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picturesque Sitka, Alaska

Top 6 Things To Do In Sitka

There are so many things to do in Sitka, AK. Find Holland America Line’s top 6 picks, including historical sites and Sitka fishing excursions.

Sitka, Alaska (Tlingit: Sheet’ká) is a small town nestled on Baranof Island in the shadow of Mount Edgecumbe, a dormant, snow-dipped volcano. As you familiarize yourself with the town, you will notice remnants of its past as the former Russian settlement of North America. Long before that, it was inhabited by Tlingit Alaska Natives. Sitka has an abundance of museums, attractions and cultural activities.

When it comes to things to do in Sitka, history is just the beginning. 

Sitka’s snow-capped peaks and emerald valleys will keep your camera clicking like E.W. Merrill, a famous photographer who lived in the area. If you love watching wildlife, Sitka is the place. There are two animal rehabilitation centers—one for bears and one for raptors. Sitka’s position on the water makes it ideal for fishing and kayaking.

Here is the best sightseeing on Alaska cruises to Sitka. 

1. Sitka National Historical Park

A visit to Sitka National Historical Park tops the list of things to do. Alaska’s oldest federal park, it commemorates Sitka’s cultural history, preserving the site of a brutal battle between Russia and the Tlingit Alaska Natives. 

Take the Totem Trail that wends along the coast past 18 Haida and Tlingit totem poles to a former Tlingit fort. Near the park, visit the Sheldon Jackson Museum for insight into culture and craftmanship. Plan to spend a few hours here.

2. Other Historic Landmarks In Sitka, Alaska

Sitka has a whopping 24 attractions on the National Register of Historic Places and seven of those are National Historic Landmarks. Take in the history on a stroll through town. The Russian Bishop’s House was built in 1842. As the name suggests, it was a residence for the Bishop of the Orthodox Church. St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral is known for its onion-dome and ostentatious inside. The Russian history doesn’t end there.

Go behind the Pioneer Home to see the grave of Princess Maksoutoff. She was the first wife of Alaska’s last Russian Governor, Dimitrii Maksoutoff. Complete your tour at Castle Hill, the site where Russian Alaska was handed over to the United States and the 49-star flag was flown over the city. Neat.

3. Alaska Raptor Center

Get up close to owls, eagles, and other feathered friends. This bird treatment center sprawls over 17 acres and specializes in rehabilitation and education. The Alaska Raptor Center gives medical treatment to hundreds of birds each year with the aim to release them back into the Alaska wilderness. 

4. Fortress Of The Bear

Bears are an important part of Alaska. Fortress of the Bear is a bear rescue center that opened in 2007 to rescue bear cubs, bringing them back to health and working with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game to release the rehabbed ones. Fortress of the Bear allows viewers to watch bears do what they do in a naturalized setting, located about 5 miles from the Sitka town center. 

5. Alaska Sea Kayaking

Sitka is situated on Alaska’s scenic coastline and one of the best destinations to get out on the water. On this Alaska shore excursion, you can take a boat to a remote kayak boat camp. Tranquil waters, kelp forests and the occasional whale or sealion sighting makes the workout worth it. Keep an eye out, you might see a bear or black-tail deer roaming the coast.

6. Sitka Fishing

Sitka is a prime fishing spot. An Alaska fishing trip in Sitka will take you to a gushing river to fly fish. Wade in, the water is as fine as it gets. Catch steelhead, trout and char, sometimes even Dolly Varden trout. 

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