The best Tourist Attractions in Petersburg, Alaska

The best Tourist Attractions in Petersburg, Alaska

The best Tourist Attractions in Petersburg, Alaska

Petersburg (pop. 3,356) is one town where, on any given day, almost everyone can brag that they’ve “gone fishing.” More than 400 commercial and sportfishing vessels ply the waters around Mitkof Island, providing employment for most residents and bringing back an annual catch valued at US $45 million.

The Tlingit people had long used the island as a fishing camp when a Norwegian adventurer, Peter Buschmann, stopped there in the 1890s and noted its proximity to the LeConte Glacier. With an inexhaustible supply of glacial ice and abundant fish, the island impressed Buschmann as an ideal spot to build a cannery. His instincts proved correct. With help from several hundred fellow Norwegians and the Tlingit population, he built Petersburg into one of the most prosperous fishing villages in Southeast Alaska. (A historical marker indicates the exact spot of Buschmann’s cannery, across the street from the present-day Petersburg Fisheries on Nordic Drive.)

Rosemaling in Petersburg, Alaska

The pretty little town still has a strong Norwegian flavor. Rosemaling (painted flower patterns) decorates buildings, grass lawns (a rarity in Alaska) are clipped, homes are well kept and streets are clean. Traditional Norwegian clothing and a smorgasbord are part of the Little Norway Festival every May.

1. The best Attractions & Things to Do in Petersburg, Alaska

Clausen Memorial Museum,in Petersburg, Alaska

Start your tour with a stop at the visitors center for a walking tour map. Nearby is the Clausen Memorial Museum, which interprets the community’s long association with the sea, spiced with bits of folklore.

Hammer Slough in Petersburg, Alaska

The waterfront along Hammer Slough is quite scenic, with weathered buildings, old boats, abandoned fishnets and empty crab pots. Sing Lee Alley (formerly called Indian Street), which crosses Hammer Slough, was the center of early Petersburg. The nearby Sons of Norway Hall, a large white building decorated with colorful Norwegian rosemaling, is built on pilings along the alley. It dates from 1912. (A replica of the Viking ship Valhalla is on display close to the hall.)

Tonka Seafoods in Petersburg, Alaska

North of the dock are several canneries that were erected in the early 1900s on pilings over the waterfront. Four canneries continue to operate in Petersburg, but Tonka Seafoods is the only one that offers tours.

There are a few easy-to-moderate hikes that can be taken from Petersburg, but most trailheads in the Tongass National Forest lie several miles from town. Ask for a hiking guide at the visitors center. For a pleasant survey of the area, walk the 4-mi/7-km loop that begins in town on Haugen Drive locals like to walk this route for exercise. Follow Haugen Drive east (toward the airport) to the hike-and-bike path. When the path runs out, follow.

Sandy Beach Road in Petersburg, Alaska

Sandy Beach Road
northwest along the water to Nordic Drive, which will take you back to town. The stroll (about 90 leisurely minutes) will give you some nice views of the surrounding mountains.

Mitkof Highway south in Petersburg, Alaska

If you take the Mitkof Highway south of town, you’ll walk along Wrangell Narrows. On a busy summer day, the water traffic is more like a boat parade. You’ll see everything from skiffs to ships.