Alaska’s capital city tucked between towering peaks and the deep blue sea offers no shortage of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Get ready to be awed by breathtaking natural landscapes and get your fill of local culture and cuisine. Here are the ten best things you absolutely must do on your Juneau vacation!
10 Amazing Alaska Bucket List Adventures
1. Feast Your Eyes on the Majestic Mendenhall Glacier
This gorgeous glacier flowing down from the Juneau Icefield is nothing short of magnificent. Take a scenic hike to witness its icy blue glow up close, stand under thunderous waterfalls, and breathe in that crisp glacial air. Don’t forget your camera – selfies with the glacier will rake in the likes on social media!
Fun fact: Bring some marshmallows to roast over the steam vents near the glacier’s face.
2. Go Whale Watching off Auke Bay
Juneau’s whale watching opportunities are unparalleled. Annually, over 40 tons of humpback whales congregate in these rich feeding grounds near the bay. Several companies offer boat tours that get you front row seats to breaching whales in action. Listen closely and you may hear their songs too!
Pro tip: Dress warmly in waterproof layers even if it looks sunny – the winds on the water can be nippy.
3. Pan for Gold in Last Chance Basin
Relive Juneau’s gold rush era by panning for real gold in the basin where prospectors struck it rich over a century ago. Keep what you find too! Just be warned that you may catch a case of gold fever.
Who knew picking through dirt could be so intriguing? My arms were sore but I uncovered a couple of tiny flakes to take home.
4. Indulge at a Local Eatery
Juneau has no shortage of top-notch seafood from fresh wild Alaskan salmon to succulent king crab legs. Enjoy the local bounty by dining at Tracy’s Crab Shack for their garlic and butter Dungeness crab or drop by the Hangar on the Wharf for their renowned halibut tacos. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a local craft beer!
That salmon dip I ordered for an appetizer was so scrumptious, I nearly licked the bowl clean. Oops
5. Take an Epic Flightseeing Tour
Soar over Juneau’s peaks and ice sheets in a small bush plane and experience landscapes usually only visible to the birds. On a clear day, you’ll capture Instagram trophy shots of the lush Tongass National Forest, imposing Mount Fairweather, and Juneau Icefield’s countless crevasses and meltwater pools.
Note: motion sickness pills are an excellent idea if you get queasy easily.
6. Hike to Point Bridget State Park
Alaska’s nature is best appreciated on foot away from crowds. The hike to Point Bridget’s secluded shoreline treats you to verdant rainforest scenery, wild berries to sample, and a scenic coastline dotted with tide pools and sea creatures. Pack a picnic too and dine overlooking the picturesque islands offshore.
I met the friendliest porcupine along the trail! Luckily I didn’t get too close and become a human pincushion.
7. Visit the Alaska State Museum
This first-rate museum details Alaska’s ecology and diverse indigenous cultures alongside Russian colonial and gold rush relics. Don’t miss the massive blue whale skeleton greeting visitors at the entrance. And the onsite café serves an amazing seafood chowder if you get hungry.
My favorite exhibit displayed creepy ritual masks. One looked like an angry walrus spirit that gave me the heebie jeebies.
8. Go Flightseeing Over a Glacier
Combine Alaska’s stellar views and glacial landscapes on an exhilarating helicopter tour. Touch down on a glacier to cavort in an icy world filled with deep crevasses and meltwater pools in shades of blue you never imagined possible. Crunching over the pitted frozen landscape is an otherworldly experience you won’t forget.
I whooped loudly while glacier trekking much to my guide’s amusement. I couldn’t help it – the scenery was just so breathtaking!
9. Explore Perseverance Theater
This acclaimed theater is Juneau’s hub for showcasing local performing and literary arts. Catch an original production or performance art piece for a taste of the city’s creative soul alongside the building’s eye-catching architecture. You may even rub elbows with visiting artists while enjoying refreshments in the lobby lounge.
The set designers crafted an entire alien landscape filled with weirdly shaped purple plants that felt like I stepped onto another planet.
10. Go On a Historical Bar Crawl
Juneau has no shortage of atmospheric historical bars that oozed tales. Knock back local brews at the triangle-shaped Alaskan Hotel and Bar that attracted both miners and politicians alike over 100 years ago. Or check out the clapboard Hangar Bar allegedly frequented by erudite poet Robert Service between tales.
One bartender told me spirits lurked on the staircase after closing time, but I’m pretty sure my buzz was to blame for seeing mysterious shadows.
So get packing for Juneau, my Alaska-loving friend! Its dazzling landscapes, rich history, and welcoming spirit are calling. Just don’t forget the camera batteries – with this epic itinerary, they’ll be drained in no time. Feel free to share more Juneau must-do’s in the comments too. I’d love to hear your experiences!