Unpack & Stay Awhile

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2008

Juneau is a world-class cruise port, but it is also a great place to park yourself for few days and really get to know the place and the people. Here are a few ideas on how to fill up several days and get an unforgettable Alaska experience in return.

Day 1 - Historic and Cultural Foundation

Explore the historic downtown district and Victorian neighborhoods. Visit the Alaska State Museum, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Last Chance Basin Mining Museum & Historical Park or take a tour of the Alaska-Juneau Mine to get a feel for the early days of Juneau. Discover Tlingit and Haida Native heritage through the work of local artisans featured in many shops and galleries and be sure to see the award winning film "Seeing Daylight" at the Mt. Roberts Tramway theater.

Day 2 - Mendenhall Glacier and the Juneau Icefield

Start your day by visiting the famous Mendenhall Glacier and the U.S. Forest Service interpretative center, a quick 15 minute trip from downtown, where you can take guided or unguided hikes on nearby trails. Learn how ice shaped the physical space around Juneau. For more adventurous glacier experiences take a helicopter or floatplane tour of the Juneau Icefield.

Day 3 - Tracy Arm Fjord Cruise

Today take a full day cruise tour through Stephens Passage to dramatic Tracy Arm Fjord, where you will experience the active twin Sawyer Glaciers. View the steep granite walls, waterfalls and keep watch for the seals, whales, birds and bears that inhabit the area.

Day 4 - Sportfishing/Flyfishing

Test your fishing skill today. Salmon and halibut are plentiful in the waters near Juneau. Charters are available for half, full or multi-day trips or you can rent a small boat and do it yourself. Flyfishers can find Cutthroat and Dolly Varden trout in most streams and rivers in the Juneau area. Guides and charter companies can arrange a local flyfishing experience or fly you out to a remote river. Local processors can prepare your catch for shipment home.

Day 5 - Whale Watching and Bear Viewing

Take a day to focus on looking for and enjoying the abundant marine life around Juneau. There are a number of whale watching tours available, but you are likely to see whales and marine mammals while fishing or kayaking, too. A short flight southwest of Juneau will put you at the Admiralty Island Brown Bear Sanctuary. Guided and unguided brown bear viewing trips are best during July and August.

Day 6 - Hiking/Biking/ Kayaking/Zipping

You can easily devote one or more days exploring Juneau's extensive trail system or kayaking along the shoreline. For a tree-top view, you might try one of the zip line adventures that get you up close and personal with Juneau's rainforest canopy.

Get to Know the Neighbors

Juneau is a great jumping off point to visit a number of small, colorful coastal communities.

• Gustavus and Glacier Bay National Park are a short flight (just 33 miles) away. Take a day tour cruise in spectacular Glacier Bay. Fishing, whale watching, kayaking and golfing are also highlights.

• Haines and/or Skagway can be reached by day ferry (approximately 4 hours) or quick commuter flight (approximately 40 minutes). In Haines, take a walking tour of historic Fort William H. Seward or explore the Chilkat Valley Bald Eagle Preserve. In Skagway, take the scenic White Pass & Yukon Railroad train ride, or enjoy biking, hiking or exploring the historic parks, shops and bars.

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