Fun Things to do in Ketchikan with Kids
Otherwise known as the Salmon Capital of the World, the small town of Ketchikan averages 150 inches of rain (or as they call it liquid sunshine) a year. Luckily for us, it was in the high 70s with plenty of sunshine when we docked there. We were only docked for a short while so we had to make the most of our time. It was surprising to find a family-friendly city and many things to do in Ketchikan with kids.
We were so happy it was sunny since we didn’t do a whole lot the last time we were here due to rain. We checked out their Liquid Sunshine gauge by the Visitor’s Center to see how much rain they had gotten so far.
We found a modular building which housed the Ketchikan Visitor’s Bureau and various tour operators when we got off our ship. We booked a tour when we got there which included Ketchikan highlights and Saxman Native Village. Their tour tickets were about 30% cheaper than what the ships were charging. They also didn’t charge us for our 4-year old as long as he didn’t occupy a seat. We boarded a bus with about 50 people at a designated time and the tour lasted about three hours.
Ketchikan City Tour
We had a wonderful driver/tour guide. He was born and raised in Ketchikan and was studying to be a totem pole carver. He took us to his favorite spot which was a waterfall on the side of the road and was simply beautiful. We spent some time here just admiring and relaxing.
We learned all about salmonberry and we even picked some off the bushes on the side of the road. We found them quite tasty actually though not as sweet as expected. There were varying colors in orange, pink and red and looked like smaller raspberries. We were told salmonberry, when made into jam, was supposed to be sweeter than strawberry. Unfortunately, we forgot to buy some when we got back into town.
Another tour highlight was a stop at Herring Cove with some scenic vistas. We saw plenty of salmon swimming in the clear water or jumping out of the water as we stood on both sides of the bridge. There were so many of them it seemed so unreal. They were so accessible it was so tempting to grab them right out of the water. Perhaps, this really was the world’s salmon capital. It was something we all won’t forget soon and reminded everytime we see salmon.
Since time was running out on our tour, we didn’t get to spend much time to explore this unique park. There was a Village Carving Center where we saw the native master craftsmen hard at work on creating new totem poles. There were open grassy fields surrounded by a large gathering of various totem poles.
There was also a native Clan House in the center of the park where native Alaskans used to live. The entrance was also flanked by totem poles with unique and interesting stories. This was a big hit with my kids as they ran from one totem pole to another oblivious to the story behind each one.
Ketchikan Creek Street
The tour ended on historic Creek Street in downtown Ketchikan which was a row of colorful buildings of art galleries and shops in stilts over the creek that once housed the town’s brothels. We got the kids past this area quickly before we had to explain red light districts and brothels and a prompting to visit Dolly’s house (the most famous madam of that time).
Ketchikan was definitely too short of a stop of only five hours in port. This is only a sample of the many things to do in Ketchikan and its surrounding area. We would definitely want to return but on a non-rainy day.
Other Ketchikan with Kids Shore Excursions:
- Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show – This was a popular family-friendly show that showcases the Alaskan lumberjacks’ skills from log rolling to climbing really tall logs. We passed by the theater where they held this and you could hear the laughter and joy from the audience.
- Totem Bight State Park – More totem poles and a clan house to visit
- Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center
- Misty Fjords National Monument – These tours were aboard boats and jet planes which make them pretty pricey.
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