Best Things to See and Do in Ketchikan, Alaska

Nancy D. Brown Crab pot
Nancy D. Brown goes crabbing 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. Here are 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.

Best Things to See and Do in Ketchikan, Alaska

Are you visiting Ketchikan, Alaska 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.


"Ketchikan Arch"
Get your picture taken under the Ketchikan arch in Alaska.

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 fresh 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.

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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, Alaska include Married Man Trail , several stair streets (staircases that are designated right of ways) and scenic outlooks offer great views.

The best vantage points in Ketchikan are taken by walking to the top of Deer Mountain, Rainbird Trail.

The most random thing about Ketchikan, Alaska 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.

"Alaska Totem"
Take your picture with a Totem Pole in Ketchikan, Alaska

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 in Ketchikan.

Pioneer Cafe is the spot for late night dining in Ketchikan.

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.

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"Duck Tour"
The Duck Tour in Ketchikan, Alaska is something different.

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 see and do in Ketchikan, Alaska?

Related Posts:

Things to See and Do in Anchorage, Alaska

Things to See and Do in Juneau, Alaska

Things to See and Do in Fairbanks, Alaska

Thank you to Dragon London formerly of the Ketchikan Visitors Bureauย for assistance with this post.

All photos by Nancy D. Brown

5 thoughts on “Best Things to See and Do in Ketchikan, Alaska”

  1. Emily @ Maiden Voyage

    You definitely have to get your picture taken in front of the totem poles in Ketchikan! I went there a few years ago (was on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner). We hopped on a smaller boat and journeyed through the Misty Fjords (which, much to my surprise, weren’t misty). But it was absolutely beautiful…we sailed past many small islands, incredible rock formations, mountains with waterfalls, and even a huge group of seals sunbathing. It was neat because you could either sit in comfy chairs inside and watch, or you could hang out on the outside deck for a closer look. There was a guide on the mic who gave us information about everything. It was a great experience.

  2. @Emily Wow, your experience sounds incredible. I’d love to sail on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner and also visit the Misty Fjords.I love Alaska!

  3. Travel Writers Exchange

    Your mention of Ravens Brew Coffee brought back nice memories. Friends of ours who bicycled across America a few years ago sent us Ravens Brew Coffee with t-shirts from Ketchikan? Loved it! Your post is very informative. Makes me want to take off right now and head North to Alaska.

  4. I have learned a lot about this amazing place and i’m sure my readers would enjoy reading your post as much as I did. This is a likely candidate for our next video shoot. Thanks a lot!

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