Are you traveling to Ketchikan this year? In this article we will share our top things to do in Ketchikan while you are visiting.
Ketchikan Alaska is a small city known for its rich cultural heritage, natural beauty and unique attractions. Located on the southern coast of Alaska, Ketchikan is surrounded by the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts.
With a population of just over 8,000, Ketchikan is known for its unique blend of natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities. Whether you are a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or a history buff, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Ketchikan.
The city is located on the Tongass Narrows, which is the narrowest part of the Inside Passage. With a temperate rainforest climate, Ketchikan is the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors and explore the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Ketchikan is often referred to as the “Salmon Capital of the World.” It offers fantastic fishing, great marine life sightings, and breathtaking landscapes and abundant wildlife. Ketchikan is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Alaska!
Here are some of the top things to do in Ketchikan for those who are visiting our area.
Check Out the Tongass Historical Museum
The Tongass Historical Museum is a museum located in Ketchikan dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history and culture of the Tongass region.
This fascinating museum offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the rich cultural heritage of the area, from the Tlingit and Haida Native American cultures to the early days of European settlement and the development of the logging and fishing industries.
The Tongass Historical Museum is housed in a historic building in the heart of Ketchikan, and features a variety of exhibits and displays that showcase the rich cultural and natural history of the region.
Visitors can explore the museum’s collections of Native American artifacts, including baskets, carvings, and clothing, as well as learn about the history of the region’s fishing and logging industries.
One of the highlights of the Tongass Historical Museum is its collection of photographs, which provide a unique window into the history of Ketchikan and the surrounding areas. The museum also features interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, allowing visitors to experience life in the Tongass region in a fun and engaging way.
In addition to its exhibits, the Tongass Historical Museum also offers a variety of educational programs and events, including workshops, lectures, and guided tours. These programs are designed to engage visitors of all ages and provide a deeper understanding of the cultural and natural history of the region.
The Tongass Historical Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history and culture of Ketchikan and the Tongass region. Whether you’re a history buff, a student of Alaska Native American culture, or just looking for a fun and educational experience, the Tongass Historical Museum is sure to provide a memorable and enlightening experience.
If you are planning a trip to Ketchikan and are interested in learning more about the history and culture of the area, be sure to check out the Tongass Historical Museum. You will be inspired and entertained by the museum’s collections and exhibits, and leave with a greater appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of the Tongass region.
Tongass Historical Museum
- Address: 629 Dock St Ketchikan AK 99901
- Phone: (907) 225-5600
- Website: ketchikanmuseums.org
- Social Media: Facebook
Explore the Tongass National Forest
The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States and covers 17 million acres of Southeast Alaska. The forest is home to an incredible array of wildlife, including brown bears, bald eagles, wolves, and whales. Visitors can hike the many trails that wind through the forest, take a scenic boat tour, or simply relax and enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding wilderness.
The Misty Fjords National Monument, located within the forest, is a breathtaking natural area with towering cliffs, crystal-clear lakes, and abundant wildlife. Visitors can take a floatplane or boat tour to explore the Misty Fjords and admire its stunning scenery.
Offering breathtaking vistas, the Tongass National Forest is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Visit Creek Street In Ketchikan
Creek Street is one of Ketchikan’s most famous landmarks and a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the city. This historic district was once a bustling hub of commerce and was home to many of the town’s saloons and brothels.
Today, Creek Street is a charming street filled with souvenir shops, art galleries, and restaurants, and is a great place to spend an afternoon exploring.
This historic street is built on pilings over Ketchikan Creek, and was once the city’s red-light district. Visitors can explore the unique boutiques or even spend the night along the boardwalk and enjoy stunning views of the Tongass Narrows. With its vibrant and lively atmosphere, Creek Street is a must-visit destination for visitors looking to experience the cultural heritage of Ketchikan.
Take A Flightseeing Tour
If you are looking for a truly unforgettable experience, consider taking a flightseeing tour over Ketchikan and the surrounding wilderness. From the air, you will be able to see the rugged coastline, towering mountains, and pristine glaciers that make this region so unique. Whether you choose to fly in a small plane or a helicopter, a flightseeing tour is an amazing way to experience the beauty of Southeast Alaska.
Ketchikan is surrounded by breathtaking scenery, and a scenic flightseeing tour is a great way to experience it all. Visitors can take a tour over the Misty Fjords National Monument, Tongass National Forest, and the surrounding islands, and admire the stunning views of glaciers, waterfalls, and wildlife.
With a variety of tour options available, visitors can choose from half-hour scenic flights to full-day adventures that include landing on glaciers and hiking through the rainforest. You will see the city from a whole new perspective and get a true appreciation for the natural beauty of the area.
Visit the Totem Heritage Center
The Totem Heritage Center is a cultural center located in Ketchikan that preserves the rich cultural heritage of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Native American tribes of the region. This fascinating center offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the traditions, art, and history of these indigenous communities through its collections of artifacts, exhibits, and educational programs.
The Totem Heritage Center is housed in a historic building in the heart of Ketchikan, and features a variety of exhibits and displays that showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian tribes. Visitors can explore the center’s collections of Native Alaskan artifacts, including traditional clothing, carvings, and baskets, and learn about the rich cultural traditions and customs of these indigenous communities.
One of the highlights of the Totem Heritage Center is its collection of totem poles, which are an important part of the cultural heritage of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian tribes. These beautiful and intricate carvings tell the story of the tribe’s history, culture, and beliefs, and are a must-see for anyone interested in the history and culture of the region.
In addition to its exhibits, the Totem Heritage Center also offers a variety of educational programs and events, including workshops, lectures, and guided tours. These programs are designed to engage visitors of all ages and provide a deeper understanding of the cultural heritage of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian tribes.
The Totem Heritage Center is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history and culture of Ketchikan and the surrounding regions. Whether you are a history buff, a student of Alaska Native American culture, or just looking for a fun and educational experience, the Totem Heritage Center is sure to provide a memorable and enlightening experience.
Totem Heritage Center
- Address: 601 Deermount St Ketchikan AK 99901
- Phone: (907) 225-5900
- Website: ketchikanmuseums.org
- Social Media: Facebook
Ketchikan Alaska is a great destination for anyone who loves to shop. From local artisan shops to souvenir stores, there is something for everyone in this small city.
Here are some of the top shopping destinations in Ketchikan:
- Creel Street: Creek Street is one of the most popular shopping destinations in Ketchikan. This historic boardwalk is lined with unique shops selling everything from handmade jewelry to souvenirs. Visitors will find a wide variety of items to choose from, including local art, Alaskan Native crafts, and handcrafted clothing.
- Ketchikan Historic District: The historic district of Ketchikan is home to a number of quaint shops and galleries selling a wide range of items. From locally made candles and soap to handmade pottery, there are plenty of unique items to discover in this area. Visitors will also find a number of art galleries showcasing the works of local artists, including paintings, sculptures, and photography.
- Southeast Alaska Discovery Center Gift Shop: The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center Gift Shop is a great place to find souvenirs and gifts to take home from your trip to Ketchikan. This shop sells a wide range of items, including Alaskan Native crafts, books, and local artwork. Visitors will also find a selection of locally made soaps and candles, as well as jewelry and other items.
- Ketchikan Visitor Information Center Gift Shop: The Ketchikan Visitor Information Center Gift Shop is another great destination for those looking for souvenirs and gifts. This shop sells a variety of items, including local books, jewelry, and Alaskan Native crafts. Visitors will also find a range of maps and guidebooks, as well as postcards and other items to help them remember their trip to Ketchikan.
- Specialty Shops: In addition to the shops and galleries listed above, Ketchikan is also home to a number of specialty shops selling unique and hard-to-find items. From a shop specializing in handcrafted wooden toys to one selling locally made jams and jellies, there is something for everyone in Ketchikan.
No matter what type of shopping you are interested in, you will find something to love in Ketchikan. Whether you are looking for local art, handcrafted gifts, or souvenirs to take home, this small city has plenty to offer.
Go Fishing In Ketchikan
Southeast Alaska is renowned for its abundant fishing opportunities, and Ketchikan is no exception. Whether you are a seasoned angler or a beginner, there are many local fishing charters that can help you experience the thrill of reeling in a giant king salmon or a hard-fighting halibut.
Ketchikan is a popular destination for sport fishing, and visitors can choose from a variety of options, including salmon fishing, halibut fishing, and fly fishing. With a variety of fishing charters and guided tours available, visitors can enjoy a day out on the water and experience the thrill of catching fresh Alaskan fish.
Visitors can hop aboard a fishing charter, or rent a boat and try their luck at catching salmon, halibut, lingcod, and other species of fish. The local waters are also home to sea lions, whales, and dolphins, making a fishing trip in Ketchikan an unforgettable experience.
- Website: alaskacrabtour.com
Take a Whale Watching Tour
Ketchikan is located in one of the best whale watching areas in the world, and visitors can take advantage of this by booking a whale watching tour. During the summer months, humpback whales, orcas, and other species can be seen feeding and playing in the waters around Ketchikan, just like in the video above.
Well known for its abundant whale population, visitors can experience the thrill of watching these magnificent creatures up close on a whale watching tour. With a variety of tour options available, visitors can choose from half-day adventures to full-day excursions that include stops at remote islands and scenic vistas.
The local waters are home to several species of whales, including humpback whales, orca whales, and minke whales, and a whale watching tour is a great way to get up close and personal with these gentle giants.
Explore The Misty Fjords National Monument
The Misty Fjords Monument is a stunning natural area located in Southeast Alaska near the town of Ketchikan. This breathtaking area is characterized by its towering cliffs, tranquil lakes, and lush, temperate rainforests, making it one of the most scenic and beautiful destinations in the state.
This photo from John McQuiston will give you just a small glimpse of the beauty of this area. Look at those mountains and that landscape!
The Misty Fjords Monument is a protected wilderness area, covering over 2 million acres of land and water. The area is home to a variety of wildlife, including bears, wolves, mountain goats, and bald eagles, as well as a diverse array of plant life, including towering trees, delicate wildflowers, and lush ferns.
One of the highlights of the Misty Fjords Monument is the stunning scenery, which is dominated by towering cliffs that rise thousands of feet into the air. These cliffs were carved by glaciers, creating breathtaking fjords that are surrounded by lush rainforests, sparkling lakes, and cascading waterfalls.
Visitors to the Misty Fjords Monument can explore the area by boat, sea kayak, or floatplane, each offering a unique perspective on the beauty of the region. Whether you are an experienced outdoors person or just looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the Misty Fjords Monument is sure to provide a truly memorable experience.
So if you are planning a trip to Ketchikan and are looking for a breathtaking natural area to explore, be sure to check out the Misty Fjords Monument. With its stunning scenery, rich cultural history, and diverse wildlife, the Misty Fjords Monument is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.
Visit The Ketchikan Museum
The Ketchikan Museum is a fascinating place to learn about the history and culture of Ketchikan and Southeast Alaska. With a variety of exhibits, the museum covers the Tlingit people and the gold rush of the late 19th century, as well as the town’s salmon canning industry and its role in World War II.
Visitors can learn about the rich heritage of Ketchikan and the unique history of Southeast Alaska.
The Ketchikan Museum is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the city. This museum is housed in a historic building and showcases a collection of artifacts and exhibits that highlight the city’s rich heritage. From Native American history to the gold rush era, there is something for everyone at the Ketchikan Museum.
Visit The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center
The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center is a museum located in Ketchikan, Alaska that showcases the unique history, culture, and natural beauty of the region. The center is dedicated to educating visitors about Southeast Alaska and the Tongass National Forest, and is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the region.
The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center features a wide variety of interactive exhibits, including hands-on activities, displays, and multimedia presentations, that allow visitors to experience the region’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty in a fun and engaging way.
Visitors can learn about the area’s diverse wildlife, including bald eagles, sea lions, and humpback whales, as well as the history of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Native American tribes, the early days of European settlement, and the development of the logging and fishing industries.
One of the highlights of the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center is the Tongass National Forest exhibit, which provides an in-depth look at the world’s largest temperate rainforest and the role it plays in the region’s ecosystem.
The exhibit features interactive displays, videos, and hands-on activities that allow visitors to learn about the unique flora and fauna of the rainforest and the impact that human activities have had on the environment.
In addition to its exhibits, the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center also offers a variety of educational programs and events, including guided tours, workshops, and nature walks. These programs provide visitors with an even deeper understanding of the region and its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.
If you are planning a trip to Ketchikan and are looking for a unique and engaging way to learn about the history, culture, and environment of Southeast Alaska, be sure to visit the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center.
With its interactive exhibits, educational programs, and knowledgeable staff, the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Ketchikan and the surrounding region.
Southeast Alaska Discovery Center
- Address: 50 Main St Ketchikan AK 99901
- Phone: (907) 228-6220
- Website: fs.usda.gov
Take A Wildlife Glacier Tour Out Of Ketchikan
A wildlife glacier tour is a unique and exciting way to experience the stunning natural beauty and diverse wildlife of the region. These tours take visitors to some of the most remote and breathtaking parts of Southeast Alaska, including glaciers, fjords, and pristine wilderness areas.
Wildlife glacier tours typically depart from Ketchikan and take visitors on a journey through the Tongass National Forest, the largest temperate rainforest in the world. Along the way, visitors can expect to see a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, sea lions, whales, and black bears, as well as breathtaking glaciers and other natural wonders.
One of the highlights of a wildlife glacier tour is the opportunity to see glaciers up close and personal. These massive sheets of ice are awe-inspiring and offer a unique and unforgettable experience. Visitors can see how glaciers are formed and learn about their role in shaping the region’s landscapes.
Most wildlife glacier tours are conducted by experienced guides who are knowledgeable about the region and its wildlife. They will provide an in-depth look at the area’s ecosystems and answer any questions visitors may have.
Visit The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show
The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Ketchikan. This show is a thrilling display of the skills and techniques used by lumberjacks in the past, and it is an exciting and entertaining way to learn about the state’s history. From log rolling and chainsaw carving to speed climbing, this show is sure to be a highlight of your visit to Ketchikan.
This exciting show offers visitors the chance to experience the thrill and excitement of Alaska’s lumberjack history, with demonstrations of traditional lumberjack skills and competitions between skilled loggers.
The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show is held at the Lumberjack Arena, which is located near the center of Ketchikan. The show features a variety of lumberjack events, including tree climbing, log rolling, axe throwing, and sawing competitions. Visitors will also see demonstrations of traditional skills like chopping and log splitting, and can watch as lumberjacks compete in exciting speed events like the jack and jill sawing competition.
In addition to the demonstrations and competitions, the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show also offers visitors a chance to learn about the history and culture of Alaska’s logging industry. From the early days of the industry to the modern era of sustainable forestry, the show provides a fascinating look at this important part of Alaskan history.
One of the highlights of the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show is the opportunity to interact with the lumberjacks and ask questions about their skills and experiences. Visitors can learn about the tools and techniques used in logging, and can even try their hand at some of the traditional skills.
If you are planning a trip to Ketchikan and are looking for a unique and exciting attraction, be sure to check out the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. You’re sure to be entertained and impressed by the skilled lumberjacks and the rich history of Alaska’s logging industry.
Tickets are available for shows from April – October.
Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show
- Address: 420 Spruce Mill Way Ketchikan AK 99901
- Phone: (907) 225-9050
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: alaskanlumberjackshow.com
- Social Media: Facebook | TripAdvisor
Go For A Hike
Ketchikan is a nature lover’s paradise, with a wealth of stunning hiking trails to explore. From scenic walks along the coastline to challenging mountain hikes, there is something for everyone in this beautiful part of the world.
Here are some of the best hikes in Ketchikan:
- Tongass National Forest: Tongass National Forest is one of the largest national forests in the United States, and it is home to some of the best hiking trails in Ketchikan. Visitors can explore miles of scenic trails through dense forests, along stunning coastline, and up into the mountains. Some popular hikes in the forest include the Herring Cove Trail, the Rainbird Trail, and the Granite Creek Trail.
- Ketchikan Creek Trail: The Ketchikan Creek Trail is a beautiful hike that takes visitors along the creek through the heart of Ketchikan. This trail offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the nearby ocean, and is a great option for those looking for a scenic, relatively easy hike. The trail is well-maintained and offers plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife, including bald eagles, seals, and otters.
- Misty Fjords National Monument: Misty Fjords National Monument is a stunning wilderness area that is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in Ketchikan. Visitors can hike along the coast, explore pristine lakes and rivers, and take in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Some of the most popular hikes in the monument include the Punchbowl Cove Trail, the Naha Bay Trail, and the North Behm Canal Trail.
- Deer Mountain Trail: The Deer Mountain Trail is a challenging hike that takes visitors to the top of Deer Mountain, offering stunning views of the surrounding wilderness. The trail is well-marked and well-maintained, but it is steep and strenuous, so visitors should be prepared for a workout. At the top, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, forests, and coastline.
- Whale Park Trail: The Whale Park Trail is a scenic walk along the coastline that offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. This trail is relatively easy and well-maintained, and it is a great option for those looking for a peaceful walk in nature. Visitors can spot wildlife along the way, including whales, seals, and sea lions.
There are so many great hikes for so many skill levels in Ketchikan.
Grab A Bite To Eat
Ketchikan offers a wide variety of dining options to suit every taste and budget. Whether you are in the mood for fresh seafood, local specialties, or international cuisine, you will find plenty of options to choose from in this charming town.
Here are a few of the best places to go out to eat in Ketchikan:
- 108 Tap House & Burger Bar: This popular restaurant is located in the heart of Ketchikan and serves up a wide variety of burgers, from the intriguing peanut butter burger to the Alaska burger crafted with elk, and even a spicy Fire House burger with Habanero-Honey Aioli. The 108 Tap House & Burger Bar is known for its artisanal cocktails and juicy, delicious burger.
- Annabelle’s Keg and Chowder House: This casual seafood restaurant is a Ketchikan institution and is famous for its delicious chowder, juicy steaks, and cold beer. With its warm, inviting atmosphere and friendly staff, Annabelle’s is the perfect place to enjoy a casual meal with friends and family.
- Cape Fox Lodge- Heen Kahidi Dining room: This restaurant in the Cape Fox Lodge and offers breathtaking views of the Tongass National Forest and the Ketchikan waterfront. The menu features a variety of seafood and steak dishes, as well as a selection of international cuisine and local specialties.
- New York Cafe: This casual, neighborhood kitchen, coffee shop, and beer, and wine bar is known for its fresh, local seafood and American and Mediterranean cuisine with vegetarian options. Located in the historic Ketchikan hotel, this is a must-see.
- The Alaskan Fish House: This seafood restaurant specializes in fresh, locally caught seafood and is a popular destination for visitors and locals alike. With its delicious menu and friendly service, the Alaskan Fish House is a great place to try some of the freshest and most delicious seafood in Ketchikan.
Whether you are in the mood for fresh seafood, local specialties, or international cuisine, you will find plenty of great options to choose from in Ketchikan.
Let us know what other things to do in Ketchikan you have tried and enjoyed!
Ketchikan has some spectacular whale watching, but so does most of Alaska’s coastline! If you want to know everything there is to know about whale watching in Alaska, brush up on the whale species you will see, and where to find them.
After living over 14 years in Alaska, Megan McDonald can confidently state that there’s not much of the state on the road system that she hasn’t visited. From the Brooks Range to McCarthy, Homer, and everywhere in between, every nook and cranny of Alaska is always her new favorite place.
As President and co-founder of Alaska-based boutique media agency HuMu Media, she spends her work time writing, photographing, and traveling, and her off time writing, photographing, and traveling. They say do what you love, and she is lucky enough to do so!
You can follow her travels on Instagram at @theitinerantginger