Best Things to See and Do in Ketchikan, Alaska
While I wouldn’t necessarily want to live year-round in this rain forest, Ketchikan is a special place to visit on a sunny day in the summer. My favorite tips and locations for visitors to Ketchikan, Alaska. The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to the Ketchikan Creek on Creek Street to watch the salmon run and stroll the boardwalk.
If you love seafood, Ketchikan is THE place to eat fresh salmon and halibut. I have my choice of fish and chips, chowder or halibut and salmon burgers. Also, due to the large population of Filipino immigrants who settled in the early days, Ketchikan has two restaurants that serve traditional fare such as lumpia, pancit and adobo.
Visiting Ketchikan on a cruise ship? Head to the waterfront and watch the salmon run up Ketchikan Creek.
If you have longer than a day to visit, both the Ketchikan Public Library and Tongass Historical Museum are located adjacent to Creek Street. There is a large picture window in the library where you get a great view, or if you walk around the back, there is a nice little sitting area.
If you come to Ketchikan, get your picture taken next to a totem pole. There are dozens to choose from or you can stand beside one of the Clan Houses at Saxman Native Village or Totem Bight State Park. The classic tourist picture is under the welcome arch downtown. Since we are in a rain forest, you can also take your picture next to the rain gauge on the dock.
If you have to order one thing off the menu at George Inlet Lodge, it had better be Dungeness Crab.
Ketchikan also offers a lot of local Native Alaskan arts and crafts.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go for burgers at Burger Queen.
For a huge splurge, I go to Heen Kahidi Restaurant at the Cape Fox Lodge – their crab and brie is amazing.
Photo ops in Ketchikan include Married Man Trail , several stair streets (staircases that are designated right of ways) and scenic outlooks offer great views.
The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Deer Mountain, Rainbird Trail
The most random thing about Ketchikan is the Wearable Art Show in February.
Ketchikan is all about fishing, crabbing and kayaking.
My favorite biking paths are along the North and South Tongass Highway and along the waterfront from berth 4 ship dock to Thomas basin. Rainbird Trail above the 3rd street bi-pass is good, too.
Ketchikan’s best museum’s; the Tongass Historical Museum, Totem Heritage Center, the SE Alaska Discovery Center and Dolly’s House – home of infamous prostitute, Dolly Arthur.
For a night of dancing and live music, go to First City Saloon.
Pioneer Cafe is the spot for late night dining.
To find out what’s going on at night or on weekends, read the the Ketchikan Daily News.
In the spring you should attend the Alaska Hummingbird Festival.
In the summer, you should attend the Blueberry Arts Festival and watch the salmon runs up local creeks – be on the look out for bears.
In the winter you should go to Festival of the North events hosted by the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council. Ketchikan High School basketball games are also popular this time of year.
If you have a sweet tooth, try the the Chocolate Pot in Ketchikan. This is a quasi-required stop for one of the crew on the Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas. Someone has to make a chocolate run. (I can vouch for the tasty fudge!)
For the best coffee (according to my husband) pick up a bag of Raven’s Brew. My husband’s favorite is Dead Man’s Reach.
The best way to see Ketchikan is to walk the historic downtown streets. You can also pick pick up public transportation. I went on the amphibuous Duck Tour for a one and one half hour tour by land and sea.
If you have kids, you won’t want to miss The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center or the Great Alaska Lumberjack Show. Both are educational, interactive and fun. The age of the kids will play a role in your selections.
What are your favorite things to do in Ketchikan, Alaska?
Thank you to Dragon London of the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau for assistance with this post.
All photos by Nancy D. Brown