My wife and I are pondering taking the Alaska Marine Highway south from Alaska some time in March (obviously, not the most ideal time, but it should be pretty). Which of the towns that the ferry stops at are worth an extended stopover visit? Or should we just enjoy the fjords and stick mostly to the boat?
Alaska Marine Highway is a total bucket list trip for me. I've only visited on cruises, however, I will say that if you stop in Ketchikan (which is a cool little town, even though it gets inundated with cruisers during the day), make sure to grab a halibut burger from Burger Queen. Delicious. It's like Thomas Keller made a Filet O Fish. They will also deliver to the The Arctic Bar across the street. Brilliant!
I really like Sitka, Alaska, and feel that it offers such a taste of what makes Alaska special. Once called “the Paris of the Pacific,” Sitka is a city rich in culture. Built on the empire of Russian fur trade, Sitka is Alaska’s fifth-largest city with a history grounded in Russian heritage, reflected in buildings with onion shaped domes. This is a nice little village with shops that sell soapstone carvings, porcelain Christmas Tree decorations of Alaskan motif, and berry and salmon foods. The Sitka National Historical Park is a real treat, well worth walking through, and if you have time and can plan in advance, the Park offers workshops on Indian arts and crafts. The Park is 40 miles of hiking trails peppered with Southeast Alaska totem poles with a Visitor's Center that is not to be missed. There is also a great Alaska Raptor Center, and a great local museum. There is a Westmark Sitka in Sitka and the Cascade Inn is also reasonable.
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Definitely get off the boat! Why miss anything. Nothing else to do while it is in the port anyway. The ferry is great, beautiful scenery. The solarium is warm, bring something to do so u don't get bored.