WRITTEN BY: SUSAN FINCH
Best Things to do in Juneau, Alaska
Lucky travelers heading to Alaska will find a variety of things to do in Juneau, Alaska from visiting a majestic Glacier to dog sledding across the snow. After all, Alaska is known for its rich wildlife, lush landscape, and unbelievable beauty. And the best activities in Juneau are all about enjoying nature on unique excursions and experiences. Whether you are traveling by cruise ship or driving through the countryside, there are dozens of guided tours and hiking trails to explore. Get started on your unforgettable Juneau vacation with these eight unique experiences:
1. Go Whale Watching in Juneau
Whale watching is a once in a lifetime experience that can’t be found just anywhere in the world, and whale watching in Juneau is particularly magical. After enjoying the waters of Hawaii all winter, humpback whales return to to the area with their new calves in tow. There are plenty of things to do in Juneau, but start your vacation with a short drive through downtown to Auke Bay. A boat awaits to guide visitors to congregating humpback and orca whales, Dall’s porpoises, steller sea lions, harbor seals, bald eagles, and more. Once on board and ready to set sail, an experienced captain and tour guide share their knowledge and love of whales, area wildlife, and the wonders of Alaska.
2. Take Flight on a Glacier Flightseeing Adventure
Glaciers top the list of things to do in Juneau, but why stop at just one when you can see five? Travelers climb aboard an authentic Alaska bush plane for a unique seaplane exploration. Once in flight from downtown Juneau, visitors soar over the lush wilderness of the Tongass National Forest. There’s not a bad view in sight with visitors seated along window-seats while an experienced pilot soars near unparalleled views of the glaciers. Learn how these glaciers make up 1,500-square-miles of the Juneau Icefield, and how the Taku Glacier is one of the few in the world actually advancing and growing.
3. Embark on a Helicopter and Dogsled Tour
There are few places in the world where you can visit a real-life dog sled camp, let alone run the sled yourself. Add a combo helicopter and dog sled tour to your list of things to do in Juneau and see stunning views of Alaska’s glaciers before landing on Herbert Glacier. Eager huskies bark their greeting and are ready to take guests on a dog sledding adventure. After some instruction, guests take the dogs out on a 1 1/2 to 2-mile loop. There’s even time to chat with real-life mushers about the Iditarod backcountry and snap some photos. Afterward, the helicopter stops at a lower level of the glacier for a walkabout to see even more of Alaska’s unique landscape. This tour typically runs from May 13th until August 30th, weather permitting.
4. See Brown Bears in their Native Habitat
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Juneau, make wildlife watching a priority. Many world travelers have never seen a bear outside of a zoo, let alone in their own native habitat. But instead of just seeing where the bears roam, combine it with a flightseeing and kayaking experience. Guests join this full-day adventure starting with a scenic, 25-minute float plane flight to Windfall Island. From there, hop in a sea kayak to Pack Creek or Windfall Harbor for views of a protected habitat dedicated to brown bears. This area is part of Admiralty Island, or “Fortress of the Bears”, where guests have the rare opportunity to see where upwards of 1,500 brown bears live, eagles, loons, and the incredible wildlife of this remote island.
5. Zip Through the Trees on an Alpine Adventure
There are many things to do in Juneau, but you can’t beat a day of soaring through the trees. An Alpine Zipline Adventure takes visitors through Tongass National Forest to see a real Alaska rainforest. Take in the area’s unique flora and fauna before stopping onto an aerial suspension bridge. Of course, guests are securely strapped and clipped to double cables to ensure safety. During your journey, keep an eye out for Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees, Alaska wildlife, and old growth trees that date back nearly 400 years.
6. Canoe Past Alaska Glaciers
Getting close to a glacier is a bucket list experience on its own, but getting to do it by canoe is for the select few. Take a unique tour under a limited U.S Forest Service permit and travel by canoe to Mendenhall Glacier. First, climb into a traditional Tlingit-style canoe stretching 28-ft with all the safety gear you’ll need. Now it’s time to navigate past icebergs while paddling along Mendenhall Lake where arctic terns, eagles, goats, salmon, and even resident are known to make an appearance. But you won’t just see a glacier from afar, you’ll come within yards of the towering Mendenhall Glacier for up-close photo ops.
7. Fish for a Catch of a Lifetime
Fishing enthusiasts dream of gliding along Alaska’s open waters for a chance at an epic catch. You can take a private fishing charter to find the best salmon or halibut for the freshest catch. Head out on a 30-ft custom designed boat complete with heated cabin and bathroom and get ready to fish for salmon or halibut. Afterward, the captains will even clean up your day’s catch and arrange to freeze and ship your catch home. Or you can take it to your accommodations and cook it up for a fresh fish dinner your family and friends will rave over.
8. Go on a Kayaking Adventure
Getting away from the crowds and enjoying Alaska’s natural beauty is one of the best parts about finding things to do in Juneau. For a chance to glide along the water and enjoy amazing, gourmet food, join a Tongass Kayak and Gourmet Food Adventure. Expert guides launch visitors in a tandem sea kayak from the beach before guiding you through hours of wildlife and scenic viewing. Look for harbor seals, sea otters, sea lions, seabirds, humpback whales, and of course, plenty of fish. After a day paddling along the water, guests break for a gourmet Alaska lunch prepared beachside.
If you’re looking for things to do in Juneau, start with these bucket list worthy experiences. Which one is your favorite? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.