top of page
  • Writer's pictureMama of wildlings

Living in Ketchikan, Alaska with Kids: Embracing Adventure and Community in the Last Frontier

Living in Ketchikan, Alaska with kids can be an adventure like no other. As the southeasternmost city in Alaska, Ketchikan boasts a unique blend of outdoor activities, cultural experiences, and small-town charm. But before you pack up and move your family to the Last Frontier, there are a few things you should know about living in Ketchikan with kids.

Location and Climate

Ketchikan is located on Revillagigedo Island, which is part of the Tongass National Forest. The city is only accessible by boat or plane, which adds to its remote and unique feel. Despite its location, Ketchikan is a bustling city of over 8,000 residents.

The climate in Ketchikan is considered a temperate rainforest climate, which means it rains a lot. The city receives an average of 13 feet of rain each year, which is more than any other city in the United States. The rain keeps the forests lush and green and provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities, but it can also be a challenge for families who aren't used to such a wet climate.

Outdoor Activities

One of the biggest draws of living in Ketchikan with kids is the abundance of outdoor activities. From fishing and hiking to kayaking and whale watching, there is no shortage of things to do in Ketchikan. The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States and provides plenty of opportunities for hiking and camping.

Fishing is a way of life in Ketchikan, and there are plenty of opportunities for families to fish for salmon and halibut. Many local fishing charters cater to families and offer kid-friendly fishing trips. Whale watching tours are also popular in Ketchikan, and families can see humpback and killer whales up close.

Ketchikan is also home to a number of parks and playgrounds. Totem Bight State Historical Park features totem poles and a replica of a traditional Tlingit clan house, while Saxman Native Village offers cultural experiences and traditional dance performances.


Ketchikan has a strong public school system, with three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District also offers alternative education options, including a correspondence school and a homeschool program.

For families who prefer a private education, Ketchikan is home to two private schools: Holy Name Catholic School and Tongass School of Arts and Sciences.


Finding quality childcare in Ketchikan can be a challenge, especially for families who work odd hours. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District operates a preschool program for children ages 3-5, but space is limited.

There are a few private daycare centers in Ketchikan, but they can be expensive. Some families choose to hire a nanny or babysitter to watch their children while they work.

Medical Care

Ketchikan is home to one hospital, PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center. The hospital offers emergency care, inpatient care, and outpatient services. For families with children who have chronic medical conditions, it may be necessary to travel to Anchorage or Seattle for specialized care.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Ketchikan is higher than the national average, mainly due to the high cost of groceries and housing. Groceries are expensive because everything has to be shipped in, and housing is expensive because there is limited space on the island.

Many families choose to live outside of Ketchikan and commute to the city for work and school. However, living outside of Ketchikan means sacrificing some of the conveniences of city living, such as easy access to shopping and entertainment.


One of the biggest benefits of living in Ketchikan with kids is the sense of community. Ketchikan is a small town and residents are friendly and welcoming. The city hosts a number of events throughout the year, including the Blueberry Arts Festival, the Ketchikan King Salmon Derby, and the Great Alaska Lumberjack Show.

The local library offers storytimes and other children's programs, and the city has a youth center that offers after-school activities and programs. Ketchikan is also home to a number of youth sports leagues, including soccer, basketball, and wrestling.

Overall, living in Ketchikan with kids can be a rewarding experience, but it's not without its challenges. The wet climate and high cost of living can be difficult for some families, but the abundance of outdoor activities and strong sense of community make it a unique and worthwhile place to raise a family. If you're considering a move to Ketchikan, be prepared to embrace the adventure and the beauty of this remote Alaskan city.

1 view0 comments
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page