Ketchikan is one of the most popular destinations in Alaska. With so many things to do in Ketchikan, planning a one-day itinerary can be tough. But I’m here to help you out with the best things to see and do in Ketchikan in just one day.
Ketchikan is the perfect destination for both outdoor enthusiasts and those wanting to experience a charming, historic town.
Whether you’re looking to head out into the Tongass National Forest for some wildlife viewing, learn about native Alaskan culture, or explore the historic fishing town, there’s something for everyone here.
Ketchikan is a gem of an Alaskan town, nicknamed the “Salmon Capital of the World” and “Alaska’s First City”. Make the most of your day here with these amazing things to do in Ketchikan.
Top Things to Do in Ketchikan, Alaska
Get ready to be inspired and amazed as you explore what Ketchikan has to offer!
See Black Bears and Other Wildlife
Ketchikan is one of the best places in Alaska to see black bears. As the “Salmon Capital of the World”, black bears are attracted to Ketchikan to fish in the streams and rivers.
We headed to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary at Herring Cove for a bear-viewing expedition where we saw a mother and her cub, and a third lone bear.
This is the closest bear viewing site to Ketchikan and is accessible by road. It’s also a great spot because of the fish hatchery on site, so black bears flock here to catch the salmon as they attempt to return upstream to the hatchery.
Because of all the salmon, there are also a ton of bald eagles in Ketchikan. You’re sure to see a lot of wildlife while you’re out in Ketchikan.
Admire the Totem Poles
Ketchikan has the world’s largest collection of Totem Poles, and they’re all over.
There are plenty of Totem Poles to see Downtown, or you can take a trip out to Totem Bight State Historical Park or Saxman Native Village.
We were able to see a Totem Pole park at the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary with 14 poles all made by one master carver.
Walk Along Creek Street Boardwalk
Creek Street was Ketchikan’s red-light district until the 1950s. This boardwalk street over Ketchikan Creek had more than 30 brothels, and some houses became speakeasies during Prohibition.
In 1953, the city outlawed prostitution and Creek Street became a commercial and residential area. Today, the street has a bunch of different local shops and a museum dedicated to the district’s history.
At the end of the boardwalk is Married Man’s Trail, the route men would use to discreetly visit the brothels. At the end of the trial, you’ll find the Salmon Ladder with salmon jumping upstream to spawn.
Visit Ketchikan’s First Distillery
Uncharted Alaska Distillery is Ketchikan’s first distillery. They hand craft vodka and gin and are even working on whiskey.
This distillery in an old fire station has a small menu of a few vodka cocktails and a few gin cocktails.
We tried their Gin-Gin Mule and a seasonal vodka mojito and both were delicious! It was a nice place to sit and relax for about an hour.
Get a Treat at Jellyfish Donuts
Jellyfish Donuts is a gourmet donut shop located just across from the cruise docks.
They have a really interesting selection of donuts, ranging from sweet to savory (so just think of it more like a bagel). They use toppings like cereal, candy bars, gummies, and more, and they make each donut fresh and by hand.
We tried a sweet Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup Donut and a savory Salmon Donut. It may sound crazy, but the Salmon Donut was really good!
Take a Picture with the Welcome to Ketchikan Sign
The “Welcome to Ketchikan” sign arches over Mission Street and is an iconic photo spot!
Be sure to snap a quick selfie with the sign before leaving.
Top Ketchikan Tours
With so much to do, Ketchikan can be overwhelming for any first-time traveler. To take some of the stress out of planning your visit, opt for a guided tour! Check out this list of the top Ketchikan tours to help you make the most of your time in this beautiful Alaskan city.
Mapping Out Your Day in Ketchikan
Ready to explore Ketchikan’s top attractions? Use the map below to help plan out your time exploring Ketchikan, Alaska.
With its rich history, beautiful landscapes, and unique wildlife, Ketchikan is sure to captivate and enchant you.
I hope this list of must-see attractions helps you plan the perfect vacation to Ketchikan!
Where to Stay in Ketchikan
Find the perfect place to rest your head on your visit to Ketchikan, from the top rated accommodations to unique stays you can’t get anywhere else.
- Top Hotel: The Landing Hotel
- Great Value: My Place Hotel-Ketchikan, AK
- Unique Stay: Inn at Creek Street
More Things to Do in Alaska
Make the most of your vacation to Alaska! Check out these other Alaska travel guides to plan your perfect trip:
- Where to View Bears on Your Alaska Cruise
- Things to Do in Icy Strait Point & Hoonah, Alaska
- 3 Things to Do in Sitka, Alaska: 1 Day Itinerary
- 4 Things to Do in Skagway, Alaska
- How to Get to Anchorage Airport from Seward, Alaska
- What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise: Ultimate Guide
Ready to visit Ketchikan, Alaska? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book Your Flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find Accommodation: You can find top hotels in Ketchikan using Booking.com.
- Start Packing: Check out my packing list resources so you’re prepared for your trip.
What are your favorite things to do in Ketchikan, Alaska? Let me know in the comments!