Updated: Apr 20
After much research on the biggest state in the US - It turns out you really can't drive Alaska to see it all. You either take a cruise, or you fly to one town, explore, then fly or boat to the next town. I knew early on that I didn't want to do a cruise but at the same time, I'd like to see the amazing glaciers that you would see on a cruise - without feeling like I'm limited on time. That is why I picked Juneau, it's ALOT of Alaska in just one small town. There's much to see in Juneau and I can't wait to explore! Here is a sample 5 day itinerary and I'll be sure to include prices. First, let me start off by saying the Airbnb rooms are pretty reasonable, I have seen $71 for private rooms to $120 for an entire home/apartment not to mention the awesome Hotel Tonight App has great prices!
Day 1: Explore Tracy Arm:
I had a BIG debate in my head between exploring Glacier Bay and/or Tracy Arm Fjord. I've read about 10 articles from those who have seen both, weighed out the options, and creeped all the #TracyArmFjord and #GlacierBay hashtags on Instagram - finally I just picked the one that stood out the most. It really just depends on you, and realistically you could see both if you wanted to! You can also compare the two parks by clicking here. The true ultimate determination for me was budget, because I feel like if you're going to see Glacier Bay than you MUST also stay at the lodge at Gustavus - the gateway to Glacier Bay. It looks amazing and you'll be one with Alaskan nature - but to do the tour and stay at the lodge, you're looking at $400 at least! From the port of Juneau, you must take a boat over to either Gustavus for Glacier Bay, or take a charter and explore Tracy Arm Fjord to Sawyer Glacier. The Tracy Arm tour lasts about 12 hours - so yes, it's an all day affair - and it's going to be totally worth it. We are going to see whales, and moving glaciers and get an UP CLOSE view of Sawyer Glacier! The cruise ships by the way cannot get as close as we are going to get with our tour!
Called a few companies and I found out that Adventure Bound Alaska does one of the last tours of the season and that date is September 20th. The cost is $160 per person and you can buy food on board.
Day 2: Hike to Mendenhall Glacier & Nugget Falls:
No trip to Juneau would be complete without a trip to Mendenhall Glacier! I seriously cannot wait to stand in this ice cave and be in awestruck with the beauty of this soon to be gone spectacle. The best part? It's practically free! Click here for more information on how to get to Mendenhall Glacier. The plan is to get here early to enjoy the morning air, it'll be less crowded and afterward you can hike onward to get the views and experience Nugget Falls like you truly want to. BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR BEARS, THAT IS ALL. The day doesn't end here - because after lunch we're going dog sledding. There are a few different companies to chose from but we are going with Juneau Dog Sled Discovery and Mushers Camp. I just think being whisked away through Alaskan forests sounds like the ideal way to end a hike day - plus did I mention the Alaskan Husky puppies you get to play with afterward? There is so much to learn here about the life of the sled dogs, the famous Iditarod races and experience life here in Alaska. The tour that we picked lasts 2.5 hours and costs $135 per person - a reasonable price for a grand adventure.
Day 3: Enjoy the Day like a Local:
For me, today is all about enjoying Juneau like a local! I want to do what Alaskans do during the cooler months and snowboard Eagle Crest on Douglas Island! Ive only snowboarded once in my life in Vermont and I must tell you, once you get the hang of it, it's actually rather fun and easy so I am not worried one bit. Alaska has some of the best slopes in the states - so you owe it to yourself! If snowboarding isn't your thing you can always take to the seas and do some salmon and halibut fishing! Although, it can be pricey, $800 for a family of three - I think it's worth the experience. You're in ALASKA hello! Google Halibut fishing in Alaska right now to see what I'm talking about. PRO TIP: if you're dead set on doing an Airbnb, see if your host has some fishing poles that they can loan you.
Day 4: Window Shopping Downtown:
The last day of the trip is all about living in the moment for me and I go where my heart takes me! Stop into that little restaurant that you saw on your way to the slopes yesterday, or try the very famous "duck fart" at the Red Saloon - yes, you've read that correctly! Purchase your gifts and souvenirs, eat downtown and enjoy your last day. I will note however, if you can manage going on the first Friday of the month you will find dozens of galleries opened up, all the locals hanging out and its suppose to be a real great time - sounds pretty interesting to me!