Guest post by Jennie Flaming of Ordinary Adventures
This is a great year to travel to Alaska as an independent traveler! Southeast Alaska’s economy has been devastated by COVID-19 and with another year without cruise ship tourism looming, you can support the local economy and visit when there are far fewer visitors than normal! Alaska is ready made for social distancing with wide open landscapes and lots of outdoor adventure for everyone. Southeast Alaska is perfect for hiking, whalewatching, sea kayaking and more!
Alaska TourSaver can help you make it happen by taking the guess work out of figuring out what to do each day and saving you money at every stop!
Two important things you need to know before you dive into planning your Alaska trip in 2021:
- To use the amazing deals from the TourSaver coupons are you MUST mention them at the time of booking. Do not just go to their website and book and then show up with the coupon! In addition you will also need to have the coupon on your app when you arrive.
- Know and stay up to date on Alaska’s current COVID-19 travel requirements. Proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of departure is required for all arriving travelers and masks are required in all public indoor spaces and outdoor spaces where social distancing is challenging. Towns and boroughs may have additional restrictions, make sure to stay up to date on these for any areas you intend to travel to while in Alaska.
Day 1: Travel to Juneau
Use the TourSaver Coupon to save 25% on your flight to Juneau on Alaska Airlines for up to four people. The Driftwood Hotel (get a free night with your TourSaver coupon) is in the perfect downtown location and provides a shuttle to the airport.
Downtown Juneau’s large as life and super realistic humpback whale sculpture and fountain
Once you’re checked in, if you aren’t too wiped out from your trip, take yourself for a walk through downtown Juneau. Be sure to check out the beautiful whale sculpture and stop in at Amalga Distillery for some locally made Gin. Grab some fish tacos from Deckhand Dave’s popular food truck!
Local rhubarb and local gin make up the rhubarb mojito at Amalga Distillery
The historic Alaskan Hotel bar often has excellent live music, and always a fun atmosphere.
Day 2: Downtown Juneau
Get up and cross the parking lot to enjoy a fantastic breakfast at the Sandpiper (we recommend the breakfast burrito but everything is delicious!).
Fed and caffeinated, walk just under a mile through the heart of downtown Juneau to the Goldbelt Tram Alaska, also known as Mt Roberts Tramway (two for one with your TourSaver coupon). Zoom up and enjoy the spectacular view of Juneau, Gastineau Channel and surrounding mountains.
If you’re a hiker, do not miss the chance to hike from the Mt Roberts tram, now that the tram has done the hard work to get you to an awesome starting point! From the tram top, you can hike up to what’s called the Cross, or the summit of Mt Roberts. Make sure to be prepared for hiking if you decide to venture out further.
View of Mt Juneau and the Gastineau Channel from the Mt Roberts hiking trail
When you’re ready to return to town, take the tram down and head over to Douglas to enjoy fantastic pizza at the Island Pub. If you want to get more hiking in, you can explore the nearby Treadwell Mine Historic trail. This flat trail takes you along the beach and through the forest and around lots of interesting old buildings.
Interesting historic mining buildings along the Treadwell Mine Trail
To get to Douglas, you can take the city bus or a ride share if you don’t have a rental car. You can also walk if you enjoy longer walks. It’s about 3 miles from the Driftwood to the Island Pub, and another half mile beyond that to the Treadwell Trail.
While you’re on Douglas Island, if you’re ready for more adventure, use your TourSaver coupon to get two for one on a Zipline Adventure with Kawanti Adventures through the incredible temperate rainforest canopy.
Day 3: Mendenhall Glacier and Whalewatching
A visit to the Mendenhall Glacier is absolutely required on a visit to Juneau. If you have a rental car, getting there is very straightforward. If you are going car free, you can also get there by taxi (not ride share, ride shares are not allowed at Mendenhall Glacier) or on a tour from downtown.
However you get there, make sure to check out the visitor center and the movie, where you can learn about the rapid retreat of the glacier and about climate change. You can also see where the glacier has been through time.
After learning about the area, take the two mile round trip hike out to Nugget Falls. This flat and wide trail goes through the area recently vacated by the glacier itself to a stunning waterfall and terrific views of Mendenhall Glacier.
Nugget Falls with Mendenhall Glacier in the background
Another must do activity in Juneau is whalewatching! In the afternoon, relax on board a three hour whalewatching cruise with Alaska Galore Tours (two for one with your TourSaver coupon) and keep your eyes out for Alaska’s majestic whales. Your guides will make sure you have every chance possible to see whales while on board.
Day 4: More Adventures in Juneau
Late night sunset at the Shrine of St Therese
Today is filled with more adventures in Juneau! A few options for the adventure seeker to the mellow wanderer include:
- Take a helicopter trip to Mendenhall Glacier – this once in a lifetime adventure will take you high over the ice fields surrounding Juneau and give you a chance to get out and walk around on the glacier itself!
- Take a sea kayaking trip with Alaska Travel Adventures (two for one with your TourSaver coupon) for more opportunity for wildlife viewing as well as coast mountain scenery and glaciers
- Rent a car and drive “out the road” to the Shrine of St Therese, a beautiful space for peaceful reflection. Beautiful forests and views of the ocean surround you for this drive. At the shrine, you’ll find trails, an outdoor labyrinth and a beautiful chapel that welcomes visitors. You can explore the beach here too and possibly catch whales breaching just offshore (bring binoculars!). Once you’ve come this far, you can go a bit further and see Juneau’s entire road system!
The chapel at the Shrine of St Therese
- Take a hike on the Perseverance Trail, which starts right from downtown and takes you several miles up the creek valley through the forest.
Lush greenery and flowing water is everywhere in Juneau, and especially on display along the Perseverance Trail
Day 5 – Depart Juneau for Home
If you have time before your flight, check out one of the other activities suggested for yesterday (Day 4).
Bonus – If you have more time
The Marguerite Glacier at the head of Glacier Bay is a highlight of the Day Boat tour in the park
If you have more time (aren’t you lucky!) to spend in Southeast Alaska, in addition to continuing to explore Juneau, especially it’s many hikes, consider a day or overnight trip to one of the smaller communities in Southeast Alaska such as:
- Glacier Bay National Park – Fly on Alaska Seaplanes over to the small town of Gustavus and take the Glacier Bay National Park Day Boat Tour (two for one with your TourSaver coupon) into the heart of the wilderness for incredible wildlife viewing opportunities and impressive tidewater glaciers. You can do this as a long day trip from Juneau, but if you have time, stay two nights (for the price of one with your TourSaver coupon) at the Glacier Bay Lodge. In addition to the day boat tour, you’ll have time for hiking or a kayak tour as well.
- Skagway – A six hour ferry ride or 45 minute flight from Juneau, the Gold Rush town of Skagway is full of history and fun. Stay a couple nights (for the price of one with your TourSaver coupon) at the Historic Skagway Inn and dive deep into Gold Rush history on the world famous White Pass and Yukon Route scenic railroad (two for one with your TourSaver coupon). You can even get dropped off by the train for hiking and get picked up again. Garden lovers will love Skagway’s history of impressive gardening which you can learn all about in the Garden Gourmet Tour (two for one with your TourSaver coupon) based out of the Historic Skagway Inn.
The White Pass and Yukon Route approaching the Denver Glacier Whistestop near Skagway
- Haines – A four hour ferry ride or 30 minute flight from Juneau, the small community of Haines is a wonderful place to visit! In addition to a charming, historic Alaskan town, you can also explore the world famous bald eagle habitat on a Jet Boat tour with River Adventures.
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