You've got two choices, sideways rain or winter wonderland! Pack for both. In the last seven days we've gone from 5ft berms to washed clean streets. 55 inches in 53 hours with roofs collapsing to clear sidewalks and slushed out skiing.
4 Days to See it All
Find a cozy AirBnB, rent a car, bust out the map! Conditions will determine activities. Make sure to plan your day around daylight hours remembering that light is limited this time of year!
Day 1 - Arrive and settle in, go for a drive, head downtown for shopping. Dinner at Spice Indian Restaurant, bring guide books, maps, and plan activities out based on the current weather forecast.
Day 2 - Downhill ski or snowboard Eaglecrest! Expect killer views on the ridge lines, pack a lunch, and enjoy some of the best accessible terrain in the State! Dinner at La Boca and carb load with homemade pastas and Alaskan delicacies.
Day 3 - Snowshoe to a Forest Service Cabin or a State Public Use Cabin! Most are achievable within a few hours and the cabin always provides a great place to rest, warm up, and eat lunch. And nearly all these cabins have beautiful views along the way. My favorites are Dan Moller Cabin, Peterson Lake Cabin, Camper's Cove Cabin.
Day 4 - Breakfast at SandPiper Cafe, last minute shopping downtown, depending on what time your flight is squeeze in the Mendenhall Glacier. If conditions allow, you can walk on the frozen lake. If its too warm, there's a great 1 mile trail to Nugget Falls that gets you closer to the face of the glacier.
Top Things to Do
- Eaglecrest Ski Area - The best little ski area in the world! Home to some beautiful backcountry and hardly any line wait time. Even if it's raining in the city, there's a good chance it's snowing up at Eaglecrest.
- Snowshoe - The best snowshoeing is up on the Dan Moller Cabin Trail, Spaulding Meadows, John Muir Cabin trail, and Pederson Creek Cabin Trail. Follow the link to see how to Snowshoe and Ski all before lunch!
- Ice skate - When conditions are cool enough, Twin Lakes, Auke Lake, and Mendenhall Lake are great for ice skating outdoors. If you're unsure head to the Treadwell Arena in Douglas.
- Explore the Ice Caves - Wait for the ice to freeze on the Mendenhall Lake then cross over to the left face, follow the link below to see details.
- Cross Country Ski - Rent skis from Foggy Mountain Shop! Top favorite places that are usually groomed and tracked include Montana Creek, Skater's Cabin Campground (beautiful glacial views), Pioneers Road out South Douglas, Eaglecrest lower and upper loops.
- Mendenhall Glacier - If conditions allow, walking out on the frozen lake allows you to gain new perspectives of the mighty Mendenhall! Don't venture too close to an iceberg or to the face of the glacier, as ice moves quickly. Ideally you want at least 4inches of ice. If the lake seems unsafe, take the well maintained trail past the Visitor Center to Nugget Falls.
Winter/Off-Season rates are generally better, hotels might run $100-$400/night. AirBnb's can be in the same price range. If you're planning on renting a car, the town is your oyster! If you're not, find a place in Downtown Juneau! A $35 cab/Uber ride from the airport will bring you downtown where you can walk to shops, restaurants, hiking trails, and the City Bus Line which can connect you to the Eaglecrest Ski Bus.
- Alaskan Hotel & Bar - Totally haunted, best location and rates in Downtown. If you want to experience the real Juneau scene, this is it!
- Silverbow Inn - Boutique Hotel situated above one of the best restaurants in town! Conveniently located, top tier stay.
- AirBnBs - several options here!
- Forest Service Cabins - Great prices, definitely remote! You can access most by car and then a hike in, Dan Moller on Douglas Island is the closest to civilization.
- Alaska State Public Use Cabins - Great prices, Eagle Beach/Eagle River is closest to the road system but still a 45min drive away from the main town. These cabins are dry, and you must bring your camping gear. Reservations can be competitive!
Juneau offers a completely different menu during the winter. This is perhaps the best time of year to test Juneau's top chefs. Don't get me wrong, summer will always be my favorite, but there are so many food options in Juneau you really do have to split it up seasonally!
- In Bocca Al Lupo - An Italian restaurant whose Chef happened to win the National Seafood Contest like it was nbd. The salmon alfredo and garden fresh veggies are to die for, a great wine selection, and a wood fired oven for pizza!
- Spice - Family and home style Indian comfort food perfect for winter months when all you need to do is go for a delicious warm meal and a glass of wine with an easy, laid back vibe.
- Salt - My favorite for French Onion Soup! A great up-scale vibe, dress to impress and you will be.
- The Sandpiper Cafe - best breakfast in town!
- The Alaskan - Thursday Night's are open mic night! One of my favorite people watching bars, grab a spot upstairs and watch this local scene go down.
- The Narrows - On the corner of Front and Franklin for an eclectic vibe and killer specialty cocktails! This is one of the oldest locations in Juneau to be pouring alcohol, it'll no doubt put a grin on your face.
- Amalga Distillery - Continue up Franklin to the corner of Second Street and enjoy some locally brewed gin and soon to be whiskey! This is a fun environment and one of Juneau's newest scenes, they use traditional techniques and combine art with taste.
The best time to shop is the last weekend in November, and the first Friday in December when the City closes Front Street to traffic and brings out the DJ!
- Us of course! - Shop our highly curated collections at 224 Front Street! Check our hours though, sometimes we're off traveling or out skiing this time of year!
- Shoefly - Best shoe store in Southeast! Find cute boots, sandals, heels and handbags! Shoe prices range from $30- $500 depending on your taste and impusle needs. You will not be disapointed!
- Annie Kails - A neat store that sells handmade home goods, jewelry, and more. The ultimate holiday stop.
- Rainy Retreat Books - Great bookstore of Alaskana! Find historical and rare books here!
- Hearthside Books - Guide books for summer hikes, local cookbooks and more at this longtime Juneau bookstore!
- Foggy Mountain Shop - Great outdoor shop for all your outside activities! Rental gear is available here!
- Public Market - The Capital City's market weekend and bazaar. Great for holiday shopping, handmade jewelry, and all sorts of great finds from makers around the Pacific Northwest.
- Gallery Walk - The first Friday in December and a fun way to really get into the holiday spirit! The City closes Front Street, and shops pair up with local artists for a gallery walk. Complete with beverages at each stop and a DJ...!
What to Pack and Wear
- Good Boots - Xtratuf, Sorel, Bogg work well because they're waterproof.
- Wool - anything wool will keep you nice and warm without getting too hot.
- Hat - a beanie works well, or something with a brim that won't get blown away!
- Down jacket or vest - the majority of the time you'll still need a water-resistant shell.