Ketchikan, Alaska’s fifth-largest city, sits at the southernmost entrance to Alaska’s Inside Passage, a network of waterways that pass through idyllic scenery. Best known for its salmon, scenery and native culture, there is plenty to keep you busy during your evenings and weekends. Check out our list of recommended to-dos below.
Misty Fjords National Monument, which spans over 2 million acres, stands out as the largest wilderness area in the Tongass National Forest. 17,000 years ago it was covered in massive amounts of ice. But as the ice broke up, it carved beautiful fjords that are now considered the “skyscrapers of this wilderness”. During your visit, you might see whales, mountain goats, mineral springs and volcanic lava flows. Love to hike? This park boasts twenty miles of trails, leaving you with plenty to explore before your shift ends.
The Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary settled on 40 acres at Herring Cove, is only 8 miles from Ketchikan. This center was built to preserve the wildlife habitat and develop walking trails through the rainforest for all to enjoy. Curious about learning more about birds and your surroundings? Enjoy a guided walk through the Wildlife Sanctuary & Eagle Center. Being in nature is one of the most rewarding ways to spend a day off and what better place to do it than Alaska?
If you enjoy the quaint and historical, visit Creek Street, built along the shores of the Ketchikan Creek. Visited by thousands every year, this antique boardwalk is home to restaurants, curio shops, and Dolly’s House Museum. Because the rocky hills around the creek were difficult to blast away, the street was built over the water, creating a picturesque part of town. Once you’re done shopping and exploring the history, cross the old red trestle bridge and find fisherman hoping to catch some salmon or watch the salmon try to jump up a rushing waterfall at the Salmon Ladder.
The Ketchikan area provides an excellent opportunity to witness these other- worldly sea mammals. Taking a boat tour featuring whale watching may allow you the chance to see orca and humpbacks, as well as otters, porpoises and sea lions. You also can view whales from shore, particularly at Whale Park, which offers public-use binoculars. There’s always a chance to see whales year-round but they’re more abundant in September through December when humpbacks gather before they head to Hawaii for calving.
Ketchikan Nightlife & Restaurants
As a town with fewer than 10,000 residents, you might think Ketchikan doesn’t have any nightlife, but you’d be wrong. Try the Arctic Bar located at 509 Water Street on the waterfront, popular with both locals and tourists for its outdoor patio and Bloody Mary’s. For dinner, you can dine on fresh seafood caught by local fishermen at Alaska Fish House located at 5 Salmon Landing. Have a sweet tooth? Ketchi Candies sells truffles, fudge and caramels, located at 500 Mission St. While Ketchikan might not rival Anchorage for the quantity of food-and-drink venues, you’ll still find quality local cuisine.
Looking for other outings or local favorites? Try asking your employers or veteran seasonal employees where they like to spend their days off. You’ll be sure to add many memories to your Alaskan adventure working a summer job in Ketchikan.