Popular Ketchikan Shore Excursions
Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show: The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show celebrates Ketchikan's logging heyday. Watch pros compete at log rolling, ax throwing and pole climbing. The bleacher seats, thankfully, are covered and heated. The show -- bordering on cheesy but just too impressive to pass up -- lasts about an hour, leaving plenty of time for shopping (a shore activity of choice). (420 Spruce Mill Way; 907-225-9050; shows run as many as five times a day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; $37 for adults, $18.50 for children)
Misty Fjords National Monument: Go sea kayaking, deep-sea fishing or tour Misty Fjords National Monument wilderness area by air (operators have booths at the tourism center at the pier). Flights are extremely weather dependent, so have a backup plan (high-speed wilderness cruises are an option).
Museums: Enjoy museum-hopping around town. The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center (50 Main Street; 907-228-6220; open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily during summer; $5 adults, free for kids) has an interactive rain forest gallery and a terrific gift shop. Also, check out the Totem Heritage Center (601 Deermount Street; 907-225-5900; open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m; $5 adults, free for kids) and the Tongass Historical Museum (629 Dock Street; open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; $3 adults, free for kids).
Totem Poles: Outside of Ketchikan, three must-see totem pole locations are Totem Bight State Historical Park (10 miles north), Potlatch Park (near Totem Bight) and Saxman Native Village (2 miles south). At Potlatch and Saxman, you can watch carvers at work during the guided tour.
Creek Street: The most interesting area -- both for historic value and good shopping -- is Creek Street. Not a street at all, this boardwalk winds along Ketchikan Creek and was once the locale for all the area's brothels. Now, it's home to artsy galleries like Soho Coho (5 Creek Street; 907-225-5954), which sells fish-themed artwork and a variety of higher-end crafts, from gorgeous velvet scarves to watercolors to soaps. Nearby, you'll see the Alaska Eagle Art Gallery (5 Creek Street No. 3; 907-225-8365), where Pendleton blankets with Indian themes are a standout, as are silver pendants and bronze sculptures.
In front of Creek Street is Parnassus Books (105 Stedman Street; 907-225-7690), an interesting bookstore with a great selection of Alaska-oriented tomes. Try Sam McGee's A Taste of Alaska (18 Creek Street; 907-225-7267) for regionally made items like honey, barbecue sauce, soaps, lotions and ulu knives.
Cape Fox Lodge: Catch a great view of Ketchikan and beyond from the Cape Fox Lodge; you can access this hilltop resort from a funicular that operates on Creek Street -- the fee for the funicular is waived if you eat at the restaurant.
Tongass National Forest: Watch black bears catch and eat their fill of salmon at Neets Bay in Tongass National Forest. Sign up onboard your ship for this floatplane and bear-watching thrill (late July through September).
Deer Mountain: Serious hikers will enjoy the 3-mile trail on Deer Mountain that begins in Ketchikan (Fair and Deermount Streets). Remember that this is still bear country, so hiking in pairs or groups is advised. Another good practice is to sing and make noise as you walk to avoid startling bears.
Boat and Cycle Tours: Take a part-bike part-boat tour with Alaska Sea Cycle Tours (907-821-2728), a great family-friendly activity. The tour combines wildlife spotting, exercise and an Alaskan picnic.