I make it a point to cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage at least twice each year. Earlier this month, I stopped in Ketchikan and Juneau. SPECTACULAR. Above, the view from Silver King Lodge near Ketchikan. At right, fishing guide Jeff Wedekind of Chinook Shores…after a long day on the water!
Click through to the PODCAST and listen to our broadcast from Juneau and Ketchikan!
In Ketchikan, I stayed at the Narrows Inn, since it’s right on the water. I don’t have a boat, but if I did, I could tie it up right below the restaurant at their marina. G-r-e-a-t views. My top five fun things to do:
a. Flightseeing in Misty Fjords National Monument with Taquan Air. Not only do you get some great views, but Taquan’s fleet of deHavilland Beavers (DHC-2) brings out your inner Av-Geek!
b. Zipline through the trees with Alaska Canopy Adventures. The course is south of town at Herring Cove, where it’s not uncommon to see bears wandering on the beach. Cables and sky bridges span the canopy of the temperate rain forest. It’s really spectacular…and it’s not overstating it to say “It will take your breath away!”
c. Kayak the protected waters around Ketchikan. Greg and Gillian, the owners of Southeast Sea Kayaks, offer several trips to secluded coves and protected bays around Ketchikan. We went on a trip where Greg zips us out to the floating “mother ship” away from the hub-ub of the busy harbor. There, we got suited up and launched into the pristine waters for a fun paddle. It’s a perfect place to test out your “Go Pro” camera!
d. Go for a “Sea Feast” at Silver King Lodge. At the north end of the road at Clover Pass Resort, board a custom-fitted speedboat for a quick trip out to Silver King Lodge. There, your hosts have an old-fashioned Crab Boil of Alaska Dungeness crab, fresh Alaska shrimp and a variety of other seafood: clams, mussels and other goodies. They just pour it out on tables covered with newspaper–and you can pour the sauce on top of it. STRICTLY finger food–although they do provide some “crab crackers” to break through the shells. FUN + TASTY!
e. Creek Street prowl. Right downtown is the historic Creek Street District. Don’t miss “Soho Coho”, the gift shop run by Alaska artist Ray Troll. And I love visiting Parnassus Books, run by Maggie Freitag and her band of voracious readers. I a-l-w-a-y-s stop in and get a new book. This time, it was “The Map of my Dead Pilots: the Dangerous Game of Flying in Alaska”. The author, Colleen Mondor, is a fellow columnist at the Alaska Dispatch.
Usually, I make time to sail north on Alaska’s Marine Highway, passing through Wrangell and Petersburg. But this time, I hopped about Alaska’s nonstop up to Juneau. I always have a good time in Alaska’s Capital City! Bunking down at the Driftwood Lodge–right next door to the Sandpiper Cafe. That’s Juneau’s premier breakfast spot (try the breakfast burritos!). Are you ready for the top five?
a. Take a helicopter flightseeing trip with Era Helicopters. They do a great job–zipping down the Gastineau Channel and over some stunning peaks for a landing on Taku Glacier. Whoo-boy. NUTHIN’ beats a cool chopper ride!
b. Ride the tram up from the cruise ship dock to Mt. Roberts. This gives you a great kick-start for the 3.5-mile hike to the top of Mt. Roberts. YES, there’s still snow up there–but you’ll still work up a sweat. Or, go for a fun stroll around the Alpine meadows, like I did (pictured, left). Watch for bears! Bring your camera. I’ve taken two shots with family members in tow that ended up being “Christmas Card shots”. They are THAT awesome.
c. Go whalewatching with Alaska Whalewatching up to Chatham Strait. Leave from Auke Bay (north of the airport) and sail for a little bit until you’re smack in the middle of the humpback whale’s dining room. Local reports brag about a young whale that CONSISTENTLY jumps CLEAN out of the water to the delight of travelers!
d. Mendenhall Glacier. Just drive out to see the glacier. Park the car and go hiking on the trails. This is a stunning setting. Near sundown, you’re likely to see bears feasting on salmon underneath the boardwalk!
e. Enjoy some wood-fired pizza from the Island Pub over in Douglas. That said, I prefer the “Island Blue” salad with yummy lettuce, Bleu cheese, some toasted pecans–all topped with a specially-seasoned steak. Choose from no less than a zillion beers on tap. Tell the owner, Rick Kasnick, that Scott sent you. HAHA.
Sure, that’s a lot to do. Do you wonder why I stop in at Heritage Coffee? As they say in Juneau: “Life’s short. Stay awake.”
Of course, this is just a tale of two cities. If you have not yet explored Wrangell, Prince of Wales Island, Sitka, Haines or Skagway…well, summer is fleeting, Dear Readers. Summer is fleeting. That is all!
Oh. BONUS: Those items in RED are included in this year’s TourSaver book. That means there’s a two-for-one coupon. YA!