Besides proximity to the natural wonders Alaska’s known for, this city also affords visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in local culture and history.
While the idea of vast, open landscapes and beautifully rare wildlife might dominate most travelers’ imaginations when they picture the great state of Alaska, the capital city of the largest state in our union, Juneau, provides that and also much, much more. Although a list of 10 reasons to visit Juneau would not be complete without including experiencing some of its surrounding natural beauty and picturesque scenery, the city itself also provides a wonderful look at Alaska’s rich, diverse, and enduring sense of culture.
The Macaulay Salmon Hatchery
The Macaulay Salmon Hatchery is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get an up-close and personal look at the developing life stages and spawning processes of salmon. With the help of an experienced guide, you’ll get an in-depth commentary on the life cycles of salmon and various other fish. They also have saltwater aquariums that over 150 species of aquatic life call home. If you’re feeling hungry by the end of your tour, you can sample a variety of smoked salmon products — and even have them shipped to your home! With regular business hours starting at 10 AM during the months of May to September, the hatchery is open by appointment only during the winter months.
Alaska State Museum
History buffs and just flat-out curious people alike will find the 25,000 objects and artifacts in the Alaska State Museum more than enough to pique their interest into Alaska’s long, deeply embedded and multicultural history. From everything to native history, Russian colonial History, and gold mining history, this museum encompasses all Alaska has gone through on the road to becoming part of the United States, and more.
Mount Roberts Tramway
The Mount Roberts Tramway is one of the best ways to get great views of Juneau and beyond. Starting at sea level and traveling through a lush rainforest to an altitude of 1,800 feet, it is southeast Alaska’s only tramway — and with food, hiking, and more at the top, it’s well worth the price of admission to take a ride to the top.
Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure
When most people think of rainforests, they think of tropical areas like the Amazon. In reality, Juneau is home to one of only 7 coastal temperate rainforests in the entire world, making it a must-see for travelers visiting the Alaskan capital. Within Glacier Gardens, you can take a guided tour of 50 acres’ worth of the Tongass National Forest, which provides amazing views of nature, wildlife, and landscapes.
AJ Mine Gastineau Mill Tour
Juneau has a rich gold mining history, and the AJ Mine Gastineau Mill Tour is one of the best ways to experience it. Here you can tour the old mine that was once the bedrock of the Juneau economy. You can also learn how miners used to live and — even get a brief demonstration of mining techniques from a real miner!
Eaglecrest Ski Area
It should come as no surprise that Juneau and Alaska as a whole have some of the best skiing in the entire world. And while the sheer size of Alaska might make you think you’ll need to drive hours to find it, Eaglecrest Ski Area is only a 20-minute drive from downtown Juneau! Located across Gastineau Channel on Douglas Island and catering to all levels of skiers, the Eaglecrest area is also fantastic for hiking and other outdoor activities during the summer months.
Some would argue that Mendenhall Glacier is one of Juneau’s most spectacular scenic attractions, and is something every visitor should experience during their stay in and around the city. From the visitor center, you can get some of the best views of this 13-mile-long glacier as it ends at Mendenhall Lake. Visiting the glacier might also provide wildlife sightings like bears, goats, salmon spawning, and more.
About 45 miles south of Juneau is Tracy Arm Fjord. Along with Mendenhall Glacier, it is one of Juneau’s most popular natural phenomena. With floating ice ranging in size from a human hand to that of 2- and 3-story buildings, it’s a sight to behold. Also possessing gorgeous waterfalls and 3,000 foot cliffs shooting up from the sides of the Fjord, Tracy Arm can provide breathtaking views of wildlife, though mainly in the summer months.
Alaskan Brewing Company
With a city that’s so accommodating to activity and outdoorsmanship, at some point you might fancy relaxing for a nice cold beverage, and what better place to do so than the world-famous Alaskan Brewing Company, headquartered in Juneau? Here you can learn about the beer that’s won awards at regional, national, and international competitions. Alaskan Brewing Company also offers tours that highlight its proud status as being one of the greenest brewing operations in the world.
Take a Floatplane to Taku Glacier Lodge
Not only is flying by floatplane a fantastic and hard-to-come-by opportunity in and of itself, but when you combine it with panoramic views of the Juneau area and ending your trip at Taku Glacier Lodge, you almost can’t pass this up. Upon arriving at the glacier lodge, you can dine on some of the freshest and best Alaskan salmon in the entire state.
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