If you’re looking for a breathtaking Alaskan destination to visit, Juneau is the place for you! Nestled in the Tongass National Forest, Juneau offers stunning landscapes and plenty of things to do. This travel guide will provide tips on where to stay, where to eat, and what to do in Juneau, Alaska. We’ll also highlight some of our favorite attractions in Juneau, including whale watching, Mendenhall Glacier, and The Red Dog Saloon.
Where is Juneau, Alaska?
Juneau is the capital city of Alaska and is located in the southeastern part of the state. Due to it only being accessible by boat or plane, it is a unique destination. Juneau has just over 32,000 people and covers an area of about 3000 square miles. Juneau is the second-largest city in Alaska after Anchorage.
The Best Time of Year to Visit Juneau
The best time to visit Juneau is during the summer months, from June to August. Juneau experiences mild temperatures and long days during the summer, making it the perfect time to explore all that the city has to offer. Bonus, Juneau’s peak whale season is May through September. It is during this time that the humpback whales are very active and can be most often observed.
How to Get to Juneau
There are two main ways to get to Juneau: Multiple airlines offer airlines that offer flights to Juneau International Airport (JNU), including Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines. Juneau is also a popular cruise destination, so if you’re taking a cruise to Alaska, chances are you will stop in Juneau. We had some time to explore while we were stopping on a cruise..
Where to Stay in Juneau
There are many hotels and lodges to choose from in Juneau. The Silverbow Inn is located downtown and near many restaurants and shops and offers an airport shuttle. If you’re looking for a more luxurious and adventurous option, Pearson’s Pond Luxury Suites and Vacation Rentals is a great choice.
If you’re visiting Juneau on a budget, there are also some great options for you. The Juneau Hotel is located downtown and offers free parking and breakfast. Another option is the Alaskan Hotel & Bar, which is also downtown and has an on-site brewery.
There are many Airbnb options in Juneau as well for a more home-like experience. We love the cozycozy app where you can search various options available all in one place.
Things to Do in Juneau
Once you are in Juneau, you may be wondering, what is there to do in Juneau!? Well, there are plenty of things to do. We recommend checking out the following activities:
Juneau is one of the best places in Alaska to go whale watching. Multiple companies offer tours, and you’re almost guaranteed to see whales! We highly recommend Gastineau Guiding. They are a locally-owned business that has been providing whale watching tours since 1994. Not only are they a sustainable company, but you can tell how much they care about the whales and protecting them.
There are many hiking trails in Juneau, but the most popular is probably the Perseverance Trail. This trailhead is located just outside of town and takes you up to the Juneau Icefield. The views from the top are incredible and definitely worth the hike! Even if you’re not an experienced hiker, this trail is doable for most people since it’s not too long or difficult.
Another great hiking trail is the West Glacier Trail. This trail is located in Mendenhall Valley and takes you to the Mendenhall Glacier. This is a shorter hike, but it’s still really beautiful. If you have time, we definitely recommend doing both of these hikes!
If you’re looking for things to do in Juneau, Alaska, one of the best things to do is go fishing. Juneau is home to many charter companies that offer fishing tours, and you can fish for salmon, halibut, trout, and more. There are many lakes and rivers in Juneau that make for perfect fishing spots.
If you’re interested in learning more about Juneau’s history, there are multiple museums worth visiting. The Juneau-Douglas City Museum is a great place to start. This museum has exhibits on Juneau’s Gold Rush history as well as the Tlingit people who have lived in Southeast Alaska for centuries.
The Alaska State Museum is another great option. This museum is located in Juneau’s downtown area and has exhibits on Alaska’s natural history, Native cultures, and Gold Rush history.
If you want to try your hand at gold mining, Juneau is the perfect place to do it. Juneau was founded during the Gold Rush, and there are still gold mines in operation today. You can take a tour of a working gold mine, or even try panning for gold yourself.
Glacier’s Garden Rainforest Adventure
This is a great activity for families or those who want to learn more about Juneau’s rainforest. The Glacier Garden’s Rainforest Adventure is located in Mendenhall Valley and takes you through the forest canopy on a suspended sky bridge. You’ll also get to see glaciers, waterfalls, and wildlife.
Where to Eat and Drink
There are many great places to eat and drink in Juneau. Juneau’s Historic Downtown area is home to many restaurants and bars. For a casual meal, we recommend the Alaskan Hotel & Bar or the Hangar on the Wharf. If you’re looking for something a little nicer, try Tracy’s Crab Shack or The Rookery Cafe.
We also recommend visiting the Red Dog Saloon. This is actually our favorite place! This restaurant is located in Juneau’s downtown area and has a really fun atmosphere. If you are arriving on a cruise ship, this may be walking distance to your cruise port if you are fortunate enough We enjoyed some live music and brews. The menu included dive-bar noshes like pretzels, cheese sauce, and fried mozzarella sticks- perfect pairings with beer.
Interestingly enough, years ago, Gerry’s parents visited the Red Dog Saloon while in Juneau and brought him back a t-shirt, which he still has today. It is much smaller now. 🙂
Juneau is a great place to drink local beer. Juneau has multiple breweries, and you can find their beer on tap at many bars and restaurants around town. Alaskan Brewing Company is the most popular brewery, and its beer is available all over Alaska. If you’re looking for something a little different, we also recommend checking out Broken Tooth Brewing. They have a taproom in Juneau’s downtown area. They have 73 craft beers so they are sure to have something for every palate.
Juneau, Alaska is a great place to visit. There are many things to do, and it’s a beautiful city. If you are cruising to Alaska, be sure to check out our blog post, What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise (without packing everything). You are sure to have a wonderful time as there is a lot to do in Juneau, Alaska. Be sure to let us know if there are top things that you think we should add to the list!