Did you arrive in Sitka early for a convention? Do you have a long layover? Is Sitka a port on your cruise or ferry trip? Despite our modest size, Sitka can pack your day full of fun that’ll keep you coming back for more. Situated on the outer coast of Alaska’s Inside Passage, our quaint coastal town boasts an abundance of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and outdoor activities waiting to be explored.

Insider tip: Sitka is easy to navigate and this is just a peek into the wealth of adventures Sitka has to offer. For just a day-trip, it may be best to keep your adventure focused on the downtown area, which is densely packed with historical sites and sightseeing opportunities to give you the most out of your visit. This article offers a few options for every interest. Mix and match these itinerary options to create your perfect day!


Getting Downtown

If you’re on a layover without your luggage and you’re interested in getting some steps in, consider walking from the airport to downtown. The scenic 30-minute walk crosses the historic John O’Connell bridge, the first cable-stayed bridge in America. With gorgeous displays of the iconic Sitka skyline, the Pacific ocean, and the small islands that dot our coastline, the bridge offers some of the best 360° views in town.

John O'Connell Bridge

Views of John O’Connell Bridge in front of Sitka mountains


If you’re bringing your luggage, we suggest booking with a shuttle service in advance, or checking with your hotel to see if they offer an airport shuttle. Rideshare services do not operate in Sitka and taxi services can be limited, so booking your transportation in advance is highly recommended.

If Sitka’s a port on your cruise, chances are, you’re most likely docking at the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal (especially for those on major cruise lines). The Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal is located approximately five miles from downtown, where most activities, attractions, and shops are located. A free shuttle is operated by the terminal and arrives/departs every 15 minutes while ships are in port. Hop in line and enjoy the quick 10-minute ocean view drive, while your shuttle driver narrates sights along the way. Before you go, make sure to take a few minutes to check out the shops, snacks, and tour operators at the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal. Everything is locally owned!

Insider tip: Check out Visit Sitka’s live cruise ship calendar to see where your ship is docking, and use the codes below to determine your docking point. If your ship says “STO” or “STI” on it, you’re docking at the Sitka sound Cruise Terminal and should expect to take a shuttle into town. If your ship says “PIP”, you’re docking at the Gary Paxton Industrial Park on the other side of town, and should also expect to have to take a shuttle to downtown. If your ship says anything else, you’re most likely going to be taking a tender to access Sitka and your tender ship will drop you off at a dock near downtown.


Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal

Cruise visitors exiting the Ovation of the Seas at the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal


Visitor Information

Before anything else, make a pit stop at the Visit Sitka Visitor Information Center to find your bearings. We’re open year-round, and our friendly staff are eager to share insider tips, recommendations, and local insights to ensure you make the most of your experience. While you’re at it, download our digital map app or grab a paper copy to help you find your way around during your time in town.

Visit Sitka Official Visitors Center

Visitors getting directions at the Visit Sitka Official Visitor’s Center



Picture this: You step off the plane or disembark from your ship, greeted by the crisp, salty air and the majestic silhouette of Sitka’s towering mountains. Eager to kickstart your one-day adventure in this coastal paradise, you wander into a quaint coffee shop, the aroma of freshly brewed beans enveloping you in warmth and comfort.

Check out one of these options for breakfast and a cup of joe to kickstart your day:


Big Brew Energy

Slinging brews at Big Brew Energy


Sitka’s downtown is compact and walkable. We highly suggest taking some time to explore Lincoln Street (Sitka’s main drag). Every single shop is owned and operated locally, and you’re guaranteed to find a treasure or two. Make sure to use your Pocket Guide that you grabbed at the visitor center to find your way around and discover your next favorite shop.

While you’re in the area, check out some of these nearby historical sites.


Baranof Castle Hill
  • Commonly referred to as Castle Hill, this park is one of the most historically significant sites in Alaska. Tlingit natives originally inhabited this area and built a strategic fortification at this site. Between 1804-1867 Russians occupied this site. In 1867, at the top of Castle Hill, Alaska was officially transferred from Russia to the United States. Today, Castle Hill is an Alaska State historic site and also designated as a National Historic Landmark. The 360 degree view from the top of the hill is phenomenal!
Castle Hill in Sitka

Views from Baranof Castle Hill


Sitka Lutheran Church
  • Sitka Lutheran Church is the site of the first Protestant church on the west coast of North America which contains original artifacts from the original 1843 Finnish Lutheran Church. The church includes a chandelier, pulpit, a communion rail, and an 1844 Kessler organ built specifically for the Church in Estonia.
Sitka Russian Cemetery
  • Sitka Russian Cemetery is over 200 years old and contains more than 1,600 graves, many marked with headstones made from the ballast of Russian ships. This beautiful and fascinating area is a short trek through a small patch of forest.
Princess Maksoutoff’s Grave & the Russian Blockhouse
  • Princess Maksoutoff’s Grave honors Princess Maria Maksoutoff, the Russian-born wife of the last Russian governor, Prince Dimitri Maksoutoff. After her death in 1881, at the age of 36, Princess Maksoutoff was returned to Sitka for burial. Located right next to the Russian Blockhouse. The Russian Blockhouse is a replica of the building that was once part of a fort wall that separated the Russian and Tlingit sections of Sitka after the Tlingit returned to the area 20 years following the Battle of 1804, and is located right next to Princess Maksoutoff’s Grave.
Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall
  • The Alaska Native Brotherhood building is a registered National Historic Landmark built in 1914, and acted as a meeting place for the fight for Alaska Native rights. Located on Katlian Street in the heart of the traditional Tlingit village, it serves as an Alaska Native community center. It has a great collection of placards with displays of Alaska Native history. Free to access.
Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall

Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall from ANB Harbor


Totem Square & the Pioneer Home
  • Totem Square is a small patch of land is a designated Alaska State Park contains a 40-foot totem pole that displays the double-headed eagle of Sitka’s Russian heritage. Across the street is the Sitka Pioneer Home. Now an assisted living home, the Sitka Pioneer Home is an iconic landmark in Sitka. Visible in most photos of the downtown area, the beautiful building now stands on the site of the wooden Russian barracks. A 13-foot bronze statue titled “The Prospector” graces the front of the building.



With shopping bags in hand brimming with locally-made treasures, it’s time to refuel with a satisfying lunch. You stroll along Lincoln Street, lined with charming storefronts and vibrant murals, in search of the perfect lunch spot. You’re greeted by the lively scene of pop-up tents, food trucks, and delicious aromas from nearby restaurants.

Try one of these spots for a lunch that’ll fuel you up for an afternoon of activities:

Sitka’s seen a serious jump in our food truck scene. Offering unique and delicious cuisines from around the world, checking out a food truck is a great way to grab some bites on the go:

The Fresh Fish in Sitka, AK

Serving up poke bowls at The Fresh Fish


If a food truck isn’t your scene, check out one of these sit-down spots instead:

After lunch, fill your day by checking out some big attractions, taking a tour, or indulging in culture and history.

Option A: Indulge in Alaska Native history and culture

  • Stop 1: Sitka National Historical Park
    • Sitka National Historical Park, or “Totem Park” as the locals call it, is Alaska’s oldest federal cultural and historical park, designated in 1890. This park preserves and interprets the 1804 battle site between the Tlingit Kiks.ádi and Russians. Haida and Tlingit totem poles from the early 1900’s, as well as modern carved poles, are located in the visitor center and along the gravel pathway.
Sitka National Historical Park

Aerial shot of Sitka National Historical Park and the NPS Visitor Center


  • Stop 2: Sheldon Jackson Museum
    • If there were a museum for museums, the Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka would be part of the collection. It is the oldest museum in Alaska and is located in the first concrete building in the state. This small but mighty building has an incredible collection of over 6,000 Alaska Native artifacts from across the state. The building was placed on the National Historical Register in 1972. While you’re here, take some time to peruse around the beautiful former Sheldon Jackson College campus, where the museum resides.
  • Stop 3: Sheet’ka Kwaán Naa Kahidi Tribal Community House
    • Constructed on a site that once housed the Indian Government School, the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Tribal Community House is a replica of a traditional tribal clan house that offers Native dance performances in regalia, along with storytelling, cultural events, and a unique gift shop with authentic Native artwork. It also houses the largest stunning hand-carved house screen (“Lovebirds”) in Southeast Alaska.


Option B: Explore the Russian history of Sitka

  • Stop 1: Russian Bishops House
    • The oldest intact Russian building in Sitka was built in 1842 by the Russian American Company as a residence for the Bishop of the Orthodox Church. Bishop Innocent (Ivan Veniaminov) was its first resident. The building has been restored to the 1850s historic period when it functioned as a school, Bishop’s residence, and a chapel. Now, you can tour the lower level that has been converted into a museum, and check out the upper level with a free guided tour conducted every 30 minutes.
  • Stop 2: St. Michaels Russian Orthodox Cathedral
    • An iconic feature of Sitka’s skyline is St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral, which hosts an important collection of Russian Orthodox art and rare church treasures. Built in 1844-48, the church was totally destroyed by fire in January of 1966. Many of the precious icons and religious objects were salvaged and are in the rebuilt structure. Visitors are available to tour during limited times, so check the front door for posted hours.
St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral

St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral; a skyline highlight in downtown Sitka


  • Stop 3: Sitka History Museum
    • This museum features Sitka’s story from the U.S. purchase to current day, with rotating exhibits highlighting different aspects of local history. This museum is an excellent way to learn all the highlights of Sitka’s history.


Option C: Explore Wildlife

  • Stop 1: Fortress of the Bear
    • Fortress of the Bear is an educational bear rescue center. Their resident bears were rescued as orphaned cubs that were unable to survive on their own in the wild. Currently, there are five brown bears and three black bears (the only black bears on Baranof Island). Since these bears are unable to survive in the wild, they are cared for by educated naturalists in an enriching, natural, and educational environment.
  • Stop 2: Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center
    • The Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center provides medical treatment to over 200 injured birds each year. Although they specialize in raptors, they aid any wild bird in need.  The Raptor Center strives to heal, rehabilitate and release all of their avian patients, however, some are injured too severely to fully recover and survive in the wild.  These non-releasable birds join the Raptors-in-Residence team, helping teach the public and schoolchildren about the wonders of raptor natural history and the habitats in which they live.
Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center

Meeting a snowy owl at Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center


  • Stop 3: Sitka Sound Science Center
    • The Sitka Sound Science Center, part of the former Sheldon Jackson College Campus, is now a functioning aquatic research facility. The facility hosts an aquarium with huge touch tanks, filled with marine life from the nearby Pacific Ocean. Tours of the salmon hatchery are available. Tons of salmon can be seen jumping in the waters and salmon ladder that surround the facility during late summer. Purchasing tickets online in advance is highly recommended for the full hatchery tour and aquarium.


Option D: Take a tour or experience adventure!

  • There’s no shortage of options for a full day of exploration. Maybe historical sites aren’t your thing, or maybe you’re looking for more of an outdoors experience! Hire a fishing charter to experience the rich marine life of the area, or delve into the town’s vibrant arts and cultural scene through gallery visits or local performances. For a more adventurous day, opt for ATV tours to explore rugged terrains, or enjoy the freedom of exploring the area on two wheels with bike rentals. Those seeking other maritime adventures can rent a boat for a self-guided journey or join wildlife boat tours to spot majestic creatures in their natural habitat. If you prefer a bird’s-eye view, consider flightseeing tours for breathtaking vistas. Kayaking and water activities offer an intimate encounter with Sitka’s coastal beauty, while hiking and walking tours provide opportunities to immerse yourself in the region’s lush landscapes and diverse wildlife. Whatever your preference, Sitka promises a day filled with unforgettable experiences.
Whale watching tour

Getting up close and personal with a humpy onboat a viewing boat



After a long day of exploring, it’s time to unwind and enjoy your evening over some delicious bites and a cocktail. Sitka has plenty of different dinner spots to cater to every taste. Check out some of our favorites:


Congratulations! You’ve just had the ultimate one-day adventure in Sitka! If you didn’t manage to see everything on your list, don’t worry— All of Sitka’s must-see experiences are tough to capture in just one day. Planning a return trip? Be sure to explore our Official Visitor’s Guide library for the perfect pre-trip planning resource, ensuring your next visit is even more unforgettable.

Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport runway

A runway with a thrill!