What You Must See in Ketchikan Alaska

What You Must See in Ketchikan Alaska - Lucy Williams Global

Ketchikan is in Alaska (United States) and is a place that you go to if you go on an Alaskan cruise. What You Must See in Ketchikan Alaska? What is there to see and do?

There are many tours and shore excursions to do in Ketchikan from watching a Lumberjack Show, salmon fishing, going on a float plane into the misty fjords, looking for bears, going to the Tongass National Forest to see the Totem Poles, all-you-can-eat crab and more!

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Best Things to See in Ketchikan Alaska

The city of Ketchikan is a great place as it is beautiful to walk around and downtown is very close to the cruise ships.

Ketchikan claims to be Alaska’s first city and the salmon capital of the world. It dates back to 1883 and in the early 1900s it had a population of 800, now it has a population of over 8000.

People went there originally, because of the salmon and the gold rush. Now it is for tourism and fishing.

In Ketchikan, it rains a lot, and it has the highest rainfall in the USA. Big fir trees surround Ketchikan with colourful houses popping out. Most of the time the mist is so low you cannot see the tops of the trees.

If you are lucky to get a good sunny day, it is gorgeous with the sun shining over the ocean making it sparkle with the mountains in the distance.

I have seen heavy rain, grey days, and beautiful sunny days. The weather in Alaska is very unpredictable.

Totem Bight State Park Tour

Totem Bight State Park is in the Tongass National Forest. It is around thirty minutes away from where the cruise ships dock and is one of the must-sees in Ketchikan.

Totem Poles are part of the native Alaskan culture, and they are all hand carved from cedar wood. Each pole has a story, which is why each one is very different.

It is the largest totem pole park in the world and the poles were brought from all the deserted Alaskan towns.

At the park, there is a replica native clan house, which would be the summer camp for the natives. The clan was of around 50 people, and they lived in the house in the summer months.

The park is set in the beautiful Tongass National Forest on the water with stunning views of the surrounding area.

Creek Street

Venture to Creek Street the oldest street in town. Creek Street is in the city centre (downtown) and is within walking distance of where the cruise ships are docked.

This was the red-light district of Ketchikan and had thirty brothels in it. The brothels were open until 1954. The colourful houses of Creek Street are now gift shops, galleries, bars, and brothel museums.

What You Must See in Ketchikan Alaska - Lucy Williams Global

What to Wear in Ketchikan

The weather varies a lot in Ketchikan, but most of the time it does rain! I would recommend wearing layers, so if it is nice, you can take a layer off.

Bring a jacket, jeans/trousers, tee, sweater, boots, hat, gloves, a scarf, and an umbrella.

Essential Info

  • Weather in summer months: 8*C – 20*C
  • Currency: US Dollar
  • Language: American English
  • Recommendations: Bring a camera or smartphone, waterproof phone cover or camera lens cloth and binoculars for wildlife spotting.
Creek Street Ketchikan Alaska

More Fun Things to Do in Ketchikan

If you are going on a cruise ship on an Alaska cruise to Ketchikan here are the best things to do and the best places to see in this cruise port. Whether you are exploring Ketchikan for yourself or going on a guided tour.

Totem Poles

There are many Totem Poles to see either downtown or on one of the Ketchikan tours to see the largest collection of totem poles. 

  • Chief Johnson Totem Pole is located by Creek Street.
  • Visit the Totem Bight State Park in the Tongass National Forest to see the Totem Poles and natural wildlife.
  • Go to downtown Ketchikan to see the Totem Heritage Center.
  • Take a trip to the Saxman Native Village & Totem Park.

Downtown Ketchikan

  • Creek Street in downtown Ketchikan, a short walk from the cruise ships. This was the red-light district back in the early 1900s. On this street, you can see all the colourful historic houses and you can also visit the Dolly’s House Museum there.
  • Watch the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, this is a lot of fun for the whole family. Watch the professional timber athletes compete in springboard chopping, buck sawing, log rolling, axe throwing, tree climbing and more.

Bear Watching

  • See the black bears and go on a bear-watching tour in the heart of the rainforest and be surrounded by Alaskan cedar trees and a stream full of spawning salmon.
  • This is where the black bears gather to feed on salmon to get ready for hibernation and also see other local wildlife, such as bald eagles, this is the best tour for nature lovers.

Cruise Essentials

Here are some cruising products from Amazon you may find useful on your next cruise – see more on my Amazon shop page and click here.

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Have you been to Ketchikan? What would you recommend doing? What do you think you must see in Ketchikan Alaska?

I hope you enjoyed reading What You Must See in Ketchikan Alaska. Please share on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest so your friends and family can read too. Sharing is caring!

Happy Cruising!

*Last updated July 2023

What You Must See in Ketchikan Alaska - Lucy Williams Global

20 Comments

  1. willsavefortravel
    October 14, 2017 / 10:49 pm

    Alaska seems so cool! I love the Totem Poles!

  2. Raksha Rao
    October 15, 2017 / 12:25 pm

    I would love to go on an Alaskan cruise trip. This sounds like a wonderful place 🙂

  3. October 15, 2017 / 2:52 pm

    Loved our stop in Ketchikan on our Alaskan cruise! You definitely had sunnier weather than we did though 🙂

  4. January 10, 2018 / 10:40 pm

    I have only been to Ketchikan on a Norwegian cruise and I think we took a tour of the lake to explore the Bald Eagles flying about. Next time I go I am sure to check out the Totem Pole Park and Creek Street looks amazing. what a truly unique little town on the southern coast of Alaska

    • January 11, 2018 / 8:50 pm

      Ketchikan is a gorgeous little town and the totem pole park is a beautiful setting.

  5. January 11, 2018 / 6:25 am

    Great post in a part of the world I know little about! I love the ‘what to wear in Ketchikan’ piece … big boots and woolly hats! Great advice 🙂

    • January 11, 2018 / 8:55 pm

      Thank you and I’m glad you enjoyed he what to wear section! Ketchikan is a lovely place visit.

  6. Alexander Popkov
    January 11, 2018 / 12:17 pm

    Oh, I want to go to Alaska. I live in Northern Europe and I would love to see how North America is different.

    • January 11, 2018 / 8:58 pm

      It’s beautiful, similar scenery but a different culture.

  7. January 11, 2018 / 12:47 pm

    Thats a perfect guide and well detailed. Alaska is beautiful indeed !

  8. January 11, 2018 / 4:10 pm

    Great tips! I have been dying to visit Alaska but the flights are always expensive. But the natural beauty and totem poles here are very inspiring!

    • January 11, 2018 / 9:00 pm

      Thank you! I hope the flights lower in price for you as Alaska is an amazing experience.

  9. January 11, 2018 / 5:05 pm

    I always thought Alaska was always covered in snow…The greenery is enchanting. Alaska seems a wonderful place. Beautiful pictures too.

    • January 11, 2018 / 9:05 pm

      Thank you! In the summer Alaska is beautiful, especially on a sunny day.

  10. January 12, 2018 / 1:13 am

    Great tips! Alaska looks like a beautiful place for nature lovers, and I’m one of them! I love visiting national parks and Alaska has a lot to offer! Thanks for sharing.

    • February 16, 2018 / 2:57 pm

      I highly recommend Alaska if you love nature and the scenery is amazing.

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