What began as a colony farm built by the U.S. Army in 1935 became, by the mid-1950s, the childhood home of Reindeer Farm's head honcho, Tom Williams. After studying the habits of Scandinavian and Siberian reindeer herders in high school, Tom began to understand why the antlered creatures were considered the "cattle of the North": The brisk Alaskan climate suited their dense coats and languid presence at pool parties. In 1987, after years of practicing law throughout Alaska, Tom ventured to Canada to meet his first herd of reindeer, which he kept corralled next to a tiny sign and donation jar on the modest farm. Since then, that initial herd has blossomed into 150 reindeer, who graze beside 35 elk, 13 horses, one bull moose, and one surprisingly well-adjusted bison. Now a petting zoo, the farm has grown alongside the herd, with guided tours, scavenger hunts, and horseback rides treating guests to an up-close and hands-on experience with the majestic animals. Located in the colony's original chicken coop, a gift shop provides guests with any number of collectibles to commemorate their visits.
The warmth of the staff at Mile 5.2 Greenhouse & Gift Shop rivals the warmth of its hand-tended conservatory. The affable plant buffs rely upon customer-focused service to combat impersonal "big-box stores," gladly guiding visitors through their greenhouse's lush pathways where flowers peek from hanging baskets and tropical plants share the roof with herbs. More than 125 types of perennials and fruit-bearing boughs boost their resilience as they endure the winter cold, training their blooms to return year after year so they can one day avenge their ancestors against the weed-whackers of clumsy gardeners.
In addition to its striking greenery, the Eagle River outpost stocks their gift shop with an array of gourmet foods, ranging from Lake Champlain chocolate bars and Oregon salt-water taffy to hearty soup and bread mixes. Additionally, home accessories such as wind chimes and scented candles can pair with potted petals to create colorful gift combinations.
The largest manufacturer and supplier of paints in the Pacific Northwest, Parker Paint enables new-hue-craving customers to roll and brush fresh coats of luscious pigments onto formerly drab and dreary household surfaces. To reinvent interiors, several options await including the semigloss Wall Glow ($34.27/gallon) and the Velva Kolor ($30.59/gallon), with a less-reflective eggshell finish. Parker Paint also carries a selection of weather-scoffing exterior paints, such as the flat-finish Flextron 100 ($33.03/gallon) to help homeowners paint a realistic yet unflattering outdoor mural of the neighbors.
For more than 40 years, D'Florist has added artful elegance to special occasions with unique, blooming bundles. Peruse roses in every shade of the scented spectrum, choosing red to signify romance, pink to signify appreciation, or peach to signify a desire for pie. The always-artful arrangements can integrate tropical flowers, seasonal plants, or orchids ($35 average for small arrangements; $75 for larger sizes), bringing a touch of exotic flair to any Thanksgiving table, New Year's party, or honeybee birthday celebration.
The warm staff at Sleep Comfort by Nerlands invites people to laze about a showroom boasting more 50 mattress sets on a quest to find the dreamiest dream pad. Utilizing the technology of the Sleep Metrics diagnostic system, the scholars of slumber match weary people with mattresses, including classic duos of foam mattresses ($215) and basic innerspring mattresses ($248) with box-foundation counterparts. The pocket coils of the queen-size Luxury model Simmons Beautyrest ($677–$887) offer snoozers a night of support and comfort akin to crowd surfing on an audience wearing cashmere oven mitts. As a purveyor of Boyd Natural Flex Latex mattresses, Sleep Comfort by Nerlands introduces allergy-suffering clients to this bacteria-resistant bedfellow and its unwavering resistance to dust mites. Knowing that a good night’s rest is important to physical and mental well-being, Sleep Comfort guarantees blissful slumbering for 60 nights.
Since 1991, For Fun Alaska has enlivened birthday parties, block parties, and community get-togethers with a comprehensive spectrum of bounce houses, obstacle courses, and party services. The collection of rental houses includes inflatable waterslides and bungee runs designed for children, as well as giant bounce houses and inflatable boxing rings suitable for adults. For Fun also places guests inside of giant hamster balls, allowing them to experience spinning pleasure while avoiding confrontations with pet rodents over whose turn it is to use the wheel. In addition, the staff proffers face-painting and balloon-animal services, and works with a commitment to keeping parties both safe and fun.