Juneau, Alaska is a land of many opportunities for things to do. You can step off your cruise ship and discover majestic hiking trails only a mile away, or join a tour company to guide you on an exciting adventure. No matter what you do on your vacation to Alaska, considering a few tips from locals will make your experience far more memorable.
What exactly should you know for optimizing your Juneau experience? Here are 7 tips.
1. Dress in layers with a waterproof top layer.
According to airport records, Juneau receives 62 inches of precipitation per year. Compare this to Seattle receiving approximately 38 inches per year. Better yet, it is estimated some parts of Juneau receive closer to 90 inches. It rains in Juneau and all of Southeast Alaska? a lot. To combat the dampness, carry a waterproof jacket and an extra layer or two. You may also want waterproof pants and shoes if you plan on spending a lot of time adventuring on tours and excursions.
Although definitely not hip in Juneau, an umbrella is an easy solution to replace all of the above as long as it isn?t windy. Plan for the worst and appreciate your good fortune if the sun soaks it?s brilliant rays on your vacation.
2. Bring insect repellent.
Insects often thrive in Juneau. There are really only two insects that will top off your annoyance meter: mosquitoes and no-see-ums. Some years are better than others, but it is hard know until you arrive. Insect repellent is sometimes hard on the skin. Have a long-sleeve shirt and pants available and only apply repellent on exposed areas.
3. Bring a camera and know how to use it.
Juneau is often talked about as the most beautiful capital city in the country. I tend to agree and always carry a camera with me. Whether you use a smartphone or a deluxe DSLR camera, practice new photography techniques and camera features at home. It?s honestly hard to take a bad picture in Alaska with endless stretches of beautiful vistas. But you are travelling to enjoy culture and nature, not fuss around with technology.
4. It?s good?to step away from the main boardwalks.
Like in most cities, some of the best attractions are those away from the beaten path. The Mendenhall Visitor Center and shops along Franklin street are definitely great, but the truly flow inducing adventures happen elsewhere. If you are looking for a wonderful nearby hike, Perseverance Trail is about two miles from the dock or walk only a mile to Cope Park and start on the Gold Creek Flume Trail. If you want a simple easy to reach knockout view of downtown Juneau and Douglas Island, go to the balcony of the state office building. It?s rarely mentioned by travel experts and you?ll likely be the only one there. Note it is only open Monday thru Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM.
When you go on a tour remember not all tours take you off the beaten path. A guided excursion is a wonderful way to see unique parts of Juneau quickly. Adventure Flow offers shore excursions that easily set you apart from all other tourists. The painting tour on Eagle Beach or downtown walking tour will leave you wanting to stay many more days. If you want additional ideas for stepping into the Alaskan way, leave a comment or send us an email?with what you like and are interested in. We will respond with personalized ideas for an optimal experience.
5. Good walking/hiking shoes are a must.
You are in the Last Frontier. That means mileage builds up quick while working to cover the distance. Whether on the trails or the streets, high quality (preferably waterproof) shoes will make your experience far more enjoyable.
6. Get in shape.
How is the New Year?s resolution going of working out at least three times a week? Perhaps new motivation is necessary. A traveler can absolutely have a good time and not walk more than a mile in Juneau. However, now that you are bringing good shoes, it is a good plan to get in shape and use them to their full potential. Juneau is a city that loves building trails. This leaves hundreds of miles of trails to wander in and discover why locals love their home town. It?s all a bit overwhelming. Check out our trail guide to help narrow down the options.
7. Bring an eye mask.
The sun actually sets at a reasonable hour in the summer at around 10 or 11PM. However, twilight lasts nearly all night and then sunrise happens around 2 or 3 AM. Hopefully your windows have blinds, but just in case, a comfortable eye mask will help give you the rest you need to fully experience Southeast Alaska.
Consider these tips when preparing for your Alaska adventure and you will be ready for any opportunity that comes your way. If you have questions or additional tips others may find useful, please post them in the comments or send us an email.