Southeast Alaska is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Come see breathtaking mountains, spot breaching whales and sip delicious local brews in Juneau, Alaska’s capital city. Juneau is one of the gems of the Inside Passage, the waterway that runs up through the many islands of the Southeast. Juneau retains its unique charm in part because it’s accessible only by boat or plane. A population size of 32,000 ensures a diverse range of activities and eateries while preserving that small town feel. A trip to Juneau will give you a chance to explore and adventure in Alaska’s great wilderness in comfort.
Read on to find out about the best things to do in Juneau, Alaska.
1. Check out Mt. Roberts Tramway
Mt. Roberts Tramway is one of the world’s most vertical tramways. It takes you to incredible heights to view Alaska’s oceans and mountains from a high. In addition to the panoramic view at the top, you’ll be able to explore a park that offers cultural education and traditional crafts. You can follow alpine trails or stop at the live bald eagle display. The work of local native artisans is for sale in the Raven Eagle Gallery. Stop for a bite to eat at the Timberline Bar & Grill before heading back down to sea level. The cost is 33 USD for adults and 16 USD for children.
Mt. Roberts Tramway
Address: 490 S Franklin St, 99801 Juneau, AK
Website: Mt. Roberts Tramway
2. Cruise through the spectacular Tracy Arm Fjord
Sail through the waters of the inside passage to see stunning craggy mountains that jut straight from the water. At the end of the fjord, you’ll find the Sawyer Glaciers along with huge pieces of floating ice and spectacular waterfalls. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as black bears, brown bears, eagles, wolves, seals and even occasionally a mountain goat. We recommend Allen Marine Tours for your journey to the fjord and back. The trip will take approximately 7 hours and you will be provided with snacks, lunch, coffee, and binoculars.
Tracy Arm Fjord
Address: Port of Juneau
Website: Tracy Arm Fjord Tour
3. Witness the stunning Mendenhall Glacier
The Mendenhall Glacier is located 19 kilometers (12 miles) outside of downtown Juneau. It is accessible by driving or taking a bus shuttle for 30 USD. The glacier is a remnant of the Little Ice Age 3,000 years ago.
Make sure to allow some time for hiking at this iconic glacier. The Trail of Time is a 1-kilometer (0.5-mile) interpreted walk that marks the glacier’s recession over time. The East Glacier Trail is 5.5 kilometers (3.5 miles) and takes you upwards to view the glacier from above. For those desiring a more rigorous hike, try the 11-kilometer (7-mile) West Glacier Trail that ends right at the glacier’s face.
Address: Mendenhall Glacier, 99801 Juneau, AK
Website: Mendenhall Glacier
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4. Go on a whale-watching tour
No trip to Southeast Alaska is complete without catching sight of a whale! This author recommends touring with Allen Marine Tours (allenmarinetours.com) because of her great experiences on their boats as a child and teenager. On the tour, you’ll have a chance to see humpback and orca whales. You might also get a glimpse of sea lions, porpoise, seals, and eagles. According to the company website, the tour guarantees a whale sighting– every tour has had success for the past 15 years. If whales are not spotted, Allen Marine will provide a 100 USD refund.
Allen Marine Whale Watching & Wildlife Tours
Address: Port of Juneau, Juneau, Alaska
Website: Whale Watching & Wildlife Tour
5. Head to the tasting room at Alaska Brewing Company
Try out Alaska’s favorite beers at the Alaska Brewing Company. These beers are brewed and packaged right here in Juneau before being shipped to the “lower 48” by barge. The “Alaskan Amber” is the most famous and popular brew, but you can also enjoy varieties such as white ale, IPA, APA, pale ale, and an imperial red. Seasonal offerings are also available. For 20 USD you’ll get a shuttle ride out to the brewery location and tastings of seven beers.
Alaska Brewing Company
Address: 5429 Shaune Dr, 99801 Juneau, AK
Website: Alaska Brewing Company
6. Enjoy the beauty of Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure
Glacier Gardens is a botanical garden within the Tongass National Forest. The Tongass receives over 2 meters (90 inches) of rain a year and is classified as a rainforest. This garden features unique plants and trees that flourish in the temperate rainforest environment. The tour will take you through the gardens with a knowledgeable guide in a covered rainforest adventure vehicle. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours to visit these gardens. Tours leave every 15 minutes so there is no need for a reservation unless your group is over eight people.
Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure
Address: 7600 Glacier Highway, 99801 Juneau, Alaska
Website: Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure
7. Hike to Nugget Falls
Juneau’s Nugget Falls is accessible via the 1.3-kilometer (0.8-mile) Nugget Falls Hike near the Mendenhall Glacier. The hike takes you along the Mendenhall Lake to the base of the falls. Nugget Falls is a broad and rushing waterfall of icy blue water that towers 30 meters (100 feet) high. This short hike is a great way to get up close and personal with the Alaskan wilderness. During the day the trail is highly trafficked but you might see evidence of bears in the form of a footprint in the mud!
Address: Nugget Creek, 99801 Juneau, AK
Website: Nugget Falls
8. Soak in the tranquility of Shrine of St. Therese
The Shrine of St. Therese offers an opportunity for serenity and reflection as well as views of stunning natural scenery during your Southeast Alaska adventure. The Shrine serves as a place of retreat for the Diocese of Juneau as well as a diversity of other faith groups. The place takes its name from St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the patron saint of Alaska. The shrine is located 37 kilometers (22 miles) outside of downtown Juneau.
Shrine of St. Therese
Address: 21425 Glacier Highway, 99801 Juneau, Alaska
Website: Shrine of St. Therese
The following content is contributed by April Gabayan, Trip101 Writer
Alaska Brewery Company brews some of the best local beers. While you can’t have all their best brews in a day, you can spend more worthwhile time touring the brewery itself, learning about the history of Alaskan beers and how the company started. You will be guided through a tasting of their flagship brews and at the end of the tour, you will get to taste your own custom beer. While all ages are welcome to join, only those over 21 can actually taste it. So take this opportunity to get your mild dose of alcohol while learning about its history.
Alaskan Brewery Tasting Experience
Duration: 1 hour 50 minutes
10. Spot bald eagles at Eagle Beach State Recreation Area
Eagle Beach State Recreation Area...where the river meets the ocean. A great place for exploration. Located "out the...Posted by Travel Juneau on Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Spanning a total area of 600 acres (243 hectares), Eagle Beach State Recreation is home to soaring bald eagles – the national emblem of the United States. Even if bird watching is not your usual hobby, the mighty stance of this creature will surely entice you to stay longer and watch their day to night activities. This is ideal because you can also go camping here. Aside from that, there are other recreational activities such as hiking, picnicking and biking, that you can enjoy with your family or friends. While doing so, marvel at the stunning views such as the Chilkat Mountains and the relaxing Eagle Beach shoreline.
Eagle Beach State Recreation Area
Address: 26 Glacier Highway
Website: Eagle Beach State Recreation Area
If you’re a fan of fishing, you’ll love that you can experience fishing straight from Juneau shore! Lasting for about four hours, get high chances of getting a big catch such as the likes of spring or feeder chinook salmon, chum salmon, pink salmon or coho salmon. This activity will be done together with a professional fisherman guide and it is inclusive of snacks, bottled water, and all the necessary fishing equipment and bait needed. And because it is a private fishing shore excursion, you will only share the experience with a few people, at most six, for full privacy and more room to concentrate. If you have more time to spare, a six-hour halibut fishing excursion is also available with lunch included.
Juneau Shore Excursion: Private Fishing Trip
Duration: 6 hours
12. Discover Alaska's history at the Alaska State Museum
Alaska State Museum in Juneau underwent a USD 139 million renovation in 2014, with improved facilities and joining in a comprehensive research facility together with the state library. So if you want to know more about Alaska, there’s no more holistic place to be than here. Collections include materials with cultural significance from the indigenous people of Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian as well as the Athabascan cultures, those of the north coast, southwest, and many others. A glimpse of the state’s political history can also be encountered as well as a collection of the finest arts. While the architecture of the museum is undoubtedly modern, wandering inside will take you to another world full of the wonders of the state’s meaningful past.
Alaska State Museum
Address: 395 Whittier Street Juneau, AK 99801
Website: Alaska State Museum
Opening hours: (Summer) Sun - Sat: 9am - 5pm; (Winter) Tue - Sat: 10am - 4pm
Price: 7 USD
13. Have fun skiing at Eaglecrest Ski Area
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, skiing in Eaglecrest Ski Area will prove to be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make when visiting Alaska in the winter season. It boasts a total area of over 640 acres (259 hectares), 1,620 feet (494 meters) vertical drop and impressive mountain terrains. There are ski lessons offered complete with all the tools and gears you need as well as a patient, expert instructor. During the summer, Eaglecrest is also worth visiting where you can enjoy panoramic mountain views or get close and personal with nature through hiking and biking adventures. The drive to the ski venue is very scenic, which will surely exceed your expectations of the famous Alaskan landscapes.
Eaglecrest Ski Area
Address: 3000 Fish Creek Rd Juneau, Alaska
Website: Eaglecrest Ski Area
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 4:30pm (closed on Sat & Sun)
14. Visit the historic Wickersham House
The Tanana Yukon Historical Society invites you to a Wickersham Day Reception Saturday, 24 August 2019 - Noon to 5:00...Posted by Alaska Association for Historic Preservation on Sunday, 18 August 2019
Judge Wickersham was best known for his contributions to the state laws and the man responsible for significant Alaskan symbols such as the Alaska Railroad, the University of Alaska, and Denali National Park. In 1928, he purchased the Wickersham House and at present, visitors can step back in time and tour his former place of residence. It now displays historical photographs, Alaskan relics, and period furnishings which best portray the life during the gold-rush era. You can sip some tea while marveling at the architecture of this Victorian house, and take a glimpse into the life of Mr. Wickersham who is also credited for the establishment of “Home Rule”.
Address: 213 7th Street Juneau, AK 99801
Website: Wickersham House
15. Get a thrill with Alaska Zipline Adventures
Editor’s note: establishment is permanently closed
One of the top activities in Juneau, be one of the thousands of people who have tested their leap of faith in this unforgettable ziplining experience! Zip through the beautiful rainforest surrounded by lush trees and mountain views in the Eaglecrest Ski Area, and bask in the thrill of the experience and the beauty of the views! You’ll be safe with your expert guide so all you need to do is enjoy the journey!
Alaska Zipline Adventures
Address: 76 Egan Dr Suite #100, Juneau, AK 99801, USA
16. Check out the Alaska State Capitol Building
From afar, Alaska’s state capitol may not be as grand as all other state capitols in the United States. But it has reasons why it doesn’t have a dome and why you don’t see a big lawn in front of it. You can find out about all this information when you take a self-guided tour when you reach the building’s lobby. The capitol houses some of the state’s most significant functions such as the state senators and representatives, as well as the governor. If you’re near the area, this art deco masterpiece with four front marble columns is still worth visiting to have a glimpse of the state’s history and local government functions as well as notable past and present political personalities.
Alaska State Capitol Building
Address: 120 4th St, Juneau, AK 99801, USA
Website: Alaska State Capitol Building
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 7am - 5pm (Closed on Sat & Sun)
17. Learn mining history at Last Chance Mining Museum
While it’s not possible anymore because the mining company that operated in this museum only lasted until 1944, you can still take a look back in time and rekindle the glory of the mining industry at Last Chance Mining Museum and Historic Park. Here, you can find mining cars, railroad lines, and some of the world’s largest air compressors and other artifacts related to hard rock gold mining. To reach the museum, you need to take a short hike up. A part of the state’s National Register of Historic Places, we’re sure it’s worth the effort especially if you have a fascination with anything gold and the process of obtaining it.
Last Chance Mining Museum
Address: 1001 Basin Road Juneau, AK
Website: Last Chance Mining Museum
Opening hours: Summer: 9:30am - 12:30pm, 3:30pm - 6:30pm (daily)
Price: 5 USD
18. Explore Juneau Historic Downtown District
One of the most affordable activities you can do in Juneau is to take a stroll and simply soak in the lively buzz of its historic downtown. The district encompasses the South Franklin Street, from the cruise terminal to the Main Street. The area started as an economic center, thanks to its booming gold mining industry in the past. Nowadays, the historic downtown managed to preserve its unique historical charms which are the main reason why it’s worth visiting. Learn how gold literally changed the downtown’s landscape, hear about prominent Alaskan personalities of the early days, or take photos of the unique architecture, which is mostly utilitarian with a mix of late Victorian influences.
Juneau Historic Downtown District
Address: Juneau Alaska United States
19. Stay in a cabin in Tongass National Forest
Tongass National Forest is one of the must-visit destinations in Juneau. While the lush forest is already a sight and experience to behold, you can further take the experience to another level. Camping is another choice but if you want the ultimate comfort, you can stay inside a cabin instead, complete with facilities such as sleeping and cooking areas. It’s perfect for families looking for a comfortable place to rest after exploring the national forest or perhaps a group of friends. There are many cabins to choose from and some of them offer the most amazing views. The cabins may be small but they provide a safe and warm accommodation for everyone to relax and bond.
Forest Service Cabin
Address: Tongass National Forest
Website: Forest Service Cabin
20. Take a stroll in Jensen-Olson Arboretum
Its finally looking and feeling a bit more seasonable...Posted by Jensen-Olson Arboretum on Wednesday, 30 May 2018
More than just pretty landscape, Jensen-Olson Arboretum’s vision is to provide a place that inspires about horticulture and preserves cultural context to the locals and visitors. The beautifully maintained flora of the place will give you rejuvenating energy that will surely relax your mind and ease your body of the stresses from the city life. Watch the landscape evolve when the seasons change, each coming with its own charms. So if you’re looking for a place to relax even for just a short amount of time, this arboretum will provide just that plus an unforgettable aesthetic experience.
Address: 23035 Glacier Hwy, Juneau, AK 99801, USA
Website: Jensen-Olson Arboretum
Opening hours: Sun - Wed: 9am - 4:45pm (closed on Mon & Tue)
21. Sample the delicacies at Tracy’s King Crab Shack
Stop by for a leg or order a box mail order and enjoy a leg on your couch! #tracyscrabshack #kingcrabalaska #foodstagram #alaskacrab #alaska #juneaualaska #tracyskingcrabshackPosted by Tracy's King Crab Shack on Wednesday, 24 July 2019
Get your dose of the all-famous Alaskan King Crab at Tracy’s! What makes Tracy’s different from all the other crab shacks in Alaska is how the owner’s story and passion started out with the phrase “One Leg at a Time”. 15 years since that idea, and here it is: a popular crab haven for locals and tourists. Aside from the King Crab, indulge in Snow Crab, Dungeness Crab, and many others. You can pair your meal with a beer or wine and for the best dining ambiance, enjoy your food and drinks outside, with views of the mountains – a truly Alaskan gastronomic experience!
Tracy’s King Crab Shack
Address: 432 S Franklin St #1328, Juneau, AK 99801, USA
Website: Tracy’s King Crab Shack
Opening hours: 10:30am - 9pm (daily)
22. Catch a movie at Gold Town Nickelodeon
Catching a movie in a local cinema is one of the most local ways to enjoy a place. Gold Town Nickelodeon is a downtown art house that has been transformed into a local cinema with film features showcasing vintage films and celebrating independent movie masterpieces – you’re sure to get a quality film. Snacks and drinks are also available. If you’re a film buff, don’t miss this place and step into another world meant for those with the wildest imaginations.
Gold Town Nickelodeon
Address: 171 Shattuck Way Suite 109, Juneau, AK 99801, USA
Website: Gold Town Nickelodeon
23. Visit the scenic Douglas Island
Sandy Beach, Douglas Island, AK - www.alaska-in-pictures.com Douglas Island is a tidal island in the U.S. state of...Posted by Alaska - Land of the Last Frontier on Sunday, 10 April 2016
Tongass National Forest, Eaglecrest Ski Area, Mount Roberts Tramway – who wouldn’t want to visit all of these exciting destinations? So if you have all the time in the world, or at least, you’re willing to make time for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, we recommend touring the whole of Douglas Island for a comprehensive look of the real and alternate Juneau. Take the car rental option or book tours – the choice is up to you. With so many places to discover and activities to enjoy in this popular Alaskan nature destination, taking a week off or more would be ideal to get the most of your island getaway!
Address: Douglas Island, Juneau, Alaska
24. Enjoy the nightlife at Triangle Club
Juneau, Alaska. I remember the clock and the Triangle Club.Posted by Reid Taylor on Sunday, 9 December 2018
A comprehensive visit to Alaska must include having a taste of its nightlife. Get your spirits high at the Triangle Club: it’s a friendly corner club that’s just located in the heart of downtown Juneau with great views and a relaxing atmosphere. Taste a wide variety of drinks, mingle with locals and tourists, and simply dance the night away!
Triangle Club Bar
Address: 251 Front St, Juneau, AK 99801, USA
Website: Triangle Club Bar
Opening hours: 10am - 1am (daily)
Alaska has always been known for its picturesque glaciers and snow-tipped mountains. But rather than seeing them from afar, one way to enjoy this true Alaskan view is through crossing the Mendenhall Lake and simply marvel at the icebergs you will pass by. This excursion will let you board a traditional canoe which you will paddle with your fellow adventurers. Then you will have time to appreciate the views including the Nugget Falls as well as get sightings of wildlife such as eagles, salmon, and bears. Before heading back to Juneau, you will indulge in local snacks with the beauty of Alaskan glaciers as your backdrop.
Mendenhall Lake Canoe Adventure
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
Get the most authentic Alaskan gastronomic experience with this shore excursion featuring an all-you-can-eat salmon bake and walk off your hearty meal with an array of activities! First, you will indulge in savory dishes such as salmon, Tongass wild-rice pilaf, baked beans, and other side dishes that will surely make your lunch or dinner memorable! Next, enjoy post-meal activities such as hiking up the Salmon Creek Waterfall or explore mining relics. For more laidback travelers, you may choose to stay at the campfire roasting marshmallows while listening about Tlingit culture and ancestral crafts from a local master carver. Pick a souvenir or two before heading back to your cruise ship.
Juneau Alaskan Salmon Bake, Wagner Mine Shore Excursion
Duration: 1 to 3 hours
27. Learn about the area's history at Juneau-Douglas City Museum
A visit to Juneau, Alaska, will not be complete without a trip to the museum. The edifice houses the most significant materials that document the culture and history of the Juneau and Douglas area. Through displays and exhibitions, you will learn about how this gold creek watershed region became the capital city of Alaska. The whole experience is a window to the past and will give you insights into how the present and future intertwine. The best thing perhaps – they offer free admission during winter and a small fee during summer for general admissions.
Juneau-Douglas City Museum
Address: 114 W. 4th Street Juneau, Alaska 99801
Website: Juneau-Douglas City Museum
Opening hours: (May - Sep) Mon - Fri: 9am - 6pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 4:30pm; (Oct - Apr)Tue - Sat: 10am - 4pm (closed from Sun - Mon)
An unforgettable time in Juneau, Alaska
Juneau, Alaska, has the best of both worlds - its all famous beautiful landscapes and vibrant city life. So get the most of your time here by trying out some, if not all the above-mentioned must-do activities. One last tip is to ask for a local’s recommendation and who knows, you might discover another destination that’s worthy to be on this list. Have a great time!
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