Welcome to Juneau!

Welcome to June! Summer is in full swing. Soccer and softball have started, many of us have dipped or dunked our bodies in the ocean, perhaps caught a fish or two. As I sit here and bask in the glory that is the beginning of summer, I am thinking ahead, planning cabin trips, fishing excursions, hikes and so much more. I am also planning for a visit from family who want to explore Juneau for a week. They are coming from California and bringing their four year old twin boys! I’m trying to put together a list of things to do, rain and/or shine so that they can experience all the amazing things Juneau, and Southeast Alaska has to offer.

Beaches: One of my favorite things to do with or without kiddos is to go to the beach. There’s so many things to do at the beach including picnics, responsibly managed bonfires, fishing, beach combing, games and so much more. Personally, Eagle Beach is probably my favorite beach. It’s a gorgeous drive out the road, and the ocean and mountain backdrop is absolutely breathtaking. There’s lots of room to explore, and plenty of space to separate yourself from other beach goers.

Eateries: Juneau offers so many choices and varieties of food it’s sometimes hard to decide where to take guests. We have a lot of local talent when it comes to chefs so I think it really depends on personal preference and mood when choosing where to eat. My personal downtown favorites are Twisted Fish for the salmon and garlic twisters, Island Pub for the pizza and wraps and oh the view! We love El Sombrero for their salsa and enchiladas, and I love Seongs for their sushi. Don’t forget the Alaskan Fudge Company or the Alaskan Crepe Escape for dessert! And of course, I cannot leave out Little Hong Kong and Asiana Gardens in the valley for their great food and friendly service. If you’re headed out the road, or even if you’re not; Chan’s Thai Kitchen is delicious and worth any amount of driving. I could write an entire column on the wonderful eateries Juneau has to offer, I know I’ve missed mentioning some fabulous places and for that I apologize.    

Mendenhall Glacier: The glacier offers many different activities for people of all ages and activity levels. There are several hikes, the most popular is a nice flat walk out to the Nugget Falls or there is a platformed nature walk where salmon can be seen spawning and sometimes bears fishing. There is a beautiful Visitor Center to check out the history and information about the glacier.

Mt. Roberts Tram: I like taking people up or down the Tram as it offers a beautiful bird’s eye view of downtown Juneau and Douglas. Depending on activity level, one can hike up and ride down or ride the tram up and hike the mountain down, or of course take it both directions. There’s a bunch of activities to do once up at the top like dining, shopping and a bunch of educational opportunities.

Cabins: Depending on how good you are at planning ahead, cabin rentals are always a “rustic” way to experience Alaska. There are many different local cabins that can be rented with varying levels of accessibility. The Eagle Beach cabins are great for families as they are easy to walk. With most cabins in Southeast, you’ve got to plan ahead as they are rented out during the prime times of the year far in advanced.

Hikes: There are so many places to explore by foot in Juneau and Southeast Alaska! Hiking or walking, whatever you prefer to call it is one of my favorite activities no matter the time of year or weather. Currently we are enjoying the Brotherhood Bridge trail, mostly because it’s very stroller friendly. For visitors and scenic opportunities I like to take people to the glacier which was previously mentioned or to the wetlands. If everyone is physically fit and desiring a longer hike, the ice caves are my favorite destination.

Ferry Ride: We love to take the Alaska State Ferry System to other Southeast Alaska Communities for the day or  even a couple days. It’s a great way to explore Southeast and if you don’t have a boat it’s a great way to get on the water and see the marine life.

Boats: For those that know me, know that if I could, I’d be on the water from sunup to sundown. I love the ocean, I love fishing, I love everything about being on the water. So if you have access to a boat, there’s endless beauty, wildlife and adventures to be had. Whale watching is something I will never get tired of, especially when the humpbacks are bubblenet feeding. It’s fun to see the sea lion haul out and hear them bark and flop into the ocean.  I love to teach visitors about fishing, and watch someone reel up their first catch. If we have a larger group, it’s fun to drop people off on an island for a picnic.

Tours: There are many options for tours to take visitors on, too many to list. I’d highly recommend a whale watching tour, and if you’re inclined to get up in the air, a helicopter or float plane tour is spectacular.

There are many more things to do in this great state, but these are just some of my favorite things. Happy summer everyone, I hope you’re as glad as I am that the snow is behind us and the green foliage is here!

Anna Hoke is the graphic designer and owner of Southeast Living Magazine. She can be reached at anna@seakliving.com.

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