The Best Things to Do in Juneau

Sunset over Mendenhall Glacier and Mendenhall Lake

Sunset over Mendenhall Glacier. ©Scott Johnson

1. Mendenhall Glacier

Glacier views, trails, waterfall, visitor center, rafting/kayaking

Jutting out of the massive Juneau Icefield, the Mendenhall Glacier is one of the city’s biggest attractions. Start at the Visitor Center for info about the glacier, a short video and overlook. Several nearby trails provide additional viewpoints, from a short jaunt to Photo Point to the challenging 3.5-mile East Glacier loop. The popular Nugget Falls Trail (2 miles round trip) brings you to the base of a roaring high volume waterfall.

For a quieter view of Mendenhall Glacier, join a guided float trip or canoe tour on Mendenhall Lake or go sea kayaking on Auke Bay. Or, take in the glacier and icefield from above on a flightseeing tour. Look out on alpine lakes, moraines, and crevasses. Still not close enough? Touch down on the glacier on a guided glacier trek or dogsled ride.

Humpback whale breaching near Juneau, Alaska

Humpback Whale breaches near Juneau. ©Brian Hild

Mt Roberts Tram in Juneau Alaska

Mt. Roberts Tram rising above the cruise ship docks in Juneau

2. Whale Watching

Jet boat ride, onboard naturalist, whales, seabirds

Southeast Alaska is one of the main summer feeding grounds for humpback and orca whales. Thousands of whales migrate here after wintering in Hawai’i. From Juneau, a 3.5-hour boat ride brings you to the action. With a naturalist on board, you’ll learn all about these amazing cetaceans. Catch the excitement of spotting a fluke (tail) or several humpbacks surrounding their meal before rising up at once to “bubble feed.” On this trip, you’re guaranteed a whale sighting – or your money back!

3. Mount Juneau and Mount Roberts

Mountain views, nature trail, tram

Enjoy impressive views of Juneau and Gastineau Channel from atop Mount Juneau or Mount Roberts. The three-mile out and back Mount Juneau climb is a local favorite, with steep slopes and multiple creek crossings. A similar trail takes you 4.5 miles (and a 3800-foot elevation gain) to the summit of Mount Roberts. Watch for grouse, marmots and black bear on the way. Or you can take the Mount Roberts Tramway, a 5 minute ride ending with a fantastic view and a shorter optional hike (Alpine Loop Trail) at 1,760 feet.

Kerry Howard The Mendenhall Towers loom large over tourists dog sledding on the Juneau Icefield

Mush across the Juneau Icefield ©Kerry Howard

Mother and cub brown bear near Juneau, Alaska

Fly 30 minutes to view bears in their natural habitat

4. Trek or Dogsled on a Glacier

Glacier views, ice climbing, dogsledding, flightseeing

Glaciers are an iconic part of the Alaska experience, and Juneau’s proximity to the Juneau Icefield offers many ways to interact with a 3,000 year-old attraction that’s larger than the state of Rhode Island! For magnificent views, take a flightseeing trip (as short as 40 minutes) that can be paired with a glacier landing/walk. Get in real trekking mode with a guided walk or climb, or helicopter to a glacier for an exhilarating dogsled ride, one of the best ways to experience authentic Alaska dog sledding in the summer.

5. Bear Viewing

Scenic flight, salmon, brown bear

Southeast Alaska islands boast large populations of brown bears, and a 30-minute scenic floatplane ride from Juneau will take you to the heart of bear country. This is a fantastic opportunity to watch these massive creatures foraging along the shoreline or fishing in creeks for rich and tasty salmon. You’ll travel in a small group of five, which ensures an uncrowded bear viewing experience. Veteran guides will take you to Pack Creek bear viewing area on nearby Admiralty Island, or Waterfall Creek on Chichagof Island, where you’ll walk about a quarter mile on gravel beaches and trails, spending between 3-6 hours in bear habitat, depending on which trip you choose.

Alaska Travel Adventures Historic Juneau Gold Mine Tour2012 01 641630394

Pan for gold and keep what you find!

6. Gold history tours

Goldpanning, history, rainforest, salmon dinner

Gold spurred the founding of Juneau in 1880, with Joe Juneau and other prospectors flocking to Gold Creek in search of fortune. Tours are set within the lush rainforest, where all the action took place in Juneau’s early days. Feel the icy chill of the creek as you perfect gold panning techniques. Be sure to pair the adventure with a satisfying salmon bake – which is likely the type of meal gold miners enjoyed too.

7. The Alaska State Museum

Alaska history, natural history, fine art

For more than a century, the Alaska State Museum has collected and displayed artifacts that weave a picture of Alaska’s history. Stroll through the cleverly displayed exhibits (redesigned in 2016), which take you through different eras of this history. Learn about the clothing, weapons, tools and ceremonial objects from distinct Alaska Native populations, as well as icons and other memorabilia from Russian-American days. Other features include the discovery room, with a climb-aboard replica of a sailing ship, fine art gallery, gift shop and café.

Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure 2017 6 June

Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure

8. Garden tours

Rainforest/botanical garden tour

Learn about the flora of Alaska’s lush Tongass National Forest on the fascinating Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure, located just a mile from the airport. Covered vehicles transport you through the temperate rainforest, leading to excellent views of Juneau. The narrated tour highlights the diverse plant life, well-developed botanical gardens, and frequent eagle sightings. Not to be missed: uniquely designed flower “towers”: showy and colorful displays cascade down 15-foot-tall upside-down trees.

9. Old Glacier Highway & Shrine of St. Therese

Hiking, holy shrine, kayaking, beach walks

Drive north of Juneau on the Old Glacier Highway, where about 40 miles of paved road, lead to beaches, coves, gardens, hiking trails and the peaceful Shrine of St. Therese (22 miles north). Visit the chapel, stroll tranquil paths and even enjoy a longer stay at one of the Shrine’s rental cabins. Just up the road, the 14-acre Jenson-Olson Arboretum showcases sky blue poppies growing 4 feet tall, more than 200 species of primroses, and a century-old vegetable garden. With native and non-native plants, there’s something to admire year round. Find great views (and eagles!) at Eagle Beach, 28 miles north. At the end of Old Glacier Road, Echo Cove leads out to Berner’s Bay and can be explored by kayak.

Russell Lowney Shrine of St Terese

Shrine of St. Therese ©Russel Lowney

Eagle crest ski area DSC06607 Snow ghosts on Pittmans Ridge at Eaglecrest John Erben

Eagle Crest Ski Area

10. Winter Fun

Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating

Hit the slopes at Eaglecrest Ski Area, located on Douglas Island, across Gastineau Channel from Juneau. Downhill aficionados will find several levels of difficulty for downhill skiing and snowboarding, with a vertical drop up to 1620 feet. Nordic fans can explore 9 km of groomed trails for classic and skate skiing, with features for both beginners and advanced skiiers.

Locals also enjoy winter’s frozen beauty while ice skating on lakes or walking/skiing/sledding across Mendenhall Lake to get a view of the half-frozen Nugget Falls.

Show Map

Juneau Day Tours & Attractions View All

$739+ 4 - 7 hrs

Pack Creek Bear Tours offers ful­ly guid­ed adven­tures to Admi­ral­ty Island or Chichagof Island, each home to more than 1,500 brown bears! After a beau­ti­ful 20- or 25-minute float­plane ride, you’ll land on a remote beach. Take a short walk to the bear-view­ing area, where you can watch these mag­nif­i­cent crea­tures for hours in their nat­ur­al environment.

Season: Apr 28 to Sep 30 $235+ 40 min - 3 hrs

Go with Wings Air­ways and you’ll take off from Juneau in a 10-pas­sen­ger DeHav­il­land Otter float­plane and get a lush view of the city as well as the sur­round­ing moun­tains and ice fields. Opt for a 40-minute flight see­ing tour, or book the Flight and Feast Tour,” which takes you to dine at a 1920’s lodge.

$6 admission only | $30 walking tours (includes admission)

This muse­um sits on the site where Alas­ka offi­cial­ly became a state. View the exhibits and watch an award-win­ning doc­u­men­tary about the city. Plus, the City Muse­um doesn’t end at the building’s walls. From May to Sep­tem­ber, you can take walk­ing tours of his­toric down­town Juneau and the Alas­ka State Capitol.

3.25 - 5.25 hrs

North­star Trekking oper­ates out of Juneau and caters to all styles of explo­ration. The curi­ous glac­i­er observ­er can sim­ply fly to the glac­i­er and snap pho­tographs from flat or rolling ter­rain. You can also choose to hike on the glac­i­er itself. If you’re very adven­tur­ous, you can even learn how to climb on the ice walls. No mat­ter which option you choose, North­Star Trekking will guide you all the way, mak­ing sure you get the most out of this  ...more

Season: May 04 to Sep 23 $159 per person 1.75 - 5.5 hrs

Get up close and per­son­al with the famous Menden­hall Glac­i­er on this unfor­get­table canoe trip. No expe­ri­ence is nec­es­sary to pad­dle across a glac­i­er-fed lake to with­in 200 yards of the gor­geous blue ice. The crowds fade away and for the next two hours you’ll be sur­round­ed by water, moun­tains, and the seren­i­ty of Alaska’s nat­ur­al surroundings.

Season: May 11 to Sep 06 $129+ 1.5 hrs

Hop on a TEM­SCO heli­copter for an Alaskan adven­ture com­bin­ing avi­a­tion, sled dogs and mas­sive glac­i­ers. Get an amaz­ing view of the gor­geous land­scape sur­round­ing Juneau, and then ride along as an ener­getic team of huskies tours you around the ancient, snow-packed Menden­hall glacier.

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $56 1.5-2 hrs

Get a serv­ing of his­to­ry along with a clas­sic Alaskan feast. The Gold Creek Salmon Bake, a two-hour expe­ri­ence out of Juneau, has been run­ning for more than 30 years. It’s a great meal and an Alaskan tra­di­tion. You’re dis­patched from your hotel and brought to a cor­ner of the South­east Alas­ka rain­for­est, which saw lots of activ­i­ty dur­ing Alaska’s Gold Rush.

$45

Take a five-minute ride from the cruise ship pier to the Moun­tain House,1,800′ up Mount Roberts, where the Chilkat Moun­tains, the Gastineau Chan­nel, down­town Juneau, Dou­glas Island, and Admi­ral­ty Island spread out before you. Vis­it the gift shop, restau­rant, live bald eagle dis­play, and nature cen­ter. Check out the wildlife view­ing plat­forms and fol­low the self-guid­ed trail marked by Native totemic carv­ings for access to upper alpine hiking  ...more

Season: May 06 to Aug 30

Get great views with some hands-on fun — com­bine a scenic flight­see­ing heli­copter tour with the exhil­a­ra­tion of dog mush­ing on a glac­i­er with a team of huskies! It’s easy to do — just go with North­Star Trekking on their Juneau Glac­i­er Dog Sled Adven­ture. You’ll fly over the Juneau Ice­field for about 35 min­utes and land in a sled camp on the snow-cov­ered mid­dle branch of the Nor­ris Glacier

Season: Apr 24 to Oct 06 $319+ 1 to 1.5 hrs (approximate)

A tour aboard a TEM­SCO heli­copter offers beau­ti­ful views of Alaska’s Cap­i­tal City, and up-close explo­ration of Menden­hall, one of the state’s most acces­si­ble glac­i­ers. Look out on alpine lakes, moraines, and crevass­es before you land and check out the Juneau Ice­field for yourself.

Season: Year Round
3 to 10 Day + | $2600+ / Person
Cruise Ship Type: Small Ship Cruises
Ship Name: S/V Arcturus

This South­east Alas­ka-based tour oper­a­tor will leave you with a new def­i­n­i­tion of what it means to have a once-in-a-life­time Alas­ka cruise: You sail on an inti­mate ves­sel — often get­ting to steer your­self, under the super­vi­sion of an expe­ri­enced licensed cap­tain — while explor­ing away from the crowds, and get­ting a won­der­ful­ly up-close view of the wildlife and scenery. Sail­ings from Juneau and Sitka. 

$119 3.75 hrs

Plen­ty of whale tours let you watch the orcas and hump­backs as they breach and spout from the water — but not many also let you eaves­drop on the big mam­mals’ con­ver­sa­tions. This 3.5‑hour tour out of Juneau is equipped with an ampli­fied hydrophone sys­tem; lis­ten to the whales under­wa­ter while enjoy­ing the lush rain­for­est views. Onboard the North Star — a 48-pas­sen­ger jet boat with large win­dows, an out­side view­ing deck, and a com­fort­able inside  ...more

Eagle­crest is one of the few com­mu­ni­ty-owned ski areas in the US — and the only one that can boast of being on an island, which gives it the unique perk of hav­ing ski slopes with ocean views. Whether you are a begin­ner look­ing to play in the snow, or a long­time ski­er or board­er, Eagle­crest makes a great all-ages win­ter play­ground. In sum­mer, enjoy hik­ing, moun­tain bik­ing, and berry picking. 

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $71 1.5 hrs

Come on this 1 ½‑hour tour out­side Juneau, and you’ll get a big appre­ci­a­tion for prospec­tors who arrived here more than 100 years ago: This water is seri­ous­ly cold. But this quick stroll into Alaska’s gold-fever-influ­enced past offers a fun his­to­ry les­son, as well as a pleas­ant­ly short turn at pan­ning in that icy water your­self — with a guar­an­tee that you’ll score a lit­tle gold to take home. Alas­ka Trav­el Adven­tures’ His­toric Gold Mining &  ...more

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $149 3.5 hrs

The focus of the 3.5‑hour Menden­hall Glac­i­er Float Trip is great views of the name­sake glac­i­er, which is 1.5 miles wide, 150 feet high, and the most famous part of the mas­sive Juneau Ice­field that even John Muir once raved about. Glide along the ice­berg-stud­ded lake and scope out the glac­i­er, get­ting up-close views of hang­ing glac­i­ers and tow­er­ing peaks. Keep an eye out for birds nest­ing in the rocky cliffs, as well as otters, seals, black  ...more

Season: May 01 to Sep 30 $112 3.5 hours

Glac­i­erview Sea Kayak­ing with Alas­ka Trav­el Adven­tures offers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to kayak through Auke Bay while enjoy­ing views of Menden­hall Glac­i­er. You’ll also have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to see wildlife like whales, sea lions, seals, and bald eagles. Kayak­ing offers a much more inti­mate and qui­et expe­ri­ence than oth­er boat tours; at the same time, it is per­fect for trav­el­ers who want an adven­ture. And even if you’ve nev­er pad­dled a kayak before, a  ...more

Season: May 01 to Sep 27 $109+ 4 to 4.5 hrs

Take a spin through Juneau on a fun bike tour. It’s a great way to explore Alaska’s cap­i­tal city, with lots of scenery and his­to­ry along the way. Choose from one of sev­er­al options. There’s a bike and brew tour, which includes see­ing the Menden­hall Glac­i­er as well as a tast­ing of Alaskan beers. Or ride your bike out to Dou­glas Island for a tram ride, 1,800 feet up Mt. Roberts for some spec­tac­u­lar views. Or cus­tom design your own great bike trip  ...more

$26.95

Tucked inside the lush Ton­gass Nation­al For­est, dis­cov­er an Alaskan botan­i­cal gar­den unlike any­where else in the world. A 2012 Read­er’s Digest poll chose Glac­i­er Gar­dens out of thou­sands of entries as the Most Inter­est­ing Land­mark in Amer­i­ca! Vibrant hang­ing gar­dens spill from 15-foot-tall upside down tree Flower Tow­ers” and ele­gant­ly designed land­scapes com­pli­ment the nat­ur­al beau­ty of the rain­for­est. Explore these unique gar­dens on a guided  ...more

Season: Apr 28 to Oct 06 $174 3.5 hours

Take time to enjoy the upper canopy of the Ton­gass Nation­al For­est on a zipline tour that offers the excite­ment of fly­ing through old-growth for­est, walk­ing across a sky-bridge, and a tea break to soak up the moment. Glide across 7 zips on this course locat­ed in the Eagle­crest Ski Area on Dou­glas Island and fin­ish up your tour with some axe throw­ing. It’s a blast for the whole family!

[{"slug":"juneau","title":"Juneau"}]

Juneau Parks & Trails View All

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

The path to the Per­se­ver­ance trail­head, Basin Road, show­cas­es a dra­mat­ic change from urban to wilder­ness, lead­ing from down­town Juneau to a spec­tac­u­lar canyon. At the end of it is where Per­se­ver­ance Trail begins, and this for­mer rail line (named for the mine it once ser­viced) quick­ly climbs up above the Gold Creek val­ley. There’s plen­ty to see along the way, includ­ing old mine shafts that blow cool winds, and a stretch of trail where the  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

Locat­ed in Menden­hall Wet­lands State Game Refuge, this trail is wheel­chair-acces­si­ble and close to the air­port. It has many oppor­tu­ni­ties for water­fowl and bird watch­ing. It is excel­lent­ly main­tained. This makes the trail a very easy hike. Many times you will see strollers, run­ners and bik­ers on this trail because it is paved. 

Difficulty: Easy

Once you reach the Moun­tain House at the 1,800-foot lev­el of Mount Roberts, step onto trails that begin in a sub-alpine ecosys­tem and climb anoth­er 300 feet into the true alpine. With six­ty stair steps, a length of one-half mile and an ele­va­tion gain of just 150ft, the main trail will take you to open vis­tas, moun­tain val­leys, snow gul­lies, rocky ridges and stun­ning views of moun­tains in Glac­i­er Bay, British Colum­bia, the South­east Alaskan…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

The lake and glac­i­er are the pre­mier des­ti­na­tion for the thou­sands of cruise-ship tourists who vis­it Juneau, but they don’t ven­ture much beyond the vis­i­tor cen­ter and the short trails just out­side it, leav­ing the moun­tains above the cen­ter very qui­et in comparison. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2 miles

This is a wheel­chair-acces­si­ble trail that fol­lows the Menden­hall Riv­er green­belt area, start­ing at Broth­er­hood Bridge off Glac­i­er Hwy. The name is Tlin­git for going back clear­wa­ter trail.” Expect a lot of traf­fic. The trail is 2‑miles long, paved, and pro­vides one of the great views of Menden­hall Glac­i­er, begin­ning at the Broth­er­hood Bridge trail­head. In mid-sum­mer, over a flat field of iris and fire­weed, the Menden­hall ris­es between…  ...more

Eagle­crest is one of the few com­mu­ni­ty-owned ski areas in the US — and the only one that can boast of being on an island, which gives it the unique perk of hav­ing ski slopes with ocean views. Whether you are a begin­ner look­ing to play in the snow, or a long­time ski­er or board­er, Eagle­crest makes a great all-ages win­ter play­ground. In sum­mer, enjoy hik­ing, moun­tain bik­ing, and berry picking. 

[{"slug":"juneau","title":"Juneau"}]