A Guide to Ketchikan Alaska: Places to Stay, Eat, and Things to Do

things to do in ketchikan alaska

If you’re looking for an unforgettable Alaskan adventure, look no further than Ketchikan! This charming town is located on the southeast coast of Alaska and is known for its rich history and abundance of outdoor activities. Whether you’re interested in fishing, hiking, or kayaking, Ketchikan has something to offer everyone. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at what makes Ketchikan so special and provide some tips on where to stay, eat, and play while you’re there! There are plenty of things to do in Ketchikan, Alaska, especially if you are an adventurer!

What is Ketchikan?

Some people think Ketchikan is some sort of thing. No, it’s actually a town. Ketchikan is often referred to as the “Gateway to Alaska” because it is the first major town that visitors encounter when they travel to Alaska by ferry. The town has a rich history and was originally inhabited by the Tlingit people (pronounced clink-it). Later, it became a popular fishing destination for both commercial and sports fishermen. Today, Ketchikan is a popular tourist destination for those looking to experience all that Alaska has to offer.

things to do in Ketchikan
Ketchikan is known as the “Gateway to Alaska”

The Ketchikan Culture

There are many ways to experience the culture of Ketchikan. One way is to visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center, which is a museum that celebrates the cultures of Alaska’s indigenous people. Another option is to take a tour of Chief Johnson’s House, which was built in the early 1900s and is one of the oldest standing structures in Ketchikan. Or, you can simply stroll through downtown and admire the totem poles that line the streets!

If you’re looking to experience some of Ketchikan’s more unique culture, be sure to check out Creek Street. This historic boardwalk was once the center of Ketchikan’s red-light district and is now a popular shopping and dining destination.

There are also many annual events that celebrate Ketchikan’s culture, such as the Blueberry Arts Festival and the Winter Arts Faire. Be sure to check the event calendar before you visit so you don’t miss out on any of the fun!

things to do in Ketchikan
The children in Alaska learn about plants, flowers, and the wilderness so they know how to survive in the outdoors should they ever need to.

While we were there, we learned that their elementary schools actually teach students wilderness survival skills like building a shelter, starting a fire, and finding food. Then when they reach high school, students go on a weekend-long trip where they put those skills to the test and can only bring one small canister of whatever they can fit into it. Not even their parents are allowed to know where they are, and they have to use the skills they’ve learned to survive. Sounds like an intense weekend, but it’s probably good preparation for living in Alaska!

How to Get to Ketchikan

Ketchikan is accessible by both ferry and airplane. Alaska Airlines offers daily flights from Seattle, which is a popular starting point for many visitors to Alaska. Once you arrive in Ketchikan, you can get around town via the public bus system or by walking. There are also many taxi and shuttle companies that offer transportation services. It is also a major port for most Alaskan cruises.

Where to Stay in Ketchikan

Ketchikan has a variety of lodging options to choose from, depending on your budget and preferences. For those looking for a more luxurious experience, the Gilmore Hotel is a great option. This hotel is located downtown and offers stunning views of the harbor. If you’re traveling on a budget, consider staying at one of the many bed and breakfasts in town like The Black Bear Inn. There are also RV parks and camping sites available for those who want to experience Alaska’s great outdoors.

things to do in Ketchikan
There is so much beauty throughout Ketchikan, like this waterfall.

Where to Eat in Ketchikan

There are many delicious dining options in Ketchikan, ranging from casual cafes to nicer dining restaurants. For a quick and tasty meal, be sure to check out one of the many seafood spots located along the waterfront. These places specialize in fresh, delicious seafood dishes that are perfect for a summer day. We recommend Annabelle’s Famous Keg and Chowder House or the Alaska Fish House. Both of these restaurants offer stunning views of the water and serve up some of Ketchikan’s best crab dishes.

What to Do in Ketchikan


Ketchikan is home to many beautiful hiking trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding area. Be sure to hike up Deer Mountain for a breathtaking view of the town and harbor. We spent some time hiking through the Tongass National Forest, and our guide told us a lot about the history of totem poles and the importance of the forest to the Alaska Native people.


Ketchikan is known for its great fishing, so be sure to bring your rod and tackle! There are many charter companies that offer half-day and full-day fishing trips.  These trips are a great way to experience Alaska’s stunning scenery and try your hand at catching some of the local fish.

things to do in Ketchikan
The ATV tour through the rainforest with Adventure Karts was our favorite activity in Ketchikan!

ATV Tours

One of the best ways to explore Alaska is by taking an ATV tour. There are many companies that offer tours, and we highly recommend Adventure Karts. This company offers a 3-hour day tour which was just the right amount of time to see everything. It was also super convenient for us since they picked us up right by where the cruise ships docked, and provide all the gear you need to keep your clothes clean during the wild ride.


Explore Ketchikan’s surrounding waterways by kayak! There are many guided kayak tours available that will take you through the area’s stunning scenery. We recommend booking a tour with Alaska Watersports, as they are very knowledgeable about the area and offer a great experience.

things to do in Ketchikan
Totem poles are a big part of the Alaskan culture. You can learn a great deal about them at the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan.

Biking Tour

One of the best ways to see Ketchikan is by bike! Alaska Shore Tours offers a unique (and not so strenuous biking excursion via ebike) that will take you around town and show you some of the best views.  It’s a great way to see the town and learn about its history. You can also learn a great deal about Totem heritage in Ketchikan at the Totem Heritage Center.

Ketchikan is an incredible place with so much to offer. We hope you enjoy your time in this beautiful town! Be sure to check out the totem poles, enjoy the outdoors, and try some of the local seafood. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Let us know what you think!