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17 Things To Do in the Juneau, Alaska Cruise Port

Updated: May 30

Juneau, Alaska, has a rich history rooted in its original inhabitants, the Tlingit Indians, who fished the salmon-rich waters of the channel. In 1880, Joe Juneau and Richard Harris discovered gold at the mouth of Gold Creek, leading to the settlement of the area.

Juneau, Alaska mountain range with a lake in front

Initially named Rockwell, then Harrisburg, the town was finally renamed Juneau in 1881. By 1900, Juneau had become Alaska's state capital. The town has long been a hub for tourism, attracting visitors with its Native heritage, prospector history, and stunning scenery.

Moreover, it is the only state capital in the United States accessible solely by water or air! Juneau spans 3,255 square miles and is home to 280 species of birds and diverse wildlife. Let's discover 17 things to do when you visit the Juneau cruise port.

1. Ride the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway and Explore the Nature Center at the Top of Mount Roberts

The Goldbelt Tram, located just south of downtown Juneau and steps from the cruise ship dock, offers an unforgettable journey with its six-minute ascent up Mount Roberts. The tramway provides stunning panoramic views of Juneau and the Gastineau Channel as it rises to about 1,800 feet through the temperate rainforest.

Goldbelt Tram traveling on the vertical lines with 4 cruise ships in the port

At the top of Mount Roberts, visitors will find a variety of attractions. The Tr’Ale House and Timberline Bar and Grill serve delicious Alaskan cuisine, including the finest seafood, and offer a selection of Alaskan craft-brewed beers.

The Chilkat Theatre plays an 18-minute film that delves into the history and culture of the Tlingit community, providing an enriching educational experience.

Goldbelt Gifts, the retail shop at the top, features items that tell the story of Alaska’s rich cultural tapestry and awe-inspiring landscapes, offering unique souvenirs for visitors. Additionally, there is a Local Artists Gallery where you can explore Indigenous artworks and nature-inspired elegance.

The Goldbelt Tram is not only one of the most vertical tramways in the world, but it is also the only tram in Southeast Alaska, making it a must-visit attraction for those docking at the Juneau cruise port.

2. Visit the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center and Hike to Nugget Falls

Nugget Falls and Mendenhall Glacier

About 30 minutes by car from the Juneau Cruise Port, the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center offers spectacular views of the thirteen-mile-long Mendenhall Glacier, which terminates at the far side of Mendenhall Lake.

Visitors can observe blue icebergs floating in the water against the backdrop of southeast Alaska’s coastal mountains. This glacier is part of the vast Juneau Ice Field, a 1,500 square-mile remnant of the last ice age nestled high in the peaks of the Coast Mountains.

At the Visitor Center, U.S. Forest Service Rangers are available to answer questions and interpret the surrounding landscape. 

The center features state-of-the-art exhibits, a 15-minute film highlighting the dynamic relationship between the Tongass National Forest and its many glaciers, and the Discovery Southeast bookstore. Visitors can also use the provided binoculars to spot wildlife, such as mountain goats in the surrounding mountains.

DLT! at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center

At the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, several trails of varying distances and challenges lead to cascading waterfalls and salmon streams. The Nugget Falls Trail, which is 0.8 miles long, begins halfway down the Photo Point Trail and ends at Nugget Falls.

This scenic trail skirts the flats at the edge of Mendenhall Lake and culminates at the spectacular Nugget Falls, a waterfall that plunges approximately 377 feet down the rugged mountainside into the lake, about three-quarters of a mile south of the active face of the Mendenhall Glacier.

3. Enjoy Fresh Seafood at Tracy’s King Crab Shack

Indulge in fresh seafood delights at Tracy’s King Crab Shack, the original and iconic spot for Alaskan King Crab. Whether you are craving Tracy’s Famous Crab Cakes or eager to feast on succulent King Crab legs, this popular restaurant is a must-visit destination for cruise passengers seeking delectable seafood.

4. Walk Along Franklin Street as you Explore Downtown Juneau

Downtown Juneau in Alaska with flowers in the foreground and downtown in the background

Walking along Main Street and Franklin Street provides an excellent opportunity to explore the bustling streets of downtown Juneau. Visitors can browse local shops, dine at popular restaurants, and visit historic sites like The Alaska State Capitol.

The Capitol is the functional seat of the state government, and it is open to the public from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Visitors can take self-guided tours year-round or join organized tours from June to September, courtesy of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum.

Another iconic spot is the famous Red Dog Saloon, a premier destination for great food and entertainment. Originating during Juneau’s mining era, the saloon has long been a place of hospitality and fellowship for weary travelers and locals alike.

5. Go Whale Watching

A whale with its tail outside of the water

Embark on a whale-watching tour from the Juneau cruise port to observe humpback whales and orcas in their natural habitat. The peak whale season in Alaska runs from May through September, with gray whales arriving first in April, followed by orcas in May, and humpback whales in June.

Popular companies offering whale-watching excursions include Dolphin Jet Boat Tours, Juneau Whale Watching Tours and Excursions, and Harv and Marv's Outback Alaska Whale Watching. There will be many more companies to book this excursion with once you disembark the ship. 

6. Discover the Alaska State Museum

The Alaska State Museum in Juneau offers a comprehensive look at Alaska’s diverse cultural and natural history through artifacts, art, and interactive exhibits. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 9 am - 4:30 pm and Monday from 1 - 4:30 pm, the museum's summer exhibits include "Protection: Adaptation & Resistance," which centers on Indigenous ways of knowing, "Skin-on-Frame Qayaq," and "XX: Twenty Years of Alaskan Art."

7. Take a Helicopter Tour to the Juneau Icefield

Mendenhall Glacier Helicopter Tour in Juneau, Alaska

Experience the breathtaking beauty of the Juneau Icefield by taking a helicopter tour, offering panoramic views of glaciers and surrounding mountains. Helicopter tours in Juneau provide an unparalleled opportunity to witness around forty large glaciers and approximately one hundred smaller ones. Alaska Shore Tours offers the Icefield Helicopter Excursion, featuring a half-hour of unforgettable flightseeing.

The excursion includes a landing on the Herbert Glacier, where visitors can embark on a fascinating walk in this other-worldly frozen environment. With stunning views of frozen rivers of ice against rugged, ice-capped mountain peaks, this tour offers a truly spellbinding experience.

8. Try a Dog Sledding Tour

Dog Sledding

Experience the thrill of Alaska's state sport by participating in a dog sledding tour. In the winter, head to Juneau Sled Dog Discovery with Alaska Shore Tours, where you will meet huskies and their professional mushers, take a thrilling one-mile dogsled ride through Tongass National Forest, and play with adorable husky puppies.

During the summer, visit Juneau Dog Sled Summer Camp with Alaska Shore Excursions, where you will tour the camp, learn about dogsledding history, and visit a 19th-century replica of an Iditarod Outpost. Then, embark on a 1.5-mile dog sled adventure through the rainforest aboard a wheeled training cart, followed by snuggling with the puppies back at camp.

9. Hike in Tongass National Forest

Hubbard Glacier in Tongass National Forest

Embark on a hiking adventure in Tongass National Forest, the largest U.S. National Forest covering 16.7 million acres of temperate rainforest in Southeast Alaska. The West Glacier Trail in Juneau offers a popular route through this vast wilderness, spanning 6.3 miles round trip and taking around 3 hours and 19 minutes to complete.

Although moderately challenging, this trail is a favorite for hikers and snowshoers, especially between May and October. While exploring, you may encounter other outdoor enthusiasts, as this area is well-visited. Dogs are welcome on the trail - some areas even allow them to roam off-leash.

Additionally, the Nugget Falls trail, which is relatively easy, offers another opportunity to explore the beauty of Tongass National Forest. Explore Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventures in the heart of the Tongass National Forest. This vibrant Alaskan botanical garden paradise is surrounded by the lush temperate rainforest habitat of Southeast Alaska. 

DLT! at Nugget Falls

Visitors will hop aboard covered rainforest adventure vehicles for a guided tour through meticulously manicured gardens and into the ancient rainforest on Thunder Mountain. From 580 feet above sea level, panoramic views of Juneau await, offering one of the finest vistas in the Capital City. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, which frequent the property grounds.

10. Explore the Juneau-Douglas City Museum

Explore Juneau’s fascinating history at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, where you can delve into its gold rush heritage and evolution into Alaska’s capital city. The museum is open year-round and boasts permanent exhibits on fishing, mining, skiing, Southeast Alaska Native history and lifestyles, politics, and statehood.

Additionally, visitors can enjoy a variety of temporary exhibits showcasing local artists and highlighting topical aspects of Juneau's history and culture. Do not miss the chance to learn about the region's rich past and vibrant community at this engaging museum.

11. Visit the Sealaska Heritage Institute

Sealaska Heritage Institute building on the right

Visit the Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI), a private nonprofit founded in 1980 with a mission to advance the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.

Through public services and events, SHI promotes cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding while conducting scientific and public policy research to support Alaska Native arts, cultures, history, and education statewide.

The Sealaska Heritage Store offers Juneau's most captivating selection of Alaska Native art and gifts, including handcrafted carvings, jewelry, paintings, and more. Your purchase supports vital programs that preserve and promote Southeast Alaska Native language, art, and culture.

Bald Eagle Totem Pole

For those interested in exploring Juneau's totem poles, SHI offers a downloadable totem pole trail guide from their website. Immerse yourself in these native cultures and discover the rich history of Juneau at your own pace.

12. Visit the Last Chance Mining Museum

Experience a unique Gold Rush adventure at the Last Chance Mining Museum, where underground exhibits offer a glimpse into Juneau's historic past.

Housed in the historic compressor building of the former Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Company, which operated from 1912 to 1944, the museum showcases one of the world's largest air compressors and industrial artifacts from hard rock gold mining.

Visitors can explore electric locomotives and rail cars that once transported miners and ore. The Last Chance Mining Museum is open Thursday through Monday from 2 pm to 5 pm until mid-September.

13. Stroll Through the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery

Salmon hopping out of the stream

Embark on a fascinating journey through the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery, where visitors can learn about the salmon spawning process amidst scenic outdoor hatchery operations. Guided by experienced local guides, guests can gain insight into the life cycle of Pacific salmon while enjoying a bird's-eye view of hatchery operations.

From the sky bridge in the rearing facility, witness millions of baby king and coho salmon as they grow year-round. From late June to September, observe the spectacle of adult salmon navigating the fish ladder.

Additionally, explore saltwater aquariums showcasing over 150 species of marine life and interact with local sea critters in the tide pool touch tank area. Do not forget to visit the gift shop for fishy-themed souvenirs and flavored mementos, and tantalize your taste buds with various smoked salmon products.

14. Take a Red Trolley Tour of Juneau

The city of Juneau with a mountain in the back, paved roads, and a few cars

Discover the historic charm of Juneau on a Red Trolley Tour, offering a unique glimpse into the city's landmarks. This fully narrated tour includes visits to iconic sites such as the State Capitol Building, the City and State Museum, and the Salmon Hatchery.

Guests can also admire the Governor’s Mansion and the impressive new Breaching Whale Statue and Fountain at Mayor Bill Overstreet Park in Downtown Juneau. Enjoy a scenic photo stop on Douglas Island and the flexibility to hop off and back on at the State Museum and Salmon Hatchery, with the hatchery entry fee included in the tour price.

15. Experience the Gold Creek Salmon Bake

A person slicing salmon

Immerse yourself in an unforgettable culinary experience with the Gold Creek Salmon Bake, an all-you-can-eat Alaskan feast set in an enchanting environment. This tour includes round-trip transportation from the dock, musical entertainment, and a buffet meal featuring the signature entrée of wild Alaska salmon grilled over a fragrant alder wood fire.

Featured on Bravo Television’s Top Chef, the Gold Creek Salmon Bake has been delighting guests since 1978. Indulge in a sumptuous feast featuring alderwood-grilled wild Alaska salmon, Bonanza barbecue ribs, Chilkoot baked beans, Tongass wild-rice pilaf, hot chowder, and a selection of sides and salads. Save room for homemade blueberry cake dessert!

Beer and wine are available for purchase as you relax amidst live music in a lush rainforest environment under heated, translucent domes. Do not miss the opportunity to roast marshmallows over a campfire and capture memories at the interactive gold rush mural.

16. Discover the Alaskan Brewing Company

Bar in Downtown Juneau representing the Alaskan Brewing Company

Embark on a journey of craft beverage excellence at the independently owned and operated Alaskan Brewing Company, established in 1986.

Committed to producing internationally recognized quality craft beverages, showcasing quality-oriented manufacturing in Alaska, and fostering growth both individually and as a company, Alaskan Brewing Co. invites visitors to its Tasting Room year-round.

Located conveniently 5 miles from downtown Juneau and 3 miles from the airport, the Tasting Room offers a laid-back atmosphere for guests to relax, socialize, and sample over 20 Alaskan beers on tap daily.

In addition to flagship and fan-favorite brews, guests can enjoy exclusive selections like Crew Brews, Rough Drafts, and Barrel-Aged Series not available elsewhere on tap. Indulge in a flight of samples or opt for a full pour of your favorite brews, and do not forget to take home a growler for later.

While at the brewery, guests can savor delicious offerings from food trucks like the Wild Alaskan Food Truck, Forno Rosso Food Truck, and Devil's Hideaway Food Truck, adding to the overall experience of discovering Alaskan craft beer excellence.

17. Take a Shore Excursion to Admiralty Island

A brown bear laying in a meadow

Admiralty Island, nestled in the Inside Passage, is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, boasting the highest density of brown bears in North America. The island is renowned for bear viewing at the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area, where visitors arrive by float planes from Juneau for a day of observation.

Guided by rangers, guests hike a mile-long trail to an observation tower, witnessing brown bears feeding on spawning salmon. Kayaking in Seymour Canal offers another thrilling adventure, with a vast 32-mile trail system connecting eight major lakes and seven portages, allowing paddlers to explore from Mitchell Bay to Mole Harbor.

In addition to bear viewing and kayaking, Admiralty Island offers hunting, fishing, birdwatching, and photography, providing endless adventures in Alaska's wilderness.

Not sure what to pack for an Alaskan cruise?

Check out my blog post, Your Alaska Cruise Packing List (PDF Checklist Inside). In this blog post, you will find a visual listing with links to purchase the items.

Do you just want the checklist emailed to you?

Preview of the Free Printable Packing List for your Alaskan Cruise created by Dale, Let's Travel! LLC

Fill out this form with your first name and email address below to receive the link for a downloadable PDF version of this listing that you can print out and treat as a checklist.

Adventure Awaits!

Juneau mountain range in the background and wildflowers in the foreground

Embarking on a journey to Juneau, Alaska, offers a rich tapestry of experiences, from exploring its gold rush heritage to immersing oneself in the breathtaking beauty of its natural landscapes.

Whether riding the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway for panoramic views or venturing into Tongass National Forest for a hike, there is something for every adventurer. Discovering the local culture at the Alaska State Museum or savoring fresh seafood at Tracy’s King Crab Shack adds depth to the journey. 

From whale watching to dog sledding, Juneau's diverse offerings ensure a memorable visit. So, pack your sense of adventure and prepare to explore the wonders of Alaska's capital city.

Have you ever been to Juneau, Alaska? Let me know in the comments below! Share this article with the person or people you want to go on your next adventure with! Also, be sure to SUBSCRIBE below to learn about other places you should add to your "To Visit" List! Ready? Okay, vamos. Time to have fun!

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