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From its retro Space Needle to the booming tech scene, Seattle has always been looking toward the future—but always with the backdrop of the lush Pacific Northwest. Luxury hotels, high-end restaurants, and art galleries are proliferating, and the city's vaunted music scene never went away (even though grunge did), making Seattle a top tourist destination. The city's vibrant culinary landscape is fueled by the popularity of Pike Place Market, which is filled with colorful food stalls and also houses some of the best restaurants in Seattle. Meanwhile, the Pacific Rim location lends itself to a hearty Asian food scene, and open kitchens across the city invite diners to see chefs at work.
When nice weather descends, everyone heads to the parks and the lakes; every other day offers time for the eclectic museums dedicated to everything from pinball to rock music. When it comes to what to do in Seattle, the list could go on and on, but some places like Discovery Park, the Seattle Art Museum, the REI flagship store, and the Space Needle are always at the top.
Wrangell is a hidden jewel, full with rich history, cultural sites, wildlife, natural beauty, and glaciers. Wrangell is located in central southeast Alaska, in the heart of the Inside Passage and the Tongass National Forest. Wrangell is the third oldest community in Alaska, and the second oldest community in Southeast, and the ONLY city in Alaska to be ruled by four nations and under three flags... Tlingit, Russia, England, and the United States. Wildlife abounds in the area. A variety of excursions get you up close to glaciers, black and brown bears, eagles, sea lions, harbor seals, whales, salmon and halibut to name a few. Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory is favorite spot to view brown and black bears feasting on salmon.
If history and cultural influences interest you, visit the Tlingit Chief Shakes Island and Tribal House Historic Monument, and Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park. Travel the Stikine River to visit the places where gold miners camped and garnets were mined, and see the abundant wildlife that lured the Hudson Bay Company to establish a settlement. Several now famous people made their way through Wrangell in the past, including Wyatt Earp who served as a temporary marshall for 10 days. The protected waters in Southeast Alaska provide excellent sea kayaking and opportunity for exploration by wildlife charter tours. Fishing is spectacular. Halibut and all 5 species of salmon, steelhead and trout are key targets by visiting fishermen.
Juneau, often described as America's most unusual state capital, is the only center of U.S. government with no roads leading into or out of town. The city is surrounded by nature, namely towering mountains and the waters of Gastineau Channel. For most visitors, the only way in or out is by air or sea. Juneau offers a wide range of shoreside activities, from whale-watching and zip-lining to touring the Capitol building or the Alaskan Brewing Co. Then, there's the state's most accessible glacier -- Mendenhall, an immense, 12-mile-long river of ice. Along with glacier-viewing, there's always the chance of seeing a bear or two up close.
Gold put Juneau on the map in the 1880s, though the mining camp went by several names before prospector Joe Juneau finally wrangled enough votes to get his name to stick. Gold remained the mainstay until the last mine was shut down in 1944. However, mining has made a comeback as one of the region's top industries; in recent decades, two mines have begun production of not just gold but also silver and other metals. Another leading industry there is government. Juneau became a state capital when Alaska became the 49th U.S. state in 1959, and today, nearly 60 percent of the city's population works in government. The governor's mansion stands on a hillside overlooking the cruise docks, and anyone can take a walk up the hills via steep stairways.
History, beauty, and adventure meet in Skagway. Alaska’a first incorporated city and the Gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. Nestled at the northernmost reaches of the Inside Passage, the streets are lined with wooden boardwalks and restored buildings, looking much as they did 100 years ago. Skagway is home to the oldest hotel in Alaska. During the Boom of the Gold Rush Skagway had a population of around 10,000 people. By June 1898 Skagway was the largest city in Alaska. Today, the year-round population is around 900 people! Skagway is filled with many dining options, abundant shopping, a variety of entertainment and three museums. Many artists have made Skagway home with their work showcased in many of the downtown shops.
Icy Straight Point (Hoonah), Alaska
The town of Hoonah is located on Chichagof Island, about 30 miles west of Juneau along Icy Strait in the Inside Passage. The Huna, a Tlingit tribe, have lived in the Icy Strait area for thousands of years. In 1912, the Hoonah Packing Co. built a large salmon cannery north of town. The cannery operated on and off under different ownership until the early 1950s, and it sat shuttered for decades until a local Native corporation purchased and rehabilitated the facility to create the private cruise port now called Icy Strait Point.
Icy Strait Point opened in 2004 and is centered on the restored salmon cannery, which now houses a museum, local arts and crafts shops, restaurants and a mid-1930's cannery line display. Outside is the world’s largest and highest zip line at 5,330 feet long, featuring a 1,300-foot vertical drop. Hoonah’s access to the outstanding fishing along Icy Strait also attracts sport fishing and wildlife enthusiasts. Whale watching is considered excellent near Hoonah and humpback and killer whales are often spotted along the shores right in front of town.
Located on Sitka Sound, Sitka is the only Inside Passage community that fronts the Pacific Ocean. The city is marked by the picturesque remnants of its Russian heritage, including the onion-shaped domes and gold colored crosses of the beloved Saint Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral. The city and borough limits include most of Baranof Island, where the city of Sitka is located, along with south Chichagof Island and many other small, forested islands along the coast. Although first inhabited by Native Tlingit Indians, Sitka is recognized as the heart of the Russian influence in Alaska. The Russians arrived by 1741 and in 1804 attacked a Tlingit fort. The region’s most famous battle eventually led to the creation of Sitka National Historical Park. Originally established as New Archangel, Sitka became the capital of Russian American in 1808 until Russia sold Alaska to the United States on October 18, 1867.
The visitor's centers has information on several walking tours that highlight the city’s history and culture including the Russian Blockhouse, Russian Bishop's House, Princess Maksoutoff’s Grave and Castle Hill to name a few, that date back to the Russian era. There are 22 buildings in Sitka on the National Register of Historic Places, so there’s plenty to see on a walk through town. Downtown features numerous art galleries, a fine bookstore and gift shops. Sitka National Historical Park features a remarkable collection of totem poles carved by Tlingit and Haida artists that are placed along a well-maintained trail in the forest. Near the park is Sheldon Jackson Museum, one of two official Alaska State Museums. The museum's impressive collection represents many different Alaska Native cultures.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
The capital city of British Columbia, Victoria boasts many historic buildings and some of the best museums in Western Canada. The area is also home to some of the country's most exhilarating scenery: there's an ocean or mountain vista around every corner, and the city's flower gardens are famous the world over.
Voted one of the Top 10 cities in North America by readers of Travel + Lesirure in 2015, Victoria today is a cosmopolitan center with a lively entertainment scene and a wonderful array of attractions. Something for everyone, visitors have a variety of things to choose from, including golfing, hiking, biking, fishing, shopping, and dining. Established in 1843 as a fort for the Hudson's Bay Company, Victoria's British ancestry is apparent in the double-decker buses, horse-drawn carriages, formal gardens and tearooms.