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Downtown Ketchikan
(taken from the pool deck on the Norwegian Sky)

Ketchikan Information
By Tom Ogg

Language and Currency
What is Ketchikan Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?

Ketchikan Port Reviews

Language and Currency

The Official language of Sitka is English and the currency is the U. S. dollar.

What is Ketchikan Like?

Panorama of Ketchikan

Ketchikan is a small town that reminds one that they are in Alaska. Its history and waterfront remind me of Monterey's Cannery Row. Ketchikan was once considered the salmon capital of the world and fishing still plays a major role in Ketchikan's economy. However, tourism is number one and visitors will love Ketchikan's flavor and charm.

What is the Weather Like?

Ketchikan is located in the "banana belt" of Alaska and enjoys a mild summer climate. Being in the Tongass National Forest, Ketchikan receives over 160 inches of rain per year and resides in a rain forest. Dress in layers and be ready for anything is the best advice.

Where Does the Ship Dock?

Ships at Dock in Ketchikan

The waterfront in Ketchikan is the dock. It is quite possible to simply walk off your ship and start shopping as soon as you hit the dock (depending on where your ship is located along the waterfront)

The Ketchikan Tender Pier

If the pier is full of ships, you will tender into Ketchikan from the ship. The tenders will drop you right downtown.

Where is the Shopping?

Ketchikan's Shopping District.

The waterfront and immediate downtown area is full of shops of all kinds. Many of the Caribbean shops are found here as well.

Creek Street in Ketchikan

Back a few blocks (to Stedman Street) and to the south at the point where Ketchikan Creek enters the harbor is the is famed "Creek Street" Once the bordello area of Ketchikan it is now an interesting collection of shops that reside upon pilings over the creek itself.

Shopping Opportunities on the Cruise Ship Pier

As if that were not enough, you can find tons of shopping right on the main pier in Ketchikan.

What is There to Buy?

A Typical Shop in Ketchikan

Oh man, I think you can find just about anything in Ketchikan. Jewelry, furs, Alaskan products and volumes more. Also, just about every jewelry store one would find in St. Thomas is located in Ketchikan, as well. There is a great outfitter in Ketchikan on the north side of the pier that offers lots of unusual outdoor products. Of course, if you want to take canned salmon home this is the place to purchase some.

What is There To Do?

Ketchikan's Creek Street

Shopping is great and if you want to explore Ketchikan by foot it is quite simple. Explore downtown and then make your way to Creek Street. Creek Street is lined with shops offering many unusual items and souvenirs.

The Creek Street Cable Car

Take the cable car to the top of the hill for more shopping and a great bar/restaurant. There is a nominal charge to ride the cable car, but it is worth it for the view. You can follow the creek all the way through to the next street inland (Park Ave.) and then follow it around to the left still following the creek until you go over the next bridge that spans the creek. Cross the bridge and then immediately turn right on the road (looks kind of like a driveway) and follow it back to the Deer Mountain Fish Hatchery.

Salmon in the Deer Park Fish Hatchery

The salmon run in Ketchikan creek occurs later in the summer but it is full of salmon when it occurs and watching the salmon making their way up the roaring creek is fascinating.

Bald Eagles in the Deer Park Eagle Preserve

The park adjoining the fish hatchery is excellent but the totem pole park across the river is anti-climatic. If you like to hike the Deer Mountain trail head lies just up the road to the right and offers a healthy climb to the top of Deer Mountain for an excellent overview of all of Ketchikan.

Another excellent walk (non-touristy) is to climb up Captain's Hill to see the older section of Ketchikan. On the way down the wooden staircases you pass an old wooden street that traverses the hillside. Follow it to the north and as you enter the older section of Ketchikan stay back against the hillside to see some wonderful structures with much character. Eventually make your way down to the waterfront and return back to the touristy section of Ketchikan passing old canneries and many old structures. It is a wonderful walk and you can get directions and a map from any of the tourist kiosks throughout the town.

Here is another tip. If you are there and the salmon are running you can rent a fishing pole a couple of blocks north of the Ketchikan Creek bridge and at the store just south of the bridge, and simply stand on the bridge and hook them as they circle below waiting to enter the creek. Most people simply catch-and-release, as you may not take them back onto the ship.

Captain's Hill in Ketchikan
(taken from the pool deck of the Norwegian Sky)

There are a good number of sights to see around Ketchikan as well. Misty Fjords National Monument is well worth seeing. The best way to take it in is on a flight seeing trip or if time allows you can cruise from Ketchikan to take in its beauty. Everyone who visits Misty Fjords loves it as its beauty is awe inspiring. Sport fishing from Ketchikan is considered excellent by serious fisherman and a half-day charter is well worth it. There is also the opportunity to fly into one of the interior lodges for the day and do some fresh water fishing. Popular with kayakers is the ocean, bay and river kayak trip that takes folks through the harbor and into Ketchikan Creek itself.

Ketchikan's Duck Tour

There are many different types of local tours you can embark upon. The local "duck" tour is quite interesting and folks that did it raved about it.

Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?

Lake Landing in the Misty Fjords National Monument

Yes, I would give Misty Fjords National Monument a "Don't Miss" rating. Whether you do it on an air flight seeing trip or a cruise (or combination of both) it is beautiful and very memorable.

Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?

Yes on both counts. We discovered these treasures on our last visit and I would highly recommend them.

Ketchikan's Burger Queen

Want to know where the locals go to eat their lunch? This little burger stand serves the best halibut and chips I have ever had (at any price) in my life. I liked it so much I ate there twice. I suspect everything on their menu is exceptional, so if you want a break from cruise food, I couldn't recommend a better restaurant in all of Alaska. Don't let its appearance fool you. Be aware though, it is always crowded.

Ketchikan's Arctic Bar (Established in 1937)

We discovered this great bar while on the Norwegian Star. We had a short stay in Ketchikan and just about everyone waited until the last tender departure time to go back to the ship. This meant that about 2,000 people were waiting to board one tender at a time. Unfortunately, it was raining and most people made the decision to stand in the rain and wait.

"Just Follow the Bear Tracks"

A group of us inquired as to the location of the nearest bar, so we could enjoy the indoors and a refreshment. "Just follow the bear tracks" was the word we got from one of the locals that was passing by.

Lynze, the Arctic Bar Waitress

We followed the bear tracks to a rather innocuous looking small bar. Upon entering, we realized that we had stumbled into a local watering hole with tons of color and character. Lynze (the waitress) took the arrival of dozens of cruise people with a grain of salt and began to serve the crowd who began having a great time. It just so happened that the Arctic Bar's deck overlooked the tender wharf, so it was an easy task to tell the tender guys to call us when it was the last tender.

The "Last Tender Group" in the Arctic Bar

We became known as the "Last Tender Group" and we enjoyed the hospitality of the Arctic Bar until the last tender was called and we made our way back to the ship. Actually, the "Last Tender Group" has so much fun in the Arctic Bar, that we decided that we should continue the fun in the Red Lion Pub on the ship, which is exactly what we did.

Arctic Bar Owner Paula

On the next visit, we stopped in to say hi and were fortunate enough to meet the owner of the Arctic Bar. Her arrival was so appropriate for the bar that I fell in love with her feistiness and decided to write about the bar. When I told her that I was going to write about it, she warned me that I had better not make it sound anything like the other famous bars in Alaska. She wanted me to tell you that the Arctic Bar is the home of the happy bears. Just follow the bear tracks and you will see what she means. Have fun!

Ketchikan's Annabelle's Restaurant and Bar

For a bar/restaurant that is not as "local" as the Arctic Bar, visit Annabelle's. It is located right across the street from the tender wharf pier and offers good food and excellent drinks in a rustic Alaskan atmosphere, yet tourist friendly environment.

The Interior of Annabelle's Restaurant and Bar

Be sure to order their halibut and chips. While not as good as the Burger Queen in town, they are still delicious.

Vacation in Ketchikan

 Port Reviews


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