular surfing break (riptide, bottom profile, wildlife etc.). This way, anyone with even a little surfing experience will know what kinds of conditions to expect and have the confidence to surf new terrain.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

“It’s not just a surf trip, it’s an adventure!”

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

Build a business around your passion!

No AK surf session would be complete without a trip in a bush plane! Photo Courtesy of Alaska Surf Guides.

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

My family has been long-time Seward residents. My parents met while working the fish processing line at Seward Fish in the 80’s. They had me 27 years ago; I am so happy to call Seward my home!

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

The supportive community helps make starting and running a business so much easier! There are so many business men and women in Seward that have helped me and that I admire, that I can’t do them all justice here.

How do you spend your free time?

One of the best things about owning a business that you love is that work doesn’t feel like work. So whether it’s surfing or doing something else for the business, I usually spend all my time “working”!

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

Montague Island

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

Alaska Surf Guides will have an office at Seward’s Adventure Station & Lodge, located at 334 4th Ave. The Station offers visitors a vibrant downtown location where they can meet like-minded adventurers and explore Seward’s many activities, tours, and experiences.

Feature Image: Sun, snow and solo waves; a perfect day for a surf adventure. Photo Courtesy of Alaska Surf Guides.

***

For more information about Alaska Surf Guides click here or call 907.519.0407.

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

Member Spotlight: Turning Heads Kennel

Q&A With Sarah Stokey of Turning Heads Kennel

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 Turning Heads Kennel, a tour operator and Iditarod training facility located on the road to Exit Glacier.

Sarah Stokey and Travis Beals, mushers and owners of Turning Heads Kennel, train an elite team of canine athletes. Not only do they race the 1,000 mile Iditarod, they also introduce Seward visitors to their “dog-centric” lifestyle with tours that offer a glimpse into the sled dog experience. Offering an interactive dog sled ride at their kennel, Travis and Sarah regale guests with stories from the Iditarod, training tips and a passion for their dogs that is apparent in everything they do. They also offer snow sledding tours; they fly guests to Godwin Glacier for a true mushing experience on snow all summer long.

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

Mushers Sarah Stokey and Travis Beals cuddle some superstar athletes. Photo by Kalani Woodlock Photography

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

We offer two different dog sled tours during the summer both of which are great introductions to dog mushing. Our glacier dog sledding tour allows visitors to mush on snow, even in the summer, and includes a 15 minute helicopter ride. It’s a breath-taking tour, even for local Sewardites — it’s incredible how you can be enjoying summer  one minute and then be whisked away via helicopter to a winter wonderland. We offer this tour in conjunction with our helicopter business, Seward Helicopter Tours. We also offer a one-of-a-kind wheeled dog sled ride and kennel tour out of our home. What’s unique about this experience is that the trail we mush on is a series of interconnected loops. We make each tour a training exercise for our dogs and take our guests behind the scenes and show them firsthand how we train our lead dogs. It’s exciting for our guests and our dogs because the dogs are actively learning, not just running a set course. This keeps it fun for our dogs and really educates our guests on what it takes to train a dog team!

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

Travis and I never intended to own our own business. We found ourselves both unexpectedly unemployed and house-sitting at what is now our home. Just when we feared we wouldn’t be able to put dog food on the table (so to speak) visitors kept pulling into our yard asking to go dog sledding. Taking a chance, we wrote a business plan and started doing cart tours in 2012. We both wore many hats and had several side jobs, but we stuck it out and were determined to make it work. The following year, we took over Seward Helicopter Tours on a complete whim. The owner was going through a divorce and offered to sell us the business because we shared similar values and we had been kind to him the previous summer. Never underestimate the value of kindness!

Visitors get a glimpse into the lives of sled dogs training for the Iditarod on a cart ride through old growth forest. Photo Courtesy of Turning Heads Kennel

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

Taking over Seward Helicopters was a big risk; at the time it wasn’t a profitable business. It’s taken a few years and and a lot of hard work, but we’ve managed to build Seward into a premiere destination for glacier dog sledding and scenic flights. In turn, our success has allowed other businesses to grow.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

We’ve been blessed with many reviews that say our tours are the most memorable part of our guests’ trip to Alaska. We’ve also had guests return to Alaska specifically to do our excursions again, which always makes us smile. I think perhaps the thing that sticks with me most, however, are the Christmas cards we receive each year from people who have done our tour. Many of our clients are visiting Alaska for the first time and have no experience dog sledding and some clients have never seen snow. It’s really heartwarming knowing that our excursion was so special that it was  “Christmas Card Worthy”!

We are also passionate about what we do and have had our hard work rewarded through improved race records, awards for “best dog care,” and great reviews about our tours from our many visitors. We are proud of all of this recognition.

No doubt about it, kennel employees have a great job! Photo Courtesy of Turning Heads Kennel

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

Travis grew up in Seward and I moved here in 2010. I always wanted to live in Alaska because it is the center of dog mushing in the US.

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

Everyone here is always willing to lend a hand if you ask. I love how selfless our community is. Living nestled between the mountains and the sea is magical. There’s always something to do outside and always a new nook to explore.

How do you spend your free time?

Mushing dogs isn’t just a business for us, it’s a lifestyle. We spend a lot of time hanging out in our dog yard with our pack. We enjoy exploring trails with our dogs, boating, and flying drones.

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

There are so many wonderful places in Seward that it’s hard to pick just one. Hiking Tonsina is always a good way to unwind — especially if accompanied by one or two furry friends.

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

Always be kind.

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

Mushing to Exit Glacier in the winter is a special treat. We’ve had to move our base north to train for the Iditarod over the last few winters due to weather. This has made us unable to do that trip in a number of years. If the weather allowed, that would be our first pick.

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

Travis recently finished 9th in the Iditarod! This was a career best for him and we are really happy with that performance. We are still on cloud nine! We also just expanded our trail system for our kennel tour and dog sled ride through a lease with the Kenai Peninsula Borough. We’ve been able to open up more trails through some old growth forest which is exciting.

Feature Image: Sled dogs and mushers live on Godwin Glacier during the summers to delight guests with a true sled dog experience. Photo Courtesy of Turning Heads Kennel

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For more information about Turning Heads Kennel click here or call 907.362.4354. For more information about Seward Helicopters click here or call 907.202.8390.

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

Member Spotlight: The Mindful Marmot

Q&A With Rachel Gordon of The Mindful Marmot

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 The Mindful Marmot, a yoga and hiking adventure company that brings visitors and locals to outdoor yoga day trips around Seward and multi-day retreats in Kayaker’s Cove. Owner Rachel Gordon offers destination yoga classes: guided hiking trips up to Mt. Marathon bowl or to Tonsina beach with a yoga class in each spectacular locale. She has also teamed up with Marathon Helicopters to take guests on scenic flights for yoga classes secluded in the mountains. For those who could do without yoga, she offers guided hikes around Seward as well.

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

Kayaker’s Cove is a yogi’s peaceful oasis. Photo Kalani Woodlock Photography

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

I am very proud to be offering three yoga retreats at Kayaker’s Cove (May 18-20. July 13-15, and August 10-12). I teach clients two yoga classes a day, cook them delicious food, and guide them hiking while they bask in the glory of Kayaker’s Cove. It’s a magical place to relax and delve a little deeper in your yoga practice while tuning out from the daily hustle and bustle. We’ve also added massage therapist Sarah Herman from Three Peaks Massage and Wellness to the itinerary to help dissolve any lingering stress. Did I mention there’s a wood-fired sauna out there?!

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

The business concept itself is pretty unique, especially in Seward. No one else in town is offering any kind of outdoor yoga classes, let alone ones combined with hiking and helicopters. I’m looking forward to fostering the growing interest in yoga that’s blooming in Seward.

Zen out in the Alaska wilderness with The Mindful Marmot. Photo by Janessa Anderson

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

I’m bubbling over with excitement because this is my first season of my business venture! But that might not be that surprising, as I tell pretty much anyone who will listen.

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

Ask all the questions, from everyone, all the time. The more information you can get from people who have already started a business or who might be interested in something your business would offer, you’re all the better for knowing.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

Probably the greatest compliment is the positive feedback and encouragement I have received from so many people in the community. I definitely have first year jitters but everyone’s positive response has been an amazing boost and quite a compliment!

The Mindful Marmot combines yoga, kayaking and hiking at their retreats in Kayaker’s Cove. Photo: Rachel Gordon

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

I would have to say Kristi Larson. She is just an inspiration. Kristi is dedicated to her job and helping people get into their new homes. She is an absolute light at all times and never has a negative word or sour face about anything. Not to mention that gal is always doing something outside. I can only hope to have one ounce of her smiles and positivity.

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

This is my fourth year in Seward. I first came to Seward to work a summer season to get a break from Southern California, where I was living at the time. I got bit by the Seward bug and now I don’t want to leave.

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

Gosh, Seward just combines two of the things I love the most: the mountains and ocean. I get to hike a mountain and go surfing in the same day! Not to mention the incredible community here full of wonderful supportive people. I can’t ask for more than that!

How do you spend your free time?

I try to spend as much time outside as I can. I love being on the water whether it’s paddle boarding or surfing when we’re lucky enough to have some waves. That or bopping around on any of the trails around Seward.

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

I tend to be very social and active so if I need some real unwinding I’ll probably be hitting crossword puzzles pretty hard in my cabin.

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

Great Expectations…Well, that one’s already taken but I might borrow it.

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’ve actually never been out to Northwestern. I would love to go check that out!

Feature Image: Rachel Gordon gives new meaning to adventurous yoga. Photo Courtesy of Mountain Men of Alaska.

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For more information about The Mindful Marmot, click here or call 907.224.3635

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

 

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.