Sitka – no convincing required. It’s a pleasure to be back in one of our favorite southeast Alaska towns, even if rain and wind pound against the windows and drown my Danskos. In fact, I’d say it’s a pleasure to be here because of the wild autumn weather. This is a rainforest, after all, and part of Sitka’s charm lies in its ability to power through the blustery days.
We can’t thank the Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau enough for their support of the annual Alaska Travel Industry Association conference; from enormous umbrellas to appearances by local fine arts groups, the entire community has contributed, and that feels nice. It’s the main reason we like to visit with AK Kid, in fact.
Sitka is a summertime tourist destination; cruise ships and the Alaska Marine Highway are main modes of travel through which visitors appear. Alaska Airlines offers two flights a day to and from Sitka as well, year-round, and that gives families a window to spring, autumn, and winter on Baranof island.
WHAT TO DO: Scott McMurren, my Alaska Travelgram cohort, has created a nice list of grownup fun things to do, and it’s worth taking a gander at his lovely lineup of activities HERE.
Also consider the Sheldon Jackson Museum, operating under winter hours, but still giving plenty of opportunities to investigate the amazing collections of Presbyterian Minister and noted explorer Jackson. While you’re there, wander the Sheldon Jackson College campus. The school may be closed, but many buildings are undergoing incredible renovations, and the campus now houses a robust fine arts camp each summer.
The Sitka Sound Science Center, located just across the street from the museum, is open Tuesdays and Fridays during the winter, and is evolving into quite a lovely little place for kids. Don’t miss the touch tank!
Sitka National Historical Park, when reopened again after the government shutdown, is full of trails and totems, and can be accessed via the new Sitka Seawalk, a beautiful wooden and concrete walkway that meanders through dowtown Sitka and into the trees. Do stop along the way and play on the beach.
Speaking of walking, grab a walking tour map at the CVB and check out the historic buildings, memorials, and a cool view from the site of the official Russia-to-U.S. handover in the 1800’s. Yep.
WHERE TO EAT: We are dedicated fans of Bayview Pub, located across from a city parking lot adjacent to the marina, on Lincoln Street. Burgers, fries, kids’ menu; it’s all there, with a great harbor view to boot.
Dock Shack is located in Totem Square Inn hotel’s campus, and for kids, it’s just fine. A menu for them, nice service, and internet for mom and dad.
Ludwig’s Bistro is a more grown up establishment, but AK Kid did pretty well in this cozy little place that serves seafood, pasta, and excellent wine. Don’t want a full meal? Head up the stairs to the left of Ludwig’s main entrance, and enter Rio’s, their sister wine bar that serves wonderful tapas. Love the atmosphere, love the service, and love the wine.
SPECIAL EVENTS: Alaska Day is coming up next week, a day when we celebrate the transfer of ownership to the United States. A parade, fun run, dance, and lots of music and art make this festival worth attending.
Sitka Whalefest is held mid-November, bringing researchers and interested whale-watchers to Sitka every year. Full of appeal for families who love marine life, Whalefest is an excellent way to begin conversations about marine stewardship and conservation with your kids.
Monthly Grinds are talent shows packed with local flavor, welcoming anyone of any age to participate. Admission is $5, but if one brings a dessert to share, it’s FREE. We like that. We also like the appreciative, supportive audience.
All of these events, and tons of other Sitkta-related information, can be found on the Sitka CVB website.
Sitka has it going on; I’ve been saying it all week. And I want you to visit.