There are many free things to do in Juneau, like visiting the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in winter, taking a hike in the Tongass National Forest, or exploring the Governor's Mansion. Juneau, the capital city of Alaska, may have a reputation as a cold and rugged wilderness. But the city is full of culture and activities that go far beyond the expected.
With so much to see and do, it's no wonder that Juneau is quickly becoming one of the top tourist destinations in Alaska. Many of the amazing Rockies tours from Canadian Train Vacactions can be personalized to include an Alaskan cruise to Juneau. Our travel experts work with travellers to create their ideal vacation.
Here is our guide to the top things to do in Juneau that are free!
1. Hiking Trails
The hiking trails in Juneau Alaska are one of the top things to do in Juneau. Juneau offers natural splendour and the hiking routes provide the ideal opportunity to immerse yourself in it. The environment is simply breathtaking, whether you're exploring the lush rainforests, crossing the rocky mountain slopes, or strolling along the shoreline.
The Mendenhall Glacier Trail, the Perseverance Trail, and the West Glacier Trail are among the most popular. Each of these routes has a combination of views and experiences, so you're bound to find something to your liking.
2. Mendenhall Glacier and Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center
When visiting Juneau, Alaska, one of the best free things to do is immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the Mendenhall Glacier. This natural wonder is a river of ice that spans almost 12 miles. It is one of the world's most accessible glaciers — just a quick and simple trip from downtown Juneau.
The Mendenhall Glacier is a breathtaking sight, with its striking blue ice, surrounded by majestic mountains, lush rainforests, and cascading waterfalls. The Visitor Center, located on the border of Mendenhall Lake, offers a wealth of information on the glacier's history and how it is evolving as a result of climate change. While there is a fee to enter the visitor center in the summer, it is free from October to April.
3. Cope Park
Cope Park is not just another ordinary park. This multi-purpose playground offers something for everyone — whether you're looking for a peaceful escape or an adrenaline rush.
The playground and picnic area, surrounded by picturesque landscapes, is a popular spot for families with young children to relax and enjoy a picnic or barbecue. Nestled in the heart of Juneau, Cope Park is one of the many free and cheap things to do in the city, so don't miss out on this hidden gem.
4. Festival of Celebration
If you're looking for a vibrant and thrilling event, look no further than the Celebration Festival in Juneau, Alaska. This multi-day festival, held annually during the summer, is a melting pot of cultures.
The Celebration Festival honours the diverse heritage of the people of Juneau and the surrounding area by bringing together a plethora of activities and events that reflect the area's rich culture. The colourful parade on Juneau's main street is one of the festival's most popular features.
The festival also offers a culinary experience like no other, with flavours from around the world. A variety of food vendors provide traditional foods from many cultures as well as local delicacies.
5. Juneau-Douglas City Museum
The museum is a treasured resource of information about the rich history and culture of the Alaskan region. If features a diverse collection of exhibits that span the history of Juneau and the surrounding area, from the Tlingit people to the present. The exhibits include antiques, photographs, and interactive displays that provide visitors with a window into the past and greater knowledge of the region's history and culture.
6. First Friday
When the first Friday of the month rolls around in Juneau, Alaska, you won't want to miss out on one of the best Juneau things to do for free: First Fridays. This monthly event is a vibrant celebration of art and culture, where the local community comes together to showcase their talents and share their stories.
As the sun sets over the city, the streets come alive with the energy of the arts community. Galleries, museums, and businesses open their doors and invite visitors to explore their exhibitions, meet the artists, and enjoy live music and performances. It's an evening where art and culture take centre stage, and everyone is welcome to join in the celebration.
First Fridays are an opportunity to experience Juneau in a new way and immerse yourself in the vibrant arts and culture scene.
7. Concerts in the State Office Building
The State Office Building in Juneau is not just any ordinary office building. It is a monument to the rich history and culture of the Alaskan region and a must-see site for tourists. Constructed in the 1930s as part of the New Deal initiative, it showcases Art Deco architecture with its geometric shapes, symmetrical lines and detailed embellishments.
In addition to its architectural and historical significance, the State Office Building also serves as a venue for various events and shows. The great foyer, with its unique and magnificent environment, provides the perfect setting for live performances. The events, which include classical, jazz, folk, and modern music, are usually held in the evening, creating a lively and joyful atmosphere. Many of the concerts feature local performers, but touring bands also make appearances.
8. Downtown Walking Tour
A Juneau walking tour is one of the best ways to experience the city's culture and history. These tours offer a unique and intimate perspective of the city that cannot be found on a car or bus tour.
One of the main benefits of taking a Juneau walking tour is that you get to explore the city at a slower pace, on foot. This allows you to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the city in a more immersive way. You'll have the opportunity to see the city's architecture, landmarks, and public art up close, and learn about their history and significance.
The local visitor's center offers free walking tour maps. just pick one up and follow to see the major sights in downtown Juneau.
9. Shrine of St. Therese and the Jensen-Olson Arboretum
When you visit Juneau, make sure to set aside some time to visit the Shrine of St. Therese, a sanctuary of serenity in the bustling heart of the city. Imagine wandering through lush gardens, the gentle sound of a nearby fountain guiding you towards the Shrine. The replica of the original in Lisieux, France, exudes an aura of peace and tranquillity.
Take a moment to light a candle and offer a prayer, or simply sit in silence and soak in the peaceful surroundings
10. St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church is a must-see while in Juneau. Inside this beautiful and historic church, you will see intricate frescoes, detailed carvings, and vibrant.
The church is historically significant, as one of the oldest Russian Orthodox churches in Alaska. Built in 1894 by early settlers, it showcases the region's rich cultural heritage.
11. Salmon Spawning Streams
One of the natural wonders in Alaska is the salmon spawning streams. A popular tourist destination, they the importance of the salmon to the ecosystem and culture of the region.
This is where you can witness the annual salmon run, which typically takes place in the late summer or early fall. During this time, thousands of salmon return to their birthplace to spawn and lay their eggs. You can witness the salmon swimming upstream, jumping over waterfalls and fighting against the current to reach their spawning grounds. It's an awe-inspiring sight that highlights the determination and strength of these fish.
12. Mt. Roberts Trailhead
The Mt. Roberts Trailhead is the starting point for a variety of hiking and biking trails that wind through the Tongass National Forest, which is the largest national forest in the United States. The trails offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, glaciers, and lakes, and they lead to some of the most remote and beautiful places in the area.
Whether you're looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, there's something for everyone at Mt. Roberts. The trails are well-maintained and marked, and visitors can enjoy the beautiful scenery as well as a glimpse into the local flora and fauna.
13. Whale Watching from the Shore
When you visit Alaska, one of the must-do activities is to go on a whale-watching tour. There are other opportunities to see these magnificent marine mammals in their natural habitat — some of them free. Whales can sometimes be seen in Resurrection Bay Seaward Waterfront Park.
But before you embark on your whale-watching adventure, make sure to stop by the Juneau Visitor Center for all the information you need to make the most of your trip. The Juneau Visitor Center is a great resource for visitors like yourself, as it offers a wide range of information on things to do in Juneau for free. From hiking and biking trails to cultural and historical sites, the staff at the visitor centre will help you plan your trip and make the most of your time in the city.
14. Ebner Falls
Ebner Falls is a hidden gem nestled within the Tongass National Forest, just waiting to be discovered by visitors to Juneau. Imagine a journey through a verdant rainforest, the sound of the falls growing louder with each step. The trail, like a secret pathway, winds through the forest, leading you to a stunning waterfall cascading down a rocky cliff, a true natural wonder. The trail is well-maintained and easy to navigate, allowing visitors of all ages and abilities to enjoy the scenery. So pack a picnic, bring your loved ones, and come discover the beauty of Ebner Falls. It is an experience that will leave you breathless and mesmerized.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Walk Around Juneau?
Yes. A walking tour of Juneau is one of the best free activities and a great way to explore this city.
Is there a hop on hop-off bus in Juneau?
No, these is no hop-on-hop-off tour bus in Juneau.
Can you go to Mendenhall Glacier on your own?
Yes, it is possible to visit Mendenhall Glacier on your own. The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center has public parking and bike racks.
Is Mendenhall Glacier free?
The Mendenhall Glacier is free and its visitor center is free in the winter. There is an admission fee to the visitor centre May through September.
Is Juneau worth visiting?
Juneau, Alaska is considered a unique and beautiful destination that offers a variety of activities and attractions, such as visiting the Mendenhall Glacier, wildlife watching, hiking and fishing.
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