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The city of Juneau, Alaska is a very special place. You have the capital of the state, a city of around 30,000, tucked away and isolated from the rest of the world by both the ocean and the Juneau Icefield, and just a few miles outside of the city limits is unparalleled Alaskan wilderness, just waiting to be explored.
As you may or may not have known, Alaska is one of ten states where marijuana is legal for recreational use to those over 21 years of age. The city of Juneau has five dispensaries to load up at, and while the selection of marijuana products is nowhere near that of places in Colorado or California, they do have good flower and decent edibles, which is all I really care about anyway. Being allowed to indulge, combined with the access to already mind blowing activities like hiking and whale watching, you’re sure to have a great trip.
Juneau has some of the biggest glaciers found at this latitude and elevation. The Mendenhall is probably the most famous and is the easiest to get to. You can literally just drive up to the visitor's center and walk down to the beach to wade around in glacial runoff. And who knows? Maybe if you’re lucky you’ll be able to witness the glacier calving. The Taku is the only growing glacier in a temperate rainforest in the world and is available to visit by float plane.
Juneau, and southeast Alaska in general, is a great place to hang out if you like a good brew. You’ve probably seen Alaskan Brewing Company beers in stores or at your local bar, and Juneau is where this nationally available brand calls home. However, they aren’t the only place in town worth visiting. Devils Club Brewing is an equally good brewery that tends to carry stranger beers than ABC does. For example, the last time I visited they had a Coconut Lemongrass beer on tap. I was hesitant, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the most refreshing thing I’d had all week.
Beer isn’t your thing? Like something stronger? Juneau also has the Amalga Distillery, a gin distillery that specializes in cocktails and will be producing whiskey come 2020.
World Class Hiking
The hiking and opportunities in the outdoors are almost endless in Juneau. Like I mentioned before, Juneau is sandwiched between the ocean and the Coastal range, which is home to the Juneau Icefield, a collection of glaciers nestled in the mountains. The cool thing about Juneau is that you can take a bus from downtown to a trail head and feel like you’re in the middle of untouched, Alaskan wilderness just a few minutes into your adventure. You can take some of the more traveled routes, such as the West Glacier Trail, which takes you right to the toe of the Mendenhall. Or you could go to places less traveled, like Heintzleman's Ridge.
Opportunities to See Marine Life
Southeast Alaska has some of the most accessible marine viewing of any place on Earth. Sure, you could take a whale watching tour and see a few out in the distance. But if you’re a bit more adventurous, booking a kayaking trip is the way to go. I’ve personally seen whales breach 500 feet away from me and had otters come up to my kayak in Gustavus, as well as have had the opportunity to meet a pod of dolphins while swimming in Auke Bay. If you ever have the opportunity to come to Juneau during salmon season, there are also ample opportunities to view the salmon run, which is when salmon return to the rivers they were born in by swimming upstream, which is also a great time to see black bears feeding.