For more than a year, I have had visions of pristine glaciers, whale flukes breaking through the surface of water, and forested areas that refresh the spirit and the body. Finally in the summer of 2017, I was able to plan my travel to Juneau Alaska. Join me on my visit to the last great frontier in Alaska’s capital city.
We found Alaska to be full of friendly faces beginning on the flight from Seattle. Sitting beside us on the plane was a fellow traveler from Michigan who was visiting his daughter. We talked through the flight about travel, life in Alaska, and families. Nearing the end of the flight, he offered us a ride to check into our hotel, The Westmark Barinoff.
Staying at an historic hotel in a prime location has its perks. A beautiful lobby and friendly staff checked us into a spacious room with a full kitchen and walk-in closet. Minutes of walking to many restaurants, and all of the top hubs for travel within Juneau. We highly recommend the Westmark Barinoff for your next stay. Save money from cab rides and stay downtown in the heart of lively Juneau. You’ll feel welcome from the time you are greeted by the concierge and check-in staff.
When It comes to day one, a city tour is always something that I recommend. We jumped on board a bus tour with some local experts at Juneau tours and Whale Watch. We met up at the Mt. Roberts tram way with our fun loving guides and prepared to depart for the day. Sandy and Brandon were excellent, fun, and informative tour guides for whale watching. They got us out to open water quickly so we could spend the most time possible enjoying the sights and sounds of whale watching.
Within a few minutes, we were stunned by the flukes of a large female humpback whale, Flame. We were fortunate enough to track the 15 minute breaths for an hour or so, and see 2-3 more whales. Every 5-10 minutes, someone on board would excitedly "see a spout, shout it out, or see a blow, let us know". It felt like each member of the tour was an active part of the experience making the sightseeing more rewarding for everyone involved.
We had a serene and peaceful experience whale watching today and taking a tour of the Mendenhall glacier. We learned that the ice appearing blue is newly surfaced, tightly packed, reflecting blue light and absorbing all other wavelengths. The rush of a nearby waterfall is a great ambiance to pondering the past, present, and future of the glacier itself. There was a lot to do and see. Very convenient pick-up points, and lots of informative stories about the history of Juneau.
On day 2, we boarded the Tram and were lifted to the summit of Mt. Roberts. 1,800 feet of elevation game passing over the treetops of a rainforest is not something most destination cities could offer. We had a great time today taking the tram in the morning, and getting an early start to the day hiking up to the summit of Mt. Roberts. We enjoyed the Alpine trail which is a low-stress circular trail, before heading up. Fog was setting in but keeping us cool, still we would catch the occasional glimpse of the valley, and they were stunning vistas.
There are a few ways to get special deals on tickets, including spending at the Raven store, and everyone was very friendly. This is a great place for the outdoor lovers, make it your own adventure with many trails for the varied level of desired activity. We enjoyed seeing the snow level, streams, and a family of grouse birds! Lots to see and do, plus you can learn about the Tlingit people and watch a 17-minute educational video. A must for a multiple day stay in Juneau.
For dinner, I was treated to the best fries in Juneau at Rockwell. Crispy outside, tender inside. Freshest potato taste you can find in the city. The burger was great too, but really, I prioritize the fries here - and not in that gimmicky way of having 34 varieties, but doing one style of french fries very well. I commented on them verbally from fry one, to fry done. The Kobe beef was tender but with hearty texture. Fresh bun and toppings made this a great dinner spot after a long hike up Mt. Roberts.
Day 3 stepped on the accelerator with a thrilling series of ziplines and axe throwing at Alaska Zipline Adventures. Our ride to the lodge area was brightened by driver and tour guide Kara. She answered all kinds of questions that we had about our zipline experience, and recommendations for enjoying the sights in Juneau. This was a day for some adrenaline pumping, soaring above spruce and hemlock, with sounds of water rushing underneath down the creek. Lucas and Kelsey were outstanding guides through the ziplines and suspension bridge. We were really happy we had this unforgettable experience on our trip, providing some of the best videos of our vacation. It was a great experience for our group of all ages. I'm not the biggest thrill seeker, but the team made me feel at home, safe, and secure before the first jump and I really enjoyed the experience!
Best lunch so far was on day 3 of our Juneau adventure. After a half day of ziplining at Alaska Zipline Adventures (watch our Danny Hauger Podcasts video of Juneau on YouTube) we were really hungry! We stopped into the Wharf building and made our way to Hangar on the Wharf for lunch. There I saw the first "special" for lunch - choosing 2 items: salad, soup, half sandwich. I had a fresh green salad and the soup of the day was prime rib. It was outstanding! And my friend's halibut chowder had him saying he would never go back to clam chowder again. Overall, great value, drink list, and a cool setting watching biplanes take off!
On day 4, we set to sea for the Tracy Arm and glacier sightseeing. This day-long ride through the Gastineau Channel and beyond was a photographer’s dream, confirmed by meeting a photographer on the trip, who was thrilled as we stood side-by-side taking pictures of an orca, humpback, glaciers, waterfalls, and black bears! This was one of the jewels of our trip, and the coolest, pun intended, way to take panoramic photos of a little bit of everything Juneau! Thank you Jake and James for being excellent, entertaining deck hands adding to the memorable day. Watch our Danny Hauger Travel podcasts video for many breathtaking videos and photos.
The Tracy Arm filled our appetites for unmatched visual beauty, and we arrived at the dock ready to satiate our dinner hunger. We decided on a staple of wharf dining, the Alaska Fish and Chips Company. This was my first time enjoying the joys of a smoked salmon chowder, and it was long overdue. A soft and flaky sourdough bread bowl was the perfect support for a thick and hearty chowder with a smoky salmon filling. Plus it was one of the most affordable meals I had on the trip at $10. Excellent dinner in a fun and lively environment.
On our last day we took a stroll through history at the Alaska State Museum, had the best lunch at Tracy’s King Crab Shack. We had seen this restaurant consistently crowded, and we knew it was a matter of time before we put our taste buds to the past. Wow! Flavorful crab cakes to match anything I have ever eaten! A bisque that brought my spoon speedily back to the cup, and crab that was as fresh as it gets. In short, Tracy’s King Crab Shack is the real deal. Matched with a beer that is custom made for Tracy’s, and you have one happy group at your table.
The Alaska State Museum launched me to a more intellectual adventure. My mind was transported back thousands of years, and walked through Alaskan heritage and history from the first North Americans to modern day artists and pop culture. This was the best Native American, or First Peoples, exhibit that I have ever seen. Being that the museum has been opened less than two years, it is understandable how a new approach to arranging, describing, and displaying history in a new and effective way. From the tools and boats to early seafaring, to the arrival of Europeans and Russians, to the economy and society of the Tlingit and other native tribes, I was hanging onto every display and plaque to learn more eagerly. This museum engaged me in a way that many have not, and I think everyone who visits Juneau should save a few hours to learn more about Alaskan and in doing so, American history.
After the museum and Tracy’s, we enjoyed a special Salmon Bake with Gold Creek. They delivered us to an oasis of salmon jumping upstream to a beautiful waterfall, scalloped potatoes, rice pilaf, and all-you-can-eat salmon on the grill! What more can you ask for?
Book your unforgettable Alaskan adventure today! Visit www.travelJuneau.com today!
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Learn about some great food in the area
Learn more about other attractions we visited.
Links to Attractions we visited
Gold Creek Salmon Bake - http://bit.ly/2uTjk7k