Your travels are taking you to The Last Frontier, one of the most beautiful places on the planet. But as luck would have it, you’ve only got 12 hours in Juneau, Alaska. Don’t worry! As tough as it was to choose our favorites, we’ve put together a list of some of the best things to do if you’re stopping in Juneau for only a day.
Mount Roberts Tramway
One of the world’s steepest tramways can be found near downtown Juneau. Ride the tram 1,800 feet through the temperate rain forest up to the Mountain House for gorgeous views of Juneau, Gastineau Channel, and the surrounding mountains. You can hike and visit the nature center on top of Mount Roberts. Stop in and see eagles at the Juneau Raptor Center. Get a bite of Alaska cuisine at the Timberline Bar & Grill, and then stop at the Raven Eagle Gifts & Gallery to take home a special Tlingit souvenir.
Mendenhall Glacier and Ice Cave
This is one of those can’t-miss, bucket list sites. Mendenhall Glacier is just 12 miles outside Juneau, the only glacier accessible by road in Southeast Alaska. Don’t have a car? You can take a shuttle bus or a cab to the half-mile wide glacier and spend some time viewing this monolith. Stop at the Forest Service Visitor Center, which has views of the half-mile-wide glacier – one of the largest in the Juneau Icefield. Then spend some time on trails exploring the glacier. You can visit the gorgeous western ice cave, but that will take up most of your day, and you will need some special preparation and equipment.
Shrine of St. Therese
Looking to take a drive? Located 22 miles north of Juneau, the secluded and peaceful shrine is along the coast, within Tongass National Forest. Visit the historic Shrine Chapel, constructed of beach stone. Traverse a meditational labyrinth on the shore. If you choose to extend your stay, you can rent a cabin at the shrine.
Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure
Explore the Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure, a 50-acre rainforest garden within the Tongass National Forest. It features upside-down flower towers, made with recycled spruce and hemlock trees and named by Reader’s Digest as America’s Most Interesting Landmark. You’ll also learn about Alaska fauna, experience beautiful vistas and get in some eagle-viewing.
Macaulay Salmon Hatchery Visitor Center
Check out one of Alaska’s most famous residents – the salmon – in action at various life stages at the hatchery, just 2.5 miles from Juneau. The hatchery was finished in 1989 and can incubate more than 170 million salmon annually. See growing salmon in incubation trays, raceways, and rearing pens. See other kinds of Alaska marine life showcased in saltwater aquariums.
St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
This historic church, constructed in the 1890s, drew in traditional Tlingit worshippers because it allowed services in the local language rather than suppressing native language and customs. The church, a U.S. National Park Service historic site, is located within Juneau city limits.
Downtown Juneau Historical Walking Tour
Feel like taking a stroll? You can join a guide from the Juneau-Douglas Museum to learn about Juneau’s mining history, its early settlers and key figures in Alaska history. The walking tour ends at a historic home, where you’ll be treated to afternoon tea. Or you can grab a map of historic sites and structures and hit the pavement yourself.
Whatever activities you choose in Juneau, your visit will be a memorable one.