Five For Fun In Juneau, Alaska
Some popular shore excursions in Juneau are quite expensive, while other cool things to do in this city are easy to afford. There are plenty of great activities here to match every interest and vacation budget. Here are five awesome things to see and do if you’re planning to visit Juneau on your Alaska cruise:
1. Go Wildlife Watching. Humpback whale viewing is one of the highlights of an Alaska cruise and the waters around Juneau are filled with these majestic creatures from April to November. Whale watching tours offer cruise passengers an additional opportunity to see whales breaching, bubble net feeding and more. Some tours even guarantee whale sightings. It may be possible to see orca whales, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, Dall's porpoises and other mammals on these tours as well. Juneau is also an excellent port for bear viewing. Admiralty Island National Monument (known as "Fortress of the Bears") has the world's largest density of brown bears and is located just a short floatplane ride away from Juneau. Tours are available to Admiralty Island's Pack Creek Bear Sanctuary from June to September.
2. Take a Floatplane Trip to Taku Glacier Lodge. This flightseeing tour from downtown Juneau offers the best of all worlds. Guests take a 35-minute flightseeing trip on their way to serene Taku Glacier Lodge, located across from a massive glacier in a remote area of the Tongass National Forest. On the way, passengers fly over five huge glaciers flowing out from the Juneau Icefield. After landing on the water in front of Taku Glacier Lodge, there’s time to explore the lodge’s beautiful grounds or do a little shopping before sitting down to partake of an amazing salmon feast complete with all the fixings. After lunch and the opportunity for a nature walk, a scenic 15-minute return floatplane trip brings guests back to Juneau.
3. See The Salmon. Located a little over two miles from downtown Juneau, the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery provides an excellent way for visitors to learn more about Alaska's salmon industry. The hatchery contains museum-like exhibits, displays, a huge saltwater aquarium, and a shop featuring delicious local salmon produce. During salmon spawning season which typically runs from late June through September, visitors have the chance to see wild salmon climbing the hatchery's outdoor ladder from Gastineau Channel. You may see bald eagles in this area during that time period as well. If catching salmon and halibut is more to your liking, arrange to go sportfishing on one of Juneau's many Coast Guard licensed charter fishing boats. An Alaska state fishing license is required and your catch can be conveniently shipped to your home by one of Juneau's fish processors.
4. View Mendenhall Glacier. Located just 13 miles from the city’s downtown area, Mendenhall Glacier is Juneau’s most popular tourist attraction. This "drive in" glacier is magnificent and the site's Visitors Center offers an informative film, excellent exhibits and superb glacier viewing through its large windows. During your visit to Mendenhall Glacier, take the time to trek to spectacular Nugget Falls and walk along the Mendenhall Glacier site’s nature trail. This trail can be an excellent place to see bears at close range during salmon spawning season. While tours to Mendenhall Glacier are available through the cruise lines and are often combined with other sights, several local tour operators shuttle buses that transport cruise visitors directly to the glacier on a regular basis. Taxis are another good option as well, especially for larger groups.
5. Enjoy Mount Roberts Tramway. Located directly opposite Juneau's main cruise pier, the Mount Roberts Tramway provides its guests with magnificent scenery, interesting nature and cultural exhibits, spectacular views, and a network of great mountaintop hiking and nature trails. One ticket purchase provides unlimited rides throughout the day, however it's quite easy to spend much of the day hiking and exploring all that this area has to offer. The Timberline Bar & Grill at the upper Tram Station serves both lunch and dinner along with beautiful views.
Visiting the Alaska State Museum is another fun and inexpensive excursion in Juneau. Located at 395 Whittier Street within walking distance of the downtown cruise pier, the Alaska State Museum features a wealth of exhibits on Alaska's natural and cultural history. The exceptional museum houses a historical collection of 1,700 items and about 1,800 works of fine art. The immense natural history collection of mounted birds, animals, seashells and fossils is a treat to see. There's an excellent museum shop as well. The Alaska State Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from mid-May to October 1 and has modified winter hours after that time. Admission is $12 for adults, $11 for seniors, and free children 18 years of age and under as well as active duty military members and their families with military ID.
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