Juneau is many things: a mountain town, a coastal community and the most scenic capital city in the U.S. A natural wonder, wildlife hot spot and cultural jewel, Juneau is rich in history, art, music and Native heritage. It’s an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, a shopper’s trove and a food lover’s dream – not just the state capital, but the beating heart of Southeast Alaska.
Juneau sits in the state’s panhandle, at the base Mount Roberts. It’s a popular cruise-ship stop, reachable only by boat or seaplane. A tram carries visitors 1,800 feet up Mount Roberts to an alpine area with hiking trails, wildflowers and views of Gastineau Channel. This is also the site of the Juneau Raptor Center, dedicated to local birds.
High above the city is the Juneau Icefield, source of the region’s many glaciers, including the roughly 12-mile-long Mendenhall Glacier and larger Tracy Arm Fjord to the south. The area’s rich wildlife ranges from bears and bald eagles to whales and porpoises. The gold rush helped develop Juneau, and the Last Chance Mining Museum offers a peek into that time. In August and September, salmon run in the rivers, and you can watch seals and eagles feast from a fish ladder at the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. Our Juneau Alaska Travel Guide has everything you need to start planning your Juneau Alaska vacation. Also visit more great Alaska beach locations by <<Clicking Here.>> Need to know what to pack for your Alaskan Vacation? << Click Here >>
Juneau Weather (When to Visit)
Mid May–September is when most people visit, coinciding with peak wildlife viewing season. Two music festivals, the Alaska Folk Festival (April) and Juneau Jazz & Classics (May) attract visitors in spring. Gold Rush Days (June) celebrates the city’s mining and logging heritage with lumberjack contests and kids’ activities. Weather in October, November and April is cold and rainy, and temperatures December–March are often below freezing.
When it comes to dressing for Juneau weather, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Even the warmest sunny day can turn cold and rainy (and vice versa). Layers are key, all seasons: t-shirt, sweatshirt or fleece, waterproof outer layer. Also strongly recommended, all seasons: sturdy waterproof footwear.
Juneau Area Attractions
Hop on a boat for a classic Alaska whale watching adventure. At the right time of year, you’re bound to see humpbacks and orcas congregate in the calm waters and put on a show. See them flip their tails above water or breach (when they leap all the way out of the water and then splash back down). With luck, you’ll get the breathtaking sight of bubble net feeding—a unique technique used by humpback whales circling and blowing bubbles to bring fish to the surface of the water when they spontaneously swim upward together. Many options are available for whale watching tours, from large catamarans to medium sized jet boats to smaller six-passenger vessels. Most operators guarantee whale sightings, and tours generally last 3-4 hours and include transportation. Best whale watching tours:
Juneau’s most popular attraction (for a good reason), the Mendenhall Glacier is a half-mile wide, with ice 300 to 1,800 feet deep. It provides some of the most spectacular landscapes in Alaska. Even more amazing, the glacier constantly moves and changes with the seasons — so no two visits are alike. Don’t miss the view from the visitor’s pavilion, which will only take about 90 minutes. You’ll be able to take some great photos, too. With a little more time, enjoy beautiful hiking trails that get you up close to the glacier and its surrounding nature. The most rewarding hike is to Nugget Falls. Imagine a very large, beautiful waterfall cascading directly into an iceberg-filled lake with a glacier in the background.
Forty-five miles outside of Juneau, this scenic destination has it all — mammoth glaciers, towering granite walls, breathtaking mountains, waterfalls, and a large variety of wildlife. Tracy Arm is a 30-mile long fjord — a narrow inlet created by glacial activity — formed thousands of years ago. It winds its way past 7,000-foot snow-capped mountains and floating icebergs. At the end of the fjord lies the stunning Sawyer Glaciers, translucent blue mountains rising majestically out of the water. About once every hour, the North Sawyer and South Sawyer glaciers “calve” — an awe-inspiring phenomena in which large chunks of ice tumble into the sea below. Tracy Arm is also home to a large variety of wildlife including bald eagles, brown bears, goats, and whales. It provides some wonderful opportunities for capturing beautiful vacation memories.
No trip to Alaska is complete without bears. Just twenty minutes from Juneau by float plane is Admiralty Island, home to one of the world’s highest density brown bear populations. Nicknamed “Fortress of the Bears,” there are approximately 1,600 bears — one for every square mile of the island. The most popular place to see these big, fuzzy creatures in action is Pack Creek Bear Sanctuary. Watch bears feed on salmon during the peak viewing season (July through August). In addition to bear viewing, you might spot seabirds, harbor seals, sea lions, whales, Sitka black-tail deer, or sea otters. The island is also home to the world’s greatest concentration of nesting bald eagles. Permits are required and a guided tour can help provide them and arrange transportation. You can reach the island via floatplane, boat, or kayak, depending on weather and ability.
Eagle Beach, around Juneau’s mile 27 marker, offers an astounding dynamic environment that can be found few places on earth. With average tides of 16 feet of change, these tidal flats hold many morsels of food for all manner of wild life, especially the bald eagles for which the beach is named. Beach goers of the human variety often wade out in their tufs to find clams, sea peaches, crabs, and many other delights. Low tide opens up around a quarter mile out to the waters edge, but be ware of your way back because the tide creeps in quickly, quietly, and in odd ways.
The Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway opened in 1996 and operates May through September. It is the only aerial tramway in southeast Alaska. Cars rise 1,800 feet from the cruise ship dock in downtown Juneau through the rain forest to the Mountain House, offering expansive views of Juneau and Gastineau Channel. The Mount Roberts Tramway is one of the most vertical tramways in the world and received the Governor’s Award for facility accessibility design. We are fully ADA compliant and can easily accommodate guests with accessibility requirements.
Best Juneau Tours & Activities by Viator
Juneau Wildlife Whale Watching & Mendenhall Glacier
The Mendenhall Glacier is one of Juneau’s most impressive natural wonders, stretching over 13 miles (21 kilometers). On this half-day tour, enjoy spectacular views of the glacier from the viewing platforms and walkways, and learn more about the mighty glacier at the Visitor Center. Then, set sail on a thrilling whale-watching cruise along the coast and look out for humpback whales, as well as other wildlife such as bald eagles and blue heron. Learn more about the Juneau Wildlife Whale Watching & Mendenhall Glacier Tour.
Helicopter Tour and Guided Ice Field Walk
Get ready for a tour pumped with adventure and incredible views. First, soar by helicopter over Juneau Ice field, and then land on Herbert Glacier to explore the remote landscape by foot. Learn about the surrounding Alaskan wilderness and capture memorable shots during your ice field walk. Round-trip port transport included. Learn more about the Helicopter Tour & Guided Ice Field Walk.
Juneau Whale Watching Tour
Spend 2 hours out on the Auke Bay Harbor’s waters searching for humpback whales during this boat tour from Juneau. Listen to commentary from your guide and keep a lookout for other marine animals such as orca, bald eagles, and sea lions. Snacks, refreshments, and round-trip transportation from the Mt. Roberts Tramway in Juneau provided. Learn more about the Juneau Whale Watching Tour.
Mendenhall Glacier Canoe Paddle and Trek
Experience Mendenhall Glacier by land and water on this 6.5-hour combo-adventure tour from Juneau. First, hop into a canoe at Mendenhall Lake and paddle around luminescent blue icebergs and past cliffs and waterfalls toward Mendenhall Glacier. Step onto the glacier and explore the area with trekking poles. No matter what level of paddling or glacial-trekking experience you have, a guide is there to prepare you for each step of the journey. Look for wildlife sightings and expect personalized attention on this small-group tour limited to 14 people. Learn more about the Mendenhall Glacier Canoe Paddle & Trek.
Mendenhall Glacier Ice Adventure Tour
Explore the 3,000-year-old Mendenhall Glacier on this 5.5-hour adventure tour from Alaska’s capital city, Juneau. Paddle out on the iceberg-covered Mendenhall Lake for about an hour until you reach Mendenhall Glacier. Then, spend about an hour to an hour and a half on the glacier. Afterward, paddle back to your starting point, and warm up with a hot beverage once you reach the shore. Learn more about the Mendenhall Glacier Ice Adventure Tour.
Best Juneau Restaurants
Tracy’s King Crab Shack
The staff are friendly and welcoming, and have a passion for sports. Beyond serving hot, locally-sourced crab legs with butter, the menu offers crab cakes, crab rolls, crab bisque, and seafood appetizers. Needless to say, Tracy’s is the place for the crab lover, looking for a laid-back environment to enjoy the fruit of the nearby Alaskan sea. Telephone: 907-723-1811 Web: Tracy’s King Crab Shack.
Salt takes local Alaskan flavors and ingredients and updates them with modern flair; the result is a stunning juxtaposition of rustic heart and fine dining. The atmosphere is upscale, yet comfortable, and guests are often entertained with unobtrusive and pleasant live piano music. The menu at Salt combines unexpected elements, like roasted chestnut soup with prawns, and sea scallop carbonara, to obtain a perfect marriage of flavors. Telephone: 907-780-2221 Web: Salt.
Pel’Meni restaurant boasts a small menu that keeps locals coming back time and again. The menu is so small, in fact, that pelmeni is the only thing on it. For $5, guests get a large portion of the heavenly pastry pillows, filled with their choice of beef or potatoes, and topped with sour cream. Some locals call this haunt a dive, but we like to call it humble. Telephone: 907-586-0177 Web: Pel’Meni.
The Hangar on the Wharf
The Hangar on the Wharf has been in business for nearly 20 years, and has become both a local standard and a popular destination for out-of-town visitors. The menu offers contemporary American fare, with several dishes using local seafood. Beyond that, soups, salads, sandwiches, and classics like jambalaya and chicken fried steak round out the options. Telephone: 907-586-5018 Web: The Hangar on the Wharf.
As the name suggests, the menu highlights the freshest catch from Alaskan waters, with its dishes like sweet potato shrimp cakes, clam chowder, and sauteed Alaskan black cod. The restaurant is popular with both locals and visitors, being within walking distance of the cruise docks. Twisted Fish is open daily for lunch and dinner, but only during the summer months. From October to April, the owners and staff close up for the winter and prepare for the coming year. Telephone: 907-463-5033 Web: Twisted Fish.
Best Bars in Juneau
The Imperial Saloon
As Juneau’s self-proclaimed oldest and most historic bar, established in 1891, this spot has not lost any momentum throughout its 100 plus years of history. The Imperial Saloon is one of the best bars in the city to grab a strong drink and enjoy a fun night out. The interior is festive and lively, and you can keep yourself occupied with darts, billiards, or ping pong if you don’t want to dance to the beats spun by their DJs. If all the fun you’re having works up your appetite, grab a bite to eat at their in-house kitchen, the Front Street Cafe, which stays open as long as the bar does. Telephone: 907-586-1960 Web: The Imperial Saloon.
Red Dog Saloon
This restaurant and bar has been in business since the end of the 19th century, when mining brought droves of newcomers to the Klondike region. Since then, the saloon has changed locations, but has held on to its history – and a collection of antique guns and furs that still decorate the dining room to this day. The restaurant serves bar classics that stick to your ribs and go down perfectly with an ice cold beer. Telephone: 907-463-3658 Web: Red Dog Saloon.
McGivney’s Sports Bar & Grill
If you need a spot to watch your favorite football and basketball games with drinks and great food, McGivney’s Sports Bar & Grill is the perfect place for it in Juneau. The bar has a number of TVs and gives off a true sports bar vibe with tons of framed jerseys featured on the wall from everyone’s favorite teams. Order a beer or cocktails while you enjoy some crab bisque, fish and chips, or deep fried pickles. Telephone: 907-789-0501 Web: McGivney’s Sports Bar & Grill.
This dive bar is actually one of the best spots to come to in Juneau for a casual night out. It also has some of the best fish and chips in town. The Sandbar is an establishment that keeps things simple when it comes to cocktails and menu items, but the attention to quality and providing patrons with a good time is front and center. Hit up this neighborhood spot, order some beer, and enjoy their amazing halibut fish and chips. Telephone: 907-789-8400 Web: Sandbar.
Lucky Lady Pub
If you’re in the mood for a night out but don’t want to go anywhere crowded or touristy, visit this iconic Irish pub that’s been a part of the city’s local scene for decades. Lucky Lady Pub is one of a few Irish-themed pubs in Juneau, and its low-key, casual atmosphere makes it a great place to go for a genuine good time. The bartenders serve up strong concoctions and spirits, and although there isn’t a full in-house kitchen, the pub provides customers with snacks throughout the night. Telephone: 907-586-9673 Web: Lucky Lady Pub.
Best Hotels in Juneau
Welcome to downtown Juneau’s only All-Suites Hotel offering 72 fully-furnished Suites, and situated near the breathtaking Gastineau Channel. Their hotel offers convenient access to bustling downtown Juneau’s State & Federal buildings, museums, the Mt. Roberts Tram, many gift shops, and restaurants. This makes the Juneau Hotel perfect for leisure or business travelers. They also offer a complimentary shuttle to and from the airport and the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry terminal.
Stay in the heart of historic downtown Juneau, Alaska at the Silverbow Inn. The Silverbow Inn is a 12-room boutique hotel, located steps away from the best restaurants, shopping and activities in Juneau. Hotel amenities include luxurious bedding, fluffy robes and towels; fun bath amenities such as rubber duckies, shower radios and bath salts. We offer a European-style breakfast complete with your favorite espresso or French Press coffee and afternoon treats every day. Don’t forget a soak in our mountain-view hot tub!
Best Western Grandma’s Feather Bed
Best Western Grandma’s Feather Bed, the smallest hotel in the world’s largest hotel chain, comes complete with deluxe suites and is the perfect place for a weekend getaway in beautiful Juneau, Alaska. All 14 guest rooms are designed especially to meet your vacationing needs. Each guest room are designated non-smoking with single queen feather beds for the ultimate in comfort. Sink into your in-room Jacuzzi and let the comfort take you away.
Beachside Villa Luxury Inn
Experience the magic and charm of one of Juneau’s extremely rare waterfront Inns. Beachside Villa Luxury Inn offers the finest views of Mt. Juneau and Mt. Roberts, the City lights, cruise ships, watercraft of all sizes, and assorted Alaskan wildlife. In addition to the panoramic view, there are always happenings worthy of your attention. Sit back and relax while enjoying the sights and sounds of Alaska
Alaska’s Capital Inn Bed & Breakfast
This restored gold rush era home offers the finest in overnight accommodations and a real be & breakfast experience during your stay. Rooms are tastefully decorated with fine linens on king size beds, walls adorned with period wallpapers, collectible Alaskan art, and period furniture throughout. Our breakfasts are raved about by the guests, and covered by all the guide books, as a true dining experience. You can enjoy refreshments before dinner, or our bottomless cookie jar with a cup of tea in the afternoon, when guests often share the day’s events or photos.