Our Alaskan Cruise was one of the most beautiful trips we’ve been on. The Alaskan wilderness is stunning and, with nonstop views, there were hundreds of reasons to walk further into the temperate rainforest, climb a little higher on those mountains, and paddle a little farther in our kayaks. The first post in our Alaska series, though, is going to be about one of our favorite ports of call: Juneau. So, without further ado, here are five things to do in Juneau.
Juneau, the capital of Alaska, was a sight to see from our ship; Adam and I couldn’t wait to disembark so, after a quick (but super delicious) breakfast in our room, we went out to catch sight of the beautiful city. We had quite a few things planned, both in the morning and afternoon but were most excited about the first thing on our list.
VISIT TAKU GLACIER.
We know that a lot of people go to Mendenhall Glacier when visiting Juneau (and, to be honest, we were supposed to endure an eight hour hike to visit an ice cave there – but the ice caves were closed) but Taku glacier is the only one in the area that’s still advancing.
Adam and I saw various glaciers on our trip but knowing that Taku was still advancing made the experience that much better. We ended up doing an air and water tour with a local tour company. The airboat experience was so fun! Did you know that they only need an inch or so of water to get going?
We got so close to Taku, so close that we could have touched it. We saw the bright blue spots where it had just calved and the sediment-covered places that had us all thinking about this massive glacier’s journey.
One thing that I never knew about glaciers: the glacial wind. I wasn’t prepared for it at all! I still remember that first morning. Being next to a glacier in the pouring rain isn’t fun (good thing it wasn’t raining when we visited Taku!).
GET (AND DRINK) SOME GLACIAL WATER.
Since we visited Taku Glacier, this (kind of) has to do with our trip there but, even if you decide not to visit Taku, you’ve got to get on top of a glacier somewhere and get some glacial water.
Since our excursion was air and water, I was able to take my first helicopter ride. And now I’m dying to visit Hawaii and ride in one that has no doors! The views of Juneau and the Alaskan Wilderness, in general, are stunning from above.
When we landed on top of Taku, it kind of felt like we were just standing in a snow and ice covered field. It was hard to tell we were on top of a massive glacier. However, we were able to take some shots next to some of the bright blue ice and our helicopter.
I was able to grab some glacier water at this time, too.
Important Tip: You’re going to need your own water bottle for this. Adam and I just happened to take one off the ship. We just made sure we drained it before filling it up again.
The glacier water was good and came in handy when we embarked on one of our next adventures, a long hike – one that was longer than I initially thought. That whole dress in layers thing? It came in handy…very handy.
HIKE MOUNT ROBERTS.
After our excursion from Taku, Adam and I headed for Mount Roberts. For those that haven’t visited Juneau, this mountain isn’t hard to find. Just locate the tram…you won’t miss these colorful vehicles as they travel up the steep sides of Mount Roberts.
This hike wasn’t bad, although I didn’t make it up to the summit. The thing that I wasn’t prepared for on the afternoon that we went, though, was the weather. It was so, so hot. It felt like Florida, except I started out in my Seabourn jacket, a sweater, leggings (which I obvi couldn’t remove), thick socks, and hiking boots. I ended up in the tee and leggings…and at one point, I thought about taking off the tee and just wearing my tank top. The reason I didn’t? The mosquitos.
Adam was kind of in the same boat with his joggers, hiking boots, and long sleeve tee.
Nonetheless, the views from Mount Roberts were beautiful, and Adam said there was ice at the top (he went on when I decided that the path was too skinny…and I was too clumsy!).
EAT AT RED DOG SALOON.
In between our glacial excursion and our hike, Adam and I stopped to eat at Red Dog Saloon, the well-known restaurant in Juneau. I tried reindeer sausage and Adam had a burger. Thinking about the chips? Don’t get them. They aren’t made in the restaurant and they aren’t Lays.
The food was good but the best part was the entertainment. The man that sat behind the piano was hilarious. He told hilarious (and inappropriate) jokes, called people out, and begged for tips. His tip jars had some hilarious uses for those precious bills, including child support.
WALK AROUND TOWN.
Obviously, this has to be one of the things to do in Juneau. The downtown area isn’t too large, which made it the perfect size for a walk on a hot day. The store-lined streets and dock areas boast colorful buildings and friendly people.
Adam and I wandered around for a bit (avoiding all the free gifts that were meant just for Seabourn cruisers – haha!) and took it all in. Even though we hit quite a few tourist-filled spots during our day, it’s always nice to try to find the places the locals go to.
In all honesty, it’s one of our favorite things about traveling…searching for the “real” parts of a given destination. It’s just so important to see what a city or town is really like. Take Orlando for example; most people come here are visit the theme parks, but Orlando offers so much more.
And, although Adam and I didn’t have a whole lot of time to explore the real Juneau, it’s so important to try. Next time, we’ll definitely head over to Perseverance Trail, which is used by locals a lot more than the Mount Roberts ones were. When we were ready for a hike, though, we weren’t close enough to it; so, out of convenience, we chose Mount Roberts, and I’m so glad that we did.
So do you agree? Should we all search for the “real” pieces of the towns or cities we visit?