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Top 10 Most Exciting Activities To Make Your Trip To Juneau Unforgettable!

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Top 10 Most Exciting Activities To Make Your Trip To Juneau Unforgettable!

Downtown Juneau and the gorgeous surrounding area.

If you’re interested in spending a few days fishing, hiking, and sightseeing with us at Pybus Point Lodge you’re going to find yourself in Alaska’s beautiful capital city, Juneau. Despite its small size, Juneau is filled with a surprising amount of interesting historical sites, delicious restaurants, and mystifying natural wonders. While in town you’re going to want to take advantage of your free time and experience one of America's most unique capital cities. 

Pybus Point Lodge is all about helping people experience Alaska, and we know that the adventure begins as soon as you step off the airplane. Keeping that in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite places to visit to help you have a great vacation long before you arrive at our lodge.

What’s So Unique About Juneau Alaska?

Juneau's beautiful downtown.

There’s no place quite like Juneau. Situated right up against the Canadian border, Juneau is the second largest city in the entire United States of America by area. In fact, the municipality is so big that it could fit two different U.S. states within its area: Delaware and Rhode Island. To make things even more interesting, Juneau is the only U.S. capital city (aside from Honolulu) that is completely inaccessible by car. Due to the intensely rugged terrain around the city, there isn’t a single road that connects Juneau to any other town in all of North America. That means that all people, food, and other products can only get to Juneau via boat or airplane.

This is extremely impressive considering that the Juneau area has been populated by human beings for thousands of years! The Auke and Taku tribes originally thrived in the area thanks to the excellent fishing conditions, and they had a village and burial grounds within the modern Juneau area long before Europeans ever arrived. 

When Europeans first discovered the area, they believed that the channel leading to Juneau was completely inaccessible due to the large amounts of ice floating in the water. It took roughly 100 more years for Europeans to establish any kind of settlement in the area. 

A birds eye view of Juneau.

After the year 1880 however, Juneau became a bustling gold rush town and exploded in population thanks to its rich natural resources. In recent years its main industry has been tourism thanks to the many cruise lines that take people through the Inside Passage (where Pybus Point Lodge is located) to see glaciers, whales, bald eagles, and all of the other incredible things that make Alaska such a special place.

With all of that rich history and Juneau’s unbelievably scenic location it’s no surprise that Juneau has become such a major tourist destination. Though most people typically only stop in Juneau on their way to somewhere else (like a cruise ship or a fishing lodge) the town is full of fun opportunities for travelers. 

Quick Tip!

One thing you need to keep in mind when visiting Juneau is that transportation can be a bit of an issue. Unlike most major cities, Juneau doesn’t have a great taxi system and even services like Uber and Lyft can be limited and expensive. Juneau’s public transportation system is also lacking. They do have a bus system that can take you almost anywhere in town, but the bus schedules aren’t exactly reliable. 

Because of this, we strongly encourage either renting a car while in town, or booking a hotel in the downtown area. Nearly all hotels offer shuttle service to and from the airport, so getting downtown shouldn’t be a problem.

Now that we have that out of the way, here’s our list of the top 10 most interesting things you can do while visiting Juneau Alaska!

#1 Mendenhall Glacier 

An arial view of the spectacular Menhenhall Glacier!

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center

At the very top of our list is the Mendenhall Glacier. In our opinion, this is a must-see landmark for everyone visiting Juneau. Best seen from the shores of Mendenhall Lake, the glacier extends back for a  whopping 13.6 miles until it eventually connects to the massive Juneau Ice Field. The ice field is an incredible 1,500 square mile ice sheet that is left over from the last ice age. 

The lake is also worth seeing in its own right. Since the lake consists of fresh glacial runoff, the water is crystal clear with a gorgeous blue sheen. Icebergs can even be spotted floating all throughout the lake. Just be aware that the whole Mendenhall area can be pretty cold! Since the glacier is literally freezing, all the surrounding air gets cooled down as well. No matter what temperature it is in Juneau, you can count on the Mendenhall area being significantly cooler.

The Mendenhall Glacier viewing area and visitors center are easily accessible by travelers of all abilities; the viewing area has paved trails, bathrooms, benches, and stunning views. And getting there is no problem. The parking lot is perfectly accessible by car or city bus. Just keep in mind that this is a paid parking lot, and the lot can fill up fast! If you’re going to visit the glacier, we recommend arriving early!

#2 Nugget Falls and Other Hikes

A unique view of the Nugget Falls with the Mendenhall Glacier in the background.

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center

While you’re already in the Mendenhall area, we recommend going on a few hikes! One of which is just around the corner from the Mendenhall visitor center, Nugget Falls. 

Nugget Falls is a spectacular 370 feet of fresh glacial runoff that cascades down directly into Mendenhall Lake. You’ve probably seen a waterfall before, but you probably haven’t seen anything like this. 

A map of the trail network at the Mendenhall Visitor Area.

The hike to the falls is very easy. Beginning at the Mendenhall visitor center, you simply have to follow a short gravel trail down to the falls viewing area. If you’d like to get closer, go ahead! The trail leads you down to the gravelly lake shore where you can walk directly up to the falls for the ultimate photo opportunity. All at once you can soak in the waterfall, the glacial lake, floating icebergs, and of course the epic Mendenhall Glacier.

A hiker enjoying the beautiful Nugget Falls.

After checking out the waterfall, you might want to go on a longer hike. The visitor center is the access point to a network of trails that cut through the lush, green rainforest. Aside from the hike to Nugget Falls, there are three other well maintained trails that have spectacular views of the glacier, lake, and rainforest: the Trail of Time, Steep Creek, and the East Glacier Loop. The trails in the area vary in difficulty and range from a short, wheelchair accessible trail to a several mile strenuous hike. No matter what the age or ability levels of the people in your group you’ll find an exciting trail that will take you through some of the most attractive landscape in all of America.

Two of our other favorite hikes are the Perseverance Trail and the Gold Creek Flume Trail! Each of these spectacular hikes are located in different areas and are not accessible from the Mendenhall Glacier parking lot, but they’re both beautiful and we highly recommend giving them a try!

#3 Tour The Juneau Ice Fields

The unbelievable Juneau Ice Fields!

The aforementioned Juneau Ice Fields give travelers breathtaking beauty and an unforgettable experience. Roughly 3,000 years old, the ice fields are one of the few remaining glimpses into what the earth looked like during the last ice age. The miles of spectacularly blue ice and harsh rock offer up views that most people only get to see while watching a National Geographic documentary.

A hiker taking in the views at the Juneau Ice Fields!

If you’re interested in stepping foot on the ice, you’ve got two options: helicopter or canoe. Traversing across the ice is a thrilling experience and not for the faint of heart, it’s only fitting that the journey to the ice fields is just as exhilarating as the destination. (This is a good time to mention that the ice fields can be dangerous and should really only be explored with the help of a professional guide.)

A helicopter on the Juneau Ice Fields.

Thankfully there are many excellent outfits in Juneau that are fully equipped to take you to the ice fields and give you a guided tour across the ancient ice. If you’re interested, there are even companies that will set you up with your own dog sled team and let you race across the surface of the ice.

#4 Eat And Shop In Juneau’s Historic Downtown

Downtown Juneau.

Downtown Juneau

Juneau’s downtown is home to a shocking amount of great restaurants, bars, and shops. Like we said before, Juneau began as a simple mining town and has served as a home for countless miners, commercial fishermen, and oil workers over the past hundred years–and this is a history that Juneau hasn’t forgotten. The town has done an excellent job of preserving the facades of the old buildings, and you can really get a sense of what the town looked like during the old gold rush.

Who's hungry!? Here's some delicious fresh crab from Tracy's Crab Shack!

All throughout the downtown area you can find restaurants serving incredible fresh seafood like Dungeness crab, halibut, and salmon and a wide array of shops with everything from handmade crafts by the Indigenous Tlingit people to t-shirts and snow globes. 

Some of the interesting knickknacks available while shopping in downtown Juneau.

Check out this list of our staff’s favorite places to eat, drink, and hangout while in town!

Staff Favorites!

  1. Hangar on the Wharf
  2. Salt
  3. Deckhand Dave’s Fish Tacos
  4. Sandpiper Cafe
  5. Red Dog Saloon
  6. Devil’s Club Brewing
  7. Tracey’s Crab Shack
  8. Rookery Cafe
  9. Alaska Fish & Chips Company
  10. Coppa Ice Cream

#5 Go For A Ride On Mount Roberts Goldbelt Tram

The Goldbelt Tram with an amazing view of downtown Juneau.

Goldbelt Tram

While you’re downtown take advantage of the Goldbelt Tram! Beginning at sea level, the tram will take you 1,800 feet in the air to the top of Mount Roberts. As you ride through the dense rainforest you’ll get a spectacular view of downtown Juneau, Douglass Island, the Chilkat Mountains, and you’ll even get a glimpse of the north end of Admiralty Island (the island that Pybus is located on.)

Once you get off the tram at the top of the mountain you’re free to explore the mountain trails, learn about Alaskan history at the visitors center, or enjoy a cocktail and a delicious meal at a locally owned restaurant that sits atop the mountain.

Pro-tip: Your ticket is good for all day so if the weather isn’t cooperating, feel free to try again at another time.

#6 Go On The Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure

The beautiful Glacier Gardens near Juneau!

Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure

If you’re a plant lover, this is the tour for you! Glacier Gardens offers visitors an exceptional opportunity to experience the plant and animal life that makes Juneau such a special place. Throughout their 50 acre property, Glacier Gardens has cultivated an elegant botanical garden among the naturally occurring Tongass Rainforest. On their rainforest adventure tour you’ll ride in a covered vehicle down a two mile trail carved throughout the forest where your guide will teach you all about the natural rainforest as well as the plants and flowers that have been introduced to the botanical garden. One of the major highlights of the tour are the upside down, 15 foot tall tree trunks that serve as planters for a variety of colorful hanging flowers. 

Glacier Gardens is located right in Juneau just a tad south east of the airport.

#7 Visit The Tahku Whale Statue

Tahku the Whale towering over the Juneau landscape.

The Whale Project

Every great city has its own statue with an interesting backstory: New York has the Statue of Liberty, Chicago has The Bean, and Juneau has Tahku the Whale. This incredible, life size, bronze statue of a breaching humpback whale is an absolute must-see. Located right on the waterfront, the 25 foot tall, 6 ton statue looks as if it’s leaping out of a gorgeous infinity pool. 

The statue was created in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alaska’s admission into the United States. The story goes that a local artist named R.T. Wallen was fishing with some friends off the coast of Admiralty Island where he witnessed a pod of humpbacks feasting on a school of herring. While watching this, he got the idea to celebrate this beautiful natural phenomenon that makes Juneau such a unique place by creating a statue for the public to enjoy.

Delicious ice cream from Coppa in Juneau

The statue is located just a few blocks away from Coppa Ice Cream and it’s the perfect place to stop and appreciate the natural beauty that can be found in Alaska.

#8 Visit a Hatchery

Salmon being caught at a local hatchery.

DIPAC Macaulay Salmon Hatchery

Located just outside of the downtown area is the Douglas Island Pink and Chum Macaulay Salmon Hatchery! This is the perfect destination for families with children who might be interested in learning about the incredible marine life that makes Alaska the world famous fishing destination that it is. During the summer months visitors don’t only get to watch countless salmon swim up river to return to the hatchery for spawning (the hatchery also has an underwater viewing window where you can get an up close view of the swimming salmon), but you can also enjoy their impressive aquarium that’s home to over 150 different species of native alaskan marine creatures! They even have touch tanks where you can get your hands on alaskan starfish, sea cucumbers, crabs and other critters.

Salmon swimming upriver to spawn at a local hatchery.

The fish hatchery is a great destination for people who want to learn a little more about the fishing industry and all of the hard work that goes into making Alaska such an icon for sustainable sport and commercial fishing. 

Just keep in mind that the salmon aren’t always visible; this is a hatchery not an aquarium. The salmon can only be seen during their natural spawning periods. If you’d like to know if the salmon are currently running through the hatchery, just give them a call and they’ll be happy to help you!

#9 Check Out A Local Museum

A downtown museum.

Juneau-Douglas City Museum Alaska State Museum

As you know by now, Juneau has been home to many different big money industries over the years from gold mining, to oil extraction, to commercial crabbing and fishing. And like much of America, Juneau was once home to generations upon generations of indigenous people that have their own rich and expansive history that happened long before the area was colonized by Europeans and became the wild gold boom town that we think of today.  

In the Juneau City and Alaska State Museums visitors can learn about all of the different people that have called Juneau home and all of the different industries that have made Juneau into what it is today. While at the museums you can learn about Tlingit canoe building techniques, what life was like as a gold miner and the process of gold mining, the remarkable lifestyles of those working the commercial fishing industry, and so much more.

Both the Juneau City Museum and the Alaska State Museum are located in the downtown area and perfect for visitors of all ages. 

#10 Visit A Historic Mine

The historic AJ Mine.

AJ Mine Gastineau Mill Tours

Of course, no trip to Juneau is complete without seeing a genuine gold mine, and the AJ Mine is a must-see. What was once the largest producing gold mill in the world has now become an interactive museum that will teach you everything you need to know about the Alaska gold rush, mining techniques, and the lifestyle that the miners lived. Throughout your tour you’ll go deep underground into the former gold mine where you’ll see what the process actually looked like. Once back above ground you’ll get to apply your new knowledge and pan for gold for yourself. The museum even holds the first steam engine train that ever made its way to Alaska!

If you have kids, you really won’t want to miss this. The mine is located just a little south of downtown Juneau and easily accessible by car or bus.

Book Your Trip!

Pybus Point Lodge and part of our fleet of custom-built boats.

Now that you know what to do in Juneau it’s time to book your vacation at our all-inclusive lodge! While Juneau has a lot of great opportunities to learn a bit about the history of the town, there’s nothing better than plunging into the remote Alaska wilderness and seeing the whales, bald eagles, brown bears, and wild fish in their natural habitat. 

At Pybus Point Lodge you’ll get to experience guided fishing trips, whale watching, Tracy Arm Glacier Tours, excursions to the local warm springs, kayaking, hiking, fly fishing, and much more. Our lodge is located in a remote corner of Admiralty Island and offers a truly extraordinary way to experience the rugged wilderness in comfort and luxury. Thanks to our hand-crafted waterfront cabins, incredible culinary team, expert fishing guides, and our fleet of high performance fishing boats, we have everything you need to have a truly memorable experience in Alaska. 

To book your own all-inclusive Alaska vacation, click here. If you have any questions or if you’d like to talk to a member of our team over the phone call us at 435-412-4286!

Several of our luxury cabins in the beautiful Cannery Cove.

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REVIEWS

65% OF OUR GUESTS ARE RETURN CUSTOMERS

Discover why people like you can’t stop talking about Pybus Point Lodge. More than 30 years ago, the lodge opened as a simple fishing camp, drawing a devoted following in spite of basic accommodations. With new owners and experienced captains and crew, our corner of Alaska has become an unbeatable fishing and eco-tourism resort.

Andrea Tate

Incredible Experience!

Pybus Point Lodge has some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen. I mean absolutely breathtaking! In addition to the amazing fishing, I hiked to a beautiful secluded lake, soaked in some hot pots, saw several waterfalls, went whale watching, saw bears and all kinds of wildlife and marine life. As a photographer, photographing a wedding under a waterfall will remain a highlight of my life.

Shirley Johnson

Pybus Point Lodge - WOW!

We had the best time! This was our first visit to Pybus, but it definitely will not be our last. The stunning scenery, amazing fishing experience, and the joy of meeting new friends – all outstanding! We did not want to leave!!! If you are thinking about this trip – don’t think any more, just book it. You will not regret it!!!

Sharon Hedding

Trip of a Lifetime!

We had such an amazing time the staff was so wonderful and the lodge was fantastic! capt Joe was so helpful and always doing what ever he could do to make each day special. a special thank you to both Scott and Jody for taking the time to make us feel like family. can't wait to go back next year

Jason Nielsen

Wonderful and Magical Place

We had an amazing business retreat to Pybus Point Lodge.  Everything was top notch... the fishing, the staff, the boat captains, the food, the accommodations, and especially the scenery. I really liked that Pybus took care of everything from start to finish. Chef John is an amazing cook. We had delicious hot meals the entire trip.  The cabins were amazing and very comfortable.  The fishing was awesome and that’s coming from a guy that doesn’t fish that much.

Brandon Foote

We brought home 100lbs of fish!

My wife and I spent a week at Pybus Point this Summer. We had a beautiful, private room overlooking the bay and our own new, ensuite, private bathroom. What an amazing place for couples to get away together. We set our own breakfast time, met our boat captain after, fished the day along, and returned to clean up and enjoy a nice dinner at the restaurant. Next time Alaska is on the trip list, Sherrie and I will go together, and it will be to Pybus Point!

Kent Danjanovich

Fun in Alaska

This was my first trip to Pybus Point. I stayed in one of their new cabins. The accommodations were incredible, the view onto the bay in the mornings was stunning. I loved the staff and the food was really very good. All of this and they have new boats to take you out onto fairly calm waters to fish. The fishing guides were great. Overall a great experience. Definitely going back.

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