Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, is a vibrant coastal community tucked between the scenic Coast Mountains and Gastineau. With no road access, visitors arrive by air via Alaska Airlines or Delta Airlines, and by sea on cruise ships or the Alaska Marine Highway ferry.
Mendenhall Glacier, 13 miles from downtown, is Juneau’s most well-known attraction.
Choose from several shuttles, guided tours, and public transportation to visit the glacier and adjacent visitor center. Go above the glacier to view the icefield by fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter flightseeing tours. Glacier landing tours are especially popular, in addition to high-tech treks.
Book a cruise to the Tracy Arm Fjord, home to the twin Sawyer Glaciers. Steep granite cliffs and magnificent waterfalls line the passage en route to the fjord. Wildlife is abundant—more than 600 humpback whales inhabit the waters near Juneau, and you’re likely to see orcas, too. Bring binoculars to spot seals, mountain goats, black bears and waterfowl.
Take a 30-minute floatplane flight from Juneau to Pack Creek on Admiralty Island, where brown bear viewing is guaranteed in salmon season. (Admiralty Island has the highest concentration of brown bears in North America.) Independen travelers need a permit from the U.S. Forest Service; guided tours include the permit.
Get a bird’s-eye view of the capital city and neighboring Douglas Island from the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway.
Rising to the 1800-foot level on the mountain, the tram accesses a nature center, restaurant and lounge, and a theater showing the award-winning film, “Seeing Daylight,” which highlights the Tlingit culture. Hike back down the mountain by trail, watching for some of the more than 280 species of birds that inhabit the area.
Schedule a fishing charter for a half- or full-day fishing trip for salmon and halibut in the protected waters surrounding Juneau.
Visit Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure to explore the whimsical gardens created from a landslide-scarred hillside. At the end of Basin Road, hike the Perseverance Trail, pan for gold in Gold Creek or visit Last Chance Mining Museum. Don’t miss the Shrine of St. Therese, 22 miles north by highway.
Looking for indoor experiences? There are 6,000 artifacts of Juneau’s history in the Juneau/Douglas City Museum. Other noteworthy attractions include St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, the State Capitol Building, Wickersham House and the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. Inquire about scheduled music festivals, local theatre, and exhibitions on Native Alaskan dance and legends.
Dining and Libations
With more than 70 restaurants, this small city offers plenty of dining choices, from gourmet to fast food.
Start your evening with some expertly prepared cocktails or a glass of wine at the Bubble Room Lounge in the historic Westmark Baranof Hotel. This lounge is known for friendly bartenders plus the best cushy bar seats.
For waterfront dining, The Hangar on the Wharf has something for everyone, especially those with kids. Ask for a booth and enjoy watching the seaplanes take off and land. The expansive menu features everything from Alaska seafood to top sirloin. Consistently good, its atmosphere can’t be beat! Open for lunch and dinner.
The Wine Bar at the Silverbow offers small plates to nosh on and flights of hand-selected wines such as the aptly named “Borfeaux-Red blends but not from you know where.” Don’t miss the homemade Cheesy crackers served with an olive tapenade—wildly addictive.
The Triangle Club (across from the old steam clock) is a local watering hole, loved by many. This historic Juneau bar serves up hot dogs and good conversation.
The Rookery Café provides stellar coffee and freshly-baked goodies by day and a rotating menu of locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients at night. Their charcuterie & cheese platter is a must and you can never go wrong with the specials. Reservations are advised.
SALT offers modern Alaskan cuisine for both lunch and dinner. Start with the Pommes Frites and be sure to order the Vegetable Wellington. Nice selection of cocktails, craft beers and wine.