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Ketchikan

Close to Alaska’s southern tip, where the Panhandle plunges deep into British Columbia, lies rainy Ketchikan, the state’s fourth-largest city, squeezed onto a narrow strip of coast on Revillagigedo Island abutting the Tongass Narrows. Ketchikan is known for its commercial salmon fishing and indigenous Haida and Tlingit heritage – there is no better place in the US to see totem poles in all their craning, colorful glory. Every year between May and September, Ketchikan kowtows to around one million cruise-ship passengers, a deluge that turns the town into something of a tourist circus. Some cruisers stay in town, ferrying between souvenir shops and Ketchikan’s emblematic totems. Others jump on boats or seaplanes bound for the Gothic majesty of Misty Fiords National Monument, a nearby wilderness area.

Despite the seasonal frenzy, Ketchikan retains a notable heritage exemplified by the jumbled clapboard facades of Creek Street, perched on stilts above a river.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Ketchikan.