Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, is a vibrant coastal community with an eclectic downtown, tucked between the scenic mountains and protected waterways of the famous Inside Passage.
Located in the Tongass National Forest, the nation’s largest temperate rainforest, Juneau is one of the most picturesque capitals in the U.S. With everything from biking to ziplining available for visitors, plan ahead to maximize your time while in port! Chances are that magnificent Tracy Arm Fjord, 45 miles south of Juneau, is on your cruise itinerary; if not, it's worth a day trip.
Here are six fun things for you to do in Juneau, Alaska:
Explore the Mendenhall Glacier
Head to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Area as your starting point. The Mendenhall Glacier, just 12 miles from Juneau, is surrounded by several hiking trails including Nugget Falls Trail, which leads to a sandbar where you can literally feel the mist on your face from a glacier-fed waterfall. Kayak or canoe with a local operator on Mendenhall Lake or, for the more adventurous, trek on the actual glacier. If you just want a quick sightseeing jaunt, Mendenhall, a half hour from port, is the only glacier in the U.S. you can reach by road.
Hike Mt. Juneau
Like to hike? You can access the trailhead of Mount Juneau at the start of Perseverance Trail. Elevation gain on the hike is about 1,500 feet and you’ll be rewarded with views looking down on the city of Juneau.
Go whale watching
Book an excursion to go whale watching in the waters of Southeast Alaska. During the summer months, you may catch humpback whales engaging in bubble net feeding. Bubble net feeding is a mesmerizing feeding technique where the whales blow bubbles underneath a school of fish forcing them upward. The whales then surface, mouths open, ready to eat!
Fly to Taku Glacier Lodge
Seaplane-only access to Alaska’s famous Taku Glacier Lodge combines classic powerful aircraft, true wilderness, five massive glaciers, bears, vivid history with dog sledding roots, seafood and exclusive dining, glacier views included. You can visit the lodge as part of the Taku Glacier Lodge Flight & Feast tour through Wings Airways.
View wildlife on Chichagof Island
Board a float plane for Chichagof Island to an area called Waterfall Creek, where you’ll observe bears in their natural habitat. Just 30 miles west of Juneau, across the Inside Passage, Chichagof Island has one of the largest brown bear populations in the world, about three per square mile! If you have time, the village of Hoonah, on the north side of the island, offers a glimpse of Tlingit culture.
Go flightseeing over Juneau Ice Field
Take a helicopter and go flightseeing over the Juneau Ice Field. The Juneau Ice Field extends 1,500 square miles to the border of British Columbia and is the source of many glaciers, including the Mendenhall. Prepare for awe-inspiring views and the chance to walk on the actual ice field if weather permits!
How about you? What was your favorite activity or excursion when you were day tripping in Juneau? I'd love to know!
What did we overlook? Be a co-creator! This article was updated from an earlier version.