Ketchikan, almost seven hundred miles north of Seattle, is the first port of call for many cruise ships and its historic downtown, wedged between water and forested mountains, becomes saturated in summer. Beyond the souvenir shopping, it can be a delight, built into steep hills and partly propped on wooden pilings, dotted with boardwalks, wooden staircases, and totem poles.
By 1886, the town's numerous canneries made it the "salmon capital of the world," while the forests of cedar, hemlock, and spruce, which had provided timber for Tlingit homes and totems, fed the town's sawmills. Ketchikan now looks to tourism as its savior, with the nearby Misty Fiords National Monument as the prime draw.
The state's fourth largest city is a strong contender for the nation's wettest; annual precipitation averages 165 inches, but Ketchikan's perennial drizzle and sporadic showers won't spoil your visit.