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1. Ketchikan

The classic: Hooting and hollering crowds at the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, a flannel-filled staple since 1999, can be heard across town daily in summer. 

The creative: Leave it to a lumber town to name its short downtown walking path Married Man’s Trail (it was a brothel escape route); Deer Mountain Trail, an eight-mile round-trip from the docks, is more perspiration, less solicitation.

2. Sitka

The classic: Many locals in the ocean-facing outpost fish for a living, but even newbies can manage a halibut or salmon catch on a fishing charter with a capable captain.

The creative: Highly walkable Sitka—called New Archangel when it was a Russian settlement—still boasts an onion-domed Russian Orthodox church and Old World cannons that Putin would probably reclaim if he could.

3. Juneau

The classic: The swiftly receding Mendenhall Glacier, just outside the capital city, deserves to be felt underfoot on a helicopter tour landing or via kayak on the lake it feeds. 

The creative: No guides required for a ride up the 1,800-foot Mount Roberts Tramway; hike a bit and you’ll be set on screensaver photos of expansive Alaskan wilderness.

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Juneau's tramway

Image: Lee Prince

4. Skagway

The classic An original gold rush trail, worn into the mossy Alaskan ground a century ago, is still visible from the charming historic White Pass and Yukon Route Railway.

The creative Does the Klondike Gold Rush National Park Historical Site sound familiar? The multistate park includes a visitor center in Seattle, but here the town’s historical buildings commemorate the mining craze that changed Alaska.

5. Iceberg, Right Ahead 

Almost every Alaska cruise swerves into Glacier Bay, a national park that spans 3.3 million acres, dotted with cracking, groaning ice cubes. A tip: Don’t rush across the ship every time it approaches a glacier; most boats perform a 360-degree spin.

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