FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
WF awards

Family-Friendly Fun in Juneau

by Rina Nehdar

Nov 18, 2019

Rina Nehdar

Destinations / North America

Family in Juneau, Alaska. Photo: Rina Nehdar

 

There are 190 miles of roads compared to 250 miles of hiking trails within Juneau. There is more wildlife than people, says the visitor website. So there is more to do than time to do it. The most Alaskan thing we did during our visit was our seaplane ride with Wings Airways to Taku Glacier Lodge. If you’re only going to do one thing, this is the thing to do.

Family in Juneau, Alaska. Photo: Rina Nehdar

Although I love flying, I got a little nervous when we got into the small plane and even more so when the captain offered one of my sons the co-pilot’s seat upfront. But it was the softest landing and take-off I’ve ever experienced and the visuals from our windows rivaled those in documentaries.

 

We flew over the Juneau Icefield, the fifth-largest in North America and the birthplace of 38 major glaciers, including Mendenhall Glacier. Outside our window, rivers of blue and white ice snaked their way between white-peaked mountains. Emerald lakes, cloudy with silt, and hills split by snow moved slowly past.

 

Everyone had their own private viewing area and a pair of headphones narrated the entire journey as it was too loud inside for anyone to talk. We landed on Taku River and walked up to the log lodge. After getting the lowdown about our three-hour visit, we walked on a trail through Old Growth Forest to see contortionist trees, some with mushroom-like growths and others with what looked like moss-covered animal heads growing out of their trunks.

Photo: Rina Nehdar

 

The rainforest vibrated with life as we hiked the easy trail by Taku Glacier, a tidewater glacier that spilled into the green strip of water. Our guide told us to always be on the lookout for bears and everywhere we went during our visit to Alaska, the person in charge always carried bear spray. We didn’t see a bear, though, until lunch. The smell of barbequing salmon brought out a hungry black bear. Even though this could be an anxiety-provoking situation, we didn’t feel threatened and calmly viewed the bear as it gazed longingly at the cooking fish. Eventually, the cook retreated with the stick he had earlier shown our visitor and the bear ambled toward the pit to clean up the fish remains.

 

Family in Juneau, Alaska.

Photo: Rina Nehdar

 

After this, I really wanted the boys to see the dog mushing camps and drive a dog sled. These dogs compete in races like the Iditarod across thousands of miles of snow and ice. This is a popular tourist activity and I didn’t plan ahead, however Kris, from Keli’s Concierge and Tours, managed to find us four spots in the Sled Dog Discovery Tour through Alaska Excursions. The musher summer camp is located on nearby Douglas Island and the guests get to train the dogs by letting them pull the wheeled sleds. The best part was playing with the pups afterwards and knowing we were supporting this dedicated community.

 

Dog Sled Tour. Photo: Rina Nehdar

Meanwhile, back in Juneau, on our last day, we took a cab to the trailhead of the Mount Roberts Trail. It’s two miles up, on a switch-back dirt path, with occasional wood steps to make the climb easier, that leads to Mountain House. Someone told us it would take about a half hour. They lied. About two hours later, we ascended to vivid totem poles marking the entrance of the cultural center and the tramway. If you spend more than $10 in the restaurant, Timberline Bar & Grill or gift shop, you can take the tram down for free. There is a free talk and a short movie, held regularly in the Chilkat Theater, that teaches about the Tlingit tribe. The talk tells the story of Tlingit Chief Kowee, chief of one of three indigenous tribes that lived in the area when, in 1880, he led two Western prospectors, Richard Harris and Joe Juneau, to the mouth of Gold Creek and the first gold strike in Alaska. We didn’t hear much about the other two tribes, the Haida and the Tsimshian, during our visit. I’m sure it had something to do with the gold thing.

 

Fun fact: Originally called Harrisburg, legend has it the night before the vote to decide whether the town should keep the name or change it to Juneau, Joe Juneau bought rounds of drinks, maybe at the Red Dog Saloon.

 

Family hike in Juneau, Alaska. Photo: Rina Nehdar

 

We didn’t get a chance to do it, but you can even hike to Mendenhall Glacier. It’s only 12 miles outside of Juneau.

 

Shopping

Although the town is filled with shops that have unique items and others with things your kids will love, there are places like the Sealaska Heritage Store that sell the surprisingly affordable art of the three Northwest Alaska tribes to help support their sustainability. The beauty of the land inspired the Tlingits, some of the most prolific artists in Native American history. Also, don’t miss Trickster Company, a shop run by local artists dedicated to the Coastal Northwestern myth of Raven who brought light to the world through his trickery.

 

Finally, the city just renovated the Alaska State Museum which includes a gift shop. The museum is not big but it’s graceful and artistic with warm sections of wood walls, large display cases and a composite of materials that represent a walk through Juneau history. There’s even a giant ship for kids to climb in the center play area. Here, the story of the land, after all the shaking and moving, is represented by the possessions and writing of the people that left it. It’s a great place to start or end your journey through Juneau.

 

Family in Juneau, Alaska. Photo: Rina Nehdar

#WhereverFamily

Insta Feed
Travel Tips
Sep 17, 2020

What to Explore at the Please Touch Museum in 2021

Most museums tend to be boring for children — they have to be quiet, they may not be interested in the exhibits and they can’t touch anything. At the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, kids are encouraged to run around, play and have fun while learning. The beloved museum will safely reopen in 2021 for kids and families to run, play and touch exhibits as they used to, and now is a great time to plan a visit next year.

Travel Tips
Sep 11, 2020

Binge-Worthy Treats to Not Feel (Too) Bad About

In times of stress, boredom and even enjoyment, some of us find ourselves reaching for a treat or two — or a dozen. When you need the crunch or sweetness of a snack, but not all the guilt and remorse to follow, registered dietician Lisa Moskovitz, founder and CEO, New York Nutrition Group, recommends these not-so-bad snacks — they’re also great in kids’ lunches or as after-school snacks!

Travel Tips
Sep 10, 2020

Last-Minute Summer Daytrips from Pennsylvania

With summer coming to an end and schools restarting, don’t let the end of your summer go to waste. Make the most out of it and embark on one of these perfect daytrips from Pennsylvania.

A New Outdoor Bonding Experience

With technology advancing faster than ever, children globally are becoming attached to devices. Adults too. Our Netflix queue and ever-expanding inbox call our names even when we’re on vacation. We carry distractions with us everywhere, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with your loved ones.

Listicles
Sep 8, 2020

Back to School — or Back to Reality — Gifts for Active Travelers

Whether the young adults or young professionals in your life are heading back to school, the office or some new version of normal, sending them off with something thoughtful is always in style. Check this list for something your loved one (or yourself) can use to ease out of the house with style.