Looking for things to do in Juneau Alaska?
When you’re as much of a travel junkie and explorer as I am, you’re pretty much up for any adventure, even if that means leaving your girly girl wardrobe at home.
In Alaska, a world of adventure awaits those who aren’t afraid of a little nature. Girly girls, I’m talking to you! Up until I started traveling full-time, I was the type of person to focus on hitting up all the high tea spots and luxury spas over venturing out and exploring. The more I travel, the more I allow myself to experience of the world.
To celebrate my dad’s birthday, I decided to take him on a Norwegian Cruise to Alaska, a place that had always been high up on his bucketlist. I’m not going to lie, it seemed like a beautiful destination but one that intimidated me a bit.
Alaska is one of the least mapped, explored and accurately documented states in the US, which is probably how its wilderness and gorgeous sceneries are still so intact.
So, we packed our bags, bundled up, and hopped on a cruise ship to The Final Frontier, excited for our journey ahead! Little did we know just how much fun we would have!
Read on for my trip to Alaska! Hopefully it gives you some ideas for your next trip! 😊
An Adventure of a Lifetime in Juneau, Alaska
The beauty of a cruise is that you get to stop in so many incredible places along the way, but one cruise stop especially stuck out to me – Juneau, the capital of Alaska.
For all its small-town feels, Juneau is the 2nd largest US city by area and is located in Gastineau Channel and the Alaskan panhandle.
And let me tell you, they don’t call it “Alaska’s peak experience” for nothing.
Juneau is a nature lover’s paradise! From gorgeous, lush green forests, pristine crystal clear waters and sparkling blue glaciers to abundant wildlife, fresh seafood, and a lively cultural scene Downtown, Juneau has everything an adventurer could ever want, and then some.
You’ll especially want to put Juneau on your bucketlist if you enjoy the quiet beauty of the wilderness and exhilarating outdoor activities. Just plan to put your phone away, the cell service is slim. But then again, when you’re in a place like this, it’s a sin not to unplug and be in the moment.
A Kayaking Adventure in Juneau, Alaska
There’s nothing I wanted to do more than Juneau Alaska kayaking! I had heard how relaxing it was and nothing could convince me otherwise.
Luckily, another stop we were going to was cancelled and the cruise allowed us 1 whole day to explore all that Juneau had to offer. So, my dad and I opted for a mix of spontaneity and planned experiences to fill out our day.
Ahead of my cruise, I booked some shore excursions. One of them was a kayaking trip to see Mendenhall Glacier.
You can’t go to Juneau and not see a glacier, it’s the best part!
From the moment we stepped off the ship, I knew we had an exciting day ahead.
Our morning kayaking adventure began with a short bus drive to North Douglas Island, just west of Downtown, along Juneau’s coast, where we would see Mendenhall Glacier on a 3.5 hour kayaking excursion.
Before getting in our kayaks, our guides gave us life jackets and rain gear before teaching us paddling techniques.
The kayaks are for two people. If you didn’t come with someone, you will be given a partner.
The first thing I noticed was how breathtaking the scenery was all around!
As we paddled out to the glacier, our guide entertained us with stories about Smugglers Cove and the history of the area and its people. We felt like Aleut Indians, traveling the waterways just as they did.
If you’re looking for an exhilarating kayaking excursion, this is not for you. This kayaking trip was more relaxing. You don’t go very fast or far. Our nimble kayaks allowed us to silently approach the wildlife. We would see sea lions, herons, bald eagles, seals and fish, which were jumping out of the water. If you’re lucky, you can even see whales!
I really enjoyed how slow we were moving. It allowed you to feel the peace and calm of the surrounding environment and take it all in. There was plenty of time to take pictures.
Back at the kayak’s base, we had a light snack before venturing back into town, where we decided to enjoy the rest of our day before heading back to the cruise ship.
Book a kayaking trip to Mendenhall Glacier here.
- My trip was in late Summer when there were record-breaking temperatures. We were not expecting so much sun in Juneau. It was a perfect day to kayak! But usually, prepare to wear layers to keep warm. Alaska can have some icy temperatures.
- Bring a waterproof bag if you plan to take your camera. Mine got wet and broke unfortunately.
- For a more complete experience, book the Mendenhall Lake Kayak-Salmon Bake Combo. If you’re on a cruise, you can book the activity directly.
- If you want to see more glaciers, check out Endicott Arm Fjord and Juneau Icefields
Things to Do in Juneau, Alaska
If kayaking isn’t your thing, there are also so many other things to do in Juneau!
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Top Juneau Shore Excursions
Shore excursions are the activities you book at each destination on your cruise. However, you don’t have to be going on a cruise to enjoy these activities. The tour companies can also pick you up from your hotel instead of the cruise ship (if P/U is included). For those going on a cruise, you can book activities directly with your cruise line.
- Mendenhall Glacier By Helicopter & Guided Walk (Norweigian Cruise guests book here)
- Helicopter Dogsledding Experience and Additional Glacier Landing (Norweigian Cruise guests book here)
- Mendenhall Glacier & Mount Roberts Tram (Norweigian Cruise guests book here)
- Whale Watch & Salmon Bake (Norweigian Cruise guests book here)
- Ride the Tram or Go on a Hike
Hikers, start out on Mt. Robert’s Trail up to Goldbelt Mt. Roberts Tram. Then, enjoy a nice lunch at the restaurant which has stunning panoramic views. If you spend $10, your tram ride down the mountain is free. You’ll climb 1,500 feet vertically in mere minutes.
It’s hard to believe that Juneau is the 2nd largest city by area in the entire country. It gives off major small-town vibes with its mom and pop shops, cozy cafes and little streets.
Stroll Juneau’s historic Downtown to find some hidden gems. There are a lot of restaurants, bars, and shops to explore. Don’t forget to take a picture in front of the big clock and mail a postcard back home!
Check out Alaskan Gifts & Collectibles which has handmade Native Alaskan jewelry.
You will get fined $200 if you so much as pick up a bald eagle feather.
Where to Eat & Drink in Juneau Alaska
- Tracy’s King Crab Shack
This joint is a well-known and much-loved crab shack in Juneau. I will warn you, it’s a bit of a tourist trap. I managed to avoid what seems to be a regular long line outside the door. But, it’s so worth it!
We grabbed a table outside and ordered right away, we were so hungry after the kayaking! They’re a seasonal restaurant, check that they’re open before you go.
When you order a bucket, you get a mini celebration. You can also order crab online to be shipped to you.
- Red Dog Saloon
For a unique experience, step into this saloon. You have to have humor. First off, there are wood chips all across the floor. Historically, sawdust was usually only ever seen in low-class pubs, restaurants and even butcher shops in the early 20th c., which eventually disappeared altogether. I won’t even tell you what the sawdust soaked up back then… let’s just say, it ain’t pretty!
The purpose of Red Dog Saloon’s sawdust today is probably more of a tongue-in-cheek play on the old pubs from back in the day.
When you’re in here, you instantly feel transported to an old mining town sort of watering hole where the drinks are cheap and the music is loud. Same thing here. My dad loved looking around at what was hanging from the walls and ceiling. We just hung out, it was fun!
In addition to drinks, they also serve lunch and dinner like Beer Battered Alaskan Cod, Gold Rush Nachos, Loaded Tots, Saloon Style Pork Ribs and Red Dog BBQ Wings, which the saloon claims it’s world famous for. I take everything with a grain of salt… or in this case, a splash of sauce. 😉
As for what to drink… They serve beer, wine and liquor of which you can order Cheap Shit, Regular Cheap Shit, Expensive Shit and Really Expensive Shit. No, seriously. That’s what’s on the menu.
TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES
Best Travel Insurance
Accidents happen. Make sure that you’re covered on your next trip. Compare travel insurance here.
Earn Travel Perks & Free Trips
Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. Read my in depth travel rewards series on how to earn points and miles toward free hotel stays, flights, car rentals and more! Book smart, travel more.
Compare prices for car rentals, trains and flights
Discover best transportation deals to and around Alaska with Omio here.
How to Travel with a Chronic Illness
There are ways to travel even with a chronic illness. Check out my chronic illness travel tips and how I travel despite having Lupus.
Check out my packing guide curated to your personality.
Every woman should be able to date without being the next victim. Check out my safety tips guide for women.
That’s a Wrap!
On each trip, you always learn something. On this trip, I learned that I’m much more of a nature girl that I realized. I hope my adventures inspired you for things to do in Juneau Alaska! Stay tuned for my Alaska cruise blogs!
Have you been to Alaska? Would you go? Comment below and subscribe to the blog for travel adventures, tips & how to get in on travel rewards for free trips!
Thank you so much for being apart of this journey with me! I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.
Until next time… keep it real.
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