A June 2005 trip
to Seward by tamtbell
Quote: What is summer in Alaska without mosquitoes, bears in your trash, and family visiting from the lower 48? It certainly wouldn't be a normal Alaskan summer! This summer, my husband's family visited, and we hoped to show them a little of the state we love so much in Seward, Alaska.
This resort has almost any type of accommodation that your family may need, as it features campgrounds, RV parking and hook-ups, motel rooms, town homes, and even cabins. It also has a large lounge with a big-screen television, which delighted my father-in-law every morning, as the television reception in our rooms was not the greatest. The staff here is very knowledgeable about the area, as well as extremely friendly, and was always willing to help us out.
Upon entering our motel room, my husband and my first words were, "Yup, definitely a military hotel," as the motel rooms here are comfortable but furnished spartanly. The beds are very hard; the towels are crisp, as if they have been bleached too often; and we noticed that they must have a problem with many of the single soldiers, airmen, or sailors taking the television remote controls with them when they leave, because ours was bolted down. I also noticed that our shower curtain had mildew growing on the back of it, which I reported the next morning when we checked in for our Wildlife and Glacier Cruise. Unfortunately, nothing was done about it, as it was still there that evening. Other than these few minor negative aspects, our stay here was pleasant, and I would go back again. For more information, check out http://www.sewardresort.com/.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 27, 2005
Seward Military Resort
P.O. Box 329
Seward, Alaska 99664
After several minutes of sitting down and not being greeted by our waiter it became obvious that Ray’s Waterfront restaurant was either unusually busy this Friday night or that they were understaffed as it took about 10 minutes to simply get our water glasses filled. Within 15 minutes, our waiter appeared, out of breath, greeted us, informed us of the specials of the day, asked what we would like to drink before or with dinner, and then almost literally ran back to put in our orders.
As my husband and I looked over the menus, we noted that the prices were reasonable for this tourist area, as seafood, steak, or chicken entrées averaged about $20 to $25, with King Crab being the most expensive at around $35. Appetizers ranged anywhere from $8 to $15. Everything on the menu looked mouthwatering; however, my husband ordered the macadamia-nut-crusted mahimahi with sweet chili sauce, and I ordered the halibut and asparagus with hollandaise sauce, which were both specials announced by our waiter. The meals came with scrumptious, crusty artisan bread with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and herbs to dip it in.
The food here was as advertised, delectable, mouthwatering, and delicious! The service was a bit slow, so they may either have been short on staff or just hit unexpectedly with a rush, as my sister-in-law didn’t even receive her ordered Sprite until we had finished dinner. Normally, I wouldn’t have even minded that the service was a bit slow, as I could have enjoyed the scenery, the atmosphere, and having some time to talk to my husband leisurely over a nowadays virgin mixed drink; however, since my in-laws were dining with us, we were a little more hurried. On the whole, I would recommend Ray’s Waterfront.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 6, 2005
1316 4th Avenue
Seward, Alaska 99664
As we approached the Marina Restaurant, it was apparent at once that this place was really busy and really crowded. One of the few waitresses quickly told us to have a seat anywhere, and they would be right with us. Unfortunately, the only table available was near the front door, where most of the other restaurant patrons were entering and exiting, and it was quite filthy, with dirty glasses, small bits of rubbish, and pieces of food from the last customers. Reluctantly, I sat on a chair that we grabbed from another table and waited for our server to appear with our menus.
I have heard that this is a great place to eat: that the food is delicious, the service is excellent, and the atmosphere is fun and lively; however, to me, it seemed run-down, dirty, crowded, and noisy. When we finally did receive our menus and our table was cleared somewhat of the dirty dishes, we quickly looked over our menus and ordered our food. I ordered a cup of clam chowder that was horribly disappointing, as it tasted as if someone had taken a can of clam chowder and watered it down to make it last longer. There was really no taste at all to it, and I could have easily counted on one hand how many potatoes and clams were floating in it. After the waitress took my clam chowder away and I ensured this would not be on our bill, our meals arrived. Most of my husband’s family ordered halibut fish and chips, which I normally really like, but since being pregnant I have not been able to tolerate grease, so it looked unappealing to me. They did assure me, though, that it was delicious. I ordered the broiled salmon, which tasted as if it wasn’t very fresh, served with steamed vegetables, which had probably been steamed for a few hours too long and had no flavor at all, with the consistency of baby food. There was also a baked potato that was burnt.
As you can probably guess, I was extremely disappointed with my entire meal; however, my in-laws seemed to enjoy theirs immensely. All in all, I would only recommend this restaurant if you are looking to only spend around 7 to 10 dollars per person, you are in the mood for mediocre food at best, or you just really love cheap fish and chips.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on July 26, 2005
The Marina Restaurant
1321 4th Avenue
Seward, Alaska 99664
Restaurant | "The Breeze Inn & Restaurant"
Since we arrived so early in the morning at the restaurant we were greeted, seated and given our menus extremely promptly. The menus here offer a really great selection of breakfast entrees that range from omelets to Belgian waffles. They even serve sides of reindeer sausage, one of my personal favorites since moving to Alaska! After ordering our meals and being served our water, coffee and the orange juice I ordered we had a little time to relax and wake up since we all had to wake up early this morning.
Each morning we ate here we all almost ordered the same thing except for my husband who went with an omelet one morning and French toast the next. I ordered a Denver omelet that was packed with meat, crisp vegetables and lots of delicious cheese. It was served with hash browns that were a little on the greasy side but still somewhat yummy, and four slices of really tasty sourdough toast that was lightly buttered. My in-laws also expressed their satisfaction with their omelets and pancakes so it seemed that all the restaurant’s breakfast meals must be equally tasty.
The meals here are very well priced at about 7 to 10 dollars for a full breakfast per person and their servings are huge as each morning I could barely finish my meal. This was a great place to stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner for a family on a budget who also appreciate good food. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 26, 2005
The Breeze Inn & Restaurant
Small Boat Harbor
Seward, Alaska 99664
Attraction | "Sea Life Center"
On our last day in Seward, we all decided to make a quick trip to the Alaska Sea Life Center since I had heard such great things about it. We arrived about 10am on a Sunday morning, which is a great time to visit, since there was barely anyone else there. We almost had the entire center to ourselves for about the first hour. Admission is normally $15 for adults and $12 for children, but we purchased our tickets ahead of time through the Seward Military Lodge at a discounted military rate.
Upon walking through the center, I was surprised to learn that it has only been open since May 1998 and owes its existence to funds mostly provided from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Settlement. It is dedicated to understanding and maintaining the Alaska marine ecosystem through research, rehabilitation, education, and exhibition, and it does a great job. My husband and I were already somewhat knowledgeable about Alaska, yet we still learned quite a bit. My in-laws, on the other hand, were, of course, new to Alaska, and they admitted to us afterwards that they were really surprised how much they learned in the few hours at the center.
There are interactive displays and several tanks showing all types of sea life native to Alaskan waters, as well at least three different large exhibitions that showcase stellar sea lions, water fowl, and harbor seals. Many of these beautiful animals are currently being rehabilitated so they can be returned back to their natural habitats. On the lower floors you can even watch as the seals seem to perform for you. My husband and I seemed to make a friend of one of them, as he swam back to us over and over again.
Before you leave, make sure to take a visit outside on the balcony, as there is a great view of Resurrection Bay. It makes a great photo opportunity for friends and family back home! For more information regarding current hours of operation and news, see http://www.alaskasealife.org/.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 3, 2006
Alaska SeaLife Center
301 Railway Avenue P.O. Box 1329
Seward, Alaska 99664
Attraction | "Indian Valley Mine & Gifts"
On our way driving to Seward, my in-laws noticed a tourist spot off the side of the road where you could pan for gold. We promised that we would stop on the way back, so on the Sunday driving back home, we made an hour stop at Indian Valley Mine & Gifts, which is about a 30-minute drive south of Anchorage. Originally when we stopped, I remember thinking, “Oh great, panning for gold--how touristy,” but I was thankful that we got to stop since I was 5 months pregnant at the time and more than happy to stretch my legs after about 3 hours of driving. We climbed the steep gravel driveway up to where the gift shop was and you were able to pick out your bucket of dirt to pan for gold and were greeted by the owner and her children.
Once we picked out our buckets of dirt (my husband and I purchased the $5 one, by the way), the owner came over and instructed us how to “pan for gold.” We were instructed to take a metal or plastic type of pan and swish the water through it to remove the sand and bigger pebbles and slowly the gold would appear. I jokingly rubbed my belly as I started swishing water throughout my pan and asked my son for a little luck. After about 5 minutes of swishing water and picking out pebbles, an odd thing happened: I found this to be strangely mesmerizing and relaxing. Maybe it was just the rhythm of my own movements, the sun that was peeking hesitantly through the trees, and the sound of the rushing water and the birds chirping, but I found myself totally relaxed and didn’t even hear the vehicles racing by on Seward Highway.
That changed rather quickly, however, when suddenly I looked down and realized with a shout to everyone, “I’ve got gold!” I didn’t have a really large amount, but I still had some gold shimmering in the bottom of my pan! My father-in-law nearby looked disappointed, as he had not discovered any as of yet in his pan, so he returned back to his pan with a determined look.
In the end, we took the small amount of gold, which the owner told us amounted to about $30 worth, and put it in a small corked test tube that we promised would be a keepsake to our son when he gets older and is able to appreciate it more.
Honestly, if my husband and I have the chance to do this again, I would do it in a heartbeat. Even though it is kind of silly to pay for dirt, we figured $5 for about an hour's entertainment wasn’t that bad of a bargain.
The Indian Valley Mine & Gifts is open from May 15th to September 15th, 9am to 9pm. For more information, see http://www.indianvalleymine.com/.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 5, 2006
Indian Valley Mine & Gifts
HC52 Box 8814
Indian, Alaska 99540
On our first morning in Seward, we had a reservation for the glacier and wildlife sightseeing cruise. So with our stomachs full with a good breakfast from The Breeze Inn and Restaurant, we boarded a military bus and were brought to the harbor where the Arctic Light was docked. After a quick, informal speech from our captain, we were on our way across Resurrection Bay. The day was a truly beautiful Alaskan day, as the sky was a beautiful deep glacial blue and dotted with puffy cumulous clouds here and there. The sun was warm on our shoulders and the air was cool and refreshing as we glided over the small waves in the bay.
As we began to exit the bay, our captain slowed the boat every so often so we could view Stellar sea lions, sea otters, and puffins up close. Then after a bit of wildlife viewing, we zipped out into the ocean to head towards Holgate Glacier. For a while we all camped out in the heated cabin where our lunch was served. Since I was 20 weeks pregnant at the time, I was extremely glad that I had brought extra snacks with me, since our lunch consisted of a ham or turkey wrap and potato chips. After my husband and I ate, we headed up to the main cabin, where there was a better view of the scenery and we could talk with the captain about the area.
Soon the captain reduced his speed as we approached a bay, spoke quietly over the radio to the other sightseeing captains to inquire about whale sightings, and scanned the smooth surface of the water for some sign of a whale. We sat for what it seemed like ages when, hilariously enough, I was scanning the water and suddenly said in a very calm and surprised voice while looking over my left shoulder, “Oh, there’s a whale!” The boat rocked wildly as all the other guests ran with their cameras over to the side that I pointed to and excitedly took pictures of the whale that was making an appearance every few moments. After about 15 minutes, the whale must’ve decided enough photos had been taken of itself and disappeared, but within another 30 minutes, yet another whale appeared for an extreme close-up.
After an hour or so of whale-watching, our captain guided us to Holgate Glacier, where we parked for a while and listened to the thunderous cracks and groans of the great glacier that loomed over us. I suggest bringing an extra sweater for this part, as the temperature easily drops 20 to 30 degrees. Unfortunately, we never got to see a large chunk of the glacier calve, but we did see several smaller chunks fall off into the bay.
Just a word of caution: this activity is for active-duty military only. There are other cruises in Seward, however, that offer much of the same thing.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 15, 2006