12 Things To Do With Family In Ketchikan, Alaska

Last Updated on March 7, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Nestled in the midst of the lush Tongass National Forest, Ketchikan is known as the “Salmon Capital of the World.” This charming seaside town offers stunning natural scenery and an abundance of activities for families to enjoy. From fishing and wildlife viewing to experiencing native Alaskan culture, Ketchikan makes for an unforgettable family vacation.

ActivityDescription
Misty Fjords National MonumentScenic tours, wildlife viewing, and natural beauty.
Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle CenterLearn about salmon, see eagles, and explore native culture.
Totem Bight State ParkView totem poles, learn native stories, and enjoy nature.
Saxman Native VillageExperience native culture and totem pole art.
Potlatch Park and Totem TrailExplore totems and native heritage in a park setting.
Alaska Rainforest SanctuaryDiscover the rainforest ecosystem and native arts.
Waterfront PromenadeScenic walks, local shops, and cultural sights.
Settler’s Cove State Recreation AreaBeach, forest, and wildlife viewing.
Ketchikan Charter FishingFamily-friendly fishing for salmon and halibut.
Crab FishingExciting crab fishing experience and feast.
Marine Wildlife TourSpot whales, seals, and other marine life.
Ride on an Authentic SternwheelerHistorical riverboat cruise with scenic views.

When planning your family trip to Ketchikan, be sure to pack rain gear as the town receives over 12 feet of rainfall per year! But don’t let the rain deter you. The wet weather keeps the landscapes brilliantly green and blooming with life. The long summer days also provide more daylight hours to cram in all the fun. To help you make the most of your family getaway, here are 12 fantastic things to do with kids in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Misty Fjords National Monument

Name and Location: Misty Fjords National Monument is a vast wilderness area located about 22 miles east of Ketchikan, Alaska. The monument covers over 2 million acres of pristine forests, mountains, and waterways.

History and Significance: The area was designated as a national monument in 1978 to protect its unique natural and cultural resources. The monument is home to a variety of wildlife, including bears, wolves, and bald eagles, as well as numerous species of plants and fish. It is also an important cultural site for the Tlingit people, who have lived in the area for thousands of years.

What to Expect: Visitors to Misty Fjords can explore the monument by boat or by floatplane, taking in the stunning scenery of the fjords, waterfalls, and glaciers. There are also several hiking trails in the area, ranging from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry treks.

Visitor Information: The monument is open year-round, although some areas may be inaccessible during the winter months. Visitors can take guided tours from Ketchikan or explore the area on their own by renting a boat or a floatplane. Permits are required for some activities, such as camping and fishing.

No trip to Ketchikan is complete without a visit to the wondrous Misty Fjords National Monument. Families can book exciting tours taking you deep into the lush wilderness by floatplane or high-speed catamaran to marvel at the monument’s plunging cliffs, snow-capped peaks, thunderous waterfalls, and crystal blue lakes.

The 2.5 million acres of unspoiled nature also provide superb wildlife viewing opportunities to spot bears, mountain goats, whales, seals, eagles bald and countless species of birds. It’s an unforgettable adventure for families to treasurer forever.

Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center

Name and Location: The Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center is located in Ketchikan, Alaska, at the base of Deer Mountain. The center is operated by the Ketchikan Indian Community and is dedicated to the preservation of Alaska’s native wildlife.

History and Significance: The hatchery was established in 1991 to help restore the local salmon population, which had been declining due to overfishing and habitat loss. The eagle center was added in 2002 to provide a sanctuary for injured and orphaned bald eagles, as well as to educate visitors about these majestic birds.

What to Expect: Visitors to the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center can take guided tours of the hatchery and learn about the life cycle of salmon and the importance of conservation efforts. The eagle center offers up-close encounters with bald eagles and other birds of prey, as well as educational exhibits about their biology and habitat.

Visitor Information: The center is open year-round, with guided tours available from May to September. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children, with proceeds supporting the center’s conservation and education programs. The center is located just a short drive from downtown Ketchikan and is easily accessible by car or by bus.

For an up-close look at Ketchikan’s incredible wildlife, visit the George Inlet Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center. Families can learn all about the history of tribal fish culture while seeing thousands of magnificent spawning salmon return each year.

The hatchery helps preserve and enhance the salmon populations and native culture. Families will also be amazed by the world’s largest collection of bald eagles that congregate to feed on salmon scraps. With knowledgeable guides, the Eagle Center provides incredible opportunities to view the eagles and learn about the native habitat conservation programs. From July to September is peak season to see hundreds of eagles feasting.

Totem Bight State Park

Name and Location: Totem Bight State Park is a 33-acre state park located about 10 miles north of Ketchikan, Alaska. The park is situated on a scenic coastal area and features a collection of restored and replica totem poles.

History and Significance: The park was established in the late 1930s as part of a Civilian Conservation Corps project to restore and preserve traditional Tlingit and Haida totem poles. Many of the original poles had been left to decay in abandoned villages, and the CCC worked with Native carvers to restore and replicate them.

What to Expect: Visitors to Totem Bight State Park can walk along a half-mile trail through the forest to view the totem poles, which are arranged in a traditional village setting. The park also features a replica of a traditional Tlingit clan house, where visitors can learn about the history and culture of the indigenous people of the region.

Visitor Information: The park is open year-round, with varying hours depending on the season. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children, and free for Alaska residents. Guided tours are available during the summer months. The park is located about 10 miles north of Ketchikan and is accessible by car or by bus from the cruise ship docks.

Totem Bight State Park provides families a wonderful glimpse into native Alaskan culture along with incredible natural beauty. Here you’ll find one of the best collections of 19th century native totem poles accenting the lush rainforest landscape and views of nearby islands.

Families can join guided walking tours to explore the park’s native vegetation and learn the stories behind the intricately carved cedar totem poles and tribal houses. Kids will love spotting eagles, woodpeckers, seals and otters along the way too. Picnic facilities also allow families to relax at the park and take in spectacular views.

Saxman Native Village

Name and Location: Saxman Native Village is a small Native village located just south of Ketchikan, Alaska. The village is home to the Saxman Totem Park, which features one of the largest collections of standing totem poles in the world.

History and Significance: The village was established in the late 1800s by Tlingit people who were displaced from their traditional lands. The totem poles in the park were collected from abandoned villages in the early 1900s and brought to Saxman for preservation. Many of the poles are over 100 years old and represent important stories and legends from Tlingit culture.

What to Expect: Visitors to Saxman Native Village can take a guided tour of the totem park and learn about the history and significance of each pole. The village also features a carving shed where visitors can watch Native carvers at work, as well as a cultural center with exhibits on Tlingit history and culture.

Visitor Information: The village is open year-round, with guided tours available from May to September. Admission to the park is $5 for adults, $3 for children, and free for Alaska residents. The village is located just a short drive from downtown Ketchikan and is accessible by car or by bus from the cruise ship docks.

No family visit to Ketchikan is complete without experiencing the rich native Alaskan culture. One of the best places to do so is Saxman Native Village just 2 miles south of town. Families can explore the beautifully carved totem poles at the Cape Fox Village Totem Park and see the world’s largest collection of totems standing together.

Guided tours share stories behind the designs and animals depicted on the towering totem poles. You can also watch talented Native carvers create new totems using traditional techniques at the onsite carving shed. Saxman Village also hosts lively native dancing performances depicting storytelling traditions families will enjoy.

Potlatch Park and Totem Trail

Name and Location: Potlatch Park and Totem Trail is a small park located in downtown Ketchikan, Alaska, near the cruise ship docks. The park features a collection of totem poles and Native art, as well as a short walking trail.

History and Significance: The park was established in the 1960s as a way to showcase the traditional art and culture of the Tlingit and Haida people. The totem poles in the park were carved by local Native artists and depict important stories and legends from their culture. The trail through the park was once used by Native people to access fishing and hunting grounds.

What to Expect: Visitors to Potlatch Park and Totem Trail can stroll through the park and view the totem poles and other Native art on display. The trail through the park is a short and easy walk, with interpretive signs explaining the history and significance of the area. The park also features a small gift shop where visitors can purchase authentic Native crafts and souvenirs.

Visitor Information: The park is open year-round and admission is free. It is located in downtown Ketchikan, just a short walk from the cruise ship docks and other popular attractions. Visitors can easily incorporate a visit to the park into their exploration of the city.

Within Ketchikan, Potlatch Park and the downtown Totem Trail contain the world’s largest collection of standing totems accessible to visitors. Families can spend hours gazing at the intricate native designs and strolling amongst the dozens of towering totems while learning about their powerful symbolism and construction.

Plaques offer insight into the stories and legends behind many of the totems families can discover together. Kids will also enjoy watching talented carvers use traditional techniques to create new story poles. Colourful native dance performances are also held in Potlatch Park during the summer months.

Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary

Name and Location: The Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary is a 40-acre private reserve located just outside of Ketchikan, Alaska. The sanctuary is dedicated to preserving the unique ecosystem of the Tongass National Forest and educating visitors about the importance of conservation.

History and Significance: The sanctuary was established in the 1990s by a local family who wanted to protect the old-growth forest and its inhabitants from logging and development. The sanctuary is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, bald eagles, and a variety of bird species.

What to Expect: Visitors to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary can take guided tours of the reserve, learning about the ecology and wildlife of the Tongass National Forest. The tours include a walk through the old-growth forest, a visit to a historic sawmill, and a raptor show featuring birds of prey. The sanctuary also offers a variety of hands-on educational programs for children and adults.

Visitor Information: The sanctuary is open from May to September, with tours departing several times a day. Admission is $89 for adults and $44 for children, with discounts available for booking online in advance. The sanctuary is located about 8 miles outside of Ketchikan and transportation is provided from the cruise ship docks and other locations in town.

The Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary integrates art, culture, education and science to immerse visitors into Southeast Alaska’s magnificent rainforest ecosystem and indigenous heritage. Families can explore a serene network of boardwalk trails winding through the old growth forest. Learn how native flora and fauna are intertwined with Alaskan culture via interpretive displays.

Native Alaskan tribal houses are on display where you’ll often find artists carving totems using traditional methods native Alaskan tribal houses are on display where you’ll often find artists carving totems using traditional methods native Alaskan tribal houses are on display where you’ll often find artists carving totems using traditional methods. Staff offer guided tours and children’s activity programs for families teach kids about the native ecosystems and heritage.

Waterfront Promenade

Name and Location: The Waterfront Promenade is a scenic walkway located along the waterfront in downtown Ketchikan, Alaska. The promenade stretches for several blocks and offers stunning views of the Tongass Narrows and the surrounding mountains.

History and Significance: The promenade was built in the 1920s as part of a project to improve the city’s waterfront and attract more tourists. Today, it is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike to take a leisurely stroll, watch the boats coming and going from the harbor, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

What to Expect: Visitors to the Waterfront Promenade can take a leisurely walk along the waterfront, enjoying the views and the fresh sea air. The promenade is lined with shops, restaurants, and other attractions, making it a great place to spend an afternoon exploring the city. During the summer months, the promenade is also a popular spot to watch the cruise ships coming and going from the harbor.

Visitor Information: The promenade is open year-round and is free to access. It is located in the heart of downtown Ketchikan, just a short walk from the cruise ship docks and other popular attractions. Visitors can easily incorporate a stroll along the promenade into their exploration of the city.

No visit to Ketchikan is complete without a stroll along its picture-pefect waterfront promenade in the downtown district. Families will love gazing at the harbor bustling with fishing boats, float planes buzzing overhead, native totems flanking the boardwalk and views of Deer Mountain anchoring the skyline.

Be sure to check out the old-fashioned Salmon Ladder where you can watch thousands of salmon making the arduous trek upstream during spawning season. Free for everyone to enjoy, the scenic waterfront boardwalk also features parks, shopping, dining and local artisans.

Settler’s Cove State Recreation Area

Name and Location: Settler’s Cove State Recreation Area is a scenic park located about 18 miles north of Ketchikan, Alaska. The park is situated on a beautiful cove and offers a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities.

History and Significance: The park was established in the 1970s to provide access to the scenic beauty of the Tongass National Forest. The cove was once the site of a small fishing village, and visitors can still see the remains of some of the old cabins and other structures.

What to Expect: Visitors to Settler’s Cove State Recreation Area can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and picnicking. The park features several miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy nature walks to more strenuous backcountry treks. The cove is also a popular spot for fishing, with salmon, halibut, and other species available depending on the season.

Visitor Information: The park is open year-round, with some facilities closed during the winter months. There is a small campground with tent sites and RV hookups, as well as a day-use area with picnic tables and grills. The park is located about 18 miles north of Ketchikan and is accessible by car. Visitors should be prepared for variable weather conditions and bring appropriate gear for their planned activities.

Nestled along the scenic waterfront just north of downtown Ketchikan lies this charming state park perfect for families. Settler’s Cove features a protected beach overlooking the sea, old growth forest groves and great fishing opportunities in Settler Creek.

Families will love beachcombing along the tidal flats and exploring the lush coastal habitat where bears and eagles are often spotted. There are also picnic facilities in a covered area so families can grill lunch while taking in the stunning views even on rainy days.

Ketchikan Charter Fishing

Name and Location: Ketchikan Charter Fishing is a popular activity for visitors to Ketchikan, Alaska. There are several charter companies located in the city that offer fishing trips to the rich waters surrounding the area.

History and Significance: Fishing has long been an important part of the economy and culture of Southeast Alaska, and Ketchikan is known as the “Salmon Capital of the World.” The waters around Ketchikan are home to a variety of fish species, including salmon, halibut, and rockfish.

What to Expect: Visitors who book a charter fishing trip in Ketchikan can expect a full day out on the water, with an experienced guide and all necessary gear provided. Depending on the season and the type of fish being targeted, trips may involve trolling, jigging, or other techniques. Many charter companies also offer fish processing and shipping services, so visitors can enjoy their catch long after their trip is over.

Visitor Information: Charter fishing trips in Ketchikan typically run from May to September, with peak season in July and August. Prices vary depending on the length of the trip and the type of fish being targeted, but visitors can expect to pay several hundred dollars per person for a full-day trip. It is recommended to book well in advance, as popular dates can fill up quickly. Most charter companies are located near the cruise ship docks in downtown Ketchikan.

Known as the “Salmon Capital of the World”, Ketchikan offers world-class fishing for anglers of all ages and skill levels. Families can spend a delightful day catching salmon and halibut aboard the many charter boats available. Special kid-friendly excursions provide equipment and assistance for children to reel in their own thrilling catches.

Most charters also arrange cleaning and packing services so you can bring some tasty Alaskan seafood home. For multi-day fishing adventures in remote areas teeming with salmon, booking a fishing lodging package is also a great choice for families.

Crab Fishing

Name and Location: Crab fishing is another popular activity for visitors to Ketchikan, Alaska. Several charter companies offer crab fishing trips in the waters around the city, targeting species such as Dungeness crab and Alaskan king crab.

History and Significance: Crabbing has been an important part of the economy and culture of Southeast Alaska for generations. The waters around Ketchikan are home to several species of crab, which are prized for their sweet, succulent meat.

What to Expect: Visitors who book a crab fishing trip in Ketchikan can expect a half-day or full-day trip out on the water, with an experienced guide and all necessary gear provided. The trip may involve setting and pulling crab pots, as well as measuring and sorting the catch to ensure compliance with size and quantity limits. Many charter companies also offer cooking and dining services, so visitors can enjoy their fresh-caught crab on board or back on shore.

Visitor Information: Crab fishing trips in Ketchikan typically run from May to September, with peak season in July and August. Prices vary depending on the length of the trip and the charter company, but visitors can expect to pay several hundred dollars per person for a full-day trip. It is recommended to book in advance, as popular dates can fill up quickly. Most charter companies are located near the cruise ship docks in downtown Ketchikan. Visitors should be prepared for variable weather conditions and bring appropriate gear, such as warm layers and rain gear.

For some hands-on family fun, crab fishing excursions in Ketchikan provide hours of excitement the whole family will love. Expert guides assist you in lowering baited crab pots at various depths and locations optimized for a big haul.

Kids will have a blast pulling up pot after pot brimming with feisty Dungeness crabs clawing to escape. Once you’ve had your fill of fishing, the crew will then expertly cook up a crab feast right on the boat for you to enjoy with all the fixings. Expect plenty of great photo ops and cherished family memories.

Take a Marine Wildlife Tour

Name and Location: Taking a marine wildlife tour is a popular activity for visitors to Ketchikan, Alaska. Several tour companies offer boat trips to explore the rich marine ecosystem of the Inside Passage and the Tongass National Forest.

History and Significance: The waters around Ketchikan are home to a diverse array of marine life, including whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, and a variety of bird species. The area is also an important feeding ground for migrating humpback whales during the summer months.

What to Expect: Visitors who take a marine wildlife tour in Ketchikan can expect a half-day or full-day trip on a comfortable boat, with an experienced guide pointing out the various species of animals and providing information about their behavior and habitat. Depending on the time of year and the location, visitors may have the opportunity to see humpback whales, orcas, Dall’s porpoises, Steller sea lions, and a variety of seabirds such as puffins and bald eagles.

Visitor Information: Marine wildlife tours in Ketchikan typically run from May to September, with peak season in July and August. Prices vary depending on the length of the trip and the tour company, but visitors can expect to pay around $150-$200 per person for a half-day trip. It is recommended to book in advance, as popular dates can fill up quickly. Most tour companies depart from the harbors in downtown Ketchikan or from nearby lodges. Visitors should be prepared for variable weather conditions and bring appropriate gear, such as warm layers, rain gear, and camera equipment.

A boat tour along Ketchikan’s shorelines and into the rich marine ecosystem of Misty Fjords National Monument is one of the best ways for families to spot incredible wildlife. Expert naturalist guides will take you to whales’ favorite feeding grounds giving you the best chance to see orcas and humpback whales up close from special viewing decks.

Families may also glimpse playful sea lions, porpoises, sea otters and a kaleidoscope of seabirds. With onboard hydrophones, you can also listen live to the enchanting whale songs as you cruise through icy paradise.

Ride on an Authentic Sternwheeler

Name and Location: Riding on an authentic sternwheeler is a unique and memorable experience for visitors to Ketchikan, Alaska. The Ketchikan Sternwheeler Company offers cruises on the “Aleutian Ballad”, a historic sternwheeler that has been restored to its former glory.

History and Significance: Sternwheelers were once a common sight on the rivers and waterways of Alaska, serving as a vital mode of transportation for passengers and freight.

No family visit to Southeast Alaska is complete without a voyage on an authentic sternwheeler cruise ship. Families can relive Alaska’s Gold Rush era aboard lovingly restored vessels offering fun day tours along pristine coastlines near Ketchikan. With views from spacious decks and cosy lounges, families will pass forested islands teaming with eagles and marine wildlife en route to native fishing villages.

Historically dressed crew entertain passengers as they serve delicious meals, retelling tales of early pioneering days during Alaska’s industrial heyday when sternwheelers carried supplies between remote outposts. Expect majestic scenery and smiles to remember.

Conclusion


Overflowing with breathtaking natural beauty, rich native culture and heartwarming hospitality, Ketchikan provides families an incredible Alaskan adventure full of vivid memories. From up-close bear viewing and eagle sightings to fishing adventures and native park explorations, Ketchikan has no shortage of spectacular activities families will cherish.

As the Salmon Capitol, the seafood catches and feasts families can enjoy together also create fun stories to share for years to come. Any time of year presents unique opportunities in Ketchikan’s vibrant wilderness so start planning your family’s next special getaway in this Alaskan paradise.

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