Ketchikan is known as the rainfall capital of the United States, so be prepared. That being said….in the 10 visits we’ve been there….we’ve only had rain ONCE! We’ve gotten far wetter in Juneau and Skagway…lol!
This is a perfect place to wander and explore on your own. Depending on where you are docked, the tourist area is either a short walk or directly off your ship. If you are tendering, you will be let off right on the main dock area. There are several kiosks set up with excursion opportunities, if you have not booked through your cruise line.
There is lots of shopping along Front Street, right at the ship pier. You can find everything from t-shirts to jewelry stores. A few of our favorite stores are the Christmas Shop for special Alaska ornaments and the Quilt Store, which stocks Alaska related fabric. You will also find a coffee kiosk on the pier.
A popular destination for day trippers is Creek Street, a pleasant 10 minute stroll from the cruise port. From the 1920’s to the 1950’s, Creek Street is where fishermen, miners, and some more genteel characters, found entertainment and feminine companionship. You can visit Dolly’s House Museum ($5 admission fee), which is locally owned and operated by a life long Ketchikan resident who takes great pride in being able to offer this unique and historic video narrated tour that looks back into Ketchikan’s infamous past.
Creek Street is also famous for the salmon run that occurs each summer. When it is peak season, the creek is so full of fish, you swear you could walk across on their backs! There is also a resident seal by the bridge who loves to steal fishermen’s catch!
From the end of Creek Street, you can continue walking to SE Alaska Discovery Center. Along with exhibits that highlight the commercial, cultural and recreational usage of the world’s largest temperate rainforest, the center features a comfortable movie theater that screens short films about Ketchikan and the Tongass National Forest.
Last summer, for the first time ever, we went to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. There are several shows daily…and you can hear the crowds roaring with laughter and cheers from the dock. It was fairly inexpensive. We booked through the cruise line to use some of our onboard credit. I highly recommend this family friendly excursion. It was a hoot!
Ketchikan is home to the largest collection of totem poles in the world, including some of the oldest ones still in existence. The very oldest are in climate-controlled seclusion and some are in private collections, but you can see the majority of them scattered throughout town, at the Totem Heritage Center or at one of our beautiful totem parks.
The Misty Fjords are an extremely popular excursion. There are two ways to view this region…by boat or by air. I love to take to the air in a floatplane….how Alaskan can you get! When you close your eyes and picture Alaska, you are in the Misty Fjords National Monument. Icy blue lakes, waterfalls, snowcapped peaks, glacial valleys … literally everywhere you point your camera, it’s a postcard.
No matter what you choose to do….have fun, take lots of pictures and enjoy your time in Alaska. Whether this is your 1st trip or 20th…each one will be a wonderful and unique experience.
A good packing list for Alaska is very useful. Check out https://zest4travel.net/2017/02/20/what-do-i-pack-for-alaska/ to see the one I use and https://zest4travel.net/2021/10/31/things-to-be-sure-to-pack-for-your-cruise/
You can also visit my Amazon store for other great packing and cruising items!
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