The following content is created in consultation with Travel Juneau. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC BAY AREA's editorial staff. To learn more about Juneau, visit Traveljuneau.com.
If your summer has been all work and no play, or you’re just looking for a change of pace, your answer to instant rejuvenation lies north, in a city with icy, blue glaciers and majestic bald eagles, soaring snow-capped peaks and endlessly green forests. This hidden gem is Juneau.
The Alaskan Capital offers summer travelers the best of the earth’s bounty, from scenic wilderness to the freshest foods and drinks—it’s just the weekend break you need. Juneau is an escape from reality, that’s not too close yet not too far. It’s a playground for thrill-seekers in desperate need of fresh air and adventure. And it’s one of the best small towns to visit in America, with friendly, welcoming locals and heart-warming foods.
You won’t have to worry about budgeting your time here because Juneau’s convenient location puts the vast Alaskan wilderness right at your footsteps. Get the best of both worlds—local city charm and the great outdoors—during a long weekend here, and go back home refreshed and recharged. This is just what the doctor ordered.
Breath of Fresh Air
In Juneau, it’s easy to go outside and get some fresh air as you take in the area’s majestic wonders. For picture-perfect views, head to Mendenhall Glacier, a half-mile wide body of ice that’s Juneau’s most popular attraction. Stroll along the platform boardwalk to see quintessential Alaskan scenery work its magic, or take a guided walk on the glacier’s surface. Check out Tracy Arm, a gorgeous fjord surrounded by snow-capped mountains and floating icebergs. Here, experience the awe of glaciers ‘calving,’ or spilling huge chunks of ice into the water.
Take a Hike
Forge your own path to adventure and stretch your legs, with miles and miles of hiking trails for people of all abilities. Whether you’re looking to climb an entire mountain or just go on a glorified walk, downtown Juneau’s backyard is full of opportunities to get closer to nature. Try the popular Perseverance Trail (find the Gold Creek and an abandoned ore mine along the way) or the Mount Roberts Trail, with twists and turns through alluring boreal forest—and maybe enjoy the scenic tram-ride on the way back. You’ll definitely hit your Fitbit step goal here.
Catch of the Day
From devil’s club ice cream to bull kelp salsa, Juneau knows how to craft delicious flavors from nature’s simplest ingredients. Expand your seafood palate with the one-and-only Alaskan flavor; you’ve never had fish this fresh! Whether it’s salmon, shrimp or crab, all the seafood here is harvested in the wild, filling your plate with more natural flavors and textures (And the local fisheries’ commitment to sustainability is a bonus). Try mouthwatering eats like Alaskan scallop ceviche, crab bisque, and of course the classic smoked salmon. Dessert is just as immersive of an experience, with unique ice cream flavors like Rhubarb Sorbet, Spruce Tip, and Coconut Lime Jalapeno at the locally renowned Coppa. Food is meant to nourish the body and the soul—the food in Juneau does both.
Need a Drink?
Even the drinks in Juneau are natural—and we don’t mean the glacier water. Whether it’s Barley Wine or spruce-tip beer, Juneau will quench your thirst with meticulously crafted beverages, infused with local flavor. Visit the Alaskan Brewing Company, one of the country’s most decorated breweries, and maybe try the Husky IPA or the Hopothermia, with authentically Alaskan taste. Or sip a cocktail at a local distillery. Whether you decide go behind the scenes at a brewery or just kick back at one of the many bars in town, there are plenty of places to enjoy a cold brew in Juneau. Next round is on Mother Nature.
Make New Friends
Juneau is a wildlife haven, with marvelous opportunities to connect with nature’s pets. Find brown bears (about 1,600 of them!) at Admiralty Island, where this time of year is peak viewing season. While you’re here, also be on the lookout for sea otters, Sitka black-tail deer, and nesting bald eagles (the world’s greatest concentration live on the island). Spot humpbacks and orcas in the waters with one of the many whale-watching excursions, and perhaps bear witness to the spectacle of bubble net feeding. And if taking a boat out to fish is your ideal way to unwind, well, go fish. With the Pacific halibut and five species of salmon, Alaska is considered one of the best places in the world—and you can even get your catch shipped home.
To start planning your getaway to Juneau, click here.