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Sitka is a charming coastal town in Alaska that is filled with natural beauty and cultural significance. Visitors can explore the Sitka National Historical Park, which commemorates the Tlingit people who have inhabited the area for thousands of years. The park includes a totem pole trail, where visitors can see traditional Tlingit totem poles and learn about their significance. Additionally, visitors can enjoy fishing, kayaking, and hiking in the surrounding wilderness. Sitka also offers a variety of dining options, including fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients. 


Things to do in Sitka

Fortress of the Bear

Fortress of the Bear

Home » Destinations » USA » Alaska 20 Best Things to Do in Sitka, Alaska on a Cruise By: Sherry Laskin · Updated On: September 20, 2023 If you carefully choose your Alaska cruise to include Sitka and wonder what to do there, here are the 20 best things to do in one day in Sitka. This guide is especially helpful for first-time visitors. Sitka, Alaska is one of those special Alaska ports that doesn’t get as many cruise ships as say, Juneau or Ketchikan. That said, there are days now when there may be as many cruise passengers (or more!) than there are residents! Take it from someone who recently lived there. Sitka is small, really small, and you don’t need to purchase a shore excursion from your ship to see what’s there. You’ll find that there are plenty of excursions that you can arrange to do on your own. Even if you wait til the last minute, shore excursion operators are lined up at Centennial Hall, where the port-to-town bus ends. Or you can simply walk through Sitka using a map you’ll receive at the dock. Things to do in Sitka Alaska at the welcome center. Holland America Eurodam docked in Sitka Alaska. 20 Things to Do in Sitka, Alaska in One Day In This Post... 20 Things to Do in Sitka, Alaska in One Day A Little Sitka History Where Your Ship Docks in Sitka Best Things to Do in Sitka, Alaska What to Do in Downtown Sitka A Short Walk from Downtown Sitka Have a Drink with the Locals Where to Go Shopping in Sitka Where to Eat in Sitka The hardest decision to make when you only have a short time to spend, is to decide what to do with only one day in Sitka. Do you want an expensive shore excursion or a day on your own to wander this sleepy, artsy, fish-forward city loaded with history and nature? There are so many things to do in Sitka that you’ll probably want to return again as soon as possible. Did you watch the movie, “The Proposal”? Spoiler alert: The movie was almost entirely filmed in Massachusetts, not Sitka. Even the downtown scene wasn’t shot in Sitka. But there are clips here and there so watch the movie before and after your cruise. DON’T MISS: Sitka Cruise Port Guide: Getting Around Map A Little Sitka History Sitka has a 10,000 year-old history that began when Tlingit people settled in Southeast Alaska. Once the capital of Russian America in 1808, Sitka was the site of the Alaska Purchase on March 30, 1867. That’s when the United States bought Alaska from the Russians for $7.2 million. Located on the western side of Baranof Island, Sitka sits at open water on the Pacific Ocean. There’s a rich and diverse heritage that’s clear as soon as you disembark your cruise ship. Where Your Ship Docks in Sitka How to Get into Town Most likely your large ship will dock about 6 miles north from town at what the locals call the Old Sitka Dock. It was recently renamed Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal. There’s a complimentary shuttle bus that runs back and forth about every 10 minutes to the center of town. If your smaller ship tenders in Sitka Sound, it’s only a five-minute boat ride into town. It’s a great location. Main street that runs through downtown Sitka, Alaska Lincoln Street in downtown Sitka. It’s the main shopping area, too. It’s a small downtown, but not lacking in places to shop, eat, and see. You won’t find Sitka streets crammed with 12,000 cruise ship tourists and you won’t see those familiar Caribbean jewelry stores or over-crowded tourist bars. Instead, locally-owned shops line the main street. Look for beautiful Alaskan artwork and stop for a banana split at the old-fashioned Harry Race Pharmacy and Soda Shop. Bring home hand-made knitted woolen apparel or a box of artisan chocolates or sea salt. Not all Alaska Inside Passage cruises make a port call at Sitka. The location is somewhat outside of cruise ship traffic patterns. In 2018, fewer than 160 ships visited Sitka from mid-May to very early October. Most days there was only one ship in town. On days when there were two or three ships docked and anchored, they were smaller ships. In 2022, the town of less than 8,000 year-round residents expects close to 480,000 cruise ship passengers to arrive. Ready to hit the ground running? Best Things to Do in Sitka, Alaska 1. Fortress of the Bear What to do in Sitka is to visit Fortress of the Bear rescue center These two brown bears, Toby and Lucky (I think those are their names!) are siblings that were rescued when their mother died after ingesting plastic. It’s a scenic five-mile drive from downtown Sitka to this three-quarter-acre bear rescue center. Run by bear-loving volunteers, visitors get a view from above of the bears in a natural habitat. There are half-hour guided tours that offer insight into the history of the rescue center. The guide will point out and name each of the bears and their individual personalities. Before you leave, stop by the gift shop – proceeds go to the rescue center.

Baranof Castle Hill

Baranof Castle Hill

It was at the top of Castle Hill in 1867 that the transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States took place. Today, there is a wide, accessible walkway that leads to the top or take the more challenging stairway. The view from the top, especially at sunset, provides a beautiful overlook of Sitka Sound.

Sheldon Jackson Museum

Sheldon Jackson Museum

First established in 1887, this museum houses the collection of Rev. Dr. Sheldon Jackson, a 19th-century teacher and missionary who traveled all over Alaska. Located in an octagonal brick building, the Sheldon Jackson collection includes art and artifacts from Alaska's Native people, including Aleut, Alutiiq, Athabascan, Inupiat, Yup'ik, and Northwest Coast tribes.

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