What to do in Juneau, Alaska

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We spent a June weekend in Juneau before embarking on a 10 day sailing excursion through Glacier Bay. In this post I’m sharing some highlights of our activities, and of course my vegan meals with my non-vegan group!

Dvora and Eric sitting in front of sign that says Welcome to Juneau with shape of Alaska state and sun shinning on them from left side.

The two main sites we planned to visit were Mendenhall Glacier and Mount Roberts. We didn’t need to choose a whale watching or glacier viewing excursion, as we knew that would have multiple opportunities to do that on our Glacier Bay Sailing expedition. It turns out that on Sailbot Bob, every day was like a whale watching excursion and we got as close as possible to many different glaciers.

Getting around Juneau

We arrived in Juneau on Friday afternoon from San Francisco via Alaska Airlines. We were three couples traveling together, each person with a large duffel bag. Our group decided in advance that we didn’t want to rent a car and would take taxis and Ubers instead. We quickly learned that cruise tourism dominates the local economy, and also monopolizes the Ubers and taxis when passengers are in town.   We weren’t able to secure a ride to our hotel in one vehicle and needed to split up in two cars. Subsequently, I made sure to identify a taxi driver to reserve a van ride.  Here are a list of taxi companies that have live operators to speak with:

  • Glacier Taxi: 907-796-2300
  • Juneau Taxi: 907-586-4511
  • Taku Taxi: 907-586-2121
  • Capitol/Evergreen Cab: 907-586-2772
  • Yellow Cab: 907-586-1111
  • George O’Malley (van) (707) 635-1289

Staying in the heart of Juneau

We chose to stay at the centrally located Baranof Downtown hotel. It’s in walking distance to most everything we wanted to do and far enough away from the Juneau port where the cruise ships dock. Checking in was seamless at this older hotel where many (also older) cruise passengers stay.  From our corner suite on the top floor we had an almost 180 degree view.

Need help with travel planning? Keli of Keli’s Concierge is conveniently locatd in the hotel lobby. She gave us great tips for where to go and when. She gave us lots of local insight and tips, including when to go up the Mount Roberts Tram and help with arranging a ride for six to Auke Bay Statter Harbor to meet Sailboat Bob. We even bought our tram tickets from her. She has a schedule for when the cruise ships dock and leave, and that can help in planning your activities.

Downtown Juneau is built into a steep hill and has many steel grate stairways.
There are MANY steel grate staircases in Juneau.
Eric standing outside the Baranof hotel in Juneau.
Russian Orthodox church in Juneau painted blue and white in hexagon shape with green grass and sign in front.
The Russian Orthodox Church.

Our first activity was hiking the Perserverance Trail, just a 10 minute walk through the quaint neighborhood adjacent to our hotel. On the way there, was saw the Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. Of course, there is a strong historical connection between Russia and Alaska, but we couldn’t see Russia from where we were staying, though the views from our 9th floor corner suite were pretty good! I did fine on that hike without my hiking poles (that were in my hotel room) but if we had gone further, I would have really appreciated having them. The downtown area of Juneau is built into a steep hill and there are many staircases along the way.

Six friends posing on a bridge at the Perserverance trail in Juneau with trees, snow-capped mountain and blue skies in the background.
Dvora walking on the train deck part of the Perserverance trail in Juneau AL with forest trees on both sides and blue sky in background.

On the walk between the hotel and Perserverance Trail, we passed many points of interest, including the Capitol building and liberty bell, and Rainbow Foods. I had downloaded THIS MAP to do a self-guided walking tour of Juneau. But I find that despite how much information I collect and organize in advance, nothing compares to being with a guide that knows where to go and and explains everything to you along the way.

The Capitor Building in Juneau Alaska with brick surrounding windows and marble pillars on steps in front of entry way.
Alaska State Capitol Building in downtown Juneau and Liberty Bell next door.
Two women friends standing on either side of the liberty bell in front of the Capitol Building in Juneau Alaska (after our hike).

Everybody loved dinner the first night are at ​In Bocca Al Lupo​, which came highly recommended to us, especially by Jack at ​Pacific Kelp Co. They have a delicious (and spicy) whole roasted cauliflower which we shared two of for starters, plus a few salads. The wine is food friendly and well-priced, and the guys enjoyed the local brews they ordered.I planned our Friday dinner for In Bocca Al Lupo. This Italian restaurant came highly recommended and I figured r. Clearly loved by locals, we all enjoyed our food and drink and it was a great way to start our trip together. We would have returned again Sunday night if it was open!

Six friends standing outside of Juneau restaurant after dinner - smiling!
The front of the Juneau restaurant Il Bocca Al Lupo with handsome man sitting in front.

Saturday in Juneau

Saturday morning we walked over to the Sandpiper Cafe for breakfast. We liked this place so much (and they had great vegan options) that we ate breakfast there all three mornings! I also loved the oat milk cappuccinos!

Breakfast plate with fresh tortillas, potatoes, a cup of salsa, tofu and veggie scramble and a small piece of cantelope.
Tofu and veggie scramble with yukon potatoes, fresh tortillas and salsa.
Vegan french toast on white plate with serving of maple syrup.
Vegan French Toast made with pecans and raisins, with real maple syrup.

Saturday morning we enjoyed great bicycle trip with Cycle Alaska trip to Mendenhall Glacier, Forbidden Peak Brewery and Red Spruce, You can read about our bike ride to Mendenhall Glacier HERE.

3 couples standing near Mendenhall Glacier Lake with mountains in background wearing hiking clothes and ball caps.
Three couples and our guide sitting outdoors at a wooden table at Forbidden Peak Brewery in Auke Bay, Alaska.

After our morning outing, we checked in with concierge Keli again. She recommended we go up the Mount Roberts Tramway and do the loop hike that afternoon to avoid cruise ship passengers. We could even buy our tickets from her with a little discount!

A view of the Mount Roberts Tramway in Juneau, Alaska against the backdrop of a tall, forrested mountain with snow/clouds in the background sky.
A sign showing a map of the Mount Roberts Alpine Loop Trail, green with diagrams.
Three hikers on Mount Roberts trail with snowy mountain in background.
Dirt hike on Mount Roberts trail with greenery and trees.
View of lake from Mount Roberts Trail with cloudy sky in background framed by trees.

After our late afternoon hike at Mount Roberts, we walked back toward our hotel and stopped at Deckhand Dave’s Fish Tacos where they have a lively gathering of food trucks surrounding a deck with lights, tables and benches and music. While there were many choices there, none were vegan (except the bar). In retrospect, I should have gotten something to go from several selections at Devil’s Club Brewing across the street. We topped off the evening at Amalga Distillery, right across the street from our hotel! They have great cocktails on tap and we picked up their gin and whiskey to take for Happy Hour on the boat.

An orange colored cocktail in a glass with fishes and a bag of garbonzo bean snacks at Amalga Distillery in Juneau Alaska.

Sunday in Juneau

The Whale Sculpture in Juneau rising out of a fountain with blue cloudy skies in the background,

Sunday we brought the group to breakfast at the Sandpiper Cafe, and planned several activities for that area. We walked to the Whale Project sculpture and fountain, appreciating the modernized waterfront park. We then took a short walk to the Alaska State Museum, where we spent at least an. hour learning about Juneau and Alaskan history and culture. What a rich experience!

Six adults having a picnic in a neighborhood park in Juneau under a canopy with green bushes in the background.
A sculpture of a single chair on a platform in a park in Juneau.
A sign describing the Empty Chair exhibit in the Juneau park.
Sunday afternoon we picked up food for lunch, and had a lovely picnic in the neighborhood park near our hotel.

For dinner, we went to V’s Cellar Door, a Korean-Mexican fusion restaurant that had many vegan options. We patiently enjoyed our food there, and then did one more walk along the commercial area where all the cruise ships dock.

trio of vegan tacos on square white plate with lime from V's Cellar Door in Juneau.
bottle of V's fusion sauce with orange label.

Dvora and Eric standing on dock in front of cruise ship.
The Juneau Cruise Port Dock has a nice deck to walk along the water, restaurants, shops and activities. The mural is of Elizabeth Peratrovich
Dvora sitting in front of whale tail sculpture on Juneau cruise ship dock.
A mural of Elizabeth Peratrovich in the square of the Juneau cruise ship dock.
Two old friends on the dock in Juneau with grey clouds behind them.
A view of the sunset in Juneau Alaska from the cruise ship wooden deck.
In mid-late June, there are 20+ hours of daylight in Alaska. I personally loved this. A few times we stayed up late enough to see the sunset.

Restaurants and Bars in Juneau

We didn’t go to all of these but they were all on our list to try:

  • In Bocca Al Lupo
  • Deckhand Dave’s
  • V’s Cellar Door
  • Red Dog Saloon
  • Hangar on the Wharf
  • Tracy’s Crab Shack
  • Spice Indian
  • Amalga Distillery
  • Devil’s Club Brewing
  • The Sandpiper Cafe
  • The Rookery Cafe
  • Roma
  • Salt
  • Forbidden Peak Brewery

Monday – Departure Day

Monday morning the two of us grabbed one more breakfast at Sandpiper. George picked up the six of us in his van, we made a quick stop off at Kenny’s Liquor Market, and then went to meet Captain Blain and Monique Anderston at the Bob at Auke Bay for our Glacier Bay Sailing Excursion!

Six passengers about to board Captain Blain and Monique's sailboat in Auke Bay AL
The Bob - a 50 foot sail boat docked in Auke Bay Alaska with cloudy sky in background.

I loved Juneau and though our full weekend was a great amount of time to try a variety of activities and restaurants. It was challenging finding vegan meals, but I always do best if I do my homework in advance. There is so much opportunity for activity in Juneau and we were happy to use taxis and not rent a car.

Have you been on a cruise to Alaska? Where did you go and what did you enjoy doing the most? Tell me in the comments. Sign up below so you can get my Fun Friday newsletter!

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