During the days of the Klondike Gold Rush, the nearly 1,000-mile trek from Seattle to the Alaskan border took weeks. Fortunately, visitors today have much quicker options, but the slow route is still enjoyable as well. A flight can whisk you there in three and a half hours, you can enjoy the scenery on a few days' drive or you can work your way up the coast over the course of a week on a cruise line, stopping in Victoria and Vancouver on the scenic voyage through the Strait of George. Which method of travel works best for you is a function of how much time you have and how much money you want to spend.
The Express Route
The majority of flights to Alaska go to Anchorage, but there are airports in Homer, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kenai, Kodiak, Nome and Sitka. Fly from Seattle to Anchorage, Fairbanks or Juneau using Alaska Airlines, Delta or United, and take a regional jet or prop plane to reach a smaller airport. Alaska Airlines -- which is headquartered in Seattle, not Alaska -- offers the widest selection, especially in the summer.
Hit the Road
A drive to Alaska brings the benefit of seeing the beautiful landscape of British Columbia, but it's not necessarily cheaper than flying. The shortest route from Seattle to Anchorage is 2,265 miles via the Alaska Highway. Depending on gas prices and your car's gas mileage performance, a round-trip journey could cost more than plane tickets. Allow seven to 10 days to drive from Seattle to Anchorage or Fairbanks, even though the actual driving time is about 48 hours. Bring maps and lodging information with you so you can adjust your plans along the way if you feel tired from driving or want to get in some extra miles one day. Get your car serviced before your journey, and check the pressure in your tires frequently. There are often 100 miles or more between mechanics.
Several major cruise lines -- including Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean -- offer 7-day round-trip voyages from to Alaska, and most have departures scheduled every week, if not more than once a week. Smaller vessels also make the journey for a more intimate experience. Check individual carriers for schedules and packages, as prices vary widely by carrier, season, room class and size of ship.