Ask Liz Perry, president and CEO of Travel Juneau, what she loves most about her adopted hometown and she points to the city’s three most alluring features: its natural beauty, walkability and recreational opportunities. 

Good choices. 

Alaska’s capital city boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the world (the 1,500-square-mile Juneau Icefield is just 13 miles from the city center), and the historic urban center is 14 square miles of small-town delights. Plus, thanks to the city’s proximity to Gastineau Channel, Mendenhall River and Mendenhall Lake, Perry can leave work and have her fishing hook in the water within the hour. 

Easily accessible to outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and whale watching, Juneau also offers award-winning art, culture and dining experiences that offer a window into the unique history of the warm and vibrant community. Top museums recall the impact of the Gold Rush and the colorful stories of the people who came to Juneau searching for fortune. The Sealaska Heritage Institute, located in the Walter Soboleff Building, houses the state’s largest collection of Southeast Alaska Native art.

Planning an event for a large number of people requires more than just an enticing backdrop, however, and Juneau is more than adequately equipped to accommodate big groups. The Centennial Hall Convention Center has approximately 17,000 square feet of meeting space, and an additional 27,000 square feet of meeting space is available at other venues throughout the community. Juneau also has approximately 1,200 guest rooms, ranging from hotels to quaint, picturesque bed-and-breakfasts and lodges.

And all of this, says Perry, is only two hours by air from Seattle. 

Originally from Oregon’s Rogue River Valley, Debbie McCune, director of sales for Travel Salem, relocated to her new hometown when her son was young. In fact, the city’s kid-friendliness is one of the things that attracted her.

 

Meeting and event planners can set their sails for this nautical town.

 

Just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle can transport you to a totally different world, says Mickey Molnaire, director of marketing and tourism for the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce. You can leave the big-city stresses behind, and you’ll find a vibrant, welcoming community. “I love the way people who live or work here get active and involved,” she says, “and just the friendliness and slower pace of life.”