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Sitka

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St. Michael's Cathedral spire

Sitka is a city of about 9,000 on the Pacific Ocean coast of Baranof Island in Alaska, the largest state in the United States of America. Originally settled by Tlingit Indians, Sitka also has history as a Russian settlement. Sitka was the Russian capital of Alaska, established in 1799 by Alexander Baranof of the Russian American Company. In 1867 when Russia sold Alaska to the U.S., the transfer ceremony took place on Castle Hill at Sitka on October 18, a day celebrated as Alaska Day. Sitka attracts now about a quarter million visitors a year.

Get in[edit]

Sitka is situated on Baranof Island on the outer waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage, and is accessible only by air and by sea.

By air[edit]

  • Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (IATA: SIT), 605 Airport Rd., 1-800-426-0333. Sitka enjoys daily jet service by Alaska Airlines[1] from hubs such as Anchorage and Seattle. Sitka Tours at 907-747-8443 provides an airport shuttle to the downtown area or to any accommodations. May-September, $6 one-way; $8 round-trip.

By sea[edit]

  • Alaska Marine Highway, Phone: 1-800-642-0066, [2]. The Alaska Marine Highway ferries provide year-round service for passengers and vehicles. Although technically you can not drive to Sitka, the Alaska Marine Highway ferries can get you and your vehicle there.
  • Sitka is also a popular port of call for many cruise ships that sail the Inside Passage from May through September. The anchorage for large cruise ships is off shore, and smaller boats are used to tender passengers ashore to the Crescent Harbor Lightering Facility (near the Centennial Hall) or the O'Connell Bridge Lightering Facility (at the foot of Castle Hill).
  • Boat rentals and yacht charters are also popular in Sitka, particularly those offering whale watching and glacier tours. Charters services include Kingfisher Charters (907) 747-6136, Sitka Boat Watch (907) 747-8830, and Boat Charters Alaska [3].

Get around[edit]

  • By foot. The downtown area of Sitka can be explored by foot. A walking map [4], with two suggested loops, one westward to the Sitka Channel, the other eastward to the Alaska Raptor Center, may be obtained from the Summer Information Desk in the Harrigan Centennial Hall near the Crescent Harbor Lightering Facility.
  • Community Ride[5] (907) 747-7103. Founded by the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Sitka Community Ride has been serving Sitka’s Community since 2002. Operates three bus lines -- Green, Red, and Blue -- M-F 6:30AM to 6:30PM. Holidays Observed: New Years Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Alaska Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day.
  • On/Off Bus~Visitors Shuttle, 907-747-7137. Runs only on days when there is scheduled to be at least 1000+ passenger cruise ship in port. May-Sept. Shuttle operates 9am until ship's last tender. Stops every 30 min. at Crescent Harbor Shelter, Sheldon Jackson Museum, Sitka Nat’l. Historical Park, Alaska Raptor Center, a downtown stop by Random House, the Tribal Community House, O’Connell Bridge docking area. $10pp all day pass; purchase from driver.
  • Hank's Taxi & Tour Service, 907-747-8888, (Email: hank@hankstours.com), [6]. Operates 4AM-12AM.
  • Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop, 805 Halibut Point Rd. downtown, across from Harrigan Centennial Hall, 907-747-6317, (Email: yellowj@ptialaska.net). Full service bike shop with daily or weekly bicycle rentals.
  • Esther G Sea Taxi, 907-747-6481, cell phone (907) 738-6481, Email: alaskadavey@gci.net. Over twenty years experience. Marine transportation to remote locations for hiking, biking, camping and kayaking. Captain Davey Lubin.

See[edit][add listing]

A totem. The top figure is Raven the creator. The human figure represents the first people to settle in Sitka.
  • Sitka National Historical Park, 106 Metlakatla St., 907-747-0110 [7]. No food service or lodging in this park.
    • Visitor Center open year round: mid-May through September daily 8AM-5PM; October through mid-May: M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Closed on Federal holidays during the winter months. Over 12 years old $4, under free. Wheelchair accessible. The Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, totem poles, and museum exhibits are located in the building. Exhibits depict traditional Tlingit life. A short video reviews Sitka's history.
    • Russian Bishop's House open mid-May through September daily 9AM-5PM. Ranger-led tours are offered every 30 minutes. October through mid-May open by appointment only. 12 years old $4, under free. This original log structure built in 1843 is one of the last remaining buildings from the Russian colonial period. Not wheelchair accessible.
    • Park Trails open mid-May through September daily 6AM-10PM; October through mid-May daily 7AM-8PM. Free. Walk in a temperate rain forest under towering trees, observe migrating salmon, explore the intertidal zone, and study wildlife. A pleasant walk through the Alaska woods with interesting totem poles interspersed. The Village Watchman, the Raven in Human Form, the Raven and a Bear are some of the figures displayed.
  • Alaska Raptor Center, 1000 Raptor Way, 1-800-643-9425, [8]. May-September Su-F 8AM-4PM. Adults $12, under 12 $6. Bald eagles and other raptors from all over the Western United States are treated at this 17 acre facility bordering the Tongass National Forest. See the eagles, hawks, falcons and owls up close.
  • Castle Hill[9], Baranof Castle Hill State Historic Site, also National Historic Landmark. American flag raising site. In 1867 when Alaska was transferred from Russia to the U.S., the Russian flag was lowered and the American flag officially raised here. In 1959 when Alaska became the 49th State, the first 49-star American flag was officially raised here. Once the site of a two-story log mansion known as Baranof's Castle, which overlooked Sitka Sound during the Russian fur trading era. A fully accessible walkway leads visitors to the top of the hill and provides outstanding views of downtown Sitka and waterfront. Interpretive panels provide opportunities to learn more about the history of this site.
  • St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral[10], 240 Lincoln St., 907-747-8120. National Historic Landmark. Constructed 1844-1848, the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel was the principal representative of Russian cultural influence in the 19th century in North America, as the Seat of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of North America, and then as the Seat of the Diocese of Alaska. Although the original was burned down in 1966 and reconstructed, the artifacts inside including the icons were largely preserved from the fire.
  • Sitka Historical Society Museum, 330 Harbor Dr. (downtown), Phone: 907-747-6455, [11].
  • Saint Lazaria National Wildlife Refuge (by boat tour) St. Lazaria is a rugged island with limited and difficult access -- ideal for birds to inhabit and to nest. On the island, one can find Fork-tailed Storm-petrels , Leach"s Storm-petrels, Thick-billed Murres, Tufted Puffins, Rhinoceros Auklets , Pigeon Guillemots, Glaucous-winged Gulls, Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, and Black Oystercatchers
  • Mt. Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano that looks like Mt. Fuji, looms in the background and dominates views to the west.
  • Sheldon Jackson Museum (State Cultural & Historical Museum), 104 College Drive (Pleasant walk along Lincoln St. passing Crescent Harbor. Museum is on the former Sheldon Jackson College Campus.), 907-747-8981, [12]. Summer: 9AM to 5PM daily. Closed holidays. Winter: 10AM to 4PM Tues thru Sat. Closed holidays.. Offering a superb exhibit and collection of Alaskan Native cultural and historical artifacts. The Rev. Dr. Sheldon Jackson was the moving force behind the construction of the Sheldon Jackson Museum and the collector of many of its artifacts. 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 in the first concrete building in the state. Construction began in 1895 and it has been occupied since 1897. The building was placed on the National Historical Register in 1972. While the building may be as old as some of the items in its collection, its exhibits reflect recent renovation and a dedication to professional museum standards. The Museum's collection has been called a jewel in the crown of Alaska ethnographic collections. $4 summer. $3 winter. Under 18 free..  edit
  • Fortress of the Bear (Brown Bear Education and Viewing Center), 4639 Sawmill Creek Road (Five miles from downtown out Sawmill Creek Road. Take a taxi OR take a tour.), 907-747-3032, [13]. Summer: 9:00-5:00 every day. Winter: 10:00-3:00 Fri. thru Sat.. Fortress of the Bear is a non-profit education and rescue center with a three-quarter acre habitat for orphaned Brown Bear cubs complete with covered viewing areas. Also home to the Sawmill Farm. The Fortress has two resident brown bears and may have additional cubs or other bears as rescues occur. Bear cubs are usually housed temporarily at the Fortress until permanent homes are found.  edit
  • Sitka Sound Science Center, 834 Lincoln Street (1/2 mile from downtown), 907-747-8878, [14]. Located on the waterfront on the way to the Sitka National Historical Park. The Science Center operates an educational fish hatchery and the Molly Ahlgren Aquarium. Email: sitkasoundsciencecenter@gmail.com $5pp.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Call of the Wild Adventures, 907-738-2458, [15]. Go saltwater sport fishing with a friendly local instead of with an over-priced 'monster' lodge.
  • Harris Aircraft Services, 400 Airport Road, Phone: 907-966-3050, (e-mail: info@harrisaircraft.com), [16]. A floatplane flightseeing trip is a good way to get an overview of Baranof Island.
  • Sitka Tribal Tours[17], 200 Katlian Street, Sitka, Alaska 99835 (907) 747-7137. Tribal Tours provides a variety of cultural coach tours including a 2.5hr cultural tour and 3.5hr cultural tour w/Alaska Raptor Center. Both tours feature authentic Tlingit native dance performed in classic clan-style house with cedar fire pit.
  • New Archangel Dancers (Russian Dance Performance), Harrigan Centennial Hall, 330 Harbor Drive (Downtown Sitka on the waterfront.), 907-747-5516, [18]. Summer: varied times during cruise ship visits.. Enjoy a half hour performance of lively, traditional Russian folk dances. The New Archangel Dancers mission is to promote and encourage interest in Alaska's Russian History and culture through sharing of ethnic folk dance and song. These were evident in Sitka during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Dancers have performed in Japan, Canada, Mexico and Russia, and are considered by many to be Ambassadors for Sitka and Alaska. $10.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Russian and native handicrafts are featured products.
  • Baranof Arts & Crafts Association (Over 30 local artists), Harrigan Centennial Hall - Summer, 330 Harbor Drive (Downtown Sitka), 907-747-6536 summer, [19]. Open on cruise ship days. BACA has a summer shop filled with locally made items including: jewelry, paintings, photographs, graphic arts, yarns, books and music, roasted coffee and nuts, ceramics, and assorted crafts. Representing over 30 Sitka artists. Free entrance.  edit
  • Russian-American Company-Random House (Russian and Native Art), 134 Lincoln Street (Downtown Sitka), 907-747-3354, [20]. 9AM-6PM. Museum-quality Russian lacquer boxes and matryoshka nesting dolls are two highlights of our shops. As direct importers, we also offer a large and affordable selection of unique Russian folk art and handcrafts, such as amber jewelry and Zhostovo floral painted trays, brooches, boxes, porcelain and hair clips. Hand painted nesting dolls are priced from under $10 up to $3,000. Authentic Russian lacquer boxes, handcrafted from papier mache and hand painted by the specially trained artists of Fedoskino, Palekh, Mstera, and Kholui, are available from $69 to over $10,000. The Russian American Company is an authorized dealer of contemporary Faberge jewelry.Also offer large selection of Alaskan Native Art - Ivory, whalebone, baleen baskets,scrimshaw,totemic plaques and masks.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are a nice mix of restaurants in Sitka including: Mediterranean, Mexican, Japanese, and Chinese. Despite the town being relatively small there are about 17 restaurants and a dozen or so other places serving food. The only franchises are MacDonalds and Subway.

  • Ludvig's Restaurant, 256 Katlian St., 907-966-3663, [21]. Tu-Sa 12PM-9PM. Mediterranean. Dinner:$18-$28.  edit



Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Ernie's Old Time Saloon, 130 Lincoln Street, 907-747-3334. Chips, peanuts, pool table. Live music F,Sa nights. Hours: M-Sa 8AN-2AM, Sunday Noon-2PM. Cash only.
  • Pioneer Bar, 212 Katlian Street, 907-747-3456. Maritime themed bar.  edit

COFFEE

  • Highliner Cafe, 327 Seward Street backside of Seward Square Mall, [22]. Internet cafe with gourmet espresso drinks and freshly roasted coffee, full line of bagels, freshly baked breakfast stuffed croissants, Scandinavian cookies, other pastries.
  • Channel Club, 2906 Halibut Point Rd, 907-747-7440. 5PM - 9PM. $14 - $42.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Cascade Inn, 2035 Halibut Point Road, Phone: 907-747-6804 or toll free: 1-800-532-0908 (fax: 907-747-6572, email: karen@cascadeinnsitka.com). Sitka's only waterfront hotel, a little over 2 miles from downtown. All rooms have private balconies with views of the Pacific Ocean. Oceanfront sauna and barbecue, laundry and convenience/liquor. 10 Rooms. $85-140.
  • Eddystone Inn, 2898 Sawmill Creek Road, Phone: 907-747-3313, (fax: 907-747- 3333, email: eddystoneinn@hotmail.com). On a private peninsula, with Alaskan themed rooms, ocean views, hot tub, TV, private park, phone, and Alaskan hosts. About 10 minutes from downtown Sitka. 6 Rooms. $85-160.
  • Shee Atika Totem Square Inn, 201 Katlian Street, Phone: 907-747-3693 or toll-free: 866-300-1353 (Email: totemsquare@sheeatika.com). Right in downtown Sitka, this hotel is within easy walking distance of many of Sitka's attractions. Complimentary continental breakfast, shuttle service, wireless internet, exercise equipment, restaurant, shopping, travel agency, charter agency, charter dock drop off and meeting facilities.
  • Sitka International Hostel (Tillie Paul Manor), 109 Jeff Davis St (at Lincoln), +1 907 747-8661 (), [23]. checkin: 6PM-10PM; checkout: 8:30AM-10AM. 23 beds total (spread across 5 dorms and one private double room). Kitchen and dining facilities. There is a lockout from 10AM-6PM. 11PM curfew; hostel reopens at 8:30AM. Guests assigned one chore each day. Dorms $24 ($15 for children 12 and under), private double room with bath $60.  edit
  • Super 8 Motel, 404 Sawmill Creek Road, Phone: 907-747-8804 or toll free: 1-800-800-8000, ( fax: 907-747-6101). Downtown location; short distance from airport. Jacuzzi, laundromat, free coffee/toast bar, cable TV, children 12 & under stay free, car packages available in off-season. Pets accepted with permission and deposit. 35 rooms. $80-120

Get out[edit]


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