Maps and information are available inside the entrance of Harrigan Centennial Hall. Volunteers manning the information booth are helpful, pleasant and will also sell you tickets to the New Archangel Dancers' performance right there in Centennial Hall.
Be sure to pick up a copy of "All About Sitka" which includes facts about Sitka, a calendar of events, guides to attractions in Sitka, information on shopping and restaurants and a very good map of the city. Interesting historical information about Sitka's landmarks is also a fantastic addition to this comprehensive little newspaper guide. Almost all attractions can be easily seen on a self-guided walking tour, but for those unable or unwilling to do this, contact: www.sitkatribe.org/ttours/ for private tours & pricing information.
Harrigan Centennial Hall is located right on Harbor Drive and the Crescent Harbor waterfront, near the marina and tender arrival/launch area called the Crescent Harbor Lightering Dock.
Harrigan Centennial Hall, 330 Harbor Drive, Sitka
Fondest memory: I will always remember the friendliness of the people in Sitka, but even more than that I will remember the outward expressions of sincere patriotism in Sitka. Parades, flags, songs, clothing all gave me the unmistakable impression that these people were glad to be Americans and not afraid to show it!
I was probably in Sitka for a few months before someone pointed out "Cross Mountain" to me. Maybe it's because I can never tell what things are supposed to look like on mountains--like when someone says "do you see how that mountain looks like a soaring hawk?" Never. I never see these things. It looks like a mountain. But this is obvious and for that, I love this mountain. PLUS, it has a story.
It's called "Cross mountain" because on top of it is a glacier in the shape of a perfect cross. Apparently, when Sitka was occupied by the Russians, they had said something to the effect that if it ever melts, that would be the end. Just the end--the end of the world, the end of existance, the end of it all. Not quite sure if it went that far, but it was thought to be bad if it the cross disappears.
Fondest memory: It's pretty cool to see:) And regardless of what you believe, it is a relief it's still there in all of it's glacial glory:)
If you arrive in Sitka off a cruise ship, the town is gonna be crowded. If you want to take a short walk to get to a more peaceful and scenic place, go to Swan Lake. It's about a 5 minute walk from the docks, right out of downtown. There's nothing to do there, really other than sit down and relax, maybe drink some coffee and take in the scenery. Oh, and watch the one lone swan:) (I'm told there is a pair of swans here, but I've only ever seen the one)
If you are on Lincoln St., take a right at the Shee Atika...keep walking out of town, you'll see Swan Lake on the right.
This large frame house was constructed as a Russian residence about 1835. Although there has been some modification the building is thought to be the finest remaining example of Russian secular architecture in Alaska.
Fondest memory: My great, great grandfather moved to Alaska from Russia in the 1850's... I find this history fascinating. That is one of the neat things about Sitka, you get to walk around and see history. Much of the rest of Alaska is "new".
Favorite thing: Sitka comes from the word "Shee Atika" the name of Baranof Island given by the tribe of Tlingit Indians who settled the area prior to white contact. Later Russians called the area New Archangel, and Sitka was the first capital in Alaska. In 1799, a Russian fort was built in Sitka by Aleksandr Baranov. This was one of the more stressful times in Alaskan history, and there was a battle in Sitka between the Russians and Tlingets in 1804.
St. Michael's Cathedral is evidence of the Russian influence in the town of Sitka - the first capital when Alaska was still owned by Russia. The original church was built in 1848, however that building burned in 1966. Some of the original religious artifacts and icons were saved from the fire.
Fondest memory: St. Michael's wasn't open for tourists when I traveled through Sitka and had enough time for a quick lunch and walk around in the rain. Seeing as how I'm fond of rain, I enjoyed my stay!
Whale Park isn't too close to the town, so people on the cruise ships don't get out there too often unless one of the tour buses happens to go that way (i'm not sure that any do).
I don't know why this is supposed to be the premier sighting place of whales in Sitka--my only guess would be because there is a clearing and you have a good view of the water from there. Whether you see whales or not, it's very pretty on a sunny day. There are little pipes that go down into the water where whale calls are monitored, there are observation decks, a little walkway and a gazebo. I do know that the whales like to get into the sound because it's more calm than the open water, so perhaps you'll get lucky:)
Fondest memory: To get here, take Sawmill Creek Road past the Raptor Center a couple miles, you'll see it on the right.
Sitka is surrounded by water, so it seems natural to see if from the water. Or it does to me, anyway. The times I was on a boat are probably the some of the most peaceful times I had in Sitka. We saw whales, sea otters, sea lions, jumping salmon, the herring spawn...really, it's amazing. There are many surrounding islands where you can camp or dock your boat, if you have access to a private one. If you don't, you can take a wildlife or ocean life cruise. There are many available, but probably the biggest one is Allen Marine. (A little sidenote: Allen Marine has made the a lot of the ferries for NYC)
They offer cruises, excursions, tours, etc, etc...and they aren't too too terribly expensive.
Go to www.allenmarinetours.com to see what's available or call 888.747.8101
Fondest memory: I miss the beautiful days. The rain didn't bother me so much, but the sunny days are incredible!
Why does this have to be my favorite thing? It's just a general tip? Anyway, this probably is one of my favorites:)
The bald eagles in Sitka area everywhere! I couldn't believe it--20 or more on a tree sometimes. And they hang out at McDonalds with the ravens competing for french fries (no wonder that's our nations bird!)
BUT, they become less frequent as the summer goes on. So, if you want to see the eagles, come in May or June...you won't be disappointed.
Fondest memory: I remember being on the phone to my family in PA and having to talk loudly because the eagles were screaming:) My brother was like "What's that" and I told him it was the eagles and he couldn't believe it...they have a certain defensive call that goes right through you.
Castle Hill, probably the best views of Sitka and the mountains that surround us, atleast with out climbing anything but stairs it is also the location that Alaska was sold to America by the Russians. Several plaques line the stone walls and cannons are displayed around the yard.
Fondest memory: The friendlyness of the people hear.
-Visit the Sheldon Jackson Museum!
-Make a walk in The National historical Park where all the totem pooles stand.
I have seen there 2 seaotters. Maybe they are not there anymore ;-) but it was very nice.
-There is a eagle sanctuary or hospital in Sitka that people can visit. Ask a local for how to get there and where it is.
Have a look in the harbour and smell the dead salmon during this time of the year. Very different for a tourist from Germany ;-)
The picture shows the harbour of Sitka
Fondest memory: It's incredibly beautiful. We're on the Gulf of Alaska surrounded by little islands with a Fuji-esque volcano (Mt. Edgecumbe) across the way. I don't know if the most amazing thing here is the occasional round of northern lights or the spring herring spawn bringing every predator in the eastern GOA, whales, eagles, herons, sea lions, and herring seiners, or just leave it at the continuous beauty. No need for me to post more pictures - go to http://www.ptialaska.net/~timlance/photos.htm for a collection.
Fondest memory: Russian history is old in this part of Southeast Alaska. This would have to be one of the oldest buildings in Alaska then, yet it isn’t really that old.