Let's Cook Alaska's talented teaching chef, Josie McKinney, fell in love with cooking at a young age. By the age of 12, she was preparing Thanksgiving dinner for her family. Now, as a mother of four, she shares her joy of cooking by inviting students into her “dream kitchen,” where they develop culinary confidence by working with her recipe box full of diverse meal ideas. In her cooking classes, she aims to transform cooking from chore to adventure. Josie’s fun, hands-on teaching style encourages students to get their hands messy by trying techniques for themselves and clean by stuffing them into their friends’ mouths. While students prepare entire meals, Josie circulates among them dispensing tips. Classes stay small—around 4 to 10 students—to ensure lots of individual attention and extra servings to go around when the class sits down together to enjoy their creations. Menus rotate with a monthly theme, such as comfort food and international fare, prepped with fresh, local ingredients.
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) shelters orphaned, injured, and ill animals that could not otherwise survive in the wild. Bears, elk, and coyotes roam in a natural-habitat enclosure where they are regularly fed, rehabilitated, and given medical attention under the direction of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The AWCC seeks to educate the public about protecting Alaska’s native species with educational programs and tours. Patrons can also see the animals living in near-wild conditions, with bald eagles swooping to the ground in search of prey and wood bison plodding through 65 acres of tidal terrain. The latter comprise the only herd of wood bison in the U.S.: the species had been extinct in Alaska for more than a century until the AWCC acquired its herd from the Yukon as an effort to reintroduce the animal to the state.
Crashing waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, and breathtaking glaciers surround Resurrection Bay. Sailing, Inc., an instructional academy and member of the American Sailing Association, calls this slice of the Alaskan coastline its home. On the water, certified instructors teach beginners' to advanced courses, covering everything from navigating moderate sea conditions in basic keelboat classes to sailing past a boat's bedtime in nighttime advanced coastal cruising classes. The captains occasionally take breaks from instruction to charter sailing tours. On these excursions, wind sweeps through passengers' hair as they explore deserted coves or wait for the warm glow of a midnight sunset to turn the boat back into a pumpkin.
At Alaska Horse Adventures LLC, trails extend from the stables and into deep woods with mountain views, immersing riders in the natural beauty of the local landscape. Rides are tailored to accommodate all skill levels, allowing beginners to enjoy leisurely strolls along forested trails while advanced riders take advantage of more open terrain, streams, and the lack of backcountry speed-limit signs. From the vantage point of a noble steed, riders can catch glimpses of moose, bears, undomesticated uncles, coyotes, and migrating birds in their natural environment. Alaska Horse Adventures LLC also organizes seasonal activities such as backpacking trips and winter sleigh rides.
Aboard the deck of the Rainisong, a 65-foot U.S. Coast Guard–certified charter boat, the licensed boat captains and experienced crew of Seward Fishing Club steer guests into salmon-rich waters during morning or afternoon fishing trips. Shipmates cast professional bait and tackle into the sea with enough time to nab a silver salmon or entertain schools of fish with synchronized worm kick lines. In between reeling, guests can amble across the walk-around decks to stare at the scenic surroundings, or venture below the cabin to relax in the wooden interior, equipped with seating, 16 bunks, and two bathrooms.
Rockin’ B Riding Club’s 2.5-acre ranch boasts an indoor and an outdoor arena as well as a network of wooded paths for private rides. These facilities are home to seven school horses, who help teach young riders equestrian basics during camps and lessons alongside veteran instructors. Using the Certified Horsemanship Association curriculum, teachers focus on the basics of English- or Western-style riding but also throw in lessons on how to groom horses and how to tell the difference between a mare and a tall four-legged table.