Thanks to the many things to do in Juneau, Alaska, it is a popular cruise port on Alaska cruises to cruise to. Juneau is Alaska’s capital and is also the state’s second largest city. A unique destination for a myriad of reasons, Juneau sits nestled up next to the Gastineau Channel in the Alaskan panhandle with no connecting roads to other cities – making the capital city only accessible by water and air, including via Juneau cruise port.
Mount Juneau towers above the city’s downtown area, giving Juneau an atmosphere of being surrounded by mountain caps and the serene waters of the nearby channel. The waterfront bustles with vessels of all types and sizes, from luxury cruise ships to local fishing boats to 2-person floatplanes.
Whether you’re traveling to Alaska for an adrenaline-filled adventure or you prefer simply sitting back, relaxing, and taking in stunning landscapes in the Last Frontier, this must-see destination features something for everyone.
Juneau features more hiking trails than roads, making it the perfect place for adventurers and nature-lovers. While the city of Juneau boasts a historic and bustling downtown life, nearly 2,000 feet above it you’ll find 1,500 square miles of pure glistening glacier, known as the Juneau Icefield. A favorite highlight for newcomers from around the world, the magnificent glacier begs to be seen – and even landed on – by helicopter. Guests can also experience quintessential Alaskan dogsledding or set out on a local charter boat in Auke Bay with the hopes of spotting amazing Alaskan wildlife, including Humpback and Orca whales.
Perhaps the most widely recognized of the 38 major glaciers that make up the Juneau Icefield, the Mendenhall Glacier is located in the Tongass National Forest – the largest national forest in the United States. Here, guests can start at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center and take off on a beautiful, scenic hike, or stand in one of the viewpoints to watch icebergs calve off the glacier into Mendenhall Lake.
The waters that surround Juneau are full of krill and small baitfish that feed Humpback whales, making this area a favorite spot for whale watching. During migration season (May through September), guests arrive from around the globe to spot Humpbacks and Orcas in these waters.
If you want a break from the frozen face of Juneau Icefield and the glaciers that surround the city, the Glacier Gardens offer a glimpse into the lush, green rainforests of Alaska. Inside the botanical gardens, there are overlook points offering stunning views of Thunder Mountain, Mendenhall Valley, Mendenhall Wetlands, Gastineau Channel, Douglas Island, the Chilkat Mountains, and more. Many guests visit these gardens to see the famous “upside-down trees” or “flower towers.” Trees whose tops are buried and their roots exposed, the upside down trees are truly a sight.
See the very best of the city from the comfort of a cozy and quaint tram that starts near the cruise port and runs just south of downtown Juneau. A fast and easy way to make it up the mountain, the Mt. Roberts Tramway takes you up 1,800 feet in about a 5-minute ride, offering you some of the most breathtaking views of Juneau and the Gastineau Channel. Hop off the tram for additional hiking trails and activities on the mountainside.
Eating and drinking are also some of the top things to do when taking a cruise to Juneau, Alaska, due to its fresh seafood and local craft beer. Here are some of the top places to dine while in Juneau cruise port.
Hangar on the Wharf
Address: 2 Marine Way #106, Juneau, AK 99801
Enjoy 20+ beers on tap in an old converted airplane hangar with large windows and excellent views.
Tracy’s King Crab Shack
Address: 1328, 432 S Franklin St, Juneau, AK 99801
A waterfront walk-up shack where you can savor the taste of fresh, locally-caught crab legs, bisque, cakes and other delicious seafood bites.
Twisted Fish Company Alaskan Grill
Address: 550 S Franklin St, Juneau, AK 99801
Fantastic waterfront views and the extensive wine list are the two main reasons visitors come to this casual seafood restaurant.
Address: 200 Seward St, Juneau, AK 99801
At Salt, you’ll find craft cocktails, wine, and regionally-inspired New American cuisine in a sleek, modern atmosphere.
Gold Creek Salmon Bake
Address: 1061 Salmon Creek Ln, Juneau, AK 99801
A fun-filled and family-friendly atmosphere, Gold Creek Salmon Bake has an outdoor setting, all-you-can-eat barbeque, live local entertainment, and Alaska Gold Rush themed décor.
In many ways, Juneau is a melting pot of cultures that is largely a mixture of Native American heritage and the 19th century mining industry. Most people that currently live in Juneau reflect these cultures as well.
For a clear understanding and a better look at the fascinating melting pot cultures of Alaska in general, and Juneau specifically, carve out a little time in your trip to visit the Alaska State Museum. Featuring exhibits on the culture, art, and history of the state’s Native American heritage, the museum is the official repository for the natural and cultural history of the state. Additionally, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum features an extensive history of the mining industry with exhibits about how it helped found Juneau during the 19th century.
The Auke Tribe of Tlingit Indians was among the first to settle the area that eventually became known as Juneau. The surrounding lands were abundant with food and natural resources, providing ample reasons for these original settlers to live comfortably and be productive. Although these were the first to settle into a life in this area, Juneau showcases a myriad of different Native American tribes from the Northwest Coastal areas.
In 1880, during the peak of the Gold Rush, gold seekers Joe Juneau and Richard Harris stumbled upon the area that was first named Harrisburg, and later renamed Juneau. The Tlingit Chief Kowee pointed the newcomers in the direction of gold when they arrived.
Gold mining continued to be a major industry in the area for nearly 60 years, and Juneau was home to three of the largest gold mines in the world at the time: The Alaska Juneau mine, the Alaska Gastineau mine – on the Juneau side of the Gastineau Channel – and the Treadwell mine on the Douglas Island side of the channel. At the time, gold was priced around $20 to $35 per ounce, and the three mines together produced nearly $158 million worth of gold. In 1917, the Treadwell mine flooded and was finally forced to close in 1922. During WWII, with the cost of production becoming too prohibitive for the area, the Alaska Juneau mine was closed.
AJ Dock (AJD) is the furthest south at one mile (25min walk around the fuel depot) and a shuttle is usually provided to the tramway station for a small fee ($5 all day).
Port Shuttle available in port that drops guests to downtown (drop off is at the Mount Roberts Tramway/ return to the pier – round trip fare is $5 USD all day.
National Car Rental (phone: 907-789-9814) and Hertz (phone: 907-789-9494) are both at Juneau International Airport; Address: 1873 Shell Simmons Dr, Ste 104, Juneau, AK 99801
Juneau Taxi & Tours, Phone: (907) 586-1111
Uber / Lyft
Private Car Services
Juneau Limousine Services, LLC, Phone: (907) 463-5466
Looking to get some souvenirs or local treasures while in Juneau's cruise port? Here are some of the top places to shop:
Alaska Shirt Company – 489 S Franklin St, Juneau, AK 99801.
Trove - 497 S Franklin St, Juneau, AK 99801.
Caribou Crossings - 387 S Franklin St, Juneau, AK 99801
House of Russia - 389 S Franklin St, Juneau, AK 99801
Foggy Mountain Shop - 134 N Franklin St, Juneau, AK 99801
Tipping is not mandatory, but it is customary in Juneau, just as it is throughout Alaska and all of the United States. Tips are not only greatly appreciated, but they are quite often a crucial part of the wages in the tourism industry. Particularly for college students and employees in customer service positions, tips are a typical and necessary way to augment low wages.
A general guideline to tipping:
Restaurants: 10% for standard service and 20% or higher for excellent service.
Bar Tenders: : An appropriate tip in a bar is 10% to 15% of the bar tab total.
Taxi Drivers: It is customary to provide a tip of between 10% to 18% of your fare
Tour guides: If you are happy with your tour, a tip of 10% to 20% of the total cost of the tour is appropriate.