This isn't really a thing to do, but rather a way to introduce this landmark to you, as it dominates the water front and is a good landmark to navigate by. When you get directions from a local in Sitka, chance are they will be in relation to the Pioneer Home. Although I'm sure there are some elderly residents that would love a visitor.
Close to the water (and the Pioneer Bar), it is large and has it's own block. Home to many of Alaska's Pioneers and recently opened up to military veterans. A very classy building -on the outside anyway.
This museum is a must see. The core of their display is the collection of Dr. Sheldon Jackson, pioneering missionary that went all over the state in the late 1800's. It is a small hexagon shaped building, built in 1895 of concrete. That makes it the oldest concrete building in Alaska. It is the only small town museum in Alaska that has artifacts from every regions of Alaska.
The museum is located at the entrance to Sheldon Jackson College which is now closed. My friend Scott McAdams (ran for Senate in 2010) used to run the place.
Be sure to open all the drawers below the main displays - they are chock full off neat stuff.
Summer hours are 9AM to 5PM 7 days a week and $4 admission.
Winter hours are 10A to 4PM Tues-Sat and $3 admission.
Kids 18 and under are free.
The old US Post Office and Courthouse, now the Sitka Municipal building, is an attractive art moderne building constructed in 1938. A registered historic place, it is on Lincoln St on the western edge of downtown near the marina and bridge, at the base of Castle Hill.
This is one of the largest buildings in Sitka. An attractive place, it is on Lincoln Street at the western edge of downtown. It is very prominent and easy to see. One can visit it and they sell handmade knick-knacks made by the residents.
This is the house of the Russian bishop, who also fulfilled important administrative roles during the Russian colonial era. The house was built in 1842 and is very interesting. It is one of the premier places to visit in Sitka, at least for architectural and historical/cultural reasons. It remained in use by the Orthodox church until 1969.
Downtown on Lincoln St is a building identified as the Log Cache. It is of interest because it is a surviving old Russian log building constructed around 1835. Aside from the likes of the Bishop's house, it is possibly the only surviving intact Russian building of this type in Sitka. It was at some point covered up but part of the log wall remains exposed and visible form the street, under glass.
Sitka's downtown is fairly sizable with some attractive buildings, some places to eat, shop, etc. It has some touristy-oriented businesses but Sitka seems to be less touristy than places like Ketchikan, quieter, and more of a pleasant everyday town. It is thus not filled with the throngs of tourists Ketchikan or other places get and has much less of the "cheesy" touristy feel or shops those other places have. Smaller and further out to the ocean on the outer side of Baranoff Island, it may simply be a little off the core of the tourist-cruise ship path, although cruise ships definitely come here.
Just on the northern edge of downtown Sitka, just inland form the harbour, is the forested old Russian Cemetery. It is a short waterfront from the waterfront and is a beautiful, picturesque old cemetery, with graves old and new, many overgrown in the thick vegetation, some dilapidated. They are set in what is otherwise untouched, thick rainforest, quiet and with the sounds of birds in the trees. This is one of my favourite cemeteries, along with the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery in my hometown of Santa Rosa, largely for the same reasons - old, overgrown and forested.
In the centre of downtown, and quite noticeable from all directions, is the old Russian cathedral of St. Michael's. Built under the Russians, it burnt in 1966 but was rebuilt in the identical style. Staying true to the original structure included everything right down to the canvas ceiling interior. In addition, much of its artifacts, art, and other treasures, were saved during the fire and are back in the cathedral.
This place seems a little out of place in Sitka because it seems a little more modern than the majority of the places you can choose from. So, basically, its not a very good representation of Sitka, but if you are looking for more of a modern wine bar (they also have a lot of the 'Alaskan' beers) this is a good place to stop while you're exploring.
We went out with Paul Davis and Gallant Adventures while in Sitka. It was a 2hr boat tour and we were so happy to have seen whales, sea otters and puffins. And to think, we almost just walked town and saw the same ole thing amungst the thousands of people on our ship. Highly recommend
We had the great pleasure of taking an Alaskan cruise recently. How Beautiful! My favorite port of call was Sitka. While there we took a whale watching boat trip with Paul Davis of Gallant Adventures. He is a licensed boat captain and geologist. It was a GREAT trip! Such a nice guy, knowledgeable and passionate about his work. I highly recommend it, if you ever are lucky enough to get in that area, please take a trip with him. He does, mountaineering, whale watching, wildlife tours and fishing. His website is www.gallantadventuresalaska.co, and it has some beautiful pictures taken from his tours. Check it out.
This little company is far superior to the bigger, cruise ship-owned kayaking company that I mentioned in my previous review. They took my friend & I at the last second, with no reservation, and showed us an amazing time after we had been royally screwed over by the company that was SUPPOSED to have taken us out that day ("Alaska Travel Adventures"... don't EVER book with them!). We got an amazing private tour of the backcountry and got to enjoy the serenity of glassy water, eerie fog, and blessed silence, instead of having to put up with a pack of 40 other people. We got to see sea lions, bald eagles, starfish, and got an in-depth narrative from a guide who actually lives in Sitka. My only regret is that we didn't have longer to spend with these folks. They were even kind enough to mail my camera batteries back to me when I forgot them in the pocket of the rain jacket that I had borrowed from them.
My friend and I reserved a 1/2-day kayaking trip with "Alaska Travel Adventures" a week ahead of time. We were spending our 7-day vacation in Juneau, but took the ferry to Sitka so we could take this kayaking trip. We arrived the night before & called the company to confirm, we were told everything was fine. Next morning, we arrived at our appointed time & were told to sit & wait. 10 minutes AFTER we were supposed to have already been on the water, we were told we could NOT go because the cruise ship that owned the kayak company had overbooked the trip. Evidently, our reservations meant nothing. The fact that we did not book thru a cruise ship meant that anyone else who booked the trip that day took precedence over us. They never mentioned that detail when we made our reservations! The kayak company told us to our face that they would rather make US angry than the cruise company, therefore we were out of luck. They offered to pay for our trip with another company, but never came through on that promise either. And because we were already past our launch time, and we had to be back at the ferry by noon for our return trip, we only got a measly 2 hours on the water with the other company. If you're looking for a kayak trip in Sitka, book with SITKA SOUND OCEAN ADVENTURES. They gave us a phenomenal guided tour, and it was just the 3 of us, instead of a mob of 40 people.
Only a short distance from Castle Hill, we came upon the the "Old Russian Block House," located on an overgrown field and hill. The Block House standing today is a replica built in 1962, and represents what the original would have looked like and how it separated Russian and Tlingit sections of Sitka after the Tlingits moved back into the area for 20 years following the 1804 battle. A plaque on the Block House reads: "Reconstructed on the site of an original by the National Park Service in 1962. It is a replica of one of the three Russian fortresses that guarded the stockade wall." I could not find much information available on the Block House, and the area was fairly deserted when we visited it, so we decided to move on.
Another recently built building is closed by as is the Russian Cemetery.
Located behind the Pioneer's Home on Katlian Street.