Sitka’s specialty is Russian art, especially colorful nesting eggs, painted icons, and other traditional works. Several shops sell Russian crafts downtown; walk around until you find something you like. More noteworthy is Sitka Rose Gallery (907/747-3030 or 888/236-1536, www.sitkarosegallery.com) in a historic century-old home next to the Russian Bishop’s House on Lincoln Street. Inside, find a mix of quality Native Alaskan art and Alaskan paintings, sculpture, and jewelry.
The same building houses WinterSong Soap Company (907/747-8949 or 888/819-8949, www.wintersongsoap.com), where colorful scented soaps are handcrafted on the premises.
Located five miles east of town, Theobroma Chocolate Company (907/966-2349 or 888/985-2345, www.theobromachocolate.com) manufactures gourmet chocolates in a building next to the old pulp mill. You can watch them creating and packaging the chocolates, or sample unusual varieties—try the Dark Midnight Espresso, Sitka Crunch, or one of the salmon- or halibut-shaped chocolates.
Fairweather Gallery & Gifts (209 Lincoln St., 907/747-8677, www.fairweatherprints.com) is a great place to buy “wearable art” in the form of exquisite hand-painted dresses, tops, and scarves. It has the most unique T-shirts in town, plus a backroom art gallery.
A few doors up the street is Artist Cove Gallery (241 Lincoln St., 907/747-6990, www.artistcovegallery.com). The Sheldon Jackson Museum (907/747-8981, www.museums.state.ak.us) sells Native Alaskan crafts.
Old Harbor Books (201 Lincoln St., 907/747-8808, www.oldharborbooks.com) has an outstanding collection of books on Alaska (and beyond), along with a pleasant coffee shop in the back.
The Sitka Public Library (907/747-8708, www.cityofsitka.com, Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 1–9 p.m.), next to Centennial Hall downtown, has a free paperback exchange with plenty of titles, plus a phone for local calls. Check your email on the computers, use their Wi-Fi, or borrow binoculars to watch whales, seals, and porpoises from the library windows that overlook the bay. Curved benches out back make a pleasant lunch spot when it isn’t raining.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition