If you’re planning to cruise to Juneau, Alaska, you’re probably wondering what all there is to do there. What are the best attractions and how can you maximize your enjoyment of your time there?
Juneau is a vibrant city that boasts attractions catering to any kind of visitor. From breathtaking natural attractions to wildlife viewing to museums to breweries and distilleries, Juneau has it all.
Before you head embark, take a look at our list of the top 20 attractions in Juneau, Alaska. The more familiar you are with them, the better you’ll be able to plan your visit and maximize your time.
In This Article…
- 1. Mendenhall Glacier
- 2. Whale Watching
- 3. Tracy Arm Fjord
- 4. Nugget Falls
- 5. Mount Roberts Trail
- 6. Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway
- 7. Amalga Distillery
- 8. Shrine of St. Therese
- 9. Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure
- 10. Alaska State Museum
- 11. Alaskan Brewing Company
- 12. Macaulay Salmon Hatchery
- 13. Sealaska Heritage
- 14. Alaska State Capital
- 15. Juneau-Douglas City Museum
- 16. AJ Mine Gastineau Mill Tour
- 17. Eaglecrest Ski Area
- 18. Last Chance Mining Museum
- 19. Patsy the Dog Statue
- 20. Glacier Bay National Park
- Juneau’s Cruise Port
- Essential Travel Tips for Juneau, Alaska
- Enjoying the Best Things to Do in Juneau, Alaska
1. Mendenhall Glacier
Mendenhall Glacier is one of the most beautiful and popular attractions in the city. The thirteen-mile-long glacier dips down to a stunning blue lake dotted with icebergs.
The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor’s Center is a great place to begin your adventure. Capture stunning 180-degree views of the glacier and explore the nearby walking trail for even better angles.
Want to get up close and personal with the glacier? Book a guided adventure tour. Kayak across the frigid lake and hike up onto the ice field itself for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
2. Whale Watching
Juneau is famous for the pods of humpback whales that can be spotted in its icy waters during their annual migration. Auke Bay is also home to killer whales and other wildlife.
Book a whale watching tour to enjoy these majestic animals in their natural habitats. Whale sightings on these tours are guaranteed, so you don’t have to worry about missing out.
3. Tracy Arm Fjord
This glacial fjord is the perfect place to take in the gorgeous Alaskan scenery. Enjoy the twin Sawyer Glaciers, waterfalls that tumble down verticle rock faces, and enchanting blue ice.
Wildlife sightings are common at this remote location. If you’ve had your fill of whales, take a guided boat tour of the fjord and keep your eyes peeled for black bears, brown bears, moose, and deer.
4. Nugget Falls
Just south of Mendenhall Glacier is Nugget Falls. This massive, cascading waterfall is 337 feet wide and a must-see natural attraction while you’re visiting the glacier.
You can access the falls via the Nugget Falls Trail. This flat, 1.5-mile trail is a gorgeous walk for people of all skill levels.
5. Mount Roberts Trail
For those who want to tackle a more challenging hike, the Mount Roberts Trail is well worth the climb. You’ll experience breathtaking views of Gastineau Channel, Juneau, and Douglas.
The trail is around 4.5 miles and features a 4,000-foot ascension. But the gorgeous subalpine meadows that you’re hiking through will make you forget the burn in your legs.
6. Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway
For those who aren’t able or don’t want to deal with a difficult hike, there’s another way to take in the scenery of Mount Roberts. The Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway takes you on a six-minute ride to the mountaintop observatory. The observatory features a nature center, restaurant, theater, and gift shop.
Visitors can explore the mountaintop nature trails to take in stunning views over the Gastineau Channel. The Mountain House at the top is also a must-see. It hosts a live eagle display, a collection of tree carvings, and local Alaskan art for sale.
7. Amalga Distillery
Liquor connoisseurs, the Amalga Distillery is the destination for you. This cozy establishment is located right in downtown Juneau.
Enjoy a liquor tasting and sample your favorite cocktails, gins, and whiskeys. It’s the perfect place to warm up after a long day of adventures.
8. Shrine of St. Therese
This shrine is dedicated to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the patron saint of Alaska. It is a beautiful religious destination for those who seek to make their trip a more spiritual one.
The shrine is surrounded by picturesque views and features holy grounds, lodging, and gift shops. They also hold regular mass there, for those who wish to participate.
9. Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure
The Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure is equal parts a gorgeous botanical center and an adventure into the rainforest of the Tongass National Forest.
Tours begin with a guided walk through the landscaped lower gardens. Take in the sights and smells of immaculately manicured flowers and gardens.
Then, hop aboard an open-sided shuttle to tour the rest of the 50-acre property. This untouched forest has been preserved in its natural state. The tour also stops at several viewpoints that overlook the Mendenhall Valley, Gastineau Channel, and Chilkat Mountains.
10. Alaska State Museum
Museum-lovers, this one is for you. Located in downtown Juneau, the Alaska State Museum features over 25 thousand historical objects that capture the state’s multicultural history.
The museum honors the heritage of Alaska’s Native people. One of their current exhibits, The Spirit Wraps Around You, traces the history of sacred textiles that are known today as Ravenstail and Chilkat robes.
The museum also features exhibits about the gold rush mining and Russian colonial eras.
11. Alaskan Brewing Company
Beer lovers rejoice! The Alaskan Brewing Company is the best local brewery in Juneau. Since 1986 it’s been exemplifying Alaska’s rich history of local brewing.
The brewing company offers guided tastings and tours of their original brewhouse. They also have a tasting room where you can try and buy their famous beer.
12. Macaulay Salmon Hatchery
If you want to check out an aquarium, plan a trip to the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. The hatchery features saltwater aquariums and tide-pool touch tanks.
Because it is a working facility, visitors can enjoy guided tours and examine real Pacific salmon in various stages of their life cycles. The hatchery also has an outdoor viewing window where you can see wild salmon swimming upstream from June through October.
13. Sealaska Heritage
Another must-see for museum and art lovers, the Sealaska Heritage Institute celebrates the history and heritage of southeast Alaska’s Native people. The institute tells the ongoing stories of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Peoples.
Their heritage store features handcrafted, one-of-a-kind art pieces. Best of all, your visit and purchases help support Alaska Native artists, workshops, Indigenous language revitalization, and year-round cross-cultural programming.
14. Alaska State Capital
For history and civics buffs, or those looking for free attractions in Juneau, the Alaska State Capital is the perfect destination.
Free guided tours of the capitol building are available from Tuesday to Friday at 1:30 pm and 3:00 pm. Self-guided tours are available at any time, simply snag a brochure from the lobby and explore at your own pace.
15. Juneau-Douglas City Museum
Right next to the state capitol building is the Juneau-Douglass City Museum. They host exhibits about the history of the area including Tlingit culture and the early gold rush days.
The steep, narrow streets that surround the museum are lined with lush gardens and old heritage homes. From Tuesday through Thursday throughout the summer, the museum offers guided walking tours of historic downtown Juneau.
16. AJ Mine Gastineau Mill Tour
Learn about the history of the Alaskan gold rush era with the AJ Mine Gastineau Mill Tour. You’ll put on a hard hat and descend into a 360 foot-long tunnel in what was once the worlds’ largest gold-producing mill.
An experienced miner will demonstrate hard rock mining techniques and teach you about the old mining lifestyle. Back at the mill, you’ll have the chance to pan for gold and see the first steam engine brought to Alaska.
17. Eaglecrest Ski Area
The Eaglecrest Ski Area on Douglas Island is the best place to hit the slopes in Juneau. There are 36 runs that cater to beginner, intermediate, and experienced skiers alike. Eaglecrest also boasts 10 miles of Nordic trails for cross-country skiers.
The skiing season at Eaglecrest lasts from December to April. In the summer, the area transforms into an excellent spot for hiking and downhill mountain biking.
18. Last Chance Mining Museum
Captivated by the history of the Alaskan gold rush? Tour an abandoned mine at the Last Chance Mining Museum, the only historic mining building open to the public from Juneau’s gold rush era.
The Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Company operated the site from 1912 to 1994 before abandoning it. Let the preserved grounds transport you back in time as you wander among the rusty buildings and decaying equipment.
The museum also features one of the world’s largest air compressors and a short scenic hike.
19. Patsy the Dog Statue
Visiting Patsy Ann’s statue is a great activity to do on cold or rainy days.
Patsy was a bull terrier who came to Juneau in 1929. Although she was deaf from birth, Patsy had the ability to “hear” steamship whistles long before the boats were in sight and always ran to the docks to greet the incoming ships. Juneau’s Mayor dubbed her the “Official Greeter of Juneau, Alaska” in 1934.
Juneau’s daily newspaper recorded Patsy Ann’s activities. She would wander the isles of the local Coliseum Theater during musical performances, stop by local shops for bits of food and candy bars, and left pawprints on a freshly paved sidewalk on South Seward Street.
After her death in 1942, the town placed a statue of her on the cruise ship dock to welcome visitors to the city, just as she did nearly a century ago. You can still visit her statue today, and give it a rub on the nose for good luck.
20. Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay National Park spans more than three million acres. This massive park is home to stunning scenery, rugged mountains, massive glaciers, temperate rainforests, and remote fjords.
Bartlett Cove is the only developed area in the park. They have hiking trails, designated campgrounds, and kayaks for rent.
There are many different tours to check out. Take a cruise out into Glacier Bay itself, where eight icebergs dip down into the water. Or take a flightseeing excursion to experience the park from above.
Juneau’s Cruise Port
The cruise docks are on the south end of downtown Juneau. The docks are able to accommodate many large ships at once and are connected by a wide boardwalk.
The pier features a visitor information center, a lovely seaside park, and access to the Mount Roberts Tramway cable cars. You can also find Patsy the Dog’s statue on the docks.
The pier opens onto Franklin Street, a bustling area packed with shops and eateries that cater to tourists. Franklin Street connects to downtown Juneau propper, which is about a mile and a half from the cruise docks.
Essential Travel Tips for Juneau, Alaska
Now that you know the top 20 things to do in Juneau, you’re probably already thinking about the best ways to prepare.
One crucial tip is to pack based on the season. If you’re visiting from July to August, you can expect milder temperatures and a few precious days of sunshine.
But it’s still important to pack a good jacket and warm pants. Alaska can get cold quickly during any month.
Another thing to note, if your cruise begins or ends in a Canadian port, you will need passports for yourself and the rest of your party. Getting a passport typically takes around 18 weeks, so take care of this step early!
If you’re planning on enjoying outdoor excursions like hiking or kayaking, make sure to pack suitable clothes. This includes hiking shoes, clothing you’re comfortable exercising in, and sunglasses. You should also have sunscreen and insect repellent on you at all times.
If warmth is a priority, June through August are the best months to visit. However, this is the peak season, so expect to pay a little more for excursions and lodging.
May and September are excellent months for finding better deals on cruises, airfare, and shore excursions. Plus, both the snowcapped mountain vistas of May and the vivid fall colors of September are stunning. These months are also great for avoiding bugs and mosquitos.
Juneau has attractions for every budget. Touring the state capital and exploring historic downtown Juneau is completely free. Whereas guided tours and excursions can be a bit pricey.
It’s a good idea to budget between $1,000 and $1,500 per person for excursions. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy any excursions that you want and make the very most out of your Alaskan cruise.
One word: planning. If you’re cruising to Juneau, you’ll likely only have a day or two in port. If that is the case, prioritize your must-see excursions and book them well in advance.
Once you’ve figured out the time blocks that those adventures will take up, fill the downtime with other, smaller activities. Take a walk through historic downtown Juneau if you have an hour between excursions. Or end your day relaxing at a local brewery.
Make sure you leave plenty of time to get from one destination to the other. And if the ship is leaving port, don’t be late getting back!
Enjoying the Best Things to Do in Juneau, Alaska
Juneau is a vibrant, historic city with attractions for every kind of visitor. Now that you know the top 20 things to do in Juneau, Alaska, you can ensure that your next trip there will be everything you dreamed of.
Also Read: IDEAL Things to Do in Ketchikan, Alaska
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