I live in Ketchikan, do not work in the tourist industry, but still find that I enjoy tourist season. We are getting excited because the first cruise ship of the season comes on Tuesday. People on cruise ships like to come see Ketchikan and we enjoy seeing people come see Ketchikan. We like to look at your pretty clothes and chuckle because you carry umbrellas. (People who live here don't seem to carry umbrellas.) After a while those of us who do not work in the cruise industry will avoid that area of town because of the crowds. A local's fear is that a tourist will not be paying attention and will step out in front of their car.
Ketchikan is often raining. Many of us who live outside of the city water system, collect rain water on our roofs, it flows into our roof gutters, then into water tanks. The water is taken for granted unless it doesn't rain and we run out. Getting water trucked in costs about $200 a load, and we really hate to pay for that when water is usually free, like money falling from the sky. We are delighted to have a rare sunshine day, which is exceptionally beautiful in Ketchikan, but if the sunshine lasts too long, we are just as happy when it rains again.
When you get off the ship in Ketchikan there are many stores around the dock and it seems very crowded and somewhat chaotic. Please be careful and watch where you walk, even on the dock. Please do not step out into the street, use the cross walks. There is a Loggers show right on the dock which I have never been to, but word of mouth is that it is very entertaining. There is an excellent fish stand/restaurant right by the logger show that I have eaten at, and the halibut is great.
Locals like to eat at Burger Queen, (standing on the dock with your back to the water, go left. When you get to a crosswalk, go across the street. Go through the tunnel in the same direction the cars are going. After the tunnel you will see a small business on the right. That is Burger Queen. This is a walk of a few blocks) nothing fancy, but great halibut. If you want to walk further, go to Ocean View. This is likely the locals favorite restaurant. They have Mexican, Italian, and Greek food. (standing on the dock with your back to the water, go left. Do not cross the street. There will be a jag in the road, but keep following the main road. On the water side of the road you will find Ocean View. It is a longer walk. maybe 15 blocks.) Go another block past Ocean View and you will be getting into the part of town that locals stick to during tourist season.
If you have transportation, ride all the way out North of town to the end of the road. Along the way you may go to Clover Pass and Salmon Falls. Both are fishing resorts with bars and restaurants. They are open only during tourist season. Some years the food at each will be great, some years not so good. Locals check it out and word gets around.
The same road will lead you to Totem Bight, an area that you will read about on your cruise ship, with a large collection of totem poles, and Ward Lake which is an area much loved by locals. A walk around this pretty lake is a little over a mile and is beautiful. There is a nice path and a sandy beach. For those with more energy, lakes further out are longer, more rugged walks.
South of town is Saxman, a Native town with another totem pole collection. If you follow the road South all the way to the end of the road there is a beautiful rushing water fall that you can get very close to and there may be a bear or two.
There is a zip line excursion that people really like, and a bear viewing area. The bear viewing area is a wooden platform that looks very nice. Locals enjoy going across from the bear viewing area, standing on the ground and seeing the same bears at no charge.
Misty Fjords is a great place to see. I don't like to fly, and have taken sight seeing boats, and sometimes the state ferry (a special once a year treat that is sometimes offered in the off season for locals) to see Misty Fjords. It is absolutely spectacular.
I live about 11 miles North of town. On rare occasions, we will see a bear in our yard. One year we had a few deer hanging around. One even lay down in our yard for quite some time. Eagles sightings are very frequent, we see them several times every day. You will see eagles even in town.
The maintenance of buildings in Ketchikan seems to be more difficult than in areas South. The rain seems to make buildings wear out more quickly. You will see many buildings that look like they need some paint. I think we get used to it when we live here and don't notice it as much as someone who just arrives. The buildings also look gloomier if you come on a rainy day than they do in the sunshine. The lack of landscaping around homes may also seem lacking to people who don't live here. Again, I think we can say the weather takes a toll.
Have fun on your trip to Ketchikan!