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Old 03-06-2012, 12:45 AM
Location: Huntsville, AL
1,598 posts, read 4,134,488 times
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We are taking an Alaska cruise and on our day in Juneau, we have decided to rent a car and plan our own day. Our ship is docked in Juneau for 12 hrs.

So how would you tell a tourist with wheels how to spend a full day in Juneau? Party is 3 adults (1 of which is a senior), two children, and this is in late May.

Mendenhall is the only *must see* on the list. We are open otherwise. I am familiar with much of what is usually visited in Juneau by tourists, but not with how much it might be worth our time, or not. Also unfamiliar with anything off the beaten track.

We have also seriously considered, but opted against, whale watching or flightseeing. If a local wishes to make a compelling argument as to why this is a poor decision, I'm listening, but we've done wildlife boat tours before and I'm just not really sold on the expense of flightseeing/glacier hiking, as cool as that would be. For a party of 5 it gets phenomenally pricey. I figure if it is a nice clear day, we will pay the extra to take the tram at Mendenhall instead. Good call?

Also, any PHENOMENAL places to eat a meal? Keep in mind, we will have a car and the option to return to our cruise ship for our prepaid meal, but if there is a SPECIAL restaurant of unique Juneau flavor, I'd love to hear recommendations.
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:30 AM
Location: Wasilla, AK
2,610 posts, read 4,166,681 times
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Harv & Marv is your best option for the whale cruise.
I'd also highly recommend you spend some time on the Trip Advisor forum for Alaska: Alaska Forum, Travel Discussion for Alaska - TripAdvisor
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:30 AM
Location: Alaska
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You can spend 1-3 hours at the Mendenhall Glacier, or as little as 15 minutes. It all depends on if you take one of the nature walks. For a drive, you can go out as far as Eagle Beach. There are pull-outs along the road where you can view the scenery. I'd go out to Eagle Beach and hit the pull-outs going back into town. On the way in or out, you can stop at the Shrine of St. Therese. For the adults,you can stop at the Alaskan Brewing Company, take the short tour and sample their brews. You can also throw in a stop at the Macaulay Hatchery. If you're not tired of driving, you can run over to Douglas and Savikko Park/Sandy Beach. There you can see remnants of the old mining town.

In town, there's the City Museum and the State Museum. Figure anywhere from 1/2 to 1-1/2 hours each (less for the City Museum). While at the City Museum, walk over to the Capitol Building and take the free tour. You can also walk through the area and see St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. It's actually the Mt. Roberts Tram, and on a non-low cloud day, it offers great views. If you park in the downtown corridor area or parking garages, you'll need to remember your license plate number. You have to register it at one of the parking kiosks. Check out www.juneau.org for info.

The Hangar on the Wharf is probably the most popular dining establishment. They also run the Twisted Fish Restaurant, which is open during tourist season. Of the two, Twisted Fish will be more expensive, but offers unique dishes (may be different this coming season). For a thin crust pizza or hot sandwiches try Bullwinkle's Pizza. There are 2 locations, one in the valley and one near the convention center. I only recommend them because they have video games for the younger set. For hamburgers and milkshakes, there is the Hot Bite in Auke Bay. It's expensive, so figure $70-100+ for the 5 of you. I prefer Rod Father's Broiler in the Nugget Mall. For Salmon, there's Thane Ore House and Gold Creek Salmon Bake. Gold Creek is a tourist operation. There are several ethnic restaurants too. It all depends on what type of food you want.

If you decide to do any of the above, do a search first to find more info on them. Also map them out so you have an idea of locations and distances. Juneau is not so big that you'll get lost, but some are off the beaten path.
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Old 03-07-2012, 12:43 PM
Location: Huntsville, AL
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Fantastic! Thanks for the recommendations, Akck. Shrine of St. Therese was on my list as my mother-in-law is a devouted Catholic, I think she would enjoy it. Thanks for the recommendation about Eagle Beach as long as we are headed that way. This one wasn't on my list.

I'll look up info on the museums.

Also do you recommend the Juneau Botanical Gardens? I've been to several Botanical Gardens and in my experience they are very hit or miss, and reviews are tough because they can be seasonally dependent. (I.e., if the Juneau gardens don't really come into their own until June I might skip it for our May trip?)
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Old 03-07-2012, 04:07 PM
Location: Alaska
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The rec for Eagle Beach is that you can sometimes see whales from there and have a picnic. Bring binoculars. Some of the pull outs will also give you an opportunity to see wildlife.

I'd skip Glacier Gardens. Might be a little early for it. Instead, check out the City's Jensen-Olson Arboretum (check city website), located near the Shrine (bottom of hill toward Eagle Beach on the water side). There should be some flowers blooming there, depending on how long winter lasts. Besides, it's free, but open only Wed-Sun, so it might not fit your schedule. If you still want to see Glacier Gardens, pull into the parking lot and walk to the main building. They have upturned trees there planted with flowers and if they're not blooming, it's not worth it (there's a sign there that says you must pay beyond this point).

May is early in the season and many things will be just starting up. However, May can have some of the best weather, sunny days, but cold nights.
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:56 PM
Location: Kitschk-hin
162 posts, read 289,656 times
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Visit the Scenic Costco!

If you drive out past Auke Bay, just a hair past the ferry terminal, there's a little park called Auke Rec that has hands down the best tidepools in town. Time it right for low tide and the kids would really like it.

If you're up to a hike, try the Mt Roberts trail. Figure in about two hours for the hike up, it's moderately strenuous but generally well maintained, and about 2/3 of the way you pop out of the forest into the terminus of the Mt Roberts tram (there is no tram at Mendenhall, btw, I am sure this is what you were thinking of). You can continue on to the summit or there is some stuff to do- a little movie to watch, a restaurant if you're hungry, the Juneau Raptor Center usually has some birds on display, etc. When you're ready to turn back, just hop on the tram back down- they say they will only let you ride if you have a receipt showing that you spent some money but I have done it many times and never once had them check.

Mendenhall is, of course, really worth the visit. Last time I was in Juneau, the trail to Nugget Falls was washed out or iced over or something but that was in December and I'm sure it has been fixed by now. That trail is my personal favorite.

Out in Auke Bay, there's a Thai restaurant that is a local favorite. Next door is a little coffee house that serves waffles and sandwiches- sometimes they have the strangest waffles- think bacon waffles. Across and up the street a bit is a burger joint called the Hot Bite that has really good fish and chips, but is rather pricey. I personally don't care for the Hanger and I am not sure why it is so often recommended- Bullwinkles or Pizzaria Roma are good for pizza, there's a good Mexican place downtown as well (El Sombrero), and up the hill a bit near the capital building there is a bakery that has great bagels and sandwiches and such (Silverbow).

That's the stuff that springs to mind. Do you have your time in Ketchikan plotted out? I know of cool things to do here as well.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:15 PM
Location: Seattle
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Wonderful post akck!

Another food option that consistently gets good reviews is Tracyís King Crab Shack. You might also check out the area around Skaterís Cabin. Itís located on the opposite side of the lake and glacier from the visitor center. Itís also on the way to the West Glacier Trail that is one of the better hikes in Juneau, in my book. Youíll drive past Auke Bay on the way to Eagle Beach and the Shrine. John Wayne used to park his yacht there in the early 70ís.
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Old 03-11-2012, 10:48 PM
Location: In the middle of nowhere
379 posts, read 395,551 times
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You should drive across the bridge to Douglass Island and just check out the scenery. Had a fun time when I was down there.
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Old 03-12-2012, 01:05 PM
Location: Puna, Hawaii
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When you're downtown make sure you drive up Basin Road, across the wooden bridge and through the gorge and to the end of the road. Beautiful, short drive, look for mountain goats on Mt. Juneau. Keep going down the road to the end (less than 10 minutes) and look at the big mining compressor, then start walking up the trail. Its less than 5 minutes (should be OK with the senior) to the locked entrance to the mine, horizontal shaft. Kind of cool experience on its own. If you have time and can handle a 45 minute round trip walk, hike the flume and back. Even if you only go 1/2 way or less, its worth it.

If you like "ghost towns" go across the bridge to Douglas and visit the remains of Treadwell just past Sandy beach. Its about an hour of walking to see it all, but the trail is easy, I think even handicapped accessible. The only other worthwhile thing I would recommend on Douglas is there is a good scenic vista near false outer point. (coming across the bridge go LEFT to Treadwell, go RIGHT to false outer point). Somebody mentioned Eagle Beach....eh. The best part of it is the scenery and you're going to be passing by it on the boat anyhow. But if your going to be passing by at night its worth the trip. If you're going to Eagle Beach you might as well drive the extra 15 minutes past it to the End Of The Road. Just to say you've seen it, and there is some good scenery too. On your way to Eagle Beach there is another recommended hike (maybe not OK for the senior). Its about 3 miles each way. The trail takes you to Herbert Glacier. Its receded a lot since I first hiked there in 1999 when it was "in your face" when coming out of the woods, but its still a treat.
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Old 03-15-2012, 12:25 PM
Location: Alaska
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I wouldn't waste the $ renting a wreck in JNU. Take a cab-van to the glacier, cram as many as will fit in, the fare is shared/split, and they will make sure you get back before the boat leaves.

There's only 42 miles of paved road in the whole place anyway.
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