Affordable Alaska Cruise Excursions: Budget-Friendly & Free.

Ultimate Affordable Alaskan Adventure: Exploring Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway for FREE or on a Budget.

Welcome to the breathtaking landscapes of Alaska! Embark on an unforgettable journey through the scenic wonders of Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway. In this comprehensive travel guide, we’ll take you on a virtual tour, guiding you through the free and affordable must-visit attractions.  The best way to get around, delightful Alaskan treats, and eating and drinking tips.

Let’s start with Juneau Excursions and Free Things to Do.

A Tramway to the Peaks

Your first stop in Southeast Alaska is Juneau, a picturesque city surrounded by stunning mountains and glaciers. Start your expedition with a trip to the Goldbelt Tram, the only tram in the region that takes you to the majestic Mt. Roberts Tramway. To avoid long queues, it’s advisable to book your tickets online in advance.  Here is the link Goldbelt Tram – The only tram in Southeast Alaska

Exploring the Mendenhall Glacier

While in Juneau, you can’t miss the chance to visit the spectacular Mendenhall Glacier. There’s a shuttle bus service that takes you to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center & Recreation Area, Approximate Travel Time – The one-way trip with Capital Transit from downtown Juneau to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center can take up to 1.5 hours, which includes a walk of about 30 minutes. The bus ride can take up to 1 hour, and the closest bus stop is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) away from the Visitor Center.
There are several Cruise Ship terminals in the downtown area. Some are quite close to the Downtown Transit Center, but some terminals are up to 1.5 miles (2.4 km) away, which could result in an additional 30-minute or more walk in each direction.
City Public Transportation: Hop on the city bus for a minimal fee. The bus won’t drop you directly at the Visitor Center, but it’s just a mile-and-a-half walk on a flat and paved path

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

After exploring the natural wonders of Juneau, treat yourself to some delectable delights at the Juneau Fudge Co.  Alaskan Fudge Company on S. Franklin Street. Watch skilled artisans craft fudge and even get a chance to sample their delightful creations.

Juneau Whale Watching Adventure

One of the most captivating experiences in Juneau is witnessing majestic humpback whales in their natural habitat. Consider booking a whale-watching tour directly to get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Keep your camera ready, as you might also spot seals, bald eagles, and other wildlife during the excursion.
Recommended Companies for Whale-Watching Tours in Juneau
  1. Wilderness Whale Watchers: This well-regarded company offers intimate and eco-friendly whale-watching tours. Their small-group excursions ensure a more personalized experience with minimal impact on the marine environment.
  2. Alaska Whale Watching Tours: Known for their knowledgeable guides and comfortable vessels, this company provides an exceptional whale-watching experience, often including sightings of other marine wildlife.
  3. Juneau Whale Watch: With a focus on conservation and education, Juneau Whale Watch takes you on a memorable journey to witness the playful antics and majestic beauty of humpback whales.
  4. Harv & Marv’s Outback Alaska: Join Harv & Marv’s expert guides for an unforgettable small-group whale-watching adventure, complete with fascinating insights into Juneau’s diverse marine life.

Explore the Juneau Icefield

For thrill-seekers and adventure enthusiasts, the Juneau Icefield offers an unforgettable experience. Join a guided ice trekking or ice climbing tour, where you’ll explore glacier formations, crevasses, and mesmerizing ice caves. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to discover the fascinating world of glacial landscapes.
Here are some reputable companies that offer guided ice trekking and ice climbing tours on the Juneau Icefield:
  1. Above & Beyond Alaska – This adventure tour company specializes in outdoor activities in Alaska, including ice climbing and ice trekking on the Juneau Icefield. They provide experienced guides and top-notch equipment for a safe and thrilling experience.
  2. NorthStar Trekking – NorthStar Trekking offers helicopter-accessed glacier tours, giving you the chance to explore the stunning Juneau Icefield from the air and on foot. Their expert guides lead you through breathtaking ice formations and provide fascinating insights into glacial ecology.
  3. Alaska Shore Tours – Alaska Shore Tours offers a variety of glacier adventures, including guided ice trekking and ice climbing experiences on the Juneau Icefield. Their tours cater to different skill levels, ensuring everyone can enjoy the marvels of the glaciers.
  4. Above Alaska Aviation – For a unique and thrilling perspective of the Juneau Icefield, Above Alaska Aviation provides helicopter tours that land on the glacier. Along with the awe-inspiring views, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the icy terrain and its fascinating features.
  5. Glacier Trek Alaska – Glacier Trek Alaska specializes in small-group glacier trekking adventures, allowing for a personalized experience and a deeper connection with the Icefield’s wonders. Their experienced guides will lead you on a journey through the magical ice caves and crevasses.
Remember to check the availability of tours, their specific itineraries, and any prerequisites or requirements before booking. Glacier exploration can be physically demanding, so it’s essential to choose a tour that matches your skill level and fitness. Safety should always be a priority, so opt for companies with experienced guides and a good safety record.  Here is the Juneau Port Guide Visiting Juneau, Alaska – Get your Guide.
Enjoy your icefield adventure in Juneau! The glacial landscapes will undoubtedly leave you in awe of nature’s magnificence.

Eating and Drinking Tips:

Don’t miss the chance to savour fresh Alaskan seafood while in Juneau. Head to local restaurants to indulge in delectable dishes featuring salmon, halibut, and crab, sourced from the pristine waters of Alaska.
Juneau boasts a vibrant dining scene, and there are plenty of excellent restaurants where you can savour fresh Alaskan seafood and other local delights. Here are some top recommendations:
  1. Tracy’s King Crab Shack – A must-visit spot for seafood lovers. Tracy’s serves up mouthwatering king crab legs, crab bisque, and other seafood delights with a stunning view of the harbour.
  2. Salt – A modern and trendy restaurant offering a delightful mix of local and global cuisine. Their seafood dishes are a highlight, and they also feature an extensive wine and cocktail list.
  3. Twisted Fish Company Alaskan Grill – A popular choice for its diverse seafood menu, including fresh salmon, halibut, and local crab. Their waterfront location enhances the dining experience.
  4. Deckhand Dave’s Fish Tacos – For a casual and delicious seafood experience, head to this food truck. Their fish tacos and chowder are especially popular among visitors.
  5. Hangar on the Wharf – Located in a historic building, this restaurant offers a range of Alaskan seafood dishes, along with stunning views of the Gastineau Channel.
  6. SALT – Situated in the heart of downtown Juneau, SALT features a contemporary menu that highlights local seafood and other Alaskan ingredients.
  7. Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway Restaurant – After a thrilling tram ride, indulge in Alaskan cuisine with breathtaking views of Juneau from the restaurant’s lofty perch.
  8. The Rookery Café – Known for its farm-to-table concept, The Rookery Café features a rotating menu that showcases the best of seasonal Alaskan ingredients, including seafood.
  9. Pel’meni – If you’re in the mood for something different, try this local spot offering Russian dumplings (pelmeni) filled with various delicious fillings.
  10. Alaskan Crepe Escape – While not strictly seafood-focused, this charming crepe shop offers savory and sweet crepes, including options with Alaskan smoked salmon.
Remember that Juneau’s seafood restaurants often prioritize using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, so you’re in for a treat when you order seafood dishes. Whether you prefer a fancy dinner or a more laid-back dining experience, Juneau has a restaurant to suit your taste buds and budget. Enjoy exploring the culinary delights of this beautiful Alaskan city!

Points of Interest in Juneau:

Insider Secret:  Mount Roberts Trail: For anyone and everyone visiting Alaska, the views, photo oportunities, shopping, food, drinks.  Short or long hikes with magnificant vistas.  The Mount Roberts Trail offers breathtaking views of Juneau and its surrounding landscapes.  Book your ticket online before you arrive so you don’t have to cue.  Here is the link Goldbelt Tram – The only tram in Southeast Alaska

  • Juneau State Capitol: Take a stroll around Alaska’s state capital and marvel at its historic architecture and beautiful waterfront location.
  • Alaska State Museum: Immerse yourself in Alaska’s rich history and culture through engaging exhibits and artefacts.

Ketchikan: Immersed in Native Culture

Ketchikan Cruise PortNext on our Alaskan journey is Ketchikan, a city renowned for its rich Native American heritage and vibrant cultural experiences. Make sure to visit the Totem Heritage Center and the Tongass Historical Museum.

Totem Heritage Center

Discover the fascinating history of the indigenous people of Alaska as you explore the Totem Heritage Center. The admission fee is affordable, and the centre offers a combined pass that includes entry to both the Totem Heritage Center and the Tongass Historical Museum.

Museum Delights and Virtual Exhibits

At the Tongass Historical Museum, learn about the diverse history of Ketchikan and Southeast Alaska. For those who prefer virtual experiences, the museum offers online exhibits like “Into the Wind: Aviation as Southeast Alaska’s Lifeline” for you to enjoy from the comfort of your home.

Creek Street – Historic Boardwalk

Stroll along the iconic Creek Street, a historic boardwalk perched above Ketchikan Creek. Once a bustling red-light district, this charming street now houses galleries, shops, and eateries. It’s an excellent place to soak in Ketchikan’s unique heritage and architecture.

Adventure to Misty Fjords National Monument

For an awe-inspiring adventure, consider taking a flightseeing tour to Misty Fjords National Monument. Marvel at the jaw-dropping fjords, lush rainforests, and cascading waterfalls from above. This pristine wilderness is a photographer’s dream.

Eating and Drinking Tips:

Ketchikan offers an array of dining options to satisfy your culinary cravings. Try locally caught Dungeness crab served in some of the many restaurants in town.  Ketchikan has a delightful food scene with a focus on fresh seafood and a variety of dining experiences. Here are some excellent places to eat and drink in Ketchikan:
  1. Annabelle’s Famous Keg & Chowder House – Known for its delectable seafood dishes, especially its famous crab and shrimp chowder. It’s a local favourite that shouldn’t be missed.
  2. Alaska Fish House – This waterfront restaurant offers a fantastic selection of Alaskan seafood, including fresh Dungeness crab and halibut. Enjoy your meal with stunning views of the harbour.
  1. The Alaska Crepery – A great spot to grab a quick bite, offering savoury and sweet crepes, some of which include local seafood.
  2. Dungeness Dockside – A seafood market and café that specializes in Dungeness crab dishes, as well as other Alaskan seafood delights.
  3. Bar Harbor Restaurant – A classic Alaskan seafood restaurant with a cosy ambience. Their seafood platters and chowders are highly recommended.
  4. Cape Fox Lodge – For a more upscale dining experience, Cape Fox Lodge offers fine dining with a focus on Alaskan cuisine and fresh seafood.  with its Oceanview Restaurant – this restaurant provides breathtaking views of the Tongass Narrows while you enjoy your seafood meal.
  5. KetchiCandies – While primarily known for their chocolates and candies, they also offer delicious crab bisque and other seafood delights.
  6. The Landing Restaurant & Bar – Located on historic Creek Street, this restaurant serves up Alaskan seafood classics and offers a great place to relax with a drink.
  7. Pioneer Café – A charming café that features fresh seafood and other comfort foods. Try their salmon burgers for a local treat.
Ketchikan’s dining scene celebrates the abundance of fresh seafood from its waters, making it a haven for seafood lovers. Whether you prefer a casual seafood shack or a more refined dining experience, Ketchikan has something to suit every palate. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in the local flavours, especially the delightful Dungeness crab!
For more information on Ketchikan get your full Port Guide here Visiting Ketchikan, Alaska – Get your Guide.

Points of Interest in Ketchikan on a Budget:

Insider Secret – Take the Cape Fox tramway up to Cape Fox and one of the most beautiful views of Ketchikan.  Depending on the weather, the tram runs every day from the Lodge to Creek Street below and back again. The team is located on the first floor in the main Lodge lobby. Simply push the button and your chariot awaits.
  • Saxman Native Village: Immerse yourself in Native Alaskan culture and witness traditional dance performances and intricately carved totem poles.
  • Deer Mountain Trail: If you’re up for a challenging hike, the Deer Mountain Trail rewards you with breathtaking views of Ketchikan and its surrounding islands.
  • Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary: Explore the lush rainforest and spot native wildlife on guided walking tours through this beautiful sanctuary.

Skagway: Where History Meets Nature

The final destination of our Alaskan adventure is Skagway, a town immersed in history and surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.  Walking around Skagway is a destination it’s self this old gold mining town has so much history.  Visit The Gold Rush Cemetary where all the outlaws are buried The Gold Rush Cemetery at Skagway, Alaska (explorenorth.com)

Getting Around Skagway

Skagway is a relatively small town, making it easy to explore on foot.  Here is the Port Guide to Skagway.  Visiting Skagway, Alaska – Get your Guide.
Insider Secret:  If you’d like a convenient option, the Skagway Municipal and Regional Transit (SMART) bus offers a free shuttle service around the town.  Here is the link Skagway Municipal and Regional Transit SMART bus

Free Hiking Adventures in Skagway

For nature enthusiasts, Skagway presents an opportunity to take a budget-friendly and affordable short hike to Lower Dewey Lake. The trail offers mesmerizing views of the surrounding wilderness. If you’re up for a more challenging hike, consider the Upper Dewey Lake Trail, but ensure you have ample time to return to your ship.  Do plan your day accordingly and make sure you have plenty of time to hike up and back down again before your ship sets sail.  It is extremely rewarding even just the hike to Lower Dewey the entrance to the trailhead is on the FREE walking map 

White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad starting in Skagway

Step back in time as you board the historic White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. This narrow-gauge railway takes you on a scenic journey through the rugged landscapes, following the path of gold rush stampeders from the late 1800s. It’s an unforgettable ride through history.

Skagway Alaska Eating and Drinking Tips: 

Skagway may be a small town, but it offers a variety of dining options that showcase local flavours and traditional dishes. Here are some fantastic places to eat and drink in Skagway:
  1. Skagway Brewing Company – A popular spot to enjoy local craft beers and delicious pub fare. Try their reindeer sausage and other Alaskan-inspired dishes while savouring their unique brews.
  2. Glacier Smoothie Soaps & Deli – This charming deli serves up delightful sandwiches and smoothies, making it a great spot for a quick and tasty meal.
  3. Red Onion Saloon – A historic establishment that offers a taste of Skagway’s past. Enjoy traditional dishes like reindeer sausage and sourdough pancakes while soaking in the town’s rich history.
  4. Skagway Fish Company – A waterfront restaurant known for its fresh seafood, including Alaskan king crab legs and halibut. The views from the deck make dining here even more enjoyable.
  5. Prospector Restaurant – A family-friendly restaurant that serves delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. Don’t miss their reindeer sausage breakfast skillet.
  6. Bonanza Bar and Grill – This restaurant offers a diverse menu, including traditional Alaskan dishes and a range of comfort food favourites.
  7. Skagway Spirits Distillery – If you’re looking for a unique drinking experience, visit Skagway Spirits to sample their handcrafted spirits, including locally-inspired infusions.
  8. The Skagway Fish Market – A casual spot for a delicious seafood lunch, offering fish and chips and other seafood delights.
  9. Alaska Excursions – While primarily a tour company, they also offer a delicious salmon bake experience for visitors, showcasing the flavours of Alaska.
Skagway’s culinary offerings provide a delightful blend of local flavours and traditional Alaskan dishes. Don’t miss the opportunity to try reindeer sausage and sourdough-based treats, which are both a nod to the region’s history and a delicious culinary experience. Enjoy exploring Skagway’s dining scene while taking in the town’s unique charm!

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