A Week In Alaska
God’s majesty and creativity are so amplified in Alaska. It’s a place for ocean and mountain lovers, and everything in between. I think I was saying “wow” or “look at that” the entire time we were there. It is such a beautifully, rugged place. We visited with Jacob’s grandfather, who used to live in Alaska, and some more of our family members. We kept busy the entire time and had a lot of memorable experiences. So here is what we did on a daily basis, along with how we attempted to eat healthy meals, if you’re interested in visiting this area of the world!
We landed in Juneau on August 4. Flying in was stunning. We flew over massive glaciers and west coast islands, with dark greens and blues vibrantly boasting the beauty of Alaska. We dropped off our stuff at our hotel, the Four Points by Sheraton, and then went to dinner at Hanger On The Wharf. This place had a lot of gluten free and vegetarian options, with of course, amazing fish. The halibut fish tacos and sweet potato fries were great, as well as the unique salads. There were even gluten free buns. I highly recommend this restaurant because of their large menu and options to accommodate for food allergies. Later that afternoon, we went to Mendenhall Glacier, only 12 miles outside of Juneau. This is a beautiful spot to view the glacier with a few hiking trails around it as well.
We woke up to the beautiful view of Gastineau channel and a few large cruise boats. So, we left our hotel at about 8 a.m. to beat the cruise crowds to breakfast. First, we got coffee and matcha(!) at 60 Degree Coffee and Tea. This rustic, modern coffee shop had dairy free milk options, CBD oil, Alaskan chaga, and other healthy add-ins to have an energized start to a travel day. This was by far the best coffee shop we found in Juneau. The shop is focused around their locally sourced Alaskan chaga – full of antioxidants and other great health benefits – that can be added to any drink. We went there a couple nights to get warm chaga tea, and both Jacob and I thought it helped our digestive systems after having some greasy foods during the day. For breakfast, we went to The Rookery Cafe. There wasn’t much for gluten free, but we were able to eat eggs, bacon, ham, potato, and avocado breakfast bowls. This was the healthiest breakfast place we found in Juneau, with a lot of fresh, whole food ingredients. They also serve coffee and chai, as well as local Alaska Probiotic Kombucha on tap. We tried Strawberry Spruce Tip Kombucha and it was so good! You’ll notice that the “spruce tip” flavor is everywhere if you go to Alaska!
Later, we walked around downtown Juneau and there were so many fun shops and historic buildings. There were the usual tourist shops, but there were also a lot of locally made, high quality goods being sold. The cruise crowds were not bad at all that day, and we were able to explore most of the downtown area in a couple of hours. We ate lunch at Tracy’s Crab Shack, located downtown as well. We ordered a 5lb bucket of crab legs for our whole group and it was so fresh and tasty. You can watch them pull the crabs out of big buckets and take the legs apart to prep them. It is a really fun atmosphere with a beautiful view.
The best part of this day was going on an excursion through Wing's Airways to the historic Taku Glacier Lodge. This felt like an authentic Alaskan experience because it includes flying over 9 glaciers, hiking on some beautiful trails, and having a hearty dinner of freshly caught salmon. The staff members also tell you the lodge's history while you eat. This is a popular cruise boat excursion, but arriving at the lodge, there are plenty of hiking areas and room for everyone to eat dinner in the lodge.
We had an amazing opportunity to take a helicopter ride with NorthStar Trekking where we landed on Mount Jumbo that was full of deep green plants and an incredible view of the surrounding mountains. Next we landed on Norris Glacier. Landing directly on the glacier let us see the bright, royal blue close up. It was so blue, the pictures below don’t even do it justice. This is also a popular cruise boat excursion, so it's best to book this one ahead of time if you hope to do it.
When we got back, we had brunch at the Sandpiper Café. We ordered big omelets, hash browns, and gluten free toast here – there were little other healthy options. This restaurant is the most recommended in Juneau by the locals, but definitely not the freshest/healthiest option. Afterwards we rented some fishing poles from Chum Fun, a sweet family-owned business, and fished down by a river. We didn’t have any luck by the river, but we did catch a few salmon on a large dock next to the Fish Hatchery in Juneau. Visiting the inside of the Fish hatchery was also a fun experience because you see hundreds of grown salmon making their way back to where they were born and it’s fascinating to learn about the process. That night, we had gluten free pizza at Pizzeria Roma in downtown Juneau. They had a wide variety of topping options (even halibut!) and great gluten free crust.
We visited Sitka (the town from "The Proposal," so naturally, we watched that movie the night before) and went straight to The Dock Shack Bar and Grill for lunch where our group unanimously voted it's crab legs the best we'd ever had. Then, we went to the Fortress of the Bear, an orphaned grizzly bear sanctuary. This is only about 10 minutes outside of downtown Sitka, and it is definitely a sweet experience to see a few huge grizzly bears up close! After that, we went to the nearby Alaska Raptor Center where rescued bald eagles are cared for. Both of these are definitely worth visiting! After, we walked around downtown Sitka awhile. It is a very quaint town with a fun mix of tourist shops and historic buildings. We did not end up ordering anything at this cafe, but for a healthy meal or smoothie, I recommend visiting North Sisiter Juice and Crepe Co. in Sitka.
We went to Skagway and hopped on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway that is over 100 years old. It was a fun experience, but we were unable to see most of the usual views because of the heavy fog and rain. If you come on a clearer day, I highly recommend this outing! Skagway had an amazing Thai restaurant, Starfire, but a few of their dishes surprisingly have gluten, so definitely double check if you are gluten free and visit this restaurant. I had the red curry and it was amazing. All of us agreed that the dishes were very fresh and flavorful. After leaving Skagway, we went to Glacier Bay Lodge, near Gustavus, Alaska, to stay for the next 3 nights. The lodge had great food and options to customize dishes for any allergy. I highly recommend staying at this lodge because of how comfortable and unique each unit was. They are all outside, about 3 or 4 rooms in each cabin row, connected by a wood bridge system. You feel like you are sleeping in the woods, but comfortably. One night, one of our family members couldn’t get to their room because a bear was in front of their door – so it was an authentic Alaskan experience!
We woke up early, yet again, to get on a boat tour of the surrounding glaciers and islands. It was rainy and cold for the first few hours, but then it cleared up right as we arrived at the Margerie Glacier. This glacier was stunning and SO worth the long boat ride! We saw orca whales – at least 6 different ones, as well as puffins, sea lions, otters, a bear, the tail of a humpback whale, and a lot of seals! It was a long ride – from 8:00am to 3:30pm, but I highly recommend going on the tour if you’re ever in the Glacier Bay area! We did pack our own lunches and granola bars for this day though because the food offered on the boat was not allergy accommodating.
This day was our long fishing day – highly anticipated by Jacob. I was actually looking forward to it as well because I've never had much success catching fish growing up in Minnesota (mainly because I get bored easily), so I was hopeful that I might catch something interesting on my first guided fishing outing. And it turned out I did! All 6 of us caught halibut that we were able to take home with us frozen and eat later. Halibut tastes amazing and is full of nutrients like essential fatty acids. We ate halibut 3 nights in a row at the lodge for dinner. You can never get enough fresh fish in Alaska!
General Tips for Traveling in Southern Alaska:
- Be prepared for a lot of rain and chilly weather, even in the summer. *Fun fact: This part of Alaska is classified as a rainforest!
- We traveled here the first week of August, and it was about 60 degrees most of the week with clouds and rain throughout each day. We wore raincoats most days. I packed shorts, but ended wearing long pants everyday.
General Tips for Healthy Traveling:
- Call ahead to find out if restaurants will accommodate your allergy. A lot of restaurants in Alaska don't have very informative websites, so talking to a staff member is often the most efficient way to figure out where to eat.
- I personally packed 3 pre-made Wraps (from Thrive Market), filled with spinach, olives, pesto, and cashew cheese, when i wanted a healthier lunch option during the week. We also brought a loaf of gluten free bread to make sandwiches when needed.
- I recommend packing about 10-15 granola bars (especially if you have food sensitivities and cannot eat at a lot of restaurants) when you don't make time for breakfast and/or need a healthy snack during the day. Some of my favorite brands of bars are Lara Bar, Epic, Redd, Pure Organic, and Thunderbird (my favorite).
- I also brought some to-go packs of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, Cordyceps and Reishi, Nuun Immune Tablets, and Green Superfood Tablets, all for boosting immunity and nutrient intake when lacking fresh vegetables and fruits at meals (which happened quite often in Alaska). However, I probably didn't need all of these. If I were to recommend two of them, I would recommend bringing the immune tablets and green superfood tablets, but bring whatever you know would benefit your body the most- everyone has different needs when traveling!
- For anyone traveling with leaky gut or other digestive issues, I recommend taking one digestive enzyme and probiotic with each meal, or whenever you eat something that you are unsure about.
- All of this may seem a little excessive, but with all of those extra precautions, my overall digestion and energy levels on the trip were a lot better than when I have traveled without those things in the past :)
If you have any questions about traveling to Southern Alaska, or healthy traveling in general, please don't hesitate to ask!
Thanks for reading!