The first cruise ship appeared in Ketchikan 114 years ago, and it has been a favorite port ever since. You can tour the area by boat, bus, horse-drawn trolley, or even a restored 1955 Chevy. The most famous part of town is Creek Street. The homes once comprising the red light district are now filled with arts, crafts and gift shops. Totem poles are everywhere, with 24 at Saxman Native Totem Park.
What to do in Ketchikan, Alaska
Ketchikan has a rich history which can be consumed through self-guided tours of the city or organized trips for the full effect. Either way, you’ll be astounded to learn of Ketchikan’s promiscuous past and contribution to the frontier times. Other very popular excursion options show off Ketchikan’s amazing landscapes. You’ll have many options to take in the cold waters, beautiful landscapes and surrounding rainforest.
Fortunately, downtown Ketchikan is easy to access from your cruise port. You’ll immediately notice the frontier influence has been preserved throughout the century. The town is laid out in a long, narrow strip which makes it easy to consume all that the downtown area has to offer. You’ll find plenty of attractions to keep you busy while downtown, including the totem poles, welcome arch, historical museum and library, city park, fish bridge and more. You can find more specific attractions with details below.
When thinking about Alaska, it’s tough not to picture bears. Enough mental images - it’s time to see the real thing. This is a very popular excursion in Ketchikan. You’ll have multiple options to hang out with these big, beastly (but still majestic) creatures.
We’ve all seen or heard of “The Deadliest Catch.” Now we can experience it for ourselves (well… not the “deadliest” part). There’s a reason that show is filmed here. The fishing is amazing. Jump on a chartered fishing tour to pluck out the delicious treats hiding under Ketchikan’s waters. Ketchikan has actually been dubbed “the salmon capital of the world.
Zip Line, Hike, Kayak, Mountain-Climb, or Explore via Horseback
For our more active cruisers, you’ll have plenty of chances to brake a sweat while exploring beautiful Ketchikan. Choose your favorite athletic mode of transportation and get deep into the Alaska wilderness and all that it has to offer.
Shopping in Ketchikan, Alaska
Shopping in Ketchikan is recommended for those looking to take home a genuine piece of Alaska. You’ll find unique and authentic artwork for local craftsmen, stamped with the “made in Alaska” insignia. If in the market for some jewelry, you’re also in luck. You’ll find numerous options to grab a shiny souvenir.
Compared to downtown, Creek Street will have more authentic and “locally created” merchandise. The boardwalk has an added level of excitement knowing it was once lined with brothels. These have since been converted into shops where you’ll find art, textiles, jewelry, books, and local-food-items. Consider taking home a mini totem pole as a gift or keepsake!
Here you’ll find more jewelry options than you will on Creek Street. There are literally dozens of jewelry stores lining the main retail area. You’ll also come across many souvenir items that are convenient, but possibly less unique and authentic versus the typical item on Creek Street.
Attractions in Ketchikan, Alaska
If you’re looking to stay close to Ketchikan cruise port, you’ll find plenty of options to keep you busy throughout the day. Listed below are some of the most popular attractions in Ketchikan Port.
Alaskan Lumberjack Show
Located just a block from your cruise terminal, the Lumberjack Show is a must see. You’ll experience six-foot saws, tree climbing, axe throwing, log rolling, and much more. It’s an hour long and the arena is heated. Get ready for some jaw-dropping and hilarious “axe-tion.”
Ketchikan Visitors Bureau & Rain Gauge
This is a great jumping off point for your day in Ketchikan. Save any specific questions for the staff here and take in the historic info available at the info center. You’ll also find Ketchikan’s popular Rain Gauge here. The Ketchikan area gets more rain than any other city in North America. Don’t believe us? Check the gauge!
When performing any research about Ketchikan Cruise Port, you’ll read about totem poles. The city has the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles. Most of these are re-carvings of the originals. That’s what you’ll find at t Saxman Totem Park, Totem Bight State Park, and Potlatch Park. To see original totems, you can find these at the Totem Heritage Center.
Creek Street & Museum of Dolly’s House
During the frontier days, this is where frontier men would go for their “entertainment.” Creek Street was the “red-light district” area and brothels lined both sides of the street. These were shut down in 1953, but we’re still able to catch a glimpse into these exciting times at the Museum of Dolly’s House.
Tongass Historical Museum and Ketchikan Public Library
For a couple bucks, you can take a quick tour of Ketchikan’s history from a small fishing town, to a gold rush town, to a tourist mecca. The museum is within walking distance to your cruise ship and free buses are also available.
Best cruise excursions in Ketchikan, Alaska
We've analyzed tens of thousands of cruise tours to find your ideal attraction while in port. Based on these reviews, here are the Best Cruise Excursions in Ketchikan, Alaska