Heading To Alaska? Top 5 Things To Do In Juneau
Whether you’re spending a few days in Juneau before your cruise begins or are traveling around Alaska and want to hit this capital city, there’s plenty to do here. Don’t be surprised if you end up staying even longer than you intended.
Dog Sledding and Helicopter Tour
It’s three incredible experiences in one—a dog sledding adventure, a helicopter tour and a ride over a glacier. The 90-minute adventure includes 25-30 minutes of being in a helicopter flying over amazing glaciers before spending 60-70 minutes at the Herbert Glacier Dog Sled Camp. Travelers not only have the experience of being pulled by a team of 10 to 12 huskies, all led by expert mushers, but they also spend time at the end getting to know each dog, as well as the puppies. The helicopter ride itself is pretty amazing—flying over the Tongass National Forest and the Juneau Icefield, where there’s a chance to spot bears, moose, goats and other animals.
Located in Tongass National Forest, visitors can reach the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, which overlooks the Mendenhall Valley. The best way to get there is by taking the Glacier Shuttle, which runs every 30 minutes. You can stay as long (or short) as you want, since the shuttles runs so often. The shuttle picks up right at the cruise terminal dock and drops off at the visitor center. Over 400,000 visitors come each year to the only glacier accessible by road in Southeast Alaska. Be sure to take the Nugget Falls trail that ends at a five-story-high waterfall neighboring the glacier.
Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway is more than just a ride up a mountain. Once at the top, there are miles upon miles of beautiful hiking trails that offer some of the best views in all of Juneau. Hike among 200-foot-high trees and brightly colored flowers in the sub-alpine meadow. There is a chance to see wildlife—think bears, mountain goats and moose—from the viewing platforms that can be found throughout the hiking trails. The Nature Center is a great place to get advice on which hiking trail to take as well as learn more about the history, environment and wildlife of the area. A gift shop and restaurant can also be found at the top of Mount Roberts. But be aware: The “top” of Mount Roberts is another 2000 feet above the tramway building.
Glacier Salt Cave & Spa
Visiting Alaska’s Glacier Salt Cave & Spa is a popular choice for travelers, especially after a long flight. The custom-made room has backlit salt block walls, a salt floor, and chairs for relaxation while breathing in the dry salt air (known as Halotherapy) which is shown to help with allergies and sinus issues (which can be exasperated by plane travel). Salt caves have been around for thousands of years in places like Pakistan, India, and Romania. People realized that by sitting in salt caves they were combatting the effects of the seasonal allergies and other ailments. It’s thought that salt dust kills the allergens or bad bacteria in your nose, throat, and lungs. The Halogenerator is a machine that grinds up medical-grade salt into super-fine particles that are then blown out in a confined space for easy inhalation. Most people combine a massage with halotherapy.
Eating and Drinking
Juneau’s Roma Bistro is a popular restaurant serving up tasty pizza, sandwiches, salads, calzones and tapas. In fact, the tapas are part of the big draw—sample everything from butternut squash ravioli, tiger prawns, beef carpaccio and lamb osso buco. For lunch and dinner, the pizza options are very popular—including the signature “Roma” pizza with beet pesto, goat cheese and taleggio. The Rhubarb Tiramisu, made with ladyfinger biscuits, coulis and toasted pistachios is a fan favorite. The restaurant is located on the wharf, near the hotels, shopping and cruise ships.
The Hangar on the Wharf is one of the most popular restaurants in Juneau in part because of the views. You can sit outside and take in the views of the mountains, seaplanes and cruise ships. The hangar—so named because it used to be the aircraft hangar for the float planes—has a distinct Alaskan feel and focuses on fresh seafood including halibut, freshly-cut salmon and their famous King Crab. Not a fish eater? There are plenty of other options, including hand-cut steaks, burgers, pasta, salads and an extensive beer menu.