In the late 1960s, Anchorage's grocers held a contest to see who could sell the most toilet paper. One of two first-place prizes was $3,000, but the victor chose the other—a baby Asian elephant. He quickly realized he couldn't take care of her, so he put her up in the heated barn of local horse rancher Sammye Seawell. Sammye fell so in love with this small pachyderm that she began housing other abandoned creatures—enough to fill a zoo. More than 40 years later, The Alaska Zoo's keepers and staff continue this simple but powerful mission: to rescue orphaned, injured, and captive-born animals of the Arctic, sub-Arctic, and similar regions.
Today, the zoo’s habitats house more than 110 animals from 53 cold-loving species. In semiaquatic zones, polar bears nap, harbor seals swim, and river otters attempt to solve calculus equations. In terrestrial environments, amur tigers play with a ball attached to a zipline, and black bears lounge in a hammock made from recycled fire hoses. Other habitats house residents such as snow leopards, reindeer, and wolves.
In addition to caring for these animals, staffers conduct Iditarod-focused educational events in March and use animal-themed light displays to celebrate both the summer solstice and approaching winter holidays. They also raise awareness for wildlife through educational programs, such as seasonal adventure camps and zookeeper shadowing, and join in conservation efforts, such as serving as ambassadors for Polar Bears International and the Toupees for Bald Eagles Project.
The thud of well-aimed balls precedes the satisfying crack of crashing pins, a sound that signifies victory for competitors spread across North Bowl's family-friendly lanes. A retreat for seasoned and novice bowlers alike, the alley keeps competitions balanced with lightweight balls and bumper lanes available upon request. Booming music and flashing disco lights herald a shift from open bowling to neon bowling—special sessions on Fridays and Saturdays when athletes face off or dance off in a nightclub atmosphere. Parties and leagues bond bowlers of all ages via lively recreation, and fundraisers enlist the sport to benefit worthy causes. On-site snacks and libations fuel sporty endeavors until closing time or the nachos gain self-awareness.
Bouncin' Bears’ indoor inflatables set the scene for kids to unleash their imaginations while zooming down slides and climbing through jungle gyms. Staff members keep a close eye on the sea of green, yellow, and blue inflatables, ensuring safe play as little ones bound over obstacles. The springy surface of bounce castles sends little monarchs soaring higher than Louis XIV’s built-in antenna, and age-appropriate inflatables host toddlers aged 3 and younger. In addition to open play, the facilities also host parties that incorporate activities such as Nerf-gun battles.
Founded by dancer Judi Sheppard Missett in 1969, Jazzercise and the network that it formed has mushroomed into more than 7,800 instructors teaching 32,000 weekly classes in 32 countries. Much like the opening arguments in any trial, every 60-minute session begins with a gentle warm-up to limber up limbs before jumping into an easy-to-follow aerobic-dance routine. Moves blend elements of jazz dance with kickboxing and the core toning elements of Pilates and yoga. Top 40 hits, jazz, country, funk, rock, blues and hip-hop pluck at brain strings to get bodies energized as sessions transition into a muscle-toning segment performed with dumbbells. Workouts conclude with a stretch and cooldown.
Housed within the climate-controlled expanse of a 4,300-square-foot enclosed facility, the virtual courses at Alaska Golf Shot provide a weather-free way for patrons to enjoy the game of golf year round. Patrons hone swings during one of 61 different game setups, including courses of varying difficulty, driving range simulations, and putting practice. Different slopes and angles add challenging terrain to each game’s equation, helping players control their shots during stays in the bunker or dips in the tar pit. The staff also utilizes leftover processing power by running a number of shooting simulations, including big game hunting, archery, and skeet shooting. Equipped to handle between-game snacks or post-putt physics lessons, the lounge and concession areas keep guests plugged in with big screen televisions, golf retail, and comfy seats.