20 Best Things to Do in Sitka, Alaska
Often a popular stop with many Alaskan cruises, the city of Sitka has such a rich culture and history which visitors from all over the world will enjoy. You can spend an endless amount of time exploring all there is to see and do. Visitors looking for a more adventurous, outdoorsy experience will love hiking the area’s trails which are thriving with interesting flora and fauna. If you want to meet the wilder residents of Sitka, head to the Alaska Raptor Center, Fortress of the Bear, or Sitka Sound Science Center to get up close and personal with eagles, bears, and salmon. Don’t forget to indulge in their local cuisine, which focuses on fresh seafood often caught just hours before it’s served to you. From museums and national parks to art galleries and craft breweries, the time you spend in Sitka is sure to be a memorable one. Photo: Kenneth Sprague/Fotolia
»Sheldon Jackson Museum
The Sheldon Jackson Museum is the brainchild of Reverend Doctor Sheldon Jackson, who established hundreds of missions and churches across the United States in the late 1800s. His extensive travels allowed him to collect artifacts from all over, many of which are presently on display at the museum. The museum is the oldest in Alaska and the building the museum is housed in is the first concrete building in the state. Some of the artifacts and exhibits you’ll come across include jewelry, traditional toys, clothing, and several totem poles. One of the collection’s highlights is the Baidarka, which is a traditional skin-covered watercraft that was used by the Alutiiq and Aleut people.
Contact: 104 College Dr, Sitka, AK 99835
Photo: Sheldon Jackson Museum
»Sitka National Historical Park/ Totem Park
Sitka National Historical Park, also known as Totem Park, is full of so much history, culture, and beauty. The park preserves the site of a battle between the indigenous Tlingit people and Russian traders who tried to invade the land. You’ll be able to see the Russian Bishop’s House, learn about their little known colonial legacy in North America, and see the gorgeous Haida and Tlingit totem poles which stand along the park’s coastal trail. There are daily tours which are guided by knowledgeable rangers who will give you a more in-depth perspective of the land. Other aspects include a visit to the park museum which houses over a thousand glass plate negatives by photographer E. W. Merrill.
Contact: 103 Monastery St, Sitka, AK 99835
»Alaska Raptor Center
The Alaska Raptor Center was established in 1980 in an effort to provide medical treatment to bald eagles and other birds while teaching people about environmental conservation and Alaska’s varied bird species. The center has grown rapidly over the years and now treats around 200 injured birds every year. Every once in a while, a bird is injured so severely that it can’t make it in the wild even after rehabilitation; in these cases, the birds are added to the center’s Raptors-in-Residence program. You’ll be able to see the many birds, learn about their mannerisms and the medical relief provided by the center, as well as learn about the Alaska Raptor Center’s bald eagle research.
Contact: 1000 Raptor Way, Sitka, AK 99835
»Fortress of the Bear
Fortress of the Bear is a three-quarter acre habitat that is set against the Tongass National Forest. Visitors come from far and wide to see the amazing bears that live in the naturalized setting. The fortress is home to three populations of bears, which you will be able to observe from a large covered viewing platform less than twenty-five feet away. Being in such close proximity to the them will let you get to know their unique personalities and better understand the many aspects of the fortress. Tours are held throughout the day and last about half an hour each before ending with a visit to the gift shop, so you can purchase souvenirs to take back with you.
Contact: 4639 Sawmill Creek Rd, Sitka, AK 99835, Phone: 907-747-3032
»Russian Bishop's House
The Russian Bishop’s House, which can be found within Sitka National Historical Park, is one of the nation’s few surviving examples of Russia’s brief colonization of the United States. It was completed in 1842 and was originally a part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Today, visitors can step back in time and better understand what it was like to live in Sitka during the Russian-American period. The log-structure building you see today has been restored and renovated over the years, though it looks very much like it originally did in 1853. There are a few other buildings from that era surrounding the Bishop’s House, one of which is the wood frame structure built in 1897 as the Old School.
Contact: 501 Lincoln St, Sitka, AK 99835
Photo: Russian Bishop's House
»St. Michael's Cathedral
Identified as a U.S. National Historic Landmark, while also being listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, St. Michael’s Cathedral has a long and rich history. It was the first Orthodox cathedral to be established in North America and opened its doors to Russian explorers, hunters, and missionaries in 1848. The cathedral was built during the short amount of time when Alaska was controlled by Russia and is recognized for bringing the Orthodox faith to its people. What you see today is not the original structure, as that was destroyed in a fire in 1966, but is a newly designed landmark that has become prominent in Sitka over the years.
Contact: 240 Lincoln St, Sitka, AK 99835
Photo: Betty Sederquist/Fotolia
»Sitka Sound Science Center
The Sitka Sound Science Center is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to sharing the wonders and mysteries of Alaska’s terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems with its visitors. There are many aspects of the science center that will interest you, whether it be the hatchery, aquarium, or field station. You can tour the operational hatchery, which produces over 250,000 Coho salmon, three million pink salmon, and twelve million chum salmon annually. Younger visitors love the aquarium, especially its touch tanks which let you feel a pointy urchin, anemone, or starfish. Once it’s all said and done be sure to stop by the gift shop to get some great souvenirs to take back with you.
Contact: 834 Lincoln St, Sitka, AK 99835, Phone: 907-747-8878
Photo: Sitka Sound Science Center
»Baranof Island Brewing Company
The Baranof Island Brewing Company is the brainchild of owners and operators, Rick and Suzan. They opened the brewery in 2010 and soon expanded their operations once their patrons showed an enthusiastic response to it. You can visit their brewery or try their beers on tap at various restaurants throughout Sitka. The hand-crafted beer is refreshing and combines gourmet malts and hops with glacier-fed Alaskan water. After a long day of exploring and adventuring in Sitka, there no better place to enjoy a nice, cold pint than at the Baranof Island Brewing Company’s tasting room. Some of the popular brews on tap include the Halibut Point Hefeweizen and the Silver Bay IPA.
Contact: 1209 Sawmill Creek Rd, Sitka, AK 99835, Phone: 907-747-2739
Photo: Baranof Island Brewing Company
»Baranof Castle State Historical Site
The Baranof Castle State Historical Site, also popularly known as Castle Hill, is one of the most substantial historical sites in the entire state. The area was originally inhabited by Tlingit natives, who built a strategic fortification against those attempting to occupy their land. It was here that Alaska was officially transferred from Russia to the United States in 1867. Visitors will be able to explore the recognized National Historic Landmark via the many accessible walkways that lead them to the top of the hill. At the very top you’ll be able to see gorgeous views of the waterfront and downtown Sitka.
»Harbor Mountain Trail
For a slightly more difficult hiking experience, head to Harbor Mountain Trail out of the many choices available in Sitka. The hiking path is mostly difficult during hazardous weather conditions, and there are some areas where footing may prove to be a bit more difficult due to being wet or icy. That being said, the experience of hiking Harbor Mountain Trail is completely worth it as you come across excellent views of Baranof Island, Sitka Sound, Kruzof Island, and Mount Edgecumbe. You’ll also see a variety of flora and fauna along the way including deer and eagles.
Photo: Joshua Resnick/Fotolia
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»Herring Cove Trail
The Herring Cove Trail is a popular walking and hiking trail that local and visiting families flock to for a day in Sitka’s stunning outdoors. There are multiple trail distances depending on which route you take and how far you want to go, but the entire length of the trail is suitable for moderate hikers and those with younger visitors. During your excursion you’ll be able to take in so much of Sitka’s natural beauty, from wildlife and muskeg to expansive vistas of the rugged mountains nearby. There are many features you’ll come across while on the trail including several picnic pads, a lake fitted with aluminum rowboat for public use, and a series of streams and waterfalls.
Photo: Kenneth Sprague/Fotolia
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»Starrigavan Recreation Area
The Starrigavan Recreation Area comprises several picnic sites, camping sites, a lovely estuary, and a host of other recreation facilities for you to enjoy during your visit there. The recreational area overlooks the Tongass National Forest and gives you access to many walking and hiking trails such as Mosquito Cove Trail, Estuary Life Trail, and the Forest and Muskeg Trail. Their estuary bird viewing shelter is beautifully constructed with timber from locally grown trees and is nestled at the edge of the forest, giving you a panoramic view of the entire estuary. While there you’ll see many species of birds as well as other flora and fauna, so be sure to take your camera along.
Contact: Sitka, AK 99835, Phone: 907-747-6671
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»Sitka Historical Museum
The Sitka Historical Museum is a lovely place to spend the day learning about the area’s history and people through a large and diverse collection of artifacts. The museum is operated by the Sitka Historical Society, which is an organization that has been around for over sixty years. While there, you’ll be able to see several hundred pieces of fine art, paintings, and prints, as well as over 8,000 artifacts which date back centuries. You’ll get a wonderful visual understanding of what Sitka was like years ago through the 25,000+ historic photographs which are on display there, as well as with the details entailed in over 100,000 archival documents. Some pieces on display that shouldn’t be missed include their many bear tooth necklaces, Russian trade beads, and archaeological fragments from Vitus Bering’s ship, Saint Peter.
Contact: Sitka, AK 99835, Phone: 907-747-6455
Photo: Sitka Historical Museum
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»Island Artists Gallery
Go and explore Sitka’s premier art gallery and gift store at the Island Artists Gallery. The gallery, which is owned and operated by a cooperative of 25 local artists, has an extensive range of local fine arts and crafts for you to peruse and enjoy. You’ll come across watercolors, paintings, drawings, and jewelry, as well as hand-built clay pots, hand-turned wooden bowls, handcrafted baskets, and large clay sculptures all created by artists in and around Sitka. You’ll be able to purchase gifts and souvenirs that are unique to the area; friends and family back home would fall in love with works such as beaded necklaces, custom-made light catchers, hand-turned pens, moccasins and many more items which display the area’s vast creativity and culture.
Contact: 205 Lincoln St, Sitka, AK 99835, Phone: 907-747-6536
Photo: Island Artists Gallery
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»Harrigan Centennial Hall
Located in downtown Sitka, Harrigan Centennial Hall is a 18,000 square foot civic, convention, and visitor center. It’s extremely popular and is used for the city’s conventions, conferences, symposiums, seminars, exhibits, trade shows, and meetings. There’s tons of events held at the facility throughout the years for locals and visitors to enjoy, including the popular New Archangel Dancers and the Sitka Summer Music Festival. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in a multicultural experience with events and shows that feature American, Russian, and Tlingit Indian cultures. If you’re there shopping or dining in the entertaining downtown area, be sure to stop by Harrigan Centennial Hall.
Contact: 330 Harbor Dr, Sitka, AK 99835, Phone: 907-747-4090
Photo: Harrigan Centennial Hall
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»Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall
The Alaska Native Brotherhood was founded in 1912 to represent the interests of Alaska natives while fighting against discrimination and other acts of racial segregation. The hall that stands today was the headquarters building which served the original chapter of the Brotherhood. The craftsman-style wood structure still stands today and serves as headquarters to the now Alaska Native Brotherhood & Sisterhood which stays active in preserving their native heritage. The building, which was identified as a National Historic Landmark in 1978, is also open to the public for community activities and social events. It’s a great site to visit for history lovers, architecture aficionados, and those who want to learn more about the area’s people and their past.
Contact: Katlian Street, Sitka, Alaska 99835, Phone: 907-747-4562
Photo: Betty Sederquist/Fotolia
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»Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures
If you’re looking for fun and memorable guided tours and expeditions to navigate through the pristine Alaska waters, then look no further than Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures. The company has a range of tours to choose from, with popular options being guided two-hour kayaking tours of Sitka’s countless islands and full day tours through Alaska’s rugged outer coast beside the volcanoes. No matter if you’re an expert on the kayak or whether you’re lacking when it comes to water activities, Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures can help you have one of the best times during your stay there. The company also provides water taxis for ease when traveling around Sitka.
Contact: 112 Toivo Circle, Sitka, AK 99835, Phone: 907-752-0660
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Ludvig’s Bistro is a seafood restaurant that offers rustic Mediterranean cuisine in Sitka, Alaska. It is owned and operated by chef and proprietor, Colette Nelson, who spent a lot of her life creating delicious foods which have been recognized by the Miami Herald, Fodor’s, the UK Guardian, and the New York Times. With a curiosity to know where her food came from, and a lot for the grandeur of Alaska, she opened her restaurant to share her passion with locals and visitors in the area. The varied menu has everything from mushroom or black cod tapas to wild Alaskan paella, tender grilled duck breast, and their famed shellfish pesto gnocchi.
Contact: 256 Katlian St, Sitka, AK 99835, Phone: 907-966-3663
Photo: Ludvig's Bistro
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The Highline Coffee Company, based in Sitka, is committed to providing one of the best coffee experiences you’ll have in Alaska. They have a 100% guarantee on all of their products because they are so sure that they are providing amazing products. They have dark roasts, decaffeinated coffees, traditional blends, and varietal coffees in their products range. You can head to the family owned and operated business in the stunning coastal community to try out their brews. Having started with a small roadside cart, visitors are now invited to relax and drink delicious coffee at Highliner’s drive thru or cyber cafe.
Contact: 327 Seward St, Sitka, AK 99835, Phone: 907-747-4924
Photo: Highliner Coffee
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With a full bar, the largest selection of beer in town, high quality food, ten televisions which cover a variety of sport programming, and entertaining events throughout the year, the Bayview Pub is one of the best places to relax and throw back a few when in Sitka. The bar was originally founded by the three Jenks brothers in 2011, but was taken over by husband and wife team, Tony and Patricia, in 2015. The couple and their employees strive to create a relaxed experience for their patrons, complete with refreshing brews and mouthwatering food. Their drink menu has a lot of local craft favorites on tap that you should try, and their dining menu has everything from pub wings to rack of lamb.
Contact: 407 Lincoln St, Sitka, AK 99835, Phone: 907-747-5300
Photo: Bayview Pub
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20 Best Things to Do in Sitka, Alaska
- Sheldon Jackson Museum, Photo: Sheldon Jackson Museum
- Sitka National Historical Park/ Totem Park, Photo: Courtesy of michael - Fotolia.com
- Alaska Raptor Center, Photo: Courtesy of gavin - Fotolia.com
- Fortress of the Bear, Photo: Courtesy of Acker - Fotolia.com
- Russian Bishop's House, Photo: Russian Bishop's House
- St. Michael's Cathedral, Photo: Courtesy of Betty Sederquist - Fotolia.com
- Sitka Sound Science Center, Photo: Sitka Sound Science Center
- Baranof Island Brewing Company, Photo: Baranof Island Brewing Company
- Baranof Castle State Historical Site, Photo: Courtesy of eqroy - Fotolia.com
- Harbor Mountain Trail, Photo: Courtesy of Joshua Resnick - Fotolia.com
- Herring Cove Trail, Photo: Courtesy of Kenneth Sprague - Fotolia.com
- Starrigavan Recreation Area, Photo: Courtesy of igzotic - Fotolia.com
- Sitka Historical Museum, Photo: Sitka Historical Museum
- Island Artists Gallery, Photo: Island Artists Gallery
- Harrigan Centennial Hall, Photo: Harrigan Centennial Hall
- Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, Photo: Courtesy of Betty Sederquist - Fotolia.com
- Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures, Photo: Courtesy of LoweStock - Fotolia.com
- Ludvig's Bistro, Photo: Ludvig's Bistro
- Highliner Coffee, Photo: Highliner Coffee
- Bayview Pub, Photo: Bayview Pub
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Kenneth Sprague - Fotolia.com
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