All the major Inside Passage towns are separated by water or mountainous coastlines, with planes, state ferries, and cruise ships providing the connections. This limitation is a blessing in disguise: A long ferry ride north allows time to soak up the scenery and plan adventures in the next port.
Anyone traveling with a vehicle is limited to ferry travel, while others can mix and match ferries or plane flights with local car rentals when needed. Cruise ships, of course, offer the “leave the drive to us” version.
Rain-soaked Ketchikan  is the southernmost port and a very popular destination for travelers of all ages and incomes. Downtown’s Creek Street  forms a picturesque stop, while totem poles and Tlingit (KLINK-it) culture are the big draws at Saxman  and Totem Bight State Historical Park . Day trips by air or sea to Misty Fiords National Monument  provide a great introduction to a dramatic wilderness of high cliffs and deep inlets.
Nearby Metlakatla  and Prince of Wales Island  are off-the-beaten-path destinations, and to the north lie the fishing towns of Wrangell  and Petersburg , with the mighty Stikine River  (popular for jet-boat trips) heading into the mountains of British Columbia .
Juneau  is not just the state capital and third largest city but also home to a fun tramway up Mt. Roberts , the Alaska State Museum , and famous Mendenhall Glacier . Boat tours to the deep fjords and calving glaciers of Tracy Arm  are popular day trips from Juneau, as are boat tours (and kayaking trips) into magnificent Glacier Bay .
The touristy town of Skagway  has a gold-rush aura courtesy of the many buildings preserved within Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park . Especially popular here are narrow-gauge train rides aboard the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad .