Juneau Shore Excursion Reviews

Juneau (Photo:Sorin Colac/Shutterstock)

Popular Things to Do in Juneau

Though Juneau boasts the title of Alaska's capital city, it doesn't have much in common with other American capitals -- its population is less than 50,000 people and it's completely surrounded by mountains and water. There are no roads leading in or out of Juneau, which actually makes it a great choice for cruising (as it must be accessed by air or by water). Being surrounded by unspoiled nature, Juneau is a cruise port that offers visitors a number of unique shore excursion options from whale watching to glacier viewing. Most cruise ships are docked just a few minutes' walk from Downtown Juneau, so consider a visit to the Capitol building or a pit stop at the Alaskan Brewing Co. before or after your excursion.

The Alaska cruise season is May through September; summer is temperate and mild, but Juneau is located in a rainforest so visitors should be prepared for rain and the possibility that it will affect planned excursions. Residents of Juneau speak English and the currency is the U.S. dollar.


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Juneau Cruise Tips, Activities, and Overview

Food and Drink in Juneau

Fish, especially salmon, halibut and crab, is the dish of choice in Juneau. Despite being the state capital, Juneau's standard dress code is casual everywhere at lunch.

Twisted Fish Company: This place prepares fresh Alaskan fish and shellfish every way you can imagine. Try the fish tacos. The restaurant is near the tram and features water views. (550 S. Franklin St.; 907-463-5033; open daily from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.)

The Hangar on the Wharf: As its name suggests, The Hangar on the Wharf is located in a historic airplane hangar right on the waterfront. It boasts Southeast Alaska's largest selection of microbrews, and the lengthy menu includes seafood specialties, burgers and other American fare. Indoor/outdoor seating is available on the wharf. (2 Marine Way; 907-586-5018; open daily from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, until 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday)

Tracy's King Crab Shack: This gem serves up king crab legs and crab cakes at no-frills tables. It looks like a fast food joint but the crab is delicious. Beer is also served here. (432 S. Franklin St.; 907-723-1811; open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.)

Red Dog Saloon: This kitschy Wild-Western-nostalgia bar and restaurant comes complete with sawdust floors, mounted wildlife and swinging doors. The menu has an assortment of sandwiches, saloon food (think pub-style dishes) and, of course, a range of beers on tap. A piano player can typically be found tickling the keys on afternoons when cruise ships are in port. (278 S. Franklin St.; 907-463-3658; open Monday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.)

The Rookery Cafe: Serving up excellent coffees, this place earns rave reviews for its new American dishes. (111 Seward St.; 907-463-3013; open 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays)

Don't Miss in Juneau

Mendenhall Glacier: The U.S. Forest Service maintains a visitor center and walking trails at the glacier and Nugget Falls. Bears roam the creek for salmon and are often seen quite close. Not to worry -- rangers are on patrol, as well. Ships offer tours to the area, or do-it-yourselfers can take a shuttle from town. Visitors can also raft to the glacier on a guided tour with Alaska Travel Adventures (907-789-0052).

The most exciting way to see the glacier is by helicopter. Temsco Helicopters (877-789-9501) offers a basic tour with about 30 minutes in the air and 20 to 25 minutes on the glacier, as well as a dog sledding package, which gives you time on the glacier for a fun dog sledding experience. Upgrade to the Pilot's Choice tour for two different glacier landings. Advance reservations are advised, and don't forget to factor in transportation costs to the airport if they're not included.

Mount Roberts Tramway: The tram whisks travelers up a 1,800-foot-high station on Mount Roberts ($35 for an all-day pass). Visitors will find hiking trails, a cafe, a gift shop and a captive, injured bald eagle from the Juneau Raptor Center. (490 S. Franklin St.; 888-461-8726; open most days from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.)

Glacier Gardens: Have you seen an upside-down tree? You will at Glacier Gardens (adults $26.95, kids $15.95), where the owners turned massive trees on their tops and used the roots as giant flower baskets. The gardens flourish in a rainforest setting. Guided tours are by golf cart. (7600 Glacier Highway; 907-790-3377; open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

Macaulay Salmon Hatchery: Learn all about the life of a salmon. In addition to raising and harvesting salmon, the hatchery, located 2.5 miles north of the dock, is an aquarium that displays marine life ($5 for adults, $3 for children). Kids will love the touch tank. (2697 Channel Drive; 907-463-5114; open from 10 a.m.)

Hiking: Juneau got its start as a mining town, and several leisurely (and fairly short) hikes are available from the city center that wind past old mining equipment. The Flume Trail (closed until September 2019) follows a wooden bridge past numerous small waterfalls.

Across the channel (in Douglas), the easy Treadwell Trail runs through the once vibrant mining community adjacent to a beach. The Perseverance Trail is the most challenging of the three but is very popular because of the stunning views.