Things to do in SITKA in 24 hours

For thousands of years the lands of the native Tlingit, for decades under Russian rule as a valuable fur-trading resource and port and then sold at 2 cents an acre to the United States in the 1860s, Sitka has a multi-faceted and fascinating heritage. Today all three of these aspects combine together to make it a highly colorful destination liberally littered about with diverse reminders of its history.

Sitka is not only home to a 19th century battle site which saw the defeat of the Tlingit people by the Russian military but its museums, heritage buildings and cultural centers display ancient artifacts, stage traditional dance performances and generally relate the town’s culturally interwoven story to its visitors. So plentiful are Sitka’s historical treasures it has no less than 24 entries on the National Register of Historic Places which include such gems as the exotic onion-domed Russian Orthodox cathedral and the totem pole trails of the stunning Sitka National Historical Park.

Besides the distinctive marks that natives, settlers, pioneers and colonists have left Sitka is also richly endowed with the naturally magnificent. Towering mountains and a volcano form a constant eastern backdrop, its western shores are lapped by the Pacific Ocean and the majestic Tongass rainforest is all around. Wildlife is also plentiful; whales and sea-lion inhabit the coastal waters, salmon leap in the streams during the summer months, bears lumber along the forest trails and eagles soar through the skies.

Charming Sitka – often touted as the most beautiful of the Southeast Alaska settlements – which is only accessible by sea or plane has a population of less than 9,000 but it is still the fourth largest in the state. Officially its area encompasses much of Baranof Island and several smaller islands (which actually make it the largest city in the US in square miles) although in total the area has only about 14 miles of actual road. However, to most people Sitka is the compact city which sits on Baranof Island’s west shore. Most of what there is so see is all within walking distance of each other which is good news for the visitor – most of its highlights can be experienced in some way in just one day.

A Morning in Sitka

Self-Guided Walking Tours

Taking a stroll around a town to get yourself an overview of a destination is always a good way to kick off any time there. Talking a stroll around a town which happens to showcase native Tlingit and Russian heritage at every turn, which can lay claim to more than 20 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places and is also as pretty as a picture makes that stroll almost essential. And this is exactly what charming Sitka offers. As if all of that isn’t enough the Visitor’s Center even has free maps which trace out suggested walking tour routes so all you have to do is pick one up and get exploring.

The downtown area of Sitka is compact which means several of the town’s highlights can be covered without exhausting your supplies of energy. All of the following can easily be covered but their order will depend on what route you decide to follow.

Totem Square

While most totem poles in Alaska are visited for their art, beauty and cultural value the one in Totem Square is rather more about controversy. The totem has been a constant in Sitka since the 1940s, created from a design by a Sitka Tlingit carver but actually made in Wrangell. This was to be the first of the controversies as locals were not happy to see their totem pole produced outside of Sitka. Secondly, the pole is topped by a figure representing Alexander Baranov – a Russian Alaskan governor during the late 1800s. However, despite original design plans showing otherwise, Baranov appears to be naked and many believe this was a deliberate ‘error’. Indeed this totem pole is not the only one in existence which falls within the category of ‘shame poles’ – those carved to scorn their subject.

Besides the controversial pole Totem Square is also home to an old Russian cannon and ancient anchors which are thought to come from early explorer ships.

Baranof Castle State Historic Site

Making your way to the top of this 60ft densely-planted rock outcrop via an interpretive panel-lined trail will give you a great view over the town and harbor. Despite this vantage point aspect it is actually the hill’s enormous historical significance which makes it such a visited spot.

This is where in 1867 Sitka officially became the property of the United States after the Russians had decided to sell their rights. It was also the site from which the first US flag was flown following Alaska’s official state status being granted in 1959.

Long before these events took place however the hill had a history. Its raised look-out aspect made it a prime site for defensive forts, first belonging to the Tlingit people and later, in the 1800s, for the Russians. The name Baranof Castle (although the site is more usually just called Castle Hill) refers to the last of the Russian forts on the site which was destroyed by fire in 1898.

The Sitka Pioneer Home

Once the site of a Russian military parade ground, this 1930s built structure is today a home for the elderly and incorporates a gift shop selling items made by the residents.

The Princess Maksoutoff Grave

With little more to mark it out as anything special besides a picket-fence surrounding it, this grave of the last Russian Governor’s wife can be found behind the Pioneer Home.

The Russian Block House

Close to the Pioneer Home, this odd little squat structure was originally a Russian guard tower whose purpose was to keep a watchful eye on Tlingit who had decided to return to the area in the first part of the 1800s following their defeat in battle 20 years earlier.

The structure you see today is actually a replica. The real block house would originally have been part of a greater enclosed fortress with further towers.

Building 29/206 Lincoln Street

Built in 1835, the rather un-inspiringly named Building 29 – sometimes referred to as the Tilson Building – is actually the only surviving commercial building which dates from Sitka’s Russian years.

St Michael’s Cathedral

Although the original 1848-built Russian Orthodox cathedral which stood on this site was entirely destroyed by fire in the 1960s, the one here today is an exact replica. Sitka arguably has no more iconic sight than that of this structure’s gold cross-topped onion dome and decorative bell tower which rise in two separate sections from the principal building.

When the cathedral was originally erected it was the first Russian Orthodox structure ever to be built in the New World. It was home to a collection of valuable religious icons, fittings and treasures dating from the 1600s many of which, miraculously salvaged from the fire, can still be seen inside today.

Sitka Lutheran Church

Just across the street from St Michael’s can be found the Sitka Lutheran Church. Although this building only dates from the 1960s, the site itself is historic. It was here in 1843 the first west coast North American Protestant church was built by Finns. Although the current church is the third to be built here, it still houses fittings and furnishings which belonged to the original church. The most noteworthy of these are the 1844 pipe organ and the pulpit.

St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church

Dating from 1899, this pretty wood and stone church with its small bell tower is still a place of worship today and is another of the city’s entries on the National Register of Historic Places.

Swan Lake

Although set a little to the north of all the other points of interest here, the picturesque Swan Lake is still within easy strolling distance. This man-made lake is another left-over from the years of Russian colonization.

Shopping On Route

If you would like to do a little shopping or are hunting for souvenirs or gifts your walking tour route around downtown will take you past a number of stores and galleries. Artist Cove Gallery – very close to the cathedral – is a treasure-trove of native and local hand-crafts and artworks while both Island Artists Gallery and Cabin Fever Gallery & Gifts in the same vicinity have a good array of Sitka-made gifts. Sitka Rose Gallery with its paintings, jewelry, native art and more is a little further along Lincoln Street with the majority of the pieces here created by Sitka locals.

Guided Walking Tours

With so much to see and all the free information and maps necessary at your fingertips to explore it all it is no surprise so many choose to devise their own walking tours. However, if you would prefer to put yourself in the hands of a local expert there are also options for guided walking tours around Sitka.

Morning Coffee Break in Sitka

Many Alaska communities, towns and cities have a wonderful feeling of isolation and indeed many of them – such as Sitka – can only be accessed by plane or boat which adds considerably to that aspect. However, such removal from a fast-paced and bustling daily routine doesn’t mean some of the finer things in life are not available and great coffee is one such thing.

Highliner Coffee Co.

One example of this in Sitka is the Highliner Coffee Co. whose principal business is supplying packaged gourmet hot-air roasts coffee sourced from mainly organic and Fair Trade practices to both locals and customers further afield. The same high-quality principles which are applied to their sales are also extended to the coffee served in their cafe. While you enjoy your top-notch coffee or choice of tea you can browse the 100-year-old fishing photos which cover the walls. For those looking for something to keep the hunger pangs at bay until lunch the cafe also has a selection of fresh-baked treats such as bagels, croissants, muffins, cookies and cakes.

Back Door Cafe

If you want to share your morning coffee break in the company of locals head to the Back Door Cafe which to many Sitka residents is nothing short of a second home. Part of the Sitka way of life for around 25 years, Back Door is connected to Old Harbor Books and offers a lovely eclectic space of bright colors, picture-covered walls and wooden floors. The emphasis here is on sharing a great cup of coffee in a social atmosphere so WiFi doesn’t exist although a wonderful array of fresh-baked goods does. The choice includes croissants, scones, muffins, cookies, cakes, and pies.

Sitka National Historical Park

This stunningly lovely rainforest park with its salmon stream, coastal scenery, towering trees and lush greenery would be worth visiting simply to experience the area’s exceptional beauty. However, Sitka National Historical Park – Alaska’s oldest national park – has some incredible extras and a highly significant historical aspect which make it an essential inclusion in any itinerary.

Once the location of a Tlingit fort, this area was to be the arena for a bloody battle between the native people and the Russians in 1802. It also happens to be home to a fantastic open-air collection of carved totem poles, both traditional and contemporary, which can be found as you wander the loveliness of the trails and clearings. As if all this wasn’t enough the park also gives visitors the opportunity of watching Tlingit artists at work, carving masks, totem poles and even canoes or demonstrating traditional basket-weaving methods.

Before you set off exploring all this park has to offer in the great Alaskan fresh air, call at the beautiful Visitor Center whose interior has been designed to resemble a traditional clan house complete with carved details. The center has a small but fascinating collection of Russian artifacts, old Tlingit art and craft items such as bentwood boxes and woven baskets and a few totem poles which are too delicate to be exposed to the Alaska elements. It also runs a short film on a loop which will give you a quick overview of the park’s history. If you’d like to see a totem pole in the making head to the arts program studio where you will find native carvers and artists at work and who are happy to answer any questions you might have.

Make sure to pick up a map of the park before heading out to hunt down the totem poles and battle site.

The Totem Poles

Besides the park’s breathtaking scenery its collection of 20 or so totem poles are its main jewel. Although there are several choices the main trail, should you decide to follow it in its entirety, weaves its way along the coast – sometimes directly on the shore – with mountain scenery as an almost constant backdrop to arrive at the battle site. Once you have explored this area you can then make your way back to the visitor center through the forest (incidentally part of the planet’s largest temperate rainforest) and along the magnificently clear India River which is full of salmon in summer and has a bridge viewing point. As you go you will be able to view the totem poles – some very obviously placed, others hidden away in small forest clearings; an element which gives something of a treasure-hunt aspect to the whole experience.

The oldest totems are at least 100 years old and have a remarkable story which involves long-distance travel and a collaboration between Haida and Tlingit villagers and Alaska’s first governor John Green Brady. In the early 1900s Brady traveled around several native communities in Southeast Alaska seeking totem donations to make up a collection intended to promote and showcase Alaska at the St. Louis Exposition of 1904. Although all previous attempts by individuals or collectors to procure totems had failed despite offers of large sums of money, Brady was successful. After having played their part in the huge fair, the totems came home to Alaska in 1906, having undergone a journey by sea and rail of thousands of miles. Today these very same totems grace the coastal forest of Sitka, many of them clearly showing their years and some having undergone various re-paintings and re-carvings.

Alongside the original totems can also be found some more modern inclusions which were raised with full ceremony such as the Bicentennial Pole from 1976 that tells the story of natives from the north-west coast. Along with abstracts and clan-specific symbolic eagles and ravens the pole also shows a carved non-native clutching his gun, papers and cross.

To mark the park’s 100th birthday, the Centennial Pole was raised in 2011 complete with carved symbols representing the intertwining of Native and Russian culture. Another – the k’alya’an 1999 pole – has symbols relating to the 1804 battle between the Tlingit people and the Russians.

Tlingit Fort and Battle Site

While the Alaska story of pioneers, explorers, Europeans and Americans arriving in the lands which had been inhabited for thousands of years by native peoples involves few aspects of out-and-out battle, the history of Sitka is a major exception. Sitka had long been the ancestral lands of the Tlingit people until the Russians arrived and the first major clash of 1802 saw the Russians removed and the Tlingit victorious. The Tlingit raised a fort to guard against any further attacks but when the Russians returned in 1804 with superior weaponry the outcome was reversed following a bloody battle which raged for six days. The Tlingit were not to return to this area to live for another 20 years.

Sitka National Historic Park was actually created to preserve the site of the battle which had played such a pivotal role in the evolution of Alaska. The totem pole trail was added in the early 1900s to add interest to the walk out to the historic battlefield.

The battle site today is simply a grassed section of land marked by a commemorative plaque and nothing whatsoever remains of the Tlingit fort of long ago. The site does however have a certain atmosphere to it and should this side of history be of particular interest you can sign up for a Battle Walk tour with a park ranger to learn more. Part of the artifact collection in the visitor center on site includes the war hammer of Katlian – the clan member who led the Tlingit during the battle.

The Russian Bishop’s House

Actually part of the park but located some distance from its other attractions, the Russian Bishop’s House is Sitka’s oldest Russian-era building which was erected in 1842 as a home for Bishop Innocent of the Orthodox Church. Around three-quarters of the building is original and the inside is fitted out as it would have been during the Russian colonial years with some antique furnishings. Exhibits on the lower floor include such things as otter skins and samovars while upstairs are the chapel and living quarters.

Ranger-Led Walks

While exploring the park on your own is both easy and free you can also opt to join one of the ranger-led walks with themes such as the battle story, flora and fauna and totem poles. This is a great choice for all those who would like to learn about the wildlife which calls the forest home or who want a more in-depth experience and to truly understand all the symbolism carved into the totem poles.

Check out the park’s website for a full schedule of guided walks and hikes which coincide with your visit. 

The Sheldon Jackson Museum

Located next to the Sitka National Historical Park, the impressive Sheldon Jackson Museum makes for a great park alternative if the weather is not so good. You may even want to mix and match a bit of each depending on how much time you spend exploring the totem poles and trails.

Housed within Alaska’s oldest concrete building which dates from the late 19th century and overall the state’s oldest museum, this incredible display of items relating to the entire native Alaska culture has been referred to as ‘the jewel in the crown of Alaska ethnographic collections’. In short that means no matter where else you head in the state you can expect nothing more comprehensive or impressive if native culture interests you. Major highlights include a skin kayak of the Aleut people and a Tlingit hand-carved canoe. Otherwise the collection has an array of masks, toys, fishing tools, hunting weaponry, carvings and much more.

Traditional Russian or Native Dance Performances

Just before you start turning your thoughts to lunch consider taking in one of the two options for traditional dance performances in town. Both are 30 minute long shows so will not take up much time but should you be lucky enough to coincide your visit with one of the scheduled displays they are not to be missed.

The New Archangel Dancers

Part of the performing arts scene in Sitka for almost half a century, the all-female New Archangel Dancers‘ mission has been to preserve and celebrate the Russian element of the town’s heritage through folk dance and song. Music comes in both the slow and upbeat category during which audience members are encouraged to raise the decibel level with hand-clapping while the authentic Russian-choreographed story-telling dances themselves range from the sweeping and graceful to the almost acrobatic.

Getting to see the exquisite handmade costumes which are changed after every dance is almost worth the performance price alone; head scarves and pinafores, floaty floral peasant skirts and the more somber plaids which hark from the Ukraine region are all part of the show.

Performances are staged regularly in the summer months at Smith Street’s Harrigan Centennial Hall with dates and times listed on their website. 

The Naa Kahidi Dancers

Another traditional dance performance of an entirely different kind can be found at the Tlingit Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi clan house on Katlian Street. Native artists perform the same dances and songs that their ancestors would have performed, passed down from generation to generation in an endless chain that has continued for thousands of years.

The performance is atmospheric and emotion-stirring, filled with the fragrant aromas of burning cedar floating through the room along with the beats of a box drum which together have the ability to transport you to a former age.

If you have any questions or would like some up-close photos it is possible to meet the performers after the show.

Summer performances are regularly staged some Fridays and every Wednesday and Thursday at 11.45 am which makes it a perfect pre-lunch inclusion. The website shows the full calendar of scheduled performances

Lunch in Sitka

After a morning of walking around both town and park you will no doubt be ready for a pause and a refueling. Sitka has a variety of lunch venue options ranging from those suitable for light bites and snacks to main plate feasts depending on how big your appetite is.

Baranof Fish Market

Officially renamed as the Baranof Fish Market after recent refurbishment (although still sometimes referred to as the Dock Shack), this wonderful lunch spot inside the Totem Square Hotel will see you placed for what many consider to be the best-food-with-a-view spot in Sitka. Pick a table on the beautiful open-air but covered waterside deck and find yourself with a front-seat harbor view full of bobbing boats and a scenic canvas in which the occasional curious sea lion might pop up his head on his way through. If you can tear your eyes away from the fantastic view long enough to look at the menu you will find it to be mostly seafood- and salmon-focused with a few other selections in the mix such as the smoked prime rib. 

Bayview Restaurant

For a pub atmosphere with a view and a midday crowd of locals on their lunch break head to the Bayview Restaurant which overlooks Crescent Bay. The postcard perfect view of moored boats with the mountains behind is part of the draw here. The other is the food which is a vast menu of hearty pub classics, local-catch seafood feasts, daily specials and more with a wide-selection of craft beers and an extensive wine list. 

An Afternoon in Sitka

Fantastic wilderness scenery, endless possibilities for exciting outdoor activities surrounded by that fantastic scenery and fascinating wildlife – these together make up a compelling reason to visit Alaska. Sitka has all of these in great quantities and no exploration of the town and its surrounds is complete without experiencing something of its natural splendor.

Sitka’s Wildlife

As encounters with Sitka’s flora and fauna feature highly on a high percentage of visitors’ must-do lists the town collectively offers a wealth of ways to get you amid this vast natural playground and up-close with the animals and birds which call it home in forms which range from guided hikes to float-plane tours.

With watercraft offered in every guise – tiny to spacious and rustic to luxurious – boat tours and cruises are especially popular and while some are simply scenic trips the vast majority of these two hours+ experiences feature some element of wildlife viewing. With chances of seeing otters, whales, eagles, bears, puffins, sea-lions and more some cruises will aim to take in as much as possible while others focus on just one animal species, most often with regard to whale watching. So plentiful are certain whale species at specific times of year – such as the migrating season for humpback whales – some companies actually guarantee sightings.

Many whale-watching experiences aim to educate as much as excite so you can expect to learn much about habitats, conservation and behavior on your trip of a lifetime from professionals as well as having the opportunity to hear whale song from underwater hydrophone systems.

Quite where you might head will depend on your choice but possibilities include the protected bird and wildlife sanctuary of St. Lazaria, a meander around Sitka Sound’s maze of islands or a journey out into the deeper waters of the Gulf of Alaska. Spectacular scenery tends to come as a standard inclusion on all boat trips with snow-dusted mountains, brooding volcanoes, thick forest and impressive caves all on the menu.

The Alaska Raptor Center and the Fortress of the Bear

If for whatever reason you are unable to get out on the water or are limited on time you can still get an Alaskan wildlife experience right in town or with a short taxi ride at either the Alaska Raptor Center or the Fortress of the Bear.

Alaska Raptor Center

The Alaska Raptor Center is a long-established pioneering set up with a mission to rescue injured birds of prey and other smaller species and ultimately rehabilitate them back into their natural habitat. While the center’s success stories are inspiring and heart-warming there are some birds which cannot be released back into the wild and these find a permanent home here to live out their days, well-fed and expertly cared for. During your visit you will meet these veterans as well as be able to explore the hospital and rehab sections to meet birds on the path to recovery while generally learning how this wonderful facility works. You can also stroll the many park-like trails to learn about forest plants and creatures. 

Fortress of the Bear

The Fortress of the Bear is located a five minute taxi ride from the center of town and while for some viewing animals in captivity can be a unfulfilling and even unpleasant experience things are a little different at this exceptional rescue center. Each of the orphaned Alaska brown bears homed within this ¾ acre facility which is designed to mimic the bears’ natural habitat would have died without the intervention of this not-for-profit organization.

An incredible experience for all-comers, the Fortress of the Bear will make you familiar with each bear’s touching story – such as Toby whose mother died after eating plastic – while also giving you the opportunity to watch what are very obviously happy bears at rest and play in the covered viewing areas. If the bears happen to be hungry during your visit you will get to witness them signing for food with a paws-together gesture while otherwise they are often found playing with balls and barrels in the ponds.

Outdoor Activities

Whether your idea of a great time is something which needs little or no energy expenditure, involves getting active or has you are in search of white-knuckle thrills the menu of possible outdoor activities in Sitka offers something for everyone.

If simply taking it easy amid stunning scenery is your aim consider renting a boat to explore calmer, sheltered waters all by yourself or taking a scenic flight. Those who feel the need to use up any excess energy can rent kayaks, canoes and bikes and set out to explore the waters and trails around town or further afield or join a fishing charter. Adrenalin junkies also have a few options such as off-road ATV tours which can be as extreme as you dare go or ocean rafting which will have you racing at speeds of up to 50mph along the coast.

Nature Walks

The wonderful wilderness around Sitka makes it a popular hiking destination and although hard core tramps are unlikely to be possible on a day’s visit there are some great options for shorter walks where you can experience for yourself something of the great outdoors and stunning natural surroundings. One such easily accessible nature walk is the 5.3 mile India River Trail which begins in the Sitka National Historical Park, weaves through 150 year old forest and ends at a 70ft waterfall. Keep your eyes peeled for birds, deer and other wildlife as you follow the crystal blue waters of the India River which are filled with salmon in the summer. Occasionally you will find the trees clear to give you some stunning mountain views.

Information on further trail options from easy strolls to challenging can be found on the Tongass National Forest website.

Pre-dinner Drinks and Dinner in Sitka

Located on the coast it will probably come as no surprise to learn that Sitka dining features a vast quantity of fresh-as-it-comes seafood options. That same coastal location also means you can enjoy both pre-dinner drinks and the main event itself with some great views. Otherwise the choices range from surroundings which offer everything from rustic to elegant and cuisine possibilities from casual fare to fine dining.

Pre-dinner drinks

Despite its small size there are several choices for those who want to relax with a cocktail before dinner in Sitka. If you’d like a view with your drink head to the Mean Queen which thanks to a location on the waterfront and a wealth of huge windows ensures the sea and mountain vistas are a constant

Another choice for the cocktail passionate is the Kadataan Lounge at the Sitka Hotel – part of the Westmark Hotel group. The cocktail menu here is extensive and the mixed results frequently described as both incredible and intricate. 

Pioneer Bar

If cocktails have less importance than a desire to experience something of the local color the Pioneer Bar – generally just referred to as the P bar by locals – should be on your list. Fancy this local institution most certainly isn’t but the crowd here is mostly made up of Sitka fishermen who are not interested in frills. The walls are covered in old photos of ships and boats, each one it would appear with a story attached which several P bar regulars are happy to relate to you over a drink. The other main feature of this pub is the huge bell which hangs over the bar. Feel free to ring it but know that doing so indicates the drinks are on you….for everyone currently in the bar. Despite this costly consequence the bell does get rung occasionally, usually by a fisherman who has had a highly successful day out on the water and wants to spread a little of his good fortune around.

Dinner

Like pretty much every other coastal Alaska destination the focus just about everywhere you eat in Sitka is on seafood of the freshest variety possible. This doesn’t mean there aren’t options for those who aren’t huge fans of fish but expect almost every menu you browse to have a recurring theme of halibut, crab, scallops, clams, shrimp and salmon – in other words anything which has been brought in with that day’s catch.

Ludvig’s Bistro

Dining venues range from the casual to elegant with such gems as Ludvig’s Bistro having a category all of their own. Regularly appearing at the top of lists which name Sitka’s best dining places, Ludvig’s is a delight before you even cross the threshold. A vision of bright colors with plants and flowers trailing down from the balcony, the interior is equally as charming. The Spanish/Italian-influenced dishes created here by the chef owner tend to get rave reviews. The principle focus is seafood but there are other options such as duck, lamb and steak for example with a good selection of wines and champagne.

Mean Queen 

If you have got comfortable with your pre-dinner drinks at the Mean Queen or the Sitka Hotel and feel like making life simple, both of these spots offer dining options. The Mean Queen is a pizza, salad and wings place while the Sitka Hotel offers seafood selections in either the casual dining of the lounge area or the more refined Raven Dining Room.

Channel Club

For those looking for something suitable for a romantic dinner date the steak and seafood house known as Channel Club offers an elegant water-view setting and an extensive wine menu. All of the dishes are created from locally-sourced ingredients with seafood and steak serving as the house specialties. This restaurant is located a little out of town but offers a pick-up/drop-off service to make getting there and back easy.

An Evening in Sitka

Sitka is a small and peaceful town. Life here, for the majority, is a simple one with pleasure and value found in the little things. Glitzy venues and flashing neon play no part in Sitka nightlife. Instead, evenings out are typically about choosing your favorite bar or lounge and settling down for a few hours with friends by your side and your chosen drink in hand.

By doing the same you will be experiencing for yourself a little of authentic small-town Alaska life. If you want to hear fishermen’s tales head to the Pioneer Bar with its antique photo-covered walls or head to the Mean Queen for your best chance of live music. The Bayview pub, Channel Club and Beak are further options for live music lovers with the latter hosting regular blues nights and open mic sessions. The town is not chock-full of scheduled events but it does have many keen and talented musicians which means it isn’t unusual to find a few folk gathered together somewhere for a jam session to entertain themselves. Your best bet is to wander until you hear the sounds of guitar, banjo, sax or singing drifting out into the streets from a bar or restaurant and then wander in to see what is going on.

During summer there are often one-off events on the town’s calendar which might be anything from a special cultural evening in the Sitka National Historical Park to an art exhibition or pop-up craft market. Keep your eyes peeled for flyers in shop windows too or check out the events calendar at

If you’re ready to experience the beauty of Sitka in person, contact one of our vacation planners today!

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