As you make your travel plans, you might be wondering how many days you need to explore Juneau effectively. At first glance, Juneau looks like a quiet, quaint town. And to some extent, it is, but it’s also the largest state capital in the U.S. by land area with 3,255 square miles to explore.
So whether you love the outdoors, historic sites, or unique shopping with handmade items from locals, Juneau is the place to go and you’ll want to allow at least a few days to really get a feel for it.
The ideal trip to Juneau is a full week. But if you’re hoping to visit various cities in Alaska during your stay or you only have a day or so during a cruise, you can still make it work. Here’s a look at how to prioritize what you do based on the length of your stay.
You can easily spend a full day exploring Mendenhall Glacier. It’s a unique place to visit because so few parts of the country have such amazing natural wonders. Glaciers don’t exist in most parts of the country, so be sure to take it all in.
Juneau is home to 928 square miles of ice cap. Plan to spend several hours or a full day hiking near Mendenhall. If you choose to spend longer and your schedule permits, it’s a good idea to go with a guide. The deeper you get on the trails in the area, the more you risk getting lost or getting caught a few miles from the trailhead as darkness falls. Be smart and stay on marked trails.
Downtown has so much to offer, including the Alaska State Museum, Sealaska Heritage Institute and many historical sites. You’ll struggle to see it all in just a few hours if that’s all you have during an Alaskan cruise. If that’s the case, just prioritize what’s most important to you.
Buy you’ll also be around some amazing eats and unique cultural experiences. Be sure to try some new cuisine while in town. Or if you don’t enjoy trying different types of food, seafood is always fresh and delicious.
Sit at one of the restaurants that overlook the water to watch boats come and go or perhaps see signs of wildlife. Each experience sitting near the water will be different and offer a unique vantage point of all that’s happening in and around the area.
Pop into a few stores to look at art from the locals. You’ll be impressed with the custom jewelry, paintings, and home décor. Quite frankly, there is nothing like it. And many artists will work with you to have the items shipped directly to your home so you don’t have to worry about them getting damaged in a suitcase.
It’s not an incredibly time-consuming activity but offers a unique perspective of Juneau. Take some time to ride Mount Roberts Tramway 3,819 feet up Mount Roberts. You’ll look out over Gastineau Channel and have an incredible view of the cruise docks.
At the top, there’s also some great shopping in the gift shop where you’ll find unique art and neat mementos locals have designed. You do need tickets for the experience, so be sure to purchase them in advance. Tickets are sold as an all-day pass, which means you can come and go as you like and catch any tram you want that fits well with your busy adventure schedule.
If you choose to go on an excursion, whale watching does not disappoint. While you aren’t guaranteed to see a whale, the excursion managers are quite good at what they do and often ensure you get a close encounter.
There are so many different excursion options ranging from a few hours to an all-day experience. You can go on a boat or out on kayaks while also getting a unique perspective of Mendenhall Glacier.
Some excursions include a meal. Others offer a helicopter ride to get to the docks to provide yet another unique perspective of the area.
SEEKING ACCOMMODATION IN JUNEAU?
You can go to Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area on your own or take one of the many outstanding excursions to the area. If you do an excursion, you’ll need to allow a full day. But it is a safe way to see bears and it often includes unique experiences like going on a floatplane ride. You’ll land on a remote beach where you can then walk to the bear viewing area. Other tours include kayaking to the area to see the bears.
The Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area is set up such that tourists can observe bears in their natural habitat at a safe distance. While you’ll be in a safe place, you’ll have an incredible view of the home of 1,500 brown bears.
The one catch to bear viewing is that it is very seasonal. The best time to see bears is from mid-May to mid-September. After or before those days, there’s no guarantee the bears are not hibernating. In the spring, you might catch a glimpse of brand-new cubs as bears often welcome new little ones over the winter months.
Auke Bay is a peaceful place to sit and observe. If you enjoy fishing, this is a great area to visit to slow down and enjoy catching a few fish while watching the wildlife. There’s also a great eatery to enjoy some good food so you don’t have to pack your lunch or time it just right between meals.
While it might not be the most exciting thing you do during your stay. It will certainly be memorable and worthwhile.
Another unique experience Juneau has to offer is Tracy Arm Fjord. It’s not every day that you get to see such natural beauty. Take plenty of pictures and soak in the beauty of the area. Some tours will take you to the area while offering a unique perspective.
If you didn’t get enough hiking near Mendenhall Glacier, the rainforest offers some additional unique outdoor adventures. Spend some time enjoying the unique climate and seeing more of the outdoor wonders Juneau offers.
The gold rush put Juneau and much of Alaska on the map. As such, it’s worth experiencing it by visiting the Last Chance Mining Museum or panning for gold with one of the excursion companies. You can learn all about how the city developed during the Gold Rush and the importance it had to the development of the area.
There’s so much to do in Juneau, but it all depends on your interests and why you’re coming to the area. For some, it’s to take in the natural beauty of landscapes untouched by manmade structures. Others come for unique cultural experiences and to connect with history and locals. You’ll find all that and more during your stay in Juneau.
To make your travels comfortable, stay at Juneau Hotel in downtown. You’ll have a full kitchen and washer and dryer in your suite to enjoy all the luxuries of home while exploring one of the United States’ most unique cities. Book your stay now to ensure you get to stay at one of Juneau’s finest hotels.