Things to Do in Juneau, Alaska

Juneau is a port for most Alaskan cruises, including the one my family took in the summer of 2019. It is the only capital city inaccessible from a highway. Juneau is busy by Alaska standards and compared to the other ports you will encounter. It seems more like a real city than the others we experienced. If you want a significant bucket list experience, like dog-sledding on a glacier, and have the money for it, this is the port for you. If you don’t, you still can do some pretty cool experiences, as there are free or cheap activities from Juneau, including the Mendenhall Glacier.

Juneau Alaska things to do
Mendenhall Glacier, as seen on the walk in from the bus stop.

Juneau may be the easiest port day to plan for yourself without booking a tour. Many of the other cruise ports are mainly cities full of shopping. You can take short walks around, but most fun activities require getting far out of town. This is less true in Juneau as the glacier is only 12 miles away.

Explore Mendenhall Glacier Without a Tour

When you get off your cruise ship, you will be in downtown Juneau. Most port days in Juneau are long days, so you should have a lot of time to explore.

How to Get to Mendenhall Glacier from Juneau

Catch the Glacier Shuttle

Right in front of the cruise ships are shuttle stands. You can book a shuttle or taxi right there for around $45. The ride will take under half an hour and is narrated.

Book your Glacier Shuttle now.

How to Take the Bus from Anchorage Cruise Port to Mendenhall Glacier

If you would like to save even more money, you can walk to the Downtown Bus Station (700 w 6th Ave.). The bus will take you to Mendenhall for about 8 dollars round trip.

Take the #3 bus from the Downtown Bus Station to the Mendenhall Loop Road stop. The bus will let you off at the corner. You will cross the street and take the 1 1/2 mile walk on the road up to the Mendenhall Visitor Station. The whole trip will take you 1 1/2 hours each way, including the walk. The road is paved but will be alongside the forest. On this walk, we saw a mama black bear and two young cubs fishing in a stream on the side of the road.

See the bus schedule here.

Mendenhall Visitor’s Center

When you get to Mendenhall, go to the visitor’s center where you can pay the day fee and become educated about glaciers. There is a movie that is worth watching in the center. There are bathrooms at the glacier, but no food or drinks.

Take a Hike to the Glacier

To get closest to the foot of the glacier, you will need to walk along the one-mile flat Nugget Falls dirt trail. You will also pass by the foot of Nugget Falls. If you are not able to take this hike, there are shorter walks that will give you views of the glacier.

Before You Leave Mendenhall, Stop by the Steep Creek Trail

Right across the parking lot from Mendenhall Visitor Center are the raised wooden trails over Steep Creek. These trails provide the possibility of safely viewing bears fishing. For more on how to see wildlife in Alaska, visit my Alaska Wildlife Guide.

Head on Back into Juneau

things to do in Juneau
Grabbing an ice cream on the Flight Deck while watching the seaplanes land right next to the cruise ships.

Stop for Lunch at the Base of the Juneau Water Airstrip

Grab a crab lunch on the patio at the Flight Deck. It is touristy and expensive, but when can you eat crab while enjoying the quintessential Alaskan sight of seaplanes taking off and landing alongside cruise ships? If you don’t want to spring for lunch, you can grab ice cream next door and stand by the railing. This is not the best crab I had in Alaska, though- that was in Hoonah (Icy Point Strait).

Get to the Top of Mount Roberts

one day in Juneau
The Mt. Roberts Tram going up the mountain behind Juneau’s waterfront.

Mount Roberts is an almost 4,000 ft mountain on the west side of town. The summit provides sweeping views of the town, cruise ships, Douglas Island, and the harbor. At the top, there are informational markers, hiking trails, and a nature center, as well as a movie.

There are two ways to get up and down Mount Roberts:

  • Take the tramway for $35. There is usually a wait. You can find the tram station along the water on the western side of the port.
  • Hike the 2-mile (each way) switchback trail.
Juneau Alaska Cruise Port
The view of the bay from the top of Mount Roberts

These three things will provide a full, exciting port day in Juneau, Alaska.

If you have the funds and want to fulfill items off your bucket list, explore taking a helicopter to walk on a glacier or canoe at the foot of Mendenhall Glacier. These are affiliate links, read my disclosure below for more details.

Read on for more of my Alaska posts.

What is your favorite thing to do in Juneau? Are you heading there soon?




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23 thoughts on “Things to Do in Juneau, Alaska”

  1. I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska!! I love seeing glaciers, so Mendenall would definitely be a can’t miss. And the cable car up to Mt Rogers sounds lovely!

  2. We went into Juneau as part of a cruise, back in the 1980s, and we also did some of the interior including the Mendenhall Glacier. We didn’t go up Mount Roberts though, which looks so serene and green.

  3. Don’t know much about Juneau, I’ve actually never been to Alaska. I like the fact that the glacier is only 12 miles away from the city and that it’s not all about shopping.
    Mt. Roberts looks gorgeous, that would definitely be one of my stops. 🙂

  4. I have been planning a road trip to Alaska for a long time and hoping to drive up from Vancouver and Juneau is one of the places to stop off on the way. I love scenery like this and cant wait to get up there. After reading this, I sure want some crab for my dinner tonight. 😀

  5. Wow so much to do in Juneau, even for a day trip. I haven’t been to Alaska but want to go and get off ship to see the cities so this is a perfect list!

  6. We were sorry when we did our Alaska cruise that we did not make it as far as Juneau. Next time we want to fly into Juneau and travel from there. So good to know there is lots to do in Juneau. We would definitely take the tramway to the top of Mount Roberts for the views.s And book a trip to hike the glacier.

  7. I hope to visit Alaska one day. Juneau looks breathtaking. Good to know there are free and cheap activities to do here, as I’ve heard it can be pricey. Seeing bears fishing at Steep Creek would be amazing. Great post.

  8. My sister has been to Alaska, but I have yet to visit. I don’t eat crab, but I’d love to sit on the patio and watch the seaplanes take off. Was it loud? The hike also doen’t sound too difficult. Usually if it’s under 3 miles (one way), I try to to hike instead of taking a tramway.

  9. Juneau which is a port for most Alaskan cruises looks worth visiting and it is great you have done this trip in summers of 2019. Mendenhall Glacier, which is seen on the walk in from the bus stop is breath taking view. Thanks for sharing great place with useful details.

  10. We love Alaska! We did not get to visit Juneau though it has been on our list – can’t wait to visit Mendenhall Glacier, and hike around the area. The pictures showing the miners struggling around the Juneau gold belt are so memorable!

  11. I visited Juneau a long time ago while on an Alaskan cruise with my family. Sadly, we only docked for an hour or so, so only had time to visit the gift shop. I would love to come back and explore more of the city.


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