Guide to Juneau: how to get there and where to stay, what to see and where to go in the evening. Best things to do in Juneau: fresh reviews and photos, places to see, branded entertainment and shopping.
According to toppharmacyschools, Juneau became Alaska’s capital city in 1906 when the state government moved here from Sitka. Americans refer to Juneau’s climate as a colder, wetter version of Seattle’s. However, in July it stays around +18 °C on average, which is not bad. The fact is that the city is paradoxically located east and south of the straight line that marks the border of Alaska, separating it from the Yukon. This is also why it is considered one of the most touristic in Alaska. Tourists come here to fish, walk, fly a helicopter or hydroplane over the surroundings with a camera and go on excursions to the glacier. And, oddly enough, for the sake of shopping.
A typical summer day in Juneau is 4-5 cruise ships in port bringing up to 10,000 tourists at a time. And this is with its own population of just over 30 thousand people. In a word, the heart and wallet of the capital is its port.
How to get to Juneau
Definitely not on the highway. Southeast Alaska is sandwiched between a jagged, rocky coastal ridge and the Pacific Ocean. In general, only three cities in Alaska are connected to the southern states by road, and Juneau is not one of them. Therefore, you can get here by plane – the international airport is located 11 km northwest of the city. Alaska Airlines flights regularly fly here from Sitka, Wrangel and Petersburg, as well as from Anchorage and Seattle. In addition, Juneau is the main port of the Alaskan Marine Highway ferry system. This means that regular ships go here along the routes through Sitka, Skagway, Wrangel, Haynes, Petersburg and Ketchikan. And smaller ones from other cities in the state.
Attractions and attractions in Juneau
It is better for travelers to know in advance that the city, although not very densely populated, is very wide and free, and its different areas can provide them with different entertainments. Downtown (city center with all institutions, shops and other) and “Valley” (where the Mendenhall Glacier, Mendenhall Pier, skate park and where mostly locals are located) are separated from each other by a good quarter of an hour’s walk.
An interesting point, which concerns not only Juneau, but Alaska as a whole, is its huge territory in relation to the population. State government meetings are held, for example, by telephone and videoconferencing.
A typical summer day in Juneau is 4-5 cruise ships in port bringing up to 10,000 tourists at a time. And this is with its own population of just over 30 thousand people. In addition, some luxury American safari cruise yachts are assigned to the port of Juneau. In a word, the heart and wallet of the capital is its port.
3 things to do in Juneau:
- See the wooden chapel on the lake, which is over 60 years old. The chapel offers amazing views of Lake Auk and the glacier. You can get to it along the Glacier Highway.
- Listen to the Alaska String Band, based on Gold Street, at McPeters Hall in Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. This is great music, including his own composition, and a first-class show with a cozy atmosphere.
- Sit in the most popular Alaskan bar on South Franklin Street: exchange a couple of lines with the locals, listen to music and drink Alaskan beer in a rough and straightforward atmosphere. Be warned: there are open mic nights here on Thursdays.
The Alaska State Museum on Whittier Street offers one of the finest exhibitions in Alaska related to state history, wildlife, traditional cultures, industry and the arts. You can walk to the museum in just 10 minutes from the cruise terminal.
The Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas is, for obvious reasons, one of the most interesting sights in the city for Russian tourists. This is a small octagonal building, which was constructed in 1893 by the Tlingit. The Russians were in Sitka half a century earlier, and Father Ivan Veniaminov translated the Bible into Tlingit. So the church became the oldest in southeastern Alaska, which functioned constantly. The church is having a hard time today, so there is a small entry fee.
The State Capitol is located on the corner of 4th and Main Streets. The building was built in 1931 and is completely different from the traditional Capitol. The building was slightly modified in 2006, and today the executive branch, the governor, and the lieutenant governor of the state sit there. There is a large exhibition of historical photographs in the lobby, and there are even free half-hour guided tours of the Capitol from mid-May to mid-September.
Downtown Juneau is compact and more than walkable, although after 4th Street the uphill road gets very steep. Those who do not want to stomp up the hill on their own two can be advised to use the Mount Roberts tram line. The tram runs from May to September from the docks in downtown to the very top of the mountain (more precisely, to one of the peaks, from where a great view of the city opens). At the top is the Mount Roberts Nature Center, where they work with tamed eagles. Several easy hiking trails start from there. And more advanced walkers can skip the tram ride and walk all the way.
One of the popular tourist tours is the Alaska Brewing Company tour. The tour includes a beer tasting, which is quite tasty, so many people prefer to end their busy “walking” day with it.
St. Teresa Catholic Center is located at Mile 23 of the Glacier Highway. It is a peaceful place with a small stone chapel on a small island, which is connected to the mainland by a causeway. The place is very peaceful and picturesque: there are gardens around with a labyrinth and a columbarium. Huts have been built on the territory, which can be rented if they are not used for the needs of the church.
Juneau Arts Council, on Whittier Street, occupies an old armory building that was abandoned in 2004 and vacant for several years. Today it is a cultural center with a permanent gallery and shop where you can view and buy works exclusively by local artists – paintings, ceramics, jewelry, decorative glassware and folk art.
Juneau, as a typical city whose current wealth is built on cruise ships, delights tourists with many jewelry stores and costume jewelry stores. These are designer shops of local owners with really interesting gizmos, and shops selling mainly Chinese goods. Particularly appreciated are the works of local artists, mainly wood or bone carvings. And, of course, t-shirts with slogans, jeans and local products. If you’re interested in shopping in Juneau, check out the stickers on store windows. If they say “this store is owned by an Alaskan family” – everything is in order.
Mendenhall Glacier is located 20 km from the center of Juneau. This massive formation is more than 2 km wide with its own lake. You can get here by bus or taxi. You can’t climb the glacier directly, but you can enjoy its beautiful views from the visitor center, which is operated by the US Forest Service. Hiking trails start from here: salmon, bear and the Steep Creek route. On the last one in August and September you can see brown bears: they come here, often with cubs, to catch salmon going to spawn. During this period, some routes may be closed. But along the way, travelers will meet enough observation platforms from where you can see bear fishing in all its details. The natural conditions of the recreational zone are protected so carefully that no food or drinks can be brought here.
A much lazier and chic way to see the beauty of the glacier is to take a tour helicopter here. It’s expensive, but convenient.
The eastern trail is for the most adventurous. In order to get here, you need to get off at a stop later than the main one, in Montana Creek. After several bridges and several cable car crossings, travelers can either reach a mountain refuge among some kind of vegetation, or along a rather dangerous road with rockfalls to the very top of the cliff. This route, amazing in all respects, takes about 5 hours and requires decent physical fitness. But the reward for tourists is amazing views and the feeling that you have finally reached the end of the world. Do not forget to check in at the exit so that the rescuers do not rush to look for you throughout the recreational area.
There are about 90 hiking trails in the Juneau area, some easier, some very steep.