Known for its magnificent scenery and frontier history, Juneau is an outdoor lover's dream city. With a multicultural population and cosmopolitan culture, there's also plenty to see in the city itself. Juneau offers magnificent vistas as well as quaint shopping streets.
Despite its status as a state capital, Juneau is located right next to some fantastic natural sites, including the Mendenhall Glacier. In few other places can you stand on a glacier by day and visit microbreweries by night. Many visitors use the city as a launching point for Alaskan road trips and adventures of all kinds.
Juneau offers something for every type of traveler. What side of the city will you explore?
Many travelers come to Juneau because of its location. The city of about 30,000 people is spread out over an area bigger than Delaware, with plenty of forested land to explore.
Visitors enjoy Juneau for its textile scene, which includes both native and cosmopolitan folk traditions. Juneau is home to a funky culture and proud of it.
As a state capital and former frontier outpost, Juneau is home to some interesting sites, including the oldest continuously operating church in southeast Alaska. The Alaska State Capitol is also worth a visit.
This huge 1.5-mile wide glacier is located just 13 miles north of the city's downtown. It offers plenty of striking photo opportunities as it calves into a lake.
Much of America's fish comes from or through Alaska at some point, so if you're in Juneau, you're at the source. From crab legs to sushi, there's nothing quite like it. Restaurants throughout town sell a wide variety of seafood dishes, and a number of seafood shops cater to locals and guests alike.
The most popular excursion from Alaska's capital takes visitors to this spectacular glacier north of the city. From the Juneau Ice Field to Mendenhall Lake, this monolithic river of ice makes its way through the valley. Awe-inspiring views from the Visitor Center are just the beginning - after learning about the geological formation from exhibitions and films, try out the hiking trails that lead tourists to incomparable lookout points. Keep an eye out for wildlife too, from salmon to bears!
South of Juneau, natural wonders continue at the stunning Tracy Arm fjord. On a cruise across the otherworldly waters, you come face to face with the many creatures that eke out an existence in the icy climate. Look for seals and whales in the water, for bears and mountain goats on shore, and for the rare but quintessentially American bald eagle in the sky. Your boat will navigate between icebergs of gargantuan proportions, all beneath the unbelievable cliffs that tower, up to a mile high, on each side of the narrow strait.
A rich diversity of flora is found around Juneau, enriching the lives of locals and tourists alike. At these gardens, which overlook the city, the spectacular conglomeration of vegetation in Tongass National Forest is compressed into one wonderland for the senses. Learn about the challenges of plant cultivation in the far north of the earth, and marvel at the resilience of species that have conquered the environment. Innovative "Flower Towers" are unforgettable elements.
America's 49th state is home to one of the country's most recent capitol buildings, and its design is more modest than its Neo-classical predecessors. Paintings, carvings and statues scattered throughout the interior highlight Alaska's local culture and principal sources of income - from oil drilling to fishing to hunting and trapping. Meanwhile, tour guides regale visitors with tales of the state's inauguration and subsequent history as groups take in the humble sincerity of these political halls.
With glaciers and fjords beckoning in every direction, taking a day trip into the Alaskan wilderness is practically compulsory for all visitors to Juneau. Cruising along the endless coastline of Glacier Bay National Park is unforgettable. Boats float slowly through icy waters as you become immersed in the otherworldly landscape of snow-peaked mountains, ever-changing glaciers, unpredictable rainforests and dynamic marine life. Come face to face with wildlife in this remote park as you take it all in.
Unless your a fan of the cold, summer is the best time to visit. In July, the average high is 65 degrees Fahrenheit, so nights can be chilly. Additionally, Juneau is located in a temperate rainforest, so you should expect rain all year round. Good outdoor gear, at the very least a waterproof jacket, is essential if you are to enjoy your visit.
Many travelers fly to Juneau International Airport (JNU), which is located eight miles northwest of town. Domestic flights from Anchorage and Seattle, as well as international flights from Russian destinations bring in visitors from all over. Once at the airport, travelers are advised to either take one of the many airport buses into town for $2, or to rent a car for further sightseeing opportunities.
Juneau is also the only state capital that cannot be arrived at by car. However, if you do choose to drive on the beautiful Alaska Highway, you can get close enough to the city to take a ferry into town. Alaska Marine Highway System Ferry prices vary significantly based on the departure point, but average around $500 for a 15-foot vehicle, one way. Once in town, Juneau is easy to drive in, as the small population makes for little traffic.
Juneau has a wide variety of hotels, ranging from the Juneau International Hostel to the Beachside Villa Luxury Inn. Most of the hotels are located in the downtown area. Guests also have the option of camping near town at the Mendenhall Campground if they wish.
Downtown - Juneau is extremely spread out, but downtown is highly walkable. This area is packed with great restaurants and unique shops, as well as the state capitol building.
The Valley - The Valley is home to the Mendenhall Glacier, a mall, and a skate park. This more residential area is where most of the locals live.
North Douglas - North Douglas is a bit remote, but well worth the trek. The neighborhood comprises the northern half of Douglas Island, with stunning views of the bay and the coastline as a result.
Juneau has a well-run public bus system known as Capital Transit. The system covers both downtown and the Mendenhall Valley. Fares are $2.00 for a one-way ticket.
Juneau does have taxis, despite its small size. Rates are set by the City of Juneau and include a $3.40 pick-up fee and then run $2.20 per mile. If you are traveling with a large group, this will often be more economical than taking a bus around town.
Car rentals are highly recommended for visitors hoping to get out of town and explore the surrounding area. Car rentals run about $90 per day for an economy option, and Avis and Europcar can be found in town.
Juneau's shopping area is concentrated in the downtown region. There, expect to find stores with local handicrafts and quirky gifts. Additionally, the Mendenhall Mall is located in the Valley. Necessities can be purchased at one of several department stores, which carry outdoor clothing for under-prepared visitors.
Rainbow Foods is a natural food store popular with locals, although it is expensive. Juneau also has a Costco, a Walmart, and a Safeway, along with some local markets. A pound of apples can be purchased for about $2.50, and a loaf of bread runs just under $5 at most Juneau grocers.
Juneau has its share of local restaurants, with flavors from around the world making their way into the scene. Coppa is known for homemade ice cream, the Silverbow Bakery for its bagels, and the Island Pub for its channel views. Also popular is Thai food at the Suwanna Cafe. Locals also love Pel'meni, which serves authentic Russian dumplings into the late night hours. A three-course meal for two in town will run you $75.