So you’ve just arrived, and you’re trying to figure out what is there to do around Juneau from a cruise ship. Don’t worry, this is how most people arrive: with a few hours or few days to kill, and not much of an idea of what exactly to do. Well, never fear, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re in Juneau for a short or multi-day stay, we’ve put together a list of some of the best things to do around town.
Starting with the obvious, Mendenhall Glacier is arguably Juneau’s only must-see attraction. It’s also pretty easy to cover on a limited timeframe. This half-mile wide glacier offers some of the best views anywhere in Alaska. From the ferry terminal, there’s regular buses to within a mile or so of the glacier visitor center; alternatively, a cab can make the 7 mile journey a little quicker.
From the visitor center, you can soak up great views of the glacier, or lace up your walking shoes for a hike. The most popular trail, Nuggest Falls, takes visitors past an impressive waterfall cascading off a mountainside near the glacier.
Alaska State Museum
When the weather gets bad, head over to the museum to warm up and get a glimpse into Alaska’s fascinating state history. The shiny new Alaska State Museum underwent a $14 million expansion in 2016, and it’s easy to kill half a day there. The meticulously produced exhibitions provide a wealth of information on everything from the state’s pre-colonial history, to Russian Alaska and the explosion of the oil industry. The museum is easily reached within a few minutes from the main ferry terminal.
This stunning fjord can easily be done as a day trip from Juneau. You’ll have to book a cruise, but it’s worth it. If you’re lucky, you might see huge chunks of ice falling from the glacier, migratory birds and the occasional whales.
This small island is home to well over a thousand bears. Naturally, it’s a great place for bear watching, and easy to reach from Juneau. Tours by float plane, cruise and even kayak are available from Juneau.
Last Chance Mining Museum
If the State Museum didn’t hit the spot, try the Last Chance Mining Museum. This museum is housed in Juneau’s historic gold mining complex, and today serves as a reminder of the city’s days as a boom town. In its heyday, this was the world’s largest hard rock gold mine, and the backbone of the local economy. Reaching the museum is easy: just head to the end of Basin Road. You can’t miss it.
The trailhead for this rewarding hike is conveniently located at the end of Basin Road, just near the parking lot of the Last Change Mining Museum. The trail takes hikers through Juneau’s abandoned gold fields. There’s still plenty of abandoned mine shafts around, so watch your step and stay on the trail. While Perseverance itself can be covered within a few hours, the trip can also be combined with the Granite Creek Trail and Mt Juneau Trail. Together, these various trails can offer a few days of exploration, with camping being possible.
Alaskan Brewing Company
After all that walking, you might have worked up a thirst. The Alaska Brewing Company is the state’s largest brewery, and the amber ale it produces is beloved across the state. Tasting tours are available for $20, and are well worth it. The brewery is located outside the city center in Lemon Creek. A taxi is easily done, but your best option for transport is the free shuttle from outside their downtown store, the Alaskan Brewing Co Depot. The shuttle is free for anyone with a tour booking.