I really enjoyed the Salmon Bake. If you can pull yourself away from the dining area (featuring salmon in a delicious brown sugar glaze) take a short hike back into the woods toward the waterfall. They have panning equipment back there, so you can try to strike it rich on your own. Good luck! The pictures I took at the waterfall are some of my favorites from the whole trip.
Take the glacier tour and salmon bake. I did a gold panning and salmon bake tour a few years ago. Gold panning is a joke. They take you to a wooded area with a stream and give you boots and a pan. After 5 minutes of this nonsence, we left and just waited for lunch. Along with most of the other people. This was the best, freshest, salmon I ever ate. And Mendenhall Glacier is far better than standing in a stream.
I did the Historic Gold Mine Tour and loved it. Keep in mind I live in an area that was once big in mining. Some of the equipment that was in the museum was made at a company that was once in our area but closed when mining slowed down. If you are not wanting to learn about mining, this tour may not be for you. You do pan for gold in the end but the high light of the tour is going into the entrances of the mines and seeing the equipment and how it was used. I did talk to people who did the Salmon Bake and enjoyed it. Honestly, this was the first cruise that I didn't hear anyone complain about a shore trip.
We took the Mendenhall Glacier & Salmon Bake combo tour. The one we took only allowed you an hour at the Glacier, which was about an hour too short. There's a walk you can take to a big waterfall at the glacier where you end up very close to the glacier front. If you do that you don't have time to look around the museum or one of the few gift shops you'll see on your Alaskan trip. Hahahaha! That last part was in jest. You'll see more gift shops on your trip than you thought existed.