Have you ever been to Juneau, Alaska? It’s one of the destinations on my list of cities to visit. Heck, I’d love to take the kids along too! The following family-friendly list of free things to do in Juneau, Alaska’s beautiful capital city, can help make a family vacation more affordable. – CajunMama
1. Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area The Mendenhall Glacier is a tongue of ice stretching 12 miles from the Juneau Icefield to Mendenhall Lake. At its widest point, the glacier is more than a half mile wide, with ice 300 to 1,800 feet deep. The US Forest Service Recreation Area is also a place for black bear viewing during the between June and October.
2. Alaska State Capitol Building The state capitol building is full of interesting and informative tidbits about Alaska and its government. Self-guided tours can be conducted year-round, with guided tours available May-September.
3. Shrine of St. Therese and the Jensen-Olson Arboretum Located about 25 miles north of downtown Juneau, the Shrine of St. Therese and the Jensen-Olsen Arboretum a bit further out the road are beautiful, peaceful places to relax and reflect. Both present outstanding views of the water and mountains and are enjoyed by young and old alike.
4. Local Hiking/Walking Trails Juneau has over 250 miles of maintained hiking/walking trails with variety to meet every fitness level. From beach walks to mountain climbs, these free trails offer great access to the rainforest and to alpine meadows.
5. St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church For over 111 years, St Nicholas Church has been serving the Orthodox Christian faithful in Juneau and the surrounding areas. It’s classic onion dome and octagonal shape house amazing icons and artifacts.
6. Local Beaches The local beaches in Juneau offer a wide variety of experiences, from Sandy Beach in Douglas to the rocky shores of Lena Cove. Many offer picnic facilities (tables, fire pits, shelters, restrooms) while others are simply “do it yourself.” Popular beach activities include swimming, sunning, beachcombing, picnicking and tide pool exploration.
7. Salmon Spawning Streams Between July and September, many of the natural salmon spawning streams in the Juneau area are filled with salmon completing their natural life cycle, and it is certainly a spectacle to behold. While some fish these streams, most people just go to watch this amazing annual event.
8. Free Concerts From May-September, enjoy free concerts Friday evenings at Marine Park Plaza in downtown Juneau. At noon on Friday, attend free pipe organ concerts in the atrium of the State Office Building.
9. Downtown Juneau Historic Walking Tour Pick up a walking tour map from any visitors center and follow the path which takes you by all the major locations which played a part in the history of Juneau. The map contains information about each location and is easily completed in an afternoon.
10. Project Playground Spend the day at Juneau’s Project Playground, a community sponsored and constructed play area at Twin Lakes. Conceived by children for children and completed in the summer of 2008, this totally modern playground is on a beautiful lake setting and has picnic and restroom facilities nearby.
Special thanks to Elizabeth Artnett who submitted this article on behalf of the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau. If you’re even thinking of planning a visit, be sure to check out their official website – TravelJuneau.com