Juneau Alaska is the capital of Alaska and a popular stop on Alaskan cruises thanks to its proximity to Mendenhall Glacier, hiking trails, whale watching, and salmon fishing.
Juneau Alaska was the second port of call on our Alaskan cruise. In Juneau we kayaked near a glacier, enjoyed the most hilarious piano bar, and visited a local microbrewery. Oh, and shopped. Of course!
This article is published in partnership with Princess Cruises. All content and opinions belong to Mama Loves Food.
Cruise to Juneau Alaska
Juneau was the second port of call on our recent trip to Alaska with Princess Cruises. Much like Hoonah, Alaska, Juneau is only approachable by air or sea. Unlike Hoonah Alaska, Juneau has a thriving downtown full of shops, restaurants, and entertainment.
We loved Hoonah for the pure nature, and we loved Juneau for the fun atmosphere!
What to do in Juneau
- Mendenhall Glacier – This amazing glacier is 12 miles long, a half-mile wide and from 300 to 1,800 feet deep. Stretching from the Juneau Icefield to Mendenhall Lake, it has been slowly retreating since the mid 1700s.
- Outdoor Adventures – Enjoy what is truly an outdoorsman’s paradise, with activities you won’t find anywhere else. Go for a ride on a dog sled, whale watching, hiking, nature watching, flightseeing, ziplining and more.
- Whale Watching – You’re virtually ensured a whale sighting from April to November when hundreds of humpbacks feed and frolic in the waters of the northern Inside Passage. Orcas are also common sightings in Juneau.
- Glacier Flightseeing – Fly over the massive Juneau Icefield and get a front-row seat to awe-inspiring glaciers, spectacular icefalls and majestic rock formations – accessible only from the air.
- See details about these excursions at the Princess Cruise website.
What to do in Juneau Alaska
- Macaulay Salmon Hatchery – Discover the life cycle of the Pacific salmon species. Witness their amazing development from tiny fish (year round) to returning adult salmon fighting their way up a 450-ft fish ladder (late-June to October). Indoor aquarium displays showcase local marine life in a natural setting.
- Glacier Gardens – This 50-acre garden features species native to this temperate rainforest. Guided tours provide insight into a self-sustaining ecosystem and lookout points on Thunder Mountain are spectacular.
- Dog Sledding – Meet professional mushers and their amazing canine companions in an introduction to Alaska’s state sport. Take a flight to a glacier to experience flying over the snow, or visit the summertime training grounds for a ride in a wheeled sled.
- Mount Roberts Tramway – For a bird’s-eye view, take a five-minute tram ride to the top of Mt. Roberts for a panoramic vantage point 1,800 feet above the city. Mountaintop attractions include trails, shops and nature displays.
- See details about these excursions at the Princess Cruise website.
What we did in Juneau Alaska
In Juneau we started the morning off with a glacier view kayaking excursion. We traveled in the style of Native Alaskans and explored the spectacular area’s coastal waterways and Mendenhall wetlands by kayak.
We were able to enjoy scenic views of the Mendenhall Glacier and even saw otters and bald eagles! After kayaking we headed into town and grabbed lunch at the Red Dog Saloon where we got burgers and enjoyed a hilarious piano player.
Stephanie and Mike headed back to the ship after lunch, but Wes and I met up with more friends to check out Devils Club Brewing Co before grabbing ice cream and fudge at the Alaskan Fudge Factory. A little shopping followed and then it was back to the ship for dinner.
Glacier View Kayaking in Juneau Alaska
What to pack for Juneau Alaska
Layers are your friend when visiting Alaska. Juneau is far north so even in the middle of summer the days can be cool and the evenings can get cold. It also is a rainy coastal town, so you’ll want to prepare to get a little wet.
When we visited in May, it was cool enough to wear a light jacket during the day and in the evening we added hats and gloves.
I love this rainproof windbreaker – I purchased mine a size up so I could wear a sweater underneath if need be. If you’re heading out for an excursion on the glacier, especially toward the beginning of the season or end of the season when it tends to be cooler, fleece leggings under your pants will also make you more comfortable.
Make sure to check out our comprehensive (and printable!) cruise packing list!
What is the weather in Juneau Alaska
The weather in Juneau Alaska during tourist season (April through September) tends to be in the mid 50’s – 60’s Fahrenheit during the day and 40’s – 50’s in the evening. Cooler at times during the beginning and end of the season.
Juneau Alaska is about twice as rainy as average, similar to Seattle, so you’ll want to make sure you have a rainproof windbreaker.
Where is Juneau Alaska
Juneau, is Alaska’s remote capital, located on the west coast of the United States just north of British Columbia. It sits in the state’s panhandle, at the base of 3,819-ft. Mount Roberts.
What time is it in Juneau Alaska
Juneau Alaska operates on the AKST (Alaska time zone). AKST (Alaska time zone) is four hours behind EST (Eastern time zone), three hours behind CST (Central time zone), two hours behind MST (Mountain time zone), and one hour behind PTD time zone (Pacific time zone).
Shopping in Juneau Alaska
There is great shopping in Juneau Alaska. Juneau was my favorite place to shop on our Alaskan cruise. We walked from the cruise port into downtown and hit a dozen our more shops. I was able to grab souvenirs for myself and all our kids.
I loved the shopping in Juneau because while they had traditional souvenir type items (which, p.s. I totally love). There was also a lot of interesting stores with more authentic Alaskan crafts and wares.
One of the things Juneau Alaska is well known for is the Mendenhall Glacier. The Juneau Icefield flows from the town of Skagway, Alaska, to the Taku River, for a total of 1,500 square miles. One of the most impressive glaciers in the ice field is the massive Mendenhall Glacier.
Whether you set foot inside the ice caves, paddle down Mendenhall Lake like we did, or explore the iceberg research station, you’ll quickly see why this natural wonder is one of the most popular shore excursions in Juneau.
Downtown Juneau Alaska
Despite being difficult to get to, Juneau has a thriving downtown with restaurants, shops, and entertainment. The downtown is colorful and vibrant with a gorgeous backdrop of mountains.
While visiting downtown Juneau you can look for a sidewalk sundial and a memorial dedicated to fishermen lost at sea near the tram terminal, and use the spotting scopes to find mountain goats on Mt. Juneau.
If you start on South Franklin, some of Juneau’s oldest establishments are bars – remnants of the early gold mining era. The town sported 30 saloons around 1914!
We really enjoyed Devil’s Club Brewing Co. We also loved the Red Dog Saloon, where you’ll see Wyatt Earp’s gun from Nome, lots of stuffed critters, and interesting Alaska memorabilia. If you’re lucky you’ll catch the piano player, he’s hilarious!
Whale Watching in Juneau Alaska
Juneau, Alaska is renowned for seeing whales, especially humpbacks, and occasionally killer whales (orcas) too. The best time to see the whales is during the months of May right through to the end of September, which is exactly when the weather is perfect for visiting and the cruise ships are running.
Where to eat in Juneau Alaska
- Twisted Fish Company Alaskan Grill – Soaring windows provide water views in this casual seafood restaurant with an extensive wine list.
- Donna’s Restaurant – Comfort food · Quick bite · Fast service.
- Hangar On The Wharf – Varied fare & 20+ beers on tap in a converted airplane hangar (with large windows) on a wooden pier.
- Tracy’s King Crab Shack – Waterfront, walk-up shack featuring locally caught crab legs, bisque, cakes & other seafood bites.
- Alaskan Crepe Escape – Comfort food · Small plates · Quick bite.
- Red Dog Saloon – Guests mosey through swinging doors & onto a sawdust floor in this Western-style spot with pub eats.
Fun Facts about Juneau Alaska
- Juneau, is the capital city of Alaska.
- Juneau is the second largest city in the United States by area.
- Juneau has been the capital of Alaska since 1906.
- Juneau is the only U.S. state capital to border another country.
- While Juneau is located on the Alaska mainland, there are no roads that connect the city to the rest of Alaska or North America.
Why you should cruise to Juneau Alaska
Juneau Alaska is a great place to cruise to because it has the best of both worlds for folks who like both city life and incredible wildlife and nature opportunities.
Or if you’re like Wesley and me and one of you likes all things nature, but the other one (*ahem*, me) needs to be served yummy meals an buy shiny things when on vacation. Juneau is the perfect compromise.
Where we cruised along with Juneau Alaska
- Skagway (Alaska) – Canoeing to a glacier, the best fish and chips, and fun shopping.
- Whittier (Alaska) – A scenic bus tour, a scenic glacier cruise, and sad goodbyes.
- Vancouver (British Columbia) – Where we started!
- Hoonah (Alaska) – Our second stop. Whale spotting and a sunset hike.
More places we’ve cruised
Caribbean, Central, and South America
Must-read cruising tips
Recipes inspired by our travels
- Nutella Cookies
- Mango Pineapple Salsa
- Pickled Green Tomatoes
- Whole Fruit Popsicles
- Chocolate Overload Cake
- Smoked Salmon Dip
- Cracker Recipe