Juneau Travel Guide

Get Your Bearings in Juneau

Where to Stay

As a small but growing city, Juneau's hotels are comfortable, cozy lodges that harken to the wild frontier days. Most are a short distance from the airport and offer easy access to the downtown areas. The coastal setting adds a special charm, especially when watching the white caps from the inside of a warm room. Wilderness is often right out the back door, so bring your hiking boots.  

Hot Tips: Nearly every hotel offers wireless Internet, so you won't feel disconnected from the rest of the world.


What to Eat

Seafood doesn't get much fresher than the fare offered in Juneau. There are several restaurants that specialize in Alaskan cuisine; none will disappoint. Cafes and coffee shops cater to the local college students. A good variety of ethnic food is available as well, including Russian, Thai, Mexican and Italian.  

Take It or Leave It: Seafood is seasonal, so while your favorite meal might not be available fresh, chances are there is something else equally appetizing that is.
Hot Tips: Hangar on the Wharf is a converted float plane hanger with great harbor views and fantastic seafood.


Things to See

Jaw-dropping scenery is all around, so why not get out there and explore? Tourism is a major industry in Juneau, especially treks to the glaciers and nearby mountains. Wildlife is truly wild in Alaska; photographers will have no shortage of subjects to shoot. There are also a few modest museums and historical houses that are worth a visit.  

Caution: Be aware when the cruise ships come to town; it may be hard to find peace and quiet on popular wilderness tours.
Hot Tips: Coming in on a cruise ship? Book a tour with a local agency beforehand and make your own itinerary.


Places to Party

Alaska, trendy? No way! The bars and pubs in Juneau are the real deal; rough around the edges but alive with frontier spirit. Many saloons retain the gold rush aura of the early 1900s and a little bit of the attitude, but the atmosphere is lively, friendly and rugged. Closing time is whenever the barkeep decides he needs to get some sleep.

Caution: Don't swallow the human toe when taking a shot; it's bad etiquette.
Hot Tips: An amazing amount of great music can be found in the bars, not to mention great conversation with many worldly travelers.


Where to Shop

Quality native art and jewelry that can only be found in Alaska is on display in Juneau. The hybrid designs are equally influenced by the Pacific Northwest and Arctic traditions. The polar bear symbol on buildings means the crafts are 100% Alaskan. Mysterious and inviting bookstores have many tales to tell and are a good place to mingle with the locals.  

Best Local Souvenir: Anything hand-crafted, but the animal fetishes are quite fetching.


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About Juneau

Juneau, the capital city of "The Last Frontier," has come a long way since its early days as a gold rush town. Founded in 1880 when Joseph Juneau and Richard Harris struck gold, the town was nothing more than an outpost until 1906 when it was renamed from Harrisville to Juneau and dubbed the capital of Alaska. Juneau's growth has been slow and steady, due in large part to the fact that the city isn't accessible by land. Because of this many locals rely on the sea—as fishermen, cannery workers, or cruise line employees—for their living. Juneau's population of 30,000 gets a huge bump several times each week when the cruise ships pull into port and let the passengers disembark in this wilderness wonderland—in just a few hours visitors can explore a glacier, experience Native Tlingit Indian culture, eat a world-class meal, and buy internationally renowned artworks. Juneau's remoteness has also protected it from over-commercialization. The "San Francisco of the North" has a beautifully intact historic district that wends between scenic Gastineau Channel and the peak of Mount Roberts.