I recently experienced the outdoor wonderland of Juneau, Alaska. The history in the city is rich with plenty to learn about from museums or gold mining experiences and nature is at its finest.
Here’s how I spent one week in Juneau, Alaska, and some of my favorite places along the way.
Selecting a Juneau Hotel
To plan out my travels, I started with booking a Juneau hotel. My top choice was Juneau Hotel since it gets high ratings for the staff and cleanliness. But I also liked that it’s basically a furnished apartment with a full kitchen and washer and dryer in every suite.
However, there are several great hotels in the area that all offer their own unique experiences. The Alaskan Hotel & Bar is so beautiful and feels like you’re stepping back in time. The vibe is stylish and the bar can serve up any beverage you can imagine. But the rooms are small and some have shared bathrooms.
Completing a Downtown Walking Tour
I spent two days exploring the streets of downtown Juneau. Walking downtown allowed me to see some of the unique landmarks the city houses while also enjoying some amazing food.
From checking out the waterfront to visiting the Sealaska Heritage Institute, I had a great time on my walking tour. It’s possible to do it in one day as you’ll only walk about 4-5 miles, but you won’t have enough time to tour each of the major landmarks, like the Alaska Capitol or Governor’s House. That’s why I allotted two days to this activity.
Whale Watching Kayaking
For my third day, I went on a whale-watching kayaking tour. The tour gets you up close to Mendenhall Glacier while also experiencing another great feature of Alaska: whale watching.
I chose to take one of the longer kayaking tours to see more of Juneau from the water. You can devote half of a day if you’re pressed for time. But if you can devote a full day to kayaking, I highly recommend it. Avoid rushing this activity so that you can relax, unplug and unwind while on the water. Try not to worry about capturing the perfect photo and instead just soak in the experience.
Hike Near Mendenhall Valley
Mendenhall Valley is an extraordinary experience. On day 4, I worked with a guide to hike in the area since I don’t have tons of experience dealing with wildlife. While the hiking in the area is outstanding, you have to be very conscious of the fact that this area is home to animals like bears who could be dangerous if you aren’t extremely cautious and careful around them.
By the end of the day, I was so worn out. I got take out from Juneau Pizza on my way back to my hotel. It was delicious and the perfect way to kick back in my hotel room and relax after lots of physical activity.
Experience the Alaska Gold Rush
Head out to the Last Chance Mining Museum to learn more about how the Alaska gold rush impacted the area and its development. The mines employed many people and operated from 1912 to 1944. You can see the impressive materials that Alaskans used to mine for gold long before some of the more modern tools we use today were invented.
If you want to experience what it’s like to find gold, sign up for a tour where you pan for gold. You’ll get live instruction on this and get the chance to experience it for yourself.
Mount Roberts Tramway and Glacier Gardens
I spent the sixth day of my Juneau adventures enjoying Mount Roberts Tramway. You’ll get the most amazing view from the tramway. And you might spot some neat wildlife from up above where it’s safe.
I also spent some time at Glacier Gardens. Juneau is unique in that it has a rainforest you can explore. Tongass National Forest offers some excellent outdoor adventures. But if you aren’t great at recognizing different plants and trees, you might want to go to Glacier Gardens first to learn about what to look for in the area.
The Alaska State Museum
I realized after my trip that I really should’ve gone to the Alaska State Museum first. It offers some perspective for the area and its rich history. You’ll understand the locals better and Alaska’s journey to statehood with the U.S.
The ancient artifacts help bring everything to life and you’ll get to see Alaska through the years. It offers more than just history for Juneau but the state as a whole.
If you’re looking for a unique place to vacation that has great outdoor adventures and experiences, Juneau is the place to go! I certainly hope I make it back at some point in my travels.