At sea (Gulf of Alaska)
The truly deep tangle of trees begins in British Columbia: The world’s largest coastal temperate rain forest stretches from Vancouver Island and the Canadian mainland here up through Alaska’s panhandle. Glaciers sculpted this stunning wilderness; in fact, their high-water marks remain visible. The massive sheets of ice smoothed and rounded any terrain under a mile high. The peaks, sharp and craggy, slice the air at over 1,370 meters (4,495 feet) in height, give or take. Glaciers remain a huge draw, of course, frosting mountain ranges and shearing icebergs into the ocean—watch for baby seals resting on them from May to early July.
Anchorage, Alaska, US
Approximately 40 percent of Alaska’s population lives in Anchorage. This diverse city of 300,000 includes many members of the military, Native Alaskans, individuals who work for the oil industry and adventure-seeking types who want to get away from the Lower 48. Locals enjoy hiking and biking and even skijoring, a winter sport where a person is pulled on skis by one or more dogs—or sometimes a horse. Anchorage is also famous for having a lot of moose; these rambunctious creatures should be steered clear of if seen wandering down a street. During the colder months, expect to spot the northern lights—the aurora borealis—on a clear, dark night.
Astoria, Oregon, US
Astoria is awash in history and raffish port town charm. For a city of just 10,000 people, there’s much to do. Climb its famous column to see a panorama of water and woods. Pub-crawl the Riverwalk and feast on fresh seafood. Explore a state-of-the-art maritime museum, a low-tech cannery museum or a river pilot’s Gilded Age mansion. Or trek to Fort Clatsop, named for the local tribe, where Lewis and Clark hunkered down in the cold, rainy winter of 1805.
Today Astoria’s fine restaurants, brewpubs, trendy hotels and quirky shops—along with its views and nearby Pacific beaches—make it ideal for a relaxed visit.
Bar Harbor, Maine, US
Located on Mount Desert Island in Maine, Bar Harbor is the quintessential New England coastal town. Picturesque and charming, it is a scenic and walkable town with streets lined with restaurants and boutiques. Dining on lobster is a must, as is a scoop or two at one of the town’s homemade ice cream shops. Boat tours explore the waters and islands that surround Bar Harbor, with seasonal opportunities to see wildlife—including whales—and lighthouses along the way. Bar Harbor is surrounded by the magnificent Acadia National Park, which celebrated its centennial in 2016, making the area an adventurer’s playground.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
New England’s largest city, Boston, Massachusetts, is home to historic sights and modern neighborhoods; stores and restaurants with old-time character; and gracious green spaces as well as a beautiful waterfront. Legendary figures of the American Revolution come alive at buildings and attractions along Boston’s Freedom Trail, including the Paul Revere House and Old South Meeting House, and in Lexington and Concord just outside Boston. Each of Boston’s neighborhoods has its own personality and things to do, whether you’re enjoying the food of the North End’s Little Italy, admiring the beautiful 19th-century architecture of Beacon Hill or watching the street performers in Cambridge’s Harvard Square.
Key West, Florida, US
One of the first things you’ll notice about Key West, after the colorful gingerbread wooden houses and the amazing sunsets, is the constant crowing of roosters. Hundreds of the birds—along with their quieter-clucking mates—roam the streets, and are nearly as synonymous with Key West as its six-toed cats, the famous furry residents of Ernest Hemingway’s mansion in the Old Town district. They’re all part of the quirky charm of the United States' southernmost point, whose compact 11 square kilometers (4.2 square miles) pack in everything from gorgeous historic architecture and spectacular fishing and sailing to a lively party scene along Duval Street.