For raw beauty, Juneau is hard to beat. In addition to the waterways of the area, and the lush rain forests on the surrounding mountain sides, there are high mountain lakes and the 1,500 square-mile Juneau ice fields. You will also find the sprawling mountain range between Juneau and Canada, some 25 miles to the east.
Juneau isn’t a place for sightseers alone; excellent gift shops, theatres, musical events and plays can all be found here. Juneau has no shortage of bars and restaurants, including the famous Red Dog Saloon. Juneau is also famous for Mendenhall Glacier, a “drive to” glacier that sprawls between mountains for some 13 miles before showing its ice face across Mendenhall Lake.

Juneau is a jumping-off place for trips to many nearby attractions: Famed Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is but a 30 minute flight, Admiralty Island is within sight of Auke Bay, and a number of Forest Service cabins are close to Juneau. There are several Native villages nearby that are served by daily air service.

When all is said and done, however, it is likely to be Juneau’s first impression that will be the most lasting—a picture book community nestled along the base of the mountains with winding streets, totem poles, brightly painted store fronts, and more than 32,000 friendly people who wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world!

Travel Juneau operates four info centers at Juneau International airport, the ferry terminal, cruise ship terminal and an Information kiosk downtown, beside the public library on Marine Way. Travel Juneau is operated by the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau.907-586-2201 or 888-581-2201
www.traveljuneau.com

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center is 13 miles from downtown. Has an excellent short video and great information about the Glacier and surrounding National Forest. 907-789-0097

Juneau was incorporated on October 4, 1880, not too long after Chief Kowee led prospectors Joe Juneau and Richard Harris to what seemed to be a very promising streak of gold in nearby Gold Creek. The promise was fulfilled as  that strike and others in the general area eventually turned out more than $150 million in gold. And that was when the price of gold was $30 an ounce.

Although Juneau was founded on gold, government began its takeover in 1906 when the state capital was moved from Sitka. By the time the last gold mine closed during World War II, it had taken over as the mainstay of the economy.  Today it is estimated that 75 per cent of Juneau’s economic base can be directly traced to government—city/borough, state, and federal.

But gold is not forgotten and those who visit Juneau today still gaze in awe at the remains of the old A-J mine complex on the flanks of Mt. Roberts near the edge of the downtown area. The A-J mine operated until 1944 when rising prices and a pegged price of gold made the mine fail. The Treadwell Mine, which was on Gastineau Channel in Douglas—across from downtown  Juneau—closed in 1917 after the under-channel mine tunnels flooded and collapsed.

Best Places to Stay in Juneau Alaska

Driftwood Hotel Juneau

Driftwood Hotel has 62 rooms that are spacious, clean, comfortable and all recently upgraded. New linens, flat screen TV’s, and Wi-fi in each room. Located right in historic downtown Juneau.

Frontier Suites

Frontier Suites are one of the most popular hotels in Juneau near the Airport. It is also close to the Mendenhall Glacier. Luxury accommodations, full kitchens, high-speed Internet & TV.

Juneau Hotel

Juneau Hotel is next to the Douglas Bridge, the State Capitol, and near downtown Juneau. All suites feature a full bath & complete kitchen, washer & dryer, high-speed Internet & TV.

The Juneau International Hostel

The Juneau International Hostel is four blocks from the Capitol Building and provides inexpensive accommodations for travelers and groups. All ages are welcome. Showers, laundry, and cooking facilities are available.

Juneau Campgrounds

Glacier Nalu RV Park

A beautiful property surrounded by spruce trees and natural wetland vegetation. Full service RV sites, deluxe camping sites with gazebos & tenting sites. RV sites have 30-amps, cable TV and free Wi-fi. Clean restrooms and showers. Located 3.7 miles from the ferry terminal, 4 miles to Mendenhall Glacier and 14 miles to downtown Juneau.

Mendenhall Lake Campground

Mendenhall Lake Campground operated by the US Forest Service is on Mendenhall Lake, approximately 13 miles from downtown Juneau. This campground has great views of Mendenhall Glacier. 69 campsites, water, and toilets 9 sites with full service.

U.S. Forest Service Cabins

There are 11 wilderness cabins managed by the USFS and Alaska State Parks. For USFS cabin reservations, call 877-444-6777 and for State Park cabins call 907-465-4563 or stop by 400 Willoughby Ave. All cabins require a fee for overnight stays.

 

Best Things to Do in Juneau Alaska

Goldbelt Tram

The adventure begins at the cruise ship dock in downtown Juneau where you board Southeast Alaska’s only aerial tramway. Adorned in traditional Tlingit artwork, the tram takes you on an exhilarating ride above the Southeast Alaska rainforest to the 1800 foot level of Mount Roberts. At the top is Shaa Hít, the Mountain House, which offers up fantastic views of Alaska’s picturesque capital city. It is nestled among towering Sitka Spruce trees on the edge of the grasses and wildflowers of the sub alpine meadow.

There are numerous activities to enjoy at the top of the Goldbelt Tram, including: Goldbelt Tram Gifts, Dining at the Timberline Restaurant, hiking the scenic trails or stopping by the Juneau Raptor Center display to see an education eagle up close. You can also get immersed in Alaska Native Culture by visiting the Chilkat Theater and watching the award winning film, Seeing Daylight.

Allen Marine Tours – Tracy Arm Fjord

Travel by jetboat to explore the Tracy Arm-Ford’s Terror Wilderness Area, which includes exciting close-up views of the Sawyer or Dawes glaciers. Relax in a warm, spacious cabin as your captain guides you through scenic passages that had, until recently, been buried for centuries by glacial ice. An onboard naturalist provides a wealth of information about the area and frequently encountered wildlife seen on the trip. The Tracy Arm – Terror Wilderness area is part of the Tongass National Forest, the largest, intact coastal rainforest in America.

AJ Mine Gastineau Mill Tour

Venture underground to relive Juneau’s mining heritage in what was once the world’s largest gold producing mill. Visitors can pan for gold and garnets, wander among the displays and see the first locomotive brought to Alaska. Pay dirt is guaranteed and you keep what you find. The AJ Mine/Gastineau Mill Mine Tour has been featured on Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin, Dragonfly, Jack Hanna and many local productions.

Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure

Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure is an exquisitely landscaped Alaskan botanical garden. They feature fallen trees, which are turned upside-down, stuck into the ground trunk first, then planted with flowers that bloom in colorful cascades. Reader’s Digest featured the Upside-Down Flower Towers at Glacier Gardens as the Most Interesting Landmark in America in 2012. A café, gift shop, and wildlife viewing area are located in the Garden Atrium.

Mendenhall Glacier

This world-famous Mendenhall Glacier is 13 miles northwest of Downtown Juneau. It is part of the 1500 square mile Juneau Ice field that stretches Into Canada. Mendenhall Glacier is one of the most visited attractions in Alaska. There is a Forest Service Visitor Center that features daily interpretive talks and information, video programs, nature walks and trail hikes.

Mendenhall Glacier float trip

Get ready for an exciting and safe rafting experience. Alaska Travel Adventures operates this exceptional rafting trip that begins with a guided tour up Mendenhall Valley to near the face of the famous glacier. You will set off through an iceberg-dotted lake to the Mendenhall river, and let the excitement begin!

Mendenhall Lake Canoe Adventure

This is a unique opportunity to paddle an exact replica of a traditional Tlingit Canoe. Hop aboard the beautiful reconstructed Tlingit canoe and make your way to a safe distance from the face of the Mendenhall Glacier. Very few travelers have been able to experience the thrill of being this close to an active glacier. You will have lots of opportunities to see the many species of wildlife of the area.

Alaska State Libraries Archives & Museum

Alaska State Museum was established in 1900 to collect, preserve and exhibit objects from the territory of Alaska. It exhibits over 15,000 objects and artifacts of major Alaskan ethnic cultures: Eskimo, Aleut, Tlingit, Haida and Athabascan. The Museum is housed in the Andrew P. Kashevaroff Building at 395 Whittier St..

Sealaska Heritage

Sealaska Heritage is your doorway into authentic Southeast Alaskan art and culture. Walk through Juneau’s only traditional clan house, listen to an audio play of an ancient Native story or Interact with working artists. Explore the exhibit gallery and browse thoughtfully selected gifts in the Sealaska Heritage Store. It’s all housed in the iconic Walter Soboleff Building, a work of art in its own right that features dramatic traditional and contemporary artwork representing Northwest Coast tribes.

DIPAC Macaulay Salmon Hatchery

The DIPAC Macaulay Salmon Hatchery’s mission is to sustain and enhance the valuable salmon resources of Alaska. The visitor center offers a variety of attractions including a massive 5,000-gallon aquarium, brown bear exhibit and bald eagle display. The aquariums feature over 150 species of local marine life.

Local guides explain the intricate hatchery process while you enjoy an impressive look at the thousands of returning salmon in the fish ladder. Guests can view baby King and Coho salmon all summer long in the rearing facility. Adult salmon start returning at the end of June and continue through October. Bald Eagles and seals frequent the hatchery and provide a fantastic wildlife viewing opportunity.

Chichagof Island near Juneau

Chichagof Island, or Shee Kaax, is the fifth-largest island in the U.S. and is famous for having a large population of brown bears. In fact, it has the highest density of bears per square mile anywhere on earth. The community of Hoonah is located at the northern part of the island. The rest of the Chichagof island is uninhabited wilderness, full of wildlife.

You can reach the island by small commuter airlines from Juneau and the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System, which stops at the town of Hoonah.

Douglas Island, Alaska

Douglas Island is connected to Juneau by a 1564-foot bridge across Gastineau Channel, supports a sprawling residential area. Douglas has only its “Glory Hole” left to tell visitors that here once flourished the Treadwell Mine, which yielded $66 million in gold-bearing ore during a 36-year period until it was destroyed by fire and cave-ins in 1917.

Governor’s Mansion

The elegant colonial-style mansion was constructed and furnished in 1910 at a cost of $40,000. The totem pole on the grounds was carved by Tlingit Indians as a gift for the Governor in 1940.

Juneau-Douglas City Museum

The Juneau-Douglas City Museum focuses on Juneau’s mining history and has some excellent displays.There are exhibits on fishing, mining, native history, lifestyle and politics. The museum also hosts local artists and exhibits on local history and culture. There is a “Four-Story” Totem Pole, carved in 1940, located in front of the City Museum.

Red Dog Saloon

This famous Alaska Saloon with its swinging doors, sawdust floors, artifacts and antiques attracts thousands of Juneau visitors and locals.

Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

Constructed in 1894, this octagonal building is the oldest original Russian church in Southeast Alaska. An exhibit of Russian icons, vestments and old liturgical books can be seen during summer months. On 5th St. between Franklin & Gold St.

Alaskan Brewing Company

Alaskan Brewing Company became the 67th operating brewery in the United States in 1986 and the only one in Alaska.They have brought home more than 25 major medals and awards, including “Best Beer in the Nation”.

Alaska State Capitol

Housed here is both legislative chambers and the Governor’s office. The four giant pillars fronting the building are constructed of Alaskan marble. Across from the Capitol is the Court building. Free tours of the Capital during summer. On 4th St. between Main & Seward St.

Shopping in Juneau, AK

Annie Kaill’s

Annie Kaill’s was voted Juneau’s best art gallery and jewelry store. Located in the heart of downtown for more than 40 years. They feature artwork from top Alaskan artists including Byron Birdsall, Barbara Lavallee, and Rie Munoz. Plus handmade pottery, gorgeous glassware and stunning local jewelry.

Goldbelt Tram Gifts

Goldbelt Tram Gifts isn’t your typical gift shop. It’s also part museum and gallery. It is located at the top of the Goldbelt Tram. You can watch Native artisans working on Alaskan jade, red & yellow cedar, argillite, beading, authentic Tlingit artwork and learn about the indigenous way of life that has existed for hundreds of years. Take the Tram to find Juneau’s most authentic selection of gifts.

Taku Fisheries

Taku Fisheries. A comprehensive facility that process their own product and smoke and package it as well. Watch the local fisherman pull up to the Taku dock and unload fresh wild Alaska seafood. Taku Fisheries has the unique opportunity to hand pick the best product for their smokehouse, which ensures the freshest product from the dock all the way to your door. They ship fresh frozen and smoked product to all fifty states. Visit the store for a free sample of our smoked salmon. 550 South Franklin Street. 1-800-582-5122.

Glacier Silt Soap® by Glacier Smoothie

Handcrafted soap made locally with glacier silt for unbelievably smooth skin. Every bar of Glacier Smoothie soap contains silt which has been carefully harvested, heated thoroughly, and sifted by hand. This small family-owned and operated business has been named Best Gift Shop in Juneau four times. Order your very own glacier silt soap on their website year-round.

Nugget Alaskan Outfitters

Nugget Alaskan Outfitters has everything you need for a rainforest adventure. From kids to adult sizes, warm clothes, socks, rain gear, boots, packs, and travel gear. Located In the Mendenhall Mall.

Sealaska Heritage

Sealaska Heritage Store is home to Juneau’s most interesting collection of Alaska Native gifts. From animal themed collectibles and apparel to handcrafted carvings, jewelry, paintings, and more. Your purchase goes to support vital programs that preserve and promote Southeast Alaska Native languages and cultures.

Dining in Juneau, AK

Timberline Bar & Grill

Dine with the best view in Juneau while enjoying your favorite beverage or several options of locally brewed beer. Enjoy “The Wild Alaskan” menu with favorites such as Alaskan Fish & Chips, Baja Tacos, Crab Sliders and more. Take the Goldbelt Tram to the top of Mount Roberts and prepare for an incredible experience.

El Sombrero

El Sombrero in downtown Juneau has some of the best Mexican food in Alaska. A longtime favorite with locals, it is fast, friendly and outstanding. El Sombrero was selected by the NY Times as one of the “Top Places to Eat in Juneau.”

Gold Creek Salmon Bake

Gold Creek Salmon Bake has been wowing visitors and locals for over 30 years. Upon your arrival you will immediately smell the aroma of succulent Salmon, Chechako Chicken, Chilkoot Baked Beans and so much more. After a great meal you can choose from roasting marshmallows to panning for gold.

Devils Club Brewery

Devils Club Brewery has a taproom and kitchen in the original Palace Theater in the heart of historic, downtown Juneau. They offer an ever-rotating, wide array of beer styles and food offerings. Drawing inspiration from American and Belgian breweries, Devil’s Club specializes in everything from new-age, hoppy offerings to old world sours.

Subway

Subway® has RV friendly locations open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eat Fresh with a Footlong Sub and add chips and a drink for your adventure! Stop and fuel up at over 50 Subway® locations across the state, order online at www.Subway.com or on the Subway® APP.

Twisted Fish Company

Contemporary cuisine with a large selection of wines and local tap beer. Juneau’s favorite waterfront seafood restaurant with outdoor seating available. Don’t miss your chance to try Alaskan King Crab! Located next to the Goldbelt Tram.

Getting Around in Juneau, AK

Alaska Marine Highway

The Alaska Marine Highway provides year-round ferry transportation throughout Southeast Alaska. All routes within the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) are, collectively, a National Scenic Byway. They have nine traditional ferries and all carry passengers and vehicles and have lounges and observation areas. Food may be purchased on board and most vessels offer cabin accommodations.

Avis Car Rental

Avis Car Rental has locations all throughout the state of Alaska. They are at the Juneau Airport as well as in downtown Juneau.

Juneau FAQs

Can you go to Mendenhall Glacier on your own in Juneau AK?

Yes, it is very easy to reach Mendenhall Glacier on your own. If you are arriving on a cruise, the easiest way to reach Mendenhall Glacier would be to take a taxi from downtown to the glacier. It is about 13 miles from downtown Juneau to the Glacier. Mendenhall Glacier is only 4 miles from the Juneau Airport.

It is possible to take the city bus from downtown to near the Glacier. But the bus does not go directly to the glacier and will require a 1.5 mile walk from the bus stop to the glacier. This may not be the best option unless it is a beautiful Juneau day and you are looking to enjoy a walk outdoors.

What should I wear to Mendenhall Glacier?

The Mendenhall Glacier area can be cool, so having layering options is always a good idea. Juneau has a reputation for being wet, so bringing a rain jacket. Also, one of the more popular hikes at Mendenhall Glacier will take you near the Nugget Falls, and you may get spray from the waterfall.

However, the climate at Mendenhall Glacier is not much different than the rest of Juneau, so you shouldn’t expect it to be much different than what you need to wear for the rest of your time in Juneau. The glacier is not at a high elevation, so there will not be a drastic change of temperature.

Is Juneau worth visiting?

Yes, Juneau is definitely worth visiting. Not only is Juneau Alaska’s Capital City, it has a wonderful history to discover. There are many unique activities from gold panning, to whale watching to glacier viewing. It has all the ingredients of a true Alaskan town. Top things to do in Juneau include:

  • The Goldbelt Tram – Ride 1800 ft up Mount Roberts on Southeast Alaska’s only aerial tramway.
  • Mendenhall Glacier – This easily accessible glacier is one of Alaska’s most visited attractions.
  • AJ Gastineau Mill Tour – Step back in time to learn about Juneau’s gold mining history.
  • Tracy Arm – Terror Wilderness Area – Experience wildlife and glaciers on the Allen Marine tour of this natural wonder. The tour will explore the wilderness area and you will see either Sawyer or Dawes Glacier.

What is the best time to visit Juneau Alaska?

The best time to visit Juneau is in the Summer. This means between May and September. However, the driest months to visit Juneau are April, May and June. July and August tend to see more rain than the rest of the summer. The warmest months are June, July and August.

Is Juneau a walkable city?

Juneau is a very walkable city. Most cruise ships dock right in downtown, and visitors can leave the ship and walk all throughout downtown, shopping and exploring. There are some attractions that are outside of downtown area. To reach those, a tour or taxi are a great option.

How many days should I spend in Juneau?

The majority of visitors to Juneau arrive by cruise ship and will only have one day to see Juneau. This is enough time to see a number of highlights, but if you are arriving as an independent visitor, it is easy to spend 2 or 3 days in Juneau. There are more than enough activities to keep you busy.

What is Juneau best known for?

Juneau is best known for Mendenhall Glacier and the Juneau Gold Rush of 1880. Now it is known as the Capital of Alaska and one of the most popular cruise ports in all of Alaska.

When can you see the northern lights in Juneau?

The best time to see the Northern Lights in Juneau is between September and April. Because Juneau is one of the most southern towns in Alaska, it gets darker earlier as summer comes to an end. By the end of August, the sun is setting around 8:00pm. Some cruise ships that arrive in September and early October may see the Northern Lights from their cruise.

What Other Wildlife Is On Offer In Juneau?

Wildlife in Juneau is abundant. On land, it is very common to see black bears, especially in the Mendenhall Glacier area. Bald eagles are also regularly spotted. Places like the Dipac salmon hatchery are a favorite for Bald Eagles.

Whale watching is very popular in Juneau and visitors can see Humpback whales, Orca whales, Sea Lions, sea otters and other marine animals.

There is no shortage of wildlife in Juneau.

What is the best way to get around Juneau?

Walking around Juneau is the best way to see this cozy city. The downtown area is small and easy to navigate on foot. There are some attractions like the Mendenhall Glacier that are to far to walk. For those it is best to take a tour, or hire a taxi. Many of the Juneau taxis offer private tours around town.

Does Juneau have a hop-on hop-off bus?

No, Juneau does not have a hop-on hop-off bus. However there are tours that will take you around the city and stop at some of the main attractions.

Can I Uber in Juneau?

Yes, Uber is available in Juneau. However, because this is a small town, there may not be as many drivers available, so finding a convenient Uber isn’t always guaranteed.

How do you get from Juneau to Glacier Bay National Park?

There are a number of ways to get from Juneau to Glacier Bay National Park. Glacier Bay is around 50 miles from Juneau and can be reached by flight or by boat.

There are day boat tours that leave from Juneau and return. These tend to be on high-speed catamarans.

Visitors can take a seaplane tour with Alaska Seaplanes. In the summer they have 6 flights a day to Gustavus, the town closest to Glacier Bay. It’s possible to stay in Glacier Bay at Glacier Bay Lodge or arrange for a boat tour once you land in Gustavus and then return back to Juneau.

Many cruise ships to Alaska will include a cruise through Glacier Bay as part of their itinerary. For the best Alaska cruise itinerary, click here.

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