Alaska is one of those places on Earth that’s probably on almost everyone’s bucket list. Be it for the mesmerizing views or the charm of the people, the place looks almost unreal when you come to think of it.
As someone who is quite fascinated by the beauty of nature, I knew that I had to visit this place before it was too late. However, my objective was to choose a spot in Alaska that’s not overcrowded or laden with tourists in every corner.
That’s when one of my friends suggested the Ketchikan. Also known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” it is the southeasternmost city in Alaska and possibly one of the most untouched and beautiful spots in the state. The view that you experience from the magnificent cruise through Alaskan glaciers is something that words can’t describe.
As someone who loves reading personalized travel diaries, I knew that I had to jot down my experiences at Ketchikan so you can plan your vacation for the coming year.
How is the weather at Ketchikan?
Before scheduling my trip to Ketchikan, I knew that I wanted to pack light but pack according to the weather. So, I am assuming you are on a similar boat.
Ketchikan has a very pleasant yet unpredictable weather. When I first stepped into this town and started talking to the locals, they warned me to always carry an umbrella because it can rain out of nowhere. They even went on to say that even if you are here for two days, you might experience rain.
If you are someone who’s not too fond of carrying umbrellas, wear waterproof items of clothing and that should be good enough to get the job done.
But, as I mentioned, be prepared for the unpredictability of the weather.
Where do I stay at Ketchikan?
Are you a heavy planner or a “go with the flow” kind of person? If you are in the latter category, I’d recommend thinking things through.
Ketchikan is not tourist heavy but that doesn’t mean that you can always walk up to a lodge or hotel and ask for a place to stay in. There might not be vacancies all the time. Hence, I’d recommend you book in prior.
Now, coming to the next question, “Where should I stay when in Ketchikan?” Well, this is a personal preference and depends on the kind of amenities you want and also the kind of budget you have.
You can find rustic lodges that are present in the off-beat locations and then you have your standard B&Bs and vacation rentals that are easily accessible in the middle of the town. If you are a foodie like I am, don’t worry because restaurants and food joints are spread across the town.
If possible, visit some of the local cafes while you are in Ketchikan. Not only can you strike up a conversation with the barista, you can meet locals there. I met a few amazing people in these quaint cafes and breweries and they are possibly one of the best people I have ever met in my life.
What do I do at Ketchikan?
Once you reach your hotel/vacation rental/B&B/lodge, freshen up and get ready because there’s so much you can do at Ketchikan. Despite being a quaint town, the nature you get to soak in is an experience in itself. You don’t have to do much.
But, while you are there, you can’t miss out on some activities and sightseeing. Following are a few things I did and will personally vouch for.
Go for a walk
I can’t stress this enough but take a stroll down the cobblestone paths and take some time to unwind. The beauty of Ketchikan lies in its simplicity and the only way for you to soak in that beauty is by going for a walk.
Besides the local spots, one thing that I found unique was the steep wooden staircases in the middle of the roads. As you walk around, visit the Waterfront Promenade and you might end up meeting a few other tourists along the way.
Explore the Creek Street
There is a lot of history tied to Creek Street and the number of things that you can do while you are there is endless. You can sit down at a local café and sip on some coffee or hot chocolate or you can walk a few extra steps and explore the local museum.
Remember when I said that Ketchikan is named the “Salmon Capital of the World?” Well, during the summer season, the creek is filled with salmon. If you are lucky, you can spot seals and otters too.
Another quick tip, ride the tram if you are tired of walking. It takes you through some of the popular spots in the town.
Witness the Totem Poles
If you are in Ketchikan and don’t witness the Totem Poles, you are missing out on so much already. This is one of the paid sightseeing activities that I did while I was there. It costs you around $3-$5 per person for unguided tours.
As you enter the park, the Totem Poles stand tall and I won’t lie but the first look at these wooden poles was quite intimidating. What’s fascinating about them is that all of them are hand-carved and hand-painted. The talent exhibited by the local tribes through these poles is beyond anyone’s imagination.
The last activity is a little labor intensive but worth it. Hiking the Rainbird trail exposes you to the raw version of nature that you simply can’t find in the city.
If you are traveling on a cruise, the hiking trail shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes to reach. I stopped in between, so it took me 30-35 minutes. The walk through the Alaskan wilderness and the views of Ketchikan make the physical exercise worth it.
Planning a getaway that remains etched into your mind forever? Well, Ketchikan is one of those spots that I will probably never forget.
I kid you not, it has been a few weeks since my trip and I have recommended 20+ people to book their next vacation to Ketchikan.
That’s how beautiful the place is. If you want some time to slow down and soak in the beauty of Alaska while enjoying a luxurious life on a cruise, Ketchikan is the place to be.