Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, isn’t accessible by road. Those who make the effort to reach this isolated outpost are rewarded with dramatic scenery, a pioneer vibe, and countless outdoor adventures. Here are some suggestions for how to spend 24 hours in Alaska’s third-largest city.
If you only have time for one thing in Juneau, make it a trip to Mendenhall Glacier, one of Alaska’s most popular attractions. A visitor center near the glacier features exhibits and a large map of the Juneau Ice Field, as well as an observatory with telescopes to get a better view of the ice. Glacier tours cater to all levels of adventure; paddle a kayak or canoe across Mendenhall Lake for an unobstructed view, or strap on some crampons for a trek across the glacier’s surface to see its ice caves, crevasses, and other formations up close.
Juneau ranks among the best places in the world for wildlife viewing—orcas, bears, seals, eagles, and especially humpback whales. This afternoon take to the waters of the Inside Passage to spot some of the 600 humpbacks that migrate here between April and November. Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for adventure, spend your afternoon exploring the Alaskan rain forest within Tongass National Forest by zipline to see trees that are more than 400 years old.
A trip to Alaska wouldn’t be complete without one quintessential food experience: a salmon bake. This evening, fuel up after your day of adventures with an all-you-can-eat meal featuring grilled wild salmon, blueberry crisp, baked beans, and salad. For dessert, gather around a campfire to roast marshmallows. Many salmon-bake experiences also include a chance to pan for gold at a nearby creek or watch a master Tlingit carver at work.