When thinking about a trip to Alaska, we thought that it would be a winter wonderland, with snow twinkling from every corner of the landscape. How shocked we were when we flew into Juneau & were greeted with a horizon of luscious greens, with large oaks, adlers and various other trees. It’s astounding beauty incapsulated us instantly and we were hooked. Already planning our second trip, we were lucky enough to stay with some friends who showed us the best that this small state capital has to offer. Home to 30,000 inhabitants, Juneau’s beauty is raw and quaint and here are some of the best things to do on your stay.
Hike Mt Juneau
Any hike will do but why not start big and go for the piece de la resistance overlooking Juneau’s waterways? You may not be able to spot a whale from up here but the vast amount of eagles, marmots and mountain goats in the neighbouring hills give you a glimpse of the local wildlife.
Hike Mt Roberts (or take the tram!)
Another day, another hike. Stay in touch with your fitness side and take the Mt Roberts Trail toward the top of the gondola. It can be located on Basin Road near Perseverance trail. This is a very upward trail, approximately 2 miles to the lodge but your determination pays dividends with stunning views of the Gastineau channel, potentially your cruise ship and a lovely meal to boot. It even has the widely publicised “impossible burger,” a vegan’s paradise! There’s also all you can eat dungeness crab, if that’s more your thing!
Go dog walking along the beach
Beaches, in Alaska? Shocking, right? The town is filled with beaches and although they won’t be glistening like the Mediterranean, there is a tranquil nature that is hard to replicate elsewhere.
Stay on an island cabin
Ok, there is an arguably more peaceful experience than dog walking in a quiet town. Staying at a cabin on one of the small islands in and around the Juneau area is the perfect break from the city. Take some drinks, food and friends for the perfect weekend getaway!
There’s an abundance to choose from, each having their own unique personality. The trails can range in length and severity toward the cabin, yet you’ll likely be rewarded with a plethora of views and wildlife on your arrival. Recommendations include:
- Dan Moller Cabin (Douglas)
- Blue Mussel
- Camping Cove
- Eagle Amalga Glacier
Be prepared to book in advance, especially in the summer months, where availability can become very sparse.
Tracy Arm Fjords Tour
If there is one tour to take in Juneau, this has to be it. The 45 mile sail down the Gastineau Channel toward the Tracy Arm Fjords is a spectacle for the eye, culminating with visits to the Sawyer glaciers. Not only are you treated to hundreds of feet of glacial ice, there’s avid opportunities to spot wildlife along the way. Lucky visitors may be able to see whales bubble feeding, bears grazing on barnacles, the illusive mountain goat and breeding seals. For $165, it’s definitely worth the money. You can book through Adventure Bound Alaska here. Read about trip here.
Whether you’d prefer to marvel at the ocean’s largest mammal’s, stare into the sky at the nation’s national bird or roam the hills in search of land based creatures, there is something for everyone. It is great to see people and wildlife living harmoniously.
Hire a float plane/helicopter
A slightly more luxurious way of seeing the sights. Step in and hover over glaciers, mountains and vast waterways. There’s also helicopter excursions that enable you to land on a glacier. Cool? We think so!
Wander around downtown
Whilst Juneau is hardly a thriving metropolis, there are certainly things to do whilst in its centre. There an array of museums, including the Alaska State Museum, which is home to plenty of history surrounding the native people. Go for a drink in popular hotspot, The Red Dog Saloon, or take a trip to the 21st century by sipping a gin and tonic in the Amalga Distillery. Juneau’s restaurant scene isn’t something to particular boast about either but fine dining can be found at Salt. Other restaurants which are tourist hotspots can be found along the pier. These include Hangar at the Wharf or Tracy’s Crab Shack (which does have amazing king crab!)
This is definitely a novelty for us Brit’s. As much as we’re against guns as a common household item, they’re frigging good fun in a controlled environment! Take your best weaponry up to the local range & fire away!
No trip to Juneau can be complete without a trip to the 13 mile long, natural beauty. Easily accessible from downtown Juneau & with a variety of leisurely walks to choose from, Mendenhall is perfect for a half day excursion. The glacier is receding at an alarming rate & that was extremely visible walking around the rim to the ice cave. I would like to finish with more of an impactful message, which is to reflect on how we consume. Make sensible choices that will increase the longevity of our planet. Nobody wants the our planet to die but the way we omit fossil fuels & over consume animal based products is slowly killing mother nature.
All things considered, Juneau shouldn’t be your number one travel destination. There’s not an abundance of activities for your trip and the weather is extremely hit and miss. If you enjoy hiking and don’t mind battling the elements, it’s an excellent and beautiful trip that very few of us are lucky enough to be able to take.