When visiting Juneau, Alaska, be sure to explore all Juneau has to offer. When planning your activities and excursions for a day in Juneau, consider these five great options:
1.See Mendenhall Glacier
Although you will see many glaciers during the cruise, be sure not to miss the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, which is practically in the middle of town! Only 13 miles from downtown Juneau, this beautiful glacier is 12 miles long and 1/2 miles wide in certain areas.
To get a good glimpse of the glacier, be sure to stop by the visitor center. There are several viewing options, ranging from a short 0.3 mile walk, to an almost 7 mile hike up 1,300 feet. Neither option will get you on the ice itself, but there are other options that can. Some adventure tours are available like helicopter tours, dog sledding, or with proper training, setting foot on the glacier itself. Many tour companies offer a variety of options for seeing the glacier, or your cruise ship will likely have a planned excursions available.
For those looking to visit the glacier on their own, there are transport buses that run from downtown to the visitor center numerous times a day.
The visitor center is open year round. From May – September, the hours are 8am -7:30pm and it remains open on federal holidays. During the winter months of October – April, the visitor center is open 10am – 4pm, Thursday through Sunday, and closed on all federal holidays. There is a $3 USD admission during the summer months as well. If you book as part of a tour, the admission fee will likely be included in the price of the ticket; but be sure to check.
2. Go Whale Watching on Auke Bay
Just down from Mendenhall Glacier is Auke Bay, filled with fishing boats and yachts ready to head out in search of salmon and halibut. This is also where many of the whale watching boats depart from. If you have time, spend 1/2 day on Auke Bay in search of humpback whales, the sometimes elusive orca, and enjoy the bald eagles flying overhead.
Humpback whales are usually easy to spot on these tours, and depending on the time of year – you may get treated to an orca whale or two. Be ready with the camera though – they tend to disappear into the water fast and can stay under for quite some time!
3. Ascend to the Top of Mt. Roberts
Take the scenic Mt. Robert’s Tramway and travel up 1800 feet to the top of Mt. Roberts for a bird’s eye view of the area. There are hiking trails, a bald eagle and nature center, bear viewing platforms, and even a restaurant where you can grab a quick bite to eat.
The tramway is $27 US for adult, $13.50 for children 6-12, and under 5 are free; which includes all-day unlimited rides. The Mount Roberts Tramway operates during the cruise season from May through September, Monday – Friday from 8am – 9pm, and Saturday – Sunday from 9am – 9pm.
4. Visit Alaskan Brewing Company
The Alaskan Brewing Company produces some fantastic beers, many of which are quite popular in the United States and beyond. Some of their more popular offerings include the Alaskan Amber, and the seasonal Winter and Summer Ales.
The headquarters for Alaskan Brewing Company are in Juneau and they offer complimentary tours and tastings year round. If you plan to visit the brewery on your own, you will need to take a taxi or hire a private car as the brewery is not located in the downtown waterfront area of Juneau.
Alaskan Brewing Company is open year round. The gift shop and tours hours are: May – September 11am – 6pm, 7 days a week, and October – April 11am – 5pm, Thursday through Saturday only.
5. Enjoy a Meal at Hangar on the Wharf
This is a popular hangout for tourists and locals alike and features great views of the Gasitneau Channel and Douglas Island. Hangar on the Wharf is known for their fresh halibut tacos, beer battered halibut and chips, and a great selection of micro brews on tap. On a nice day, be sure to sit at one of the outdoor tables where you can enjoy watching the float planes land in the harbor.
If you are looking for something a little more formal, you can also visit Twisted Fish, which is the owned by the same parent company as Hangar on the Wharf. Twisted Fish features a number of fresh local seafood entrees, with views of the channel and the cruise ship pier.