When we first got married, Ben came up to the state capital of Alaska two times while stationed on the USCGC FIR. He told me about a land full of beauty, and small seeds began to be planted inside our head about Alaska. Once we moved to Alaska, his work took him back to Juneau a few times. Each time, I became slightly more convinced that one day we were going as a family. And this summer we finally made it happen! We had so much fun in Juneau, and it was an absolutely beautiful place to visit! So we wanted to share our favorite spots to visit in Juneau, Alaska.
1. Mendenhall Glacier
Mendenhall Glacier was absolutely amazing to see and it often hits the top of the list of things to do in Juneau. While you can get all the way to the glacier (Ben has done this in the past during his trips for work!), as a family we decided that was too much for our little ones. So we went to the glacier overlook and then took the hike down to Nugget Falls. This was a pretty easy hike – flat, wide, and definitely set up for tourism! There were a lot of people on the trails, but it did not feel overly crowded…even though people were literally being bused in! Once you get to the absolutely gorgeous Nugget Falls there is a beautiful sandy beach along the lake that the glacier and falls cascade into. Our kids were in absolute heaven digging into the sand and dipping their toes into the freezing cold water!
2. Mt. Roberts Tram
The Mt. Roberts Tram was so much fun and is definitely one of our favorite things to do in Juneau. It was the one adventure we “splurged” on, as it did cost a decent amount for our family to up. The kids absolutely loved the experience though – and it was fascinating to realize just how steep the mountain was as the tram climbed! Once you are at the top, make sure that you get out on the trail system! While the little area around the tram landing is nice, it just doesn’t do the mountain or Juneau justice. In my opinion if you stay inside the tourist setup at the top of the tram, you’ll be disappointed. The beauty is in the trail system at the top. We ended up taking the Alpine Loop Trail and hiked to Father Brown’s Cross. It was a decent hike – definitely some hills, but doable with kids. We almost did not hike to the cross, but I am so glad we did because THAT is where we actually got to the absolutely amazing views!
3. Sandy Beach
Being from mainland Alaska, most of our beaches are rock. So sand is a huge favorite for our kids. Sandy Beach was definitely a hit for the kids! They loved playing here. This is also a popular swimming spot for locals. We entered Sandy Beach from the Treadwell Mine area, which was perfect as it was a fairly significant ways from all of the crowds.
4. Sunshine Cove
If you drive a ways out from Juneau, you will eventually come to Sunshine Cove. This is a rocky beach, but the views driving out to the cove and at the cove are absolutely incredible. I could have spent all day there! Definitely one of my favorite things to do in Juneau – the scenery was amazing.
5. Castle Park at Twin Lakes
This was a hit amongst our children. They absolutely adored this playground and we went several times. This playground is one of the most immense playgrounds I’ve ever been to, and perhaps the best part is the artwork done by locals. It is a captivating, whimsical, and cultural experience – all centered around tons of family fun.
6. The Alaska State Museum
The Alaska State Museum is an absolutely fascinating option and also one of our favorite things to do in Juneau. If there is a rainy day where you need to escape the wet stuff, definitely hop in here. The museum teaches you all about the Alaska culture, how things changed with the Russian settlers, the purchase of Alaska by America and the subsequent influx of American culture. Absolutely FASCINATING.
7. The Shrine of St. Therese
The Shrine of St. Therese was the first thing we did in Juneau – and continued allll the way to the end to be one of our favorite things to do in Juneau. It was so peaceful, and this is one of the popular spots to see whales – which we did! The flowers, gardens, and the actual shrine were absolutely gorgeous and peaceful. You definitely don’t want to miss this gem.
8. Tahku, the Whale Sculpture
Tahku, the whale sculpture, was probably tip-top on our kids’ list of favorite things to do in Juneau. Which is awesome because it is easy and free. In downtown Juneau, there is a full sized whale statue and fountain named Tahku. Over the course of our 5 day trip, our kids spent hours just staring at the whale and dancing in the mist of the statue. If you have a few minutes to kill (or hours if your kids are easily entertained), this is definitely a place that you want to stop.
So that’s a wrap! We hope that you will check out our YouTube videos on our Juneau trip as well – this whole list of our favorite things to do are featured in the videos! You can watch part one here and part two here! Be sure to subscribe to the ExploreFam YouTube channel while you watch these videos – you absolutely do not want to miss out on more of our Alaska adventures!