Bounded by the Puget Sound to the west and Lake Washington to the east, and surrounded by forests and mountains, Seattle, Washington boasts a stunning location. But the largest city in the Pacific Northwest is as much a homage to human ingenuity as it is to natural beauty. From logging to shipbuilding to aircraft manufacturing to modern-day software and biotech development, the Emerald City has worn a succession of industrial hats, birthing the likes of Amazon and Starbucks—not to mention music legends Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana—along the way. Visitors are spoiled for choice of things to do in Seattle, with iconic attractions like the waterfront, Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Pike Place Market all easily accessible. "Local" and "sustainable" are words
to live by in Seattle, an ethos reflected in the profusion of fresh-seafood restaurants, independent coffee roasters and quirky boutiques that are dotted around the city, awaiting a taste or visit between sightseeing.
Inside Passage, Alaska
Alaska’s Inside Passage is a protected network of waterways that wind through glacier-cut fjords and lush temperate rain forests along the rugged coast of Southeast Alaska. Arguably one of the greatest cruising routes in the world, the Inside Passage stretches through stunning landscapes. Sailing the Inside Passage offers opportunities to spot some of Alaska’s most iconic wildlife, with humpback whales and orca plying the bountiful waters alongside the ships, bald eagles soaring overhead and brown bears lumbering on the shoreline. Numerous ports along the way recount Alaska’s colorful history.
Juneau may well be the most remote, most beautiful and unique state capital in the United States. Surrounded by water, forest and mountain sights, visitors seeking things to do in Juneau indoors and outdoors can hike a glacier, eat fresh-caught fish on a seaside patio and tour a grand capitol building all in one day. The city itself is pleasant, but the real highlight of a visit to Juneau is tracking down some wildlife. You can hike up Mount Roberts to chance upon wild deer and bald eagles. Most sightseeing and whale-watching tours head north to Auke Bay—bring a good pair of binoculars to get the best view of these majestic and surprisingly graceful creatures. If you prefer land mammals, catch a floatplane to a nearby wildlife reserve such as
Chichagof or Admiralty Island to spy some bears lolling around. The sleepy, misty city of around 32,000—mostly fishermen and small-business owners—has a frontier town vibe, but welcomes more than a million visitors each summer to its natural attractions, cementing Juneau as Alaska’s number-one tourist destination.
Hubbard Glacier, Alaska
Sailing towards Hubbard Glacier is dramatic, impressive and memorable. This gigantic glacier is up to 213 feet wide at its face and 164 feet tall, but that’s only the tiniest piece of the ice: The main channel of this frozen river begins 76 miles back, pouring down from around the 11,100-foot mark off the shoulder of Mt. Walsh. Hubbard is the longest tidewater glacier in North America. But unlike nearly every other tidewater glacier on the continent, Hubbard is advancing, not retreating; it’s forever pushing a little further into the bay. Chunks of ice that break off become floaties for seals, who like the bergs because orca sonar doesn’t work well among them. The deep blue of the face of the glacier on a sunny day—the color made by compression of ice crystals that can be a foot or more long—is the blue of the furthest stars.
The ports of Alaska inspire visions of remote wilderness outposts, and Native Alaskan villages, all set amid lush forests and frigid, glacier-flanked waters. And while you’ll certainly find these things in and around Sitka, you’ll witness a unique slice of Alaskan history not found anywhere else. Russia controlled Alaska from the mid-1700s until the United States purchased it in 1867, and Sitka was settled as the capital of Russian America under the name New Archangel. Sailing into Sitka today, you’ll still see vestiges of Russia’s influence, including the unmistakable onion dome of St. Michael’s Cathedral and the Russian Bishop’s House, both National Historic Landmarks. Stop by the visitor center of the Sitka National Historical Park to peruse its interesting
collections of Russian and Native Alaskan artifacts, and then join a ranger-led tour of the battlefield where Russia defeated the native Tlingit people. Sitka also boasts an abundance of epic natural scenery and wildlife. Take a walk up Castle Hill to enjoy an ideal vantage point across the water to the dormant volcano Mount Edgecumbe, and trips to the nearby Fortress of the Bear and the Alaska Raptor Center offer up-close encounters with some of Alaska’s most captivating creatures.
Ketchikan clings to the banks of the Tongass Narrows and is flanked by green forests nurtured by abundant rain. Visitors to Ketchikan can try their luck on a sport-fishing excursion or simply savor fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants. It is also one of the best spots along the Inside Passage to explore the rich cultural sights of Native Alaskan nations like the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian. One can see intricately carved totem poles at the Totem Heritage Center and Totem Bight State Park, while the attractions of Saxman Village just outside of Ketchikan offers the chance to see Tlingit culture in action, with working carvers and a dance show in the clan house. And leave time to explore the sights in the town itself, including historic Creek Street, a boardwalk built over the Ketchikan Creek, where you can shop for souvenirs, smoked salmon and local art, while exploring gold rush–era tourist attractions like Dolly’s House Museum.
Victoria, British Columbia
Of all the cities in Canada, Victoria may be the furthest from Great Britain, but it has the most British vibe. Between sipping afternoon tea, visiting flower gardens and stopping at pubs, one could easily forget about the Pacific Ocean lapping at the other side of Vancouver Island. The influence of the First Nations culture is also strong here in Victoria, with totem poles taking a front-and-center position on the Inner Harbour and in Beacon Hill Park. Extensive galleries are devoted to the history of the First People at the Royal British Columbia Museum which is one of Victoria's top tourist attractions. Start your visit to Victoria's sights and attractions at the Inner Harbour. Whale-watching cruises and sightseeing floatplanes take off and return from their excursions here and
government buildings, museums, the Visitor Centre and the grand Fairmont Empress hotel provide a dignified welcome. Just around the point, Fisherman’s Wharf offers a lively contrast with working fishing boats, barking harbor seals and busy seafood restaurants serving up the catch of the day. Take time for a jaunt to the famous Butchart Gardens, a truly stunning show garden developed on the site of a depleted quarry. However you choose to spend your time, Victoria will charm you.