For a ferry adventure, it's tough to beat the Northwest, with regular service between remote islands, up sparkling fjords, and along Alaska's famed Inside Passage. Here are our favorites. Summer is high season, so consider booking ahead for the longer voyages and plan to arrive at least a half-hour before sailing time. Except where noted, fares are one-way and all trips run year-round.
Washington State Ferries
Port Townsend to Keystone, WA.
FARE: Passengers $2.35, $1.15 ages 65 and over, $1.90 ages 6-17; vehicle and driver $10.30, $9.10 ages 65 and over.
INFO: www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries or 206/464-6400.
Alaska Marine Highway
Bellingham, WA, to Skagway, AK. This 937-mile, three-day run up Alaska's Inside Passage is sometimes called the "poor man's cruise," and you'll see some of the same glaciers and fjords, humpback whales and orcas that the swanky liners pass. And you can book a stateroom or save cabin fare by camping out―pitch your tent right on deck. But unlike a cruise, you won't find spas, lots of shops, or fab cuisine; the ferry does have video game areas, a bar, and a kids' playroom. Dining is generally cafeteria-style and port stops are brief (or almost nil if the schedule changes). But you meet a colorful, more varied lot than you might on a cruise.
FARE: $352 per passenger; staterooms (in addition to passenger fare) from $297 (ask about rates for seniors, vehicles, bikes).
INFO: www.ferryalaska.com or 800/642-0066.