20 Best Things to Do in Juneau, AK

Juneau, AK
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Juneau is Alaska's sprawling capital city.

This modern metropolis has plenty to offer its visitors.

It has a rich history and ample natural expanses to provide a complete holiday experience to tourists.

The abundant variety of wildlife that inhabits its vast surroundings is also a major attraction for tourists to Alaska's oldest city.

These are the best things to do in Juneau, Alaska:

Make Your Way to the Majestic Nugget Falls

Scenic view of Nugget Falls
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The majestic Nugget Falls lies next to a glacier and is a sight to behold.

You will be awed by the sheer magnificence of this place amid the thunder of the falling waters.

Tourists enjoying the spectacular view of the Nugget Falls
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Enjoy an easy two-mile-long hike around these falls to breathe in the freshness.

There is a large beach lying ahead of the falls.

Hiking trails at Nugget Falls
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The equally magnificent glacier lies in the backdrop, making it a perfect scene to capture some high-quality surreal photographs.

You can reach Nugget Falls by following along the trail starting at the photo point, meandering to the falls past Mendenhall Lake along the way.

Explore the Awe-Inspiring Mendenhall Glacier

View of Mendenhall Glacier
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The Mendenhall Glacier is Juneau's star attraction, drawing many tourists.

You can enjoy sumptuous scenes of stunning natural beauty here.

It's the perfect site for you to snap some exquisite photos.

The hike over the glacier is challenging but worth the try.

Ice cave at Mendenhall Glacier
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Enjoy the freshness of the new snow while having a serious physical workout.

The ice on this glacier constantly shifts throughout the year, making it unique; you'll get to enjoy a different view every time you visit it.

There is a nice visitor center constructed in the vicinity.

Helicopter landing at Mendenhall Glacier
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You can watch a fascinating 15-minute short documentary about the Mendenhall Glacier here.

The center also displays exciting exhibits that shed light on the Mendenhall Glacier's history and geology.

The wildlife around the area includes a wide variety of animals.

You'll spot some rare and exotic species that have their natural abode in these icy peaks.

View of Mendenhall Glacier
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Be careful, though, not to take food with you.

This can be harmful to the animals and the ecosystem and is prohibited by the authorities.

People hiking through the Mendenhall Glacier
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You can also enjoy the journey to this place.

Choose to travel by road, ferry, or cruise ship, and enjoy amazing views of the surroundings along the way.

Visit the Tasting Room at Alaskan Brewing Co.

Exterior view of Alaskan Brewery
U.S. Department of Agriculture, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Commercial Boulevard, Alaskan Brewing Co. dates back to 1986.

You can take a tour and learn about this fascinating brewery and the large variety of beers it manufactures.

Signage of Alaskan Brewing Co.
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This brewery has the quintessential entrepreneurial story behind it, and you will be regaled with legendary tales from the lives of the founders on this tour.

Afterward, head to the tasting room and treat yourself to delicious local craft beer.

For beer lovers, Alaskan Brewing Co. is the perfect place for quenching your thirst for lager.

Get Your Adrenaline Pumping with Kawanti Adventures

Enjoy your share of thrills with Kawanti Adventures by hanging perilously from the long zip lines.

You start with an enjoyable boat ride that will take you to the shelter.

You'll be equipped with all kinds of harnesses and safety devices.

From there, you'll be on your own as you roam the thick forests' vast expanses.

Enjoy the views of the tall trees and the lush green flora of the landscapes.

You'll return to ground zero by adventuring through the 10 zip lines crisscrossing the area.

Use the two delicate suspension bridges and the tall abseil to chart out your own course to the ground.

Kawanti Adventures operates at Eaglecrest Ski Area on Fish Creek Road.

Enjoy the Views from the Goldbelt Tram

Mount Roberts Tramway
ackats / Shutterstock.com

Enjoy more surreal aerial views of the beautiful nature around Juneau by journeying on the Goldbelt Tram, headquartered on South Franklin Street.

The thrilling six-minute-long ride in the tram car would let you enjoy breathtaking visuals of the Gastineau Channel, Juneau city, and the beautiful Douglas Island from your high vantage point.

The trail is a pleasure to traverse.

View of Goldbelt Tram
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You'll end up at the interesting visitor center at the end of your Goldbelt Tram journey.

You can feast your eyes upon the many exhibits there that also enlighten you about nature and wildlife in this region in an interactive and engaging way.

Close up view of Goldbelt Tram
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Next, attempt the hike along the trail to the majestic Gastineau Peak.

The views along the hike are beautiful, but when you look at the vast surroundings from the summit, you will be spellbound by the panoramic visuals.

Admire the Exhibits at the Last Chance Mining Museum

The Last Chance Mining Museum
Gillfoto from Juneau, Alaska, United States, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Last Chance Mining Museum is dedicated to mining, and the artifacts here retell the saga of the famous Alaskan Gold Rush.

Its exhibits are a feast for history buffs.

Catch interesting trivia with the many informative labels and placards placed by their sides, and look at the vintage mining machines to bring out the latent Steampunk in you.

Abandoned rusted train at Last Chance Mining Museum
Gillfoto from Juneau, Alaska, United States, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The artifacts from the mines are equally exciting and narrate the story of the brave miners who risked their lives all those years ago.

You can then take a shot at panning for gold in the nearby river.

Landscape of Last Chance Mining Museum
Gillfoto from Juneau, Alaska, United States, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dip around your pans, and if you get lucky, you might return from Juneau with your little haul of glittering El Dorado!

The Last Chance Mining Museum is located on Basin Road.

Explore the Museums in Downtown Juneau

Juneau – Douglas City Museum
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The Juneau-Douglas City Museum is a fantastic museum on West 4th Street.

You can see the local history, art, and culture come alive in the many interesting artifacts showcased here.

Another museum for history buffs is Sealaska Heritage Institute's Walter Soboleff Building, located on South Seward Street.

This place has the most extensive collection of exquisite Native Alaskan art.

Street view of Downtown Juneau
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Juneau itself is a vast museum of sorts.

Roaming around this historical city, you will come across several buildings, memorials, and churches that go back a long way and tell something about the rich history of this place.

You can even visit saloons that date back to 1914.

Colorful flowers in Downtown Juneau
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Experience River Rafting on Juneau's Waters

Get an adrenaline boost on an adventurous rafting journey on Juneau's rivers and water bodies.

You can either raft in white waters or go for a scenic floating tour.

If you are fit and all pumped up, enjoy the complete adventure with a wild white water trip.

Otherwise, enjoy a peaceful leisurely float and admire the beautiful surroundings.

Spot Bald Eagles on Eagle Beach

An eagle siting on a drift wood at Eagle Beach
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You can enjoy watching eagles flying carefree in the high skies at Eagle Beach, located on Glacier Highway.

This is a vast beach, and you will often find yourself in your own company when strolling on it.

Sunrise at Eagle Beach
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The view of the eagles from up close is mesmerizing.

You should visit the beautiful Eagle Beach at low tide, as that is when you will spot plenty of eagles.

This is because the bald eagles come down to the beach when the water has receded to catch fish for food.

Closeup of an eagle at Eagle Beach
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Surround Yourself with Breathtaking Nature at Glacier Gardens

Glacier Garden Rainforests
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Located along Glacier Highway, Glacier Gardens is a sight to behold with its lush green undergrowth and tall majestic trees.

The place has been beautifully decorated by the owners, who planted ample varieties of exquisite flowers here.

Other lovely green plants are abundant to give you a holistic, organic visual feast.

There is some fantastic tree art that will fill you with awe and warmth at the same time.

Colorful umbrella art at Glacier Gardens
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Beautifully crafted towers from colorful flowers stand tall, resplendent in their floral beauty—not to mention their sweet fragrances that fill the air with delectable aromas.

Take a comprehensive guided tour around this place, and your guide will fill you with interesting information about the large variety of plants and flowers.

Benches at Glacier Gardens
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You can also enjoy picturesque views of Juneau city from Glacier Gardens.

In addition, there's an eagle nest where you can take a sneak peek at amazing bald eagles.

Visit the National Shrine of St. Thérèse

Facade of Saint Therese Shrine
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Catch some much-needed solitude and peace by taking a breather at the National Shrine of St. Thérèse.

This 80-year-old shrine opens its holy precincts to all.

It welcomes people from all faiths to come and say their prayers.

View of Saint Therese Shrine
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St. Thérèse is the patron saint of Alaska and is renowned for her many quotes and writings of wisdom.

She is also the patron saint of the Diocese of Juneau, and her guiding philosophy in life was based on love.

She preached the message of universal love and persuaded people to judge each not by their deeds but by the depth of their love.

The surrounding gardens are beautifully maintained and filled with lovely plants.

You can find the National Shrine of St. Thérèse on Glacier Highway.

Peek into History at the Alaska State Museum

Exterior view of Alaska State Museum
Dcornwall, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Whittier Street, the Alaska State Museum is the best place to learn about Juneau and Alaska's colorful history.

There are sections that showcase fine art, mining artifacts, displays depicting the area's fishing and forestry practices, and tourism-focused divisions.

There are also two areas devoted to the Russian-American period and World War II.

Display at Alaska State Museum
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Bring out the explorer-discoverer in you by boarding a replica of an ancient sailing ship and enjoying playful sea-voyage-related activities.

There is also a well-stocked state library and national archives within the Alaska State Museum's premises.

Read to your heart's content and return from Juneau as an expert in Alaskan history!

Catch Sight of Beautiful Humpback and Orca Whales

Whales in Juneau
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You can get a rare chance to watch beautiful dolphins and graceful whales in their natural abode by visiting Juneau between April and September.

The humpback and orca whales are the most popular ones tourists love seeing.

Humpback Whale in Juneau
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The humpback is a migratory species, while the orcas are native to these waters.

It's not uncommon to see huge packs of over 500 humpbacks travel to these waters during the summer months.

Whale watching at Juneau
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Learn about the Area's Marine Life at Douglas Island Pink and Chum

Collecting salmon at Douglas Island Pink and Chum
Gillfoto, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Channel Drive, Douglas Island Pink and Chum showcases the marine life of the Alaskan seas.

There is a small aquarium inside the hatchery where you may observe halibut and other large Alaskan fish, starfish, anemones, and other tiny organisms.

You can put your hands in the touch tanks if you feel bold.

Salmon depart and return to the fish streams outside Douglas Island Pink and Chum during the spawning season.

You can get a crash course on the salmon life cycle and the hatchery's vital role in maintaining Southeast Alaska's salmon industry.

Experience a Gastronomic Delight with Juneau Food Tours

Food truck at Juneau
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Alaska imports most of the state's food; however, Alaskans have mastered the art of fishing, hunting, and foraging.

As a result, they have created some very delicious cuisine.

A trip to Juneau is a must for any food enthusiast with a penchant for smoked meats and foreign cheeses.

Crab Shack at Juneau
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This city is the place to go if you're looking for a dose of history, spicy ginger cookies, and a bottle of fine wine.

Juneau Food Tours, organized by a local food blogger, is a must-do for any gourmet visiting the area.

Smoked salmon at Juneau
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Fresh seafood, including king crab, fish tacos, and kelp salsa, may be available in various shops throughout your stroll.

Beer brewed in the area will complement your dinner, and the fudge from Alaska will be too good to pass up for dessert.

Celebrate Culture at the Alaska Folk Festival

A week-long Alaska Folk Festival takes place in Juneau in April.

Musicians gather from far and wide to share, learn, and perform.

Each performer does a 15-minute set each night throughout the festival.

Various activities will be available throughout the weekend, including classes led by musicians and dancers and live bands playing for dances in the evenings.

In addition to the scheduled performances, you may catch musicians playing in informal settings all across town.

The Alaska Folk Festival in Juneau is a must-visit event for every music lover.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Admire the Allure of Glacier Bay National Park

Scenic view of Glacier Bay National Park
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Juneau's Glacier Bay National Park is one of the most stunning and remote national parks in the United States.

You may schedule a day excursion that will give you an overview and include a visit to the visitor center and a cruise into the bay.

Kayaking in Glacier Bay National Park
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You can also spend a few days at the park to thoroughly enjoy its charm.

The park offers both camping and lodging options.

Sea Lion at Glacier Bay National Park
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If you're outdoorsy, don't miss out on the enchanting Glacier Bay National Park.

It's a six-hour ferry ride from Juneau.

See the Amazing Tracy Arm Fjord

Glaciers at Tracy Arm Fjord
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Forty-five miles south of Juneau, Tracy Arm Fjord is one of the area's landmark attractions.

This famous fjord lies in the heart of the unending wilderness that expands over a vast 2,640-square-kilometer area.

Seals resting at Tracy Arm Fjord
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The fjord is named after the well-known Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Franklin Tracy.

Cruise down Tracy Arm Fjord and enjoy stunning scenes of the grand waterfall, splendid natural beauty, and the pristine icy glacier.

Falls at Tracy Arm Fjord
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You would be better off booking your tour in one of the smaller ships, as these can easily navigate a lot closer.

Take a Side Trip to Admiralty Island

Pack creek tour in Admiralty Island
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Roam about in the wilderness to your heart's content by visiting Admiralty Island, 15 miles southwest of Juneau.

You'll get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see majestic brown grizzlies go about their lives in their natural abode, all from a safe distance.

This is reason enough to take a trip to this lonely island.

Bears swimming at Admiralty Island
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You can book a ticket to see these brown bears in their natural dwelling place at the Pack Creek viewing area.

Additionally, you have a real chance of spotting a bear roaming the island.

On Admiralty Island, you can visit historic canneries, whaling stations, and mining log cabins.

The scenery is stunning, and you can spend hours lost in the island's sheer beauty.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are in Juneau for a few hours on a cruise ship or a more extended period, you will never be bored, especially if you enjoy the outdoors.

You'll be impressed by the city's stunning mountain scenery and its small-town charm.

Have a blast experiencing the best things to do in Juneau, Alaska!

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