Nestled between breathtaking mountains and shimmering glaciers, Juneau, the capital city of Alaska, is a destination that captures the imagination of adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. With its unique blend of awe-inspiring natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture, Juneau offers an array of unforgettable experiences. Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, or a history buff, this guide will take you on a journey to discover the top things to do in Juneau, Alaska.
- Explore the Mendenhall Glacier:
No trip to Juneau is complete without visiting the iconic Mendenhall Glacier. Witness the sheer grandeur of this massive ice formation as it stretches over 13 miles, surrounded by lush rainforests. Take a guided tour to hike along the glacier’s edge, explore ice caves, or embark on a thrilling kayaking adventure on Mendenhall Lake. Don’t forget to visit the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, where you can learn about the glacier’s formation and its impact on the region.
- Whale Watching:
Juneau is renowned for its exceptional whale-watching opportunities. Hop aboard a boat tour and set off into the pristine waters of the Inside Passage, where you’ll have the chance to witness the magnificent humpback whales breaching and feeding. Keep your eyes peeled for orcas, seals, sea lions, and porpoises as you navigate the scenic fjords. The awe-inspiring spectacle of these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is an experience you won’t want to miss.
- Visit the Alaska State Museum:
Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Alaska by visiting the Alaska State Museum. Located in downtown Juneau, this museum showcases a diverse collection of exhibits, artifacts, and artwork that highlight the state’s history, indigenous cultures, and natural wonders. Explore displays featuring ancient Native Alaskan artifacts, learn about the Gold Rush era, and gain insights into Alaska’s fascinating ecosystems.
- Take a Glacier Helicopter Tour:
For a truly unforgettable experience, take to the skies on a helicopter tour that will transport you to the heart of Alaska’s glaciers. Marvel at the vast expanse of ice as you soar above the rugged landscapes, capturing panoramic views that will leave you breathless. Touch down on a glacier and explore its crevasses and ice formations up close, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
- Hiking and Outdoor Adventures:
Juneau offers an abundance of outdoor activities for adventurers of all levels. Lace up your hiking boots and traverse the numerous trails that wind through the Tongass National Forest. Popular hikes include the Perseverance Trail, which leads to a stunning waterfall, and the Mount Roberts Trail, offering panoramic vistas of the city and the Gastineau Channel. For a more adrenaline-pumping experience, try zip-lining through the treetops or embark on a thrilling dog sledding expedition on a glacier.
- Experience the Mount Roberts Tramway:
Ascend 1,800 feet above sea level on the Mount Roberts Tramway, one of Juneau’s most iconic attractions. Enjoy breathtaking views of the city, the Gastineau Channel, and the surrounding mountains as you ride to the top. Explore the mountain’s trails, encounter native wildlife, and visit the Nature Center to learn about the area’s flora and fauna. Don’t forget to indulge in local cuisine at the mountaintop restaurant while soaking in the majestic scenery.
- Visit the Alaska State Capitol:
As the capital of Alaska, Juneau is home to the Alaska State Capitol building. Take a guided tour to explore the historical and political significance of this iconic structure. Learn about Alaska’s unique governance and the state’s role in shaping its future. Don’t forget to stroll through the nearby Capitol Park, where you can enjoy beautiful views of the Gastineau Channel.
- Kayaking and Canoeing:
Discover Juneau’s pristine waterways by embarking on a kayaking or canoeing adventure. Paddle along the picturesque coastlines, gliding past towering mountains, lush forests, and hidden coves. Enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings and keep an eye out for marine wildlife such as seals, otters, and eagles. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced paddler, there are options available for all skill levels.
- Discover Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure:
Explore the unique beauty of Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure, a one-of-a-kind botanical garden nestled in the Tongass National Forest. Take a guided tour through the lush rainforest, marvel at the upside-down flower towers, and learn about the fascinating ecosystem. Don’t miss the chance to take a scenic ride on the Rainforest Canopy and Mendenhall Glacier Viewpoint Tram for breathtaking panoramic views.
- Gold Panning:
Experience a taste of Alaska’s Gold Rush history by trying your hand at gold panning. Join a guided tour to learn the techniques and tools used by early prospectors as you pan for real gold in the historic mining areas. Not only will you have the opportunity to find a valuable keepsake, but you’ll also gain insights into the challenges and excitement of the Gold Rush era.
- Salmon Fishing:
Juneau is renowned for its incredible salmon fishing opportunities. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner, cast your line into the pristine waters of the Inside Passage and try your luck at catching salmon. Join a fishing charter and enjoy the thrill of reeling in a prized Chinook, Coho, or Sockeye salmon. Fishing excursions also offer a chance to witness other wildlife and enjoy the stunning coastal scenery.
- Visit the Juneau-Douglas City Museum:
Delve deeper into Juneau’s local history and culture by visiting the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. Explore the exhibits that showcase the region’s diverse heritage, including exhibits on Native Alaskan cultures, the mining industry, and the city’s development over time. The museum offers a glimpse into the lives of Juneau’s past residents and their contributions to the city’s growth.
- Attend a Native Alaskan Cultural Event:
Immerse yourself in the vibrant Native Alaskan culture by attending a traditional dance performance or cultural event. Juneau is home to several Native Alaskan tribes, and these events provide a unique opportunity to witness the rich traditions, storytelling, and artistic expressions of the indigenous communities. Check local event listings or inquire at the Alaska State Museum for upcoming cultural events.
- Sample Local Cuisine:
No visit to Juneau is complete without savoring the local cuisine. Indulge in freshly caught seafood, including salmon, halibut, and crab, at one of the city’s many seafood restaurants. Additionally, explore the unique flavors of Alaska by trying dishes such as reindeer sausage or locally harvested wild berries. Visit the local farmer’s market to sample a variety of fresh produce and artisanal products.
With its awe-inspiring natural landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, Juneau, Alaska, offers an array of activities and experiences to suit every traveler’s interests. From exploring the great outdoors to immersing yourself in local history and indulging in delicious cuisine, Juneau promises an unforgettable adventure. Plan your trip, embrace the spirit of the Last Frontier, and create memories that will last a lifetime.