Dreaming of visiting Alaska in summer? Brace yourself for a whirlwind of adventure and excitement with this ultimate guide to Juneau. Full of insider tips and must-see spots for your Alaskan escapades, you’ll encounter jaw-dropping wildlife and enjoy countless outdoor activities in the United State’s largest state.
This comprehensive guide has everything you need for your time in Juneau, whether you’re a professional traveler or an eager first-timer. So dive in, and start planning that dream Alaska vacation. After all, the only thing cooler than Alaska’s glaciers is experiencing them in person.
Is Alaska Worth Visiting In Summer?
Absolutely! Visiting Alaska in summer is a spectacular experience, with comfortable weather, longer days, and opportunities to view wildlife. The best time to visit is during the summer months (June through August). This is when you’ll find the warmest temperatures and an abundance of outdoor activities. However, if you’re seeking a more budget-friendly trip, consider visiting during May or September. Crowds are thinner and prices are lower.
What’s special about visiting Alaska in summer?
Summer in Alaska is special for several reasons, which make it a unique and appealing time to visit:
- Mild temperatures: Summer temperatures are generally mild, with average highs ranging from 60-70°F (16-21°C) in most areas. Days also see more periods of sunshine with the Midnight Sun. Longer days = more time to explore!
- Wildlife: The state’s abundant wildlife, including bears, moose, caribou, whales, and numerous bird species, are more active during the warmer months. This means you’ll have excellent opportunities for wildlife sightings and photography. As always, don’t approach or interact with wildlife of any kind that you may come across. Respect their space and their environments.
- Festivals and events: Alaska hosts the Anchorage Summer Solstice Festival, Alaska State Fair, and various Fourth of July celebrations. These events showcase local art, music, and cuisine, providing visitors with a taste of Alaskan culture.
- Accessible travel: Roads and services are open and fully operational which makes it a great time to rent a car and embarking on a road trip. Destinations like Denali National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Glacier Bay National Park, are more easily accessible during the summer months. Flights might be slightly more expensive during summer, but you pay for what you get: great weather!
What is the warmest month in Alaska?
The warmest month in Alaska is typically July, when temperatures can reach an average high of 65°F (18°C). This makes it the best month for visiting Alaska in summer if you’re seeking the most pleasant weather for your outdoor explorations.
Best Things To Do In Juneau
Eager to explore the best of Juneau while visiting Alaska in the summer? Check out this list of the top 10 must-see attractions and activities that’ll make your trip to Juneau truly memorable. You won’t want to miss these gems!
1. Visit Rainy Retreat Books
Visiting Alaska in summer is the perfect opportunity to explore charming local spots like Rainy Retreat Books. This cozy, independent bookstore is a hidden gem in Juneau, Southeast Alaska, offering a fantastic selection of books to suit all tastes. Mable, the bookstore’s adorable resident dog, is waiting to greet you with a wagging tail and a friendly nuzzle!
2. Glacier Helicopter Flight with Coastal Helicopters
For an unforgettable Alaskan adventure, you can’t miss a glacier helicopter flight with Coastal Helicopters. When visiting Alaska in summer, the warmer weather and long days provide the perfect conditions for an aerial tour. As you soar above the stunning landscapes of Southeast Alaska, you’ll be amazed by the jaw-dropping views of glaciers, mountains, and wildlife. While you are permitted to walk on the glacier, there are only certainly places you can explore for both safety and environmental preservation purposes. Your guide/pilot will be sure to direct you on where — and were not — to go!
3. Mount Roberts Tramway
When it comes to outdoor activities in Juneau, the Mount Roberts Tramway should be at the top of your list. This scenic ride whisks you 1,800 feet above Juneau, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, hiking trails, and the Gastineau Channel. When you need a break, visit the gift shop or Timberline Bar & Grill for delicious Alaskan fare with a stunning backdrop.
4. Mendenhall Glacier
Visiting Alaska in summer wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the spectacular Mendenhall Glacier. This massive ice formation, located just a short drive from Juneau, is easily accessible and perfect for a day trip. The visitor center offers informative exhibits and ranger-led talks, while the area’s walking trails provide fantastic photo opportunities and a chance to witness calving icebergs. It’s very important to pack out what you pack in! Bears and other animals are very active on this trail, so don’t leave behind traces of food, food wrappers, trash…or pretty much anything.
5. Alaska State Museum
Dive into Alaska’s rich history and culture with a visit to the Alaska State Museum. This impressive facility features a wide range of exhibits highlighting the region’s natural, cultural, and artistic heritage. From ancient Indigenous artifacts to contemporary art, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the people and events that have shaped Alaska over the centuries.
6. Whale Watching with Harv & Marv’s
No Alaska vacation is complete without a whale-watching excursion, and Harv & Marv’s is one of the best providers in Juneau. Their knowledgeable guides will take you to prime spots for spotting humpback whales, orcas, stellar sea lions, bald eagles, and more. They even offer a “no whale, no pay” guarantee! Worried about disrupting these friendly giants in their natural habitat? Harv and Marv’s captains are professionals and follow all NOAA rules and regulations regarding whale encounters. This ensures that a healthy whale population at Glacier Bay for future visitors to enjoy. Pro tip: take some Dramamine an hour before boarding if you’re prone to seasickness.
7. Explore Glacier Gardens
Immerse yourself in Juneau’s natural beauty at Glacier Gardens, a one-of-a-kind botanical garden. Here, you’ll find stunning displays of upside-down trees, lush vegetation, and colorful flowers. The garden’s walking paths and guided tours showcase the creativity and passion behind this unique attraction. Don’t forget to check out the incredible viewpoints, where you can take in panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscape.
8. Tour the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery
Learn about the fascinating world of salmon at the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. This educational facility offers a close-up look at the life cycle of salmon and their role in Alaska’s ecosystem. During your guided tour, you’ll see thousands of fish in various stages of development housed in massive tanks. You might even get lucky and spot some sea otters or seals hanging out nearby!
9. Hike the Gold Creek Flume Trail
Enjoy a moderate hike up to the Gold Creek Flume Trail, a historical path that follows an old wooden flume. This easy trail offers serene views of Gold Creek and the lush forest, making it an ideal way to spend a few hours in nature. Be on the lookout for wildlife as you meander along the trail – you never know what Alaskan creatures you might encounter! Remember to always stay on designated marked trails to not disturb the landscape or vegetation.
10. Go Shopping
Finally, indulge in some retail therapy at Juneau’s unique shops. Some local favorites include Taku Store, Mt. Juneau Trading Post, and Caribou Crossing. At these stores, you’ll find local delicacies, intricate jewelry, tasty treats, and artwork reflecting the regions’s rich Native American heritage.
What To Pack For Juneau, Alaska, In Summer
Packing for a trip to Juneau during the summer months can be quite the adventure in itself. Read below for a quick and handy list of must-pack items (with links to purchase!):
- Hiking boots – Pack waterproof, broken-in hiking boots to explore Juneau’s awe-inspiring trails. Your feet will thank you! My favorite are the Waterproof Columbia Newton Ridge boots in Elk and Mountain Red.
- Windbreaker jacket – This lightweight lifesaver will shield you from the elements without weighing you down. Talk about a win-win!
- Travel binoculars – Wildlife viewing is a must in Juneau, and with a pair of trusty travel binoculars, you won’t miss a single thing, big or small.
- Portable phone charger – Your phone will need all the juice it can get to capture amazing sights. A portable charger will keep you powered up and ready to snap, share, and explore. I bought about 5 of these and keep them in different carry on bags so I never forget to pack them!
- Waterproof phone case – Alaska is wild and unpredictable in many ways. Keep your device safe and dry with a waterproof case, and never miss a photo op.
- Osprey travel backpack – A durable and functional backpack is essential for carrying all your gear. Get one that is weatherproof and lightweight.
- Sunglasses – With all that glorious daylight in North America’s largest state, a pair of polarized sunglasses will keep your eyes protected and ready for all the sightseeing.
Where To Stay In Juneau
As you get ready for your unforgettable journey in Juneau, you’re might be wondering about the best accommodations for your stay. You’re in luck! Juneau has some amazing options that’ll make your Alaska vacation all the more memorable. Below are a couple of top picks, each with its own unique charm and appeal.
When you’re visiting Alaska in summer, you’ll want to find the perfect place to rest after a day of Alaskan adventures. The Silverbow Inn has your back! This boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Juneau, is the ideal mix of modern comforts and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. With its stylish, contemporary rooms and friendly staff, you’ll feel right at home.
The best part? It’s an excellent base for your vacation! You’ll be within walking distance of the best places in town, like the Alaska State Museum and the iconic Mount Roberts Tramway. Plus, they offer a scrumptious breakfast to kick off your day, as well as an outdoor hot tub to soak in after exploring Juneau’s stunning hiking trails. Book a stay at the Silverbow Inn for your upcoming Alaska vacation!
Now, if you want to feel like a local during your stay in Juneau, Alaska’s Capital Inn is your go-to choice. This charming B&B is owned by the friendliest locals who know all the hidden gems of Southeast Alaska. I had the pleasure of staying in the F’oc’sl’e Room downstairs, and it felt like a cozy Alaskan retreat.
The real cherry on top are the mouthwatering homemade breakfasts! Every morning, the hosts will treat you to a chef-style breakfast that’ll fuel your day of exploring. Before bed, satisfy your sweet tooth at the nightly wine and homemade dessert reception – it’s the perfect way to end a day of exploring. So go ahead, and indulge in some good ole’ Alaskan hospitality!
Best Places to Eat in Juneau
Ready to savor the flavors of Juneau? The city has a smorgasbord of dining options that’ll make your taste buds dance with joy. From cozy cafes to upscale eateries, you’re in for a treat! Here are the best places to eat in Juneau when you’re visiting Alaska in summer.
1. The Hangar on the Wharf
Craving some fresh seafood? Look no further! The Hangar on the Wharf is an excellent choice to indulge your taste buds. Set in a historic airplane hangar, this waterfront treasure boasts spectacular views and delectable dishes. You’ll find yourself raving about the succulent Alaskan King Crab legs and the perfectly cooked halibut—just remember to grab a bib!
If you’re looking for an upscale dining experience, then SALT is the place to be. This stylish restaurant is known for its creative, locally-sourced cuisine, extensive wine list, and elegant presentation. Their menu changes seasonally, ensuring the freshest ingredients are used in every dish. From seared salmon to succulent lamb, each plate is crafted to delight your taste buds.
3. Tracy’s King Crab Shack
There’s nothing like enjoying fresh, succulent crab during your Alaska vacation, and Tracy’s King Crab Shack is here to deliver just that. This casual waterfront eatery is popular in town for its King Crab legs, crab bisque, and crab cakes. The portions are generous, and the flavors are unmatched. You’ll find yourself savoring every last bite… and maybe even considering seconds.
4. Alaskan Fish & Chips
Ready for a quick, satisfying lunch? Look no further than Alaskan Fish & Chips. This gem of a food joint on the cruise ship docks is all about serving up some of the best fish & chips in town. The batter is crispy, the fish is tender, and the portions are just right. And don’t forget to try their homemade tartar sauce – it’s a game-changer.
5. Deckhand Dave’s Fish Tacos
If you’re in the mood for something a little different, Deckhand Dave’s Fish Tacos is a must-try. Their fish tacos are legendary, featuring fresh, local fish in a scrumptious, crispy batter. The toppings are just as delightful, with crunchy cabbage, zesty lime crema, and a little kick from their homemade salsa.
6. In Bocca al Lupo
Craving some Italian cuisine during your Alaska vacation? This charming, rustic restaurant serves up authentic Italian dishes that’ll transport your taste buds straight to Italy. Their homemade pasta is to die for, and their wood-fired pizza is a must-try. Remember to pair your meal with a glass of wine from their extensive list.
7. The Rookery
If you’re an early bird looking for a scrumptious breakfast, The Rookery is the spot for you. This intimate café offers an inventive menu with an array of breakfast classics with a twist, like their famous sourdough waffles or smoked salmon omelet. Plus, their expertly crafted coffee drinks will give you the energy boost you need for a day full of Alaskan adventures.
8. Heritage Coffee Roasting
If you’re a coffee connoisseur, you’ll definitely want to check out Heritage Coffee Roasting during your time in Juneau. This beloved local coffee shop offers a wide selection of expertly roasted beans, ensuring the perfect cup every time. Pair your coffee with one of their scrumptious pastries, avocado toast, or a breakfast sandwich. You’ll be ready to take on the day!
9. Spice Juneau Indian Cuisine
If you’re in the mood for some flavorful and fragrant Indian cuisine, look no further than Spice Juneau Indian Cuisine. This delightful restaurant offers a wide range of traditional Indian dishes, from buttery naan to mouthwatering curries. Their menu caters to a variety of dietary preferences, including vegan and gluten-free options. Order the fried paneer cheese and the Chicken Tikka Masala!
Visiting Alaska in Summer: FAQs
Wondering what to expect during your sun-drenched Alaskan adventure? Fear not! We’ve got the answers to your burning questions about visiting Alaska in the summer. Let’s dive in!
What to expect in the summer in Alaska?
One word: magic. With long days, warmer weather, and an abundance of outdoor activities, it’s the best time to visit this breathtaking destination. You can expect to encounter incredible wildlife and witness the beauty of lush hiking trails and crystal-clear waters.
How many hours of daylight does Alaska get in summer?
During the peak season of summer, Alaska enjoys a generous amount of daylight. In fact, the further north you go, the more hours of daylight you’ll get to enjoy. In some parts of the state, the sun barely sets, granting you up to 24 hours of daylight!
What is Alaska like in the summertime?
Summertime in Alaska is a vibrant and lively season. The largest state in the United States comes alive with flora and fauna, making it perfect for wildlife viewing and outdoor activities. You can expect pleasant temperatures, ranging from 60-70°F (15-21°C), and an array of exciting events, such as festivals and celebrations. It really is the best time to plan a vacation to the Last Frontier!
Final Thoughts: Visiting Alaska in Summer
Juneau is the perfect base for your Alaskan escapades with longer days and that oh-so-comfy warmer weather. It’s like Mother Nature herself is inviting you to explore the largest state in North America. So, dive into those boat tours, hiking trails, and cruise ships, all while keeping an eye out for humpback whales, sea otters, stellar sea lions, and bald eagles.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your sense of adventure, pack your bags, and get ready for an unforgettable Alaska vacation. It’s a true bucket-list experience that will create memories you’ll reminisce for years to come.