Juneau ("JOO-noh") is the capital city of Alaska, located in the state's Southeastern region, with a population of about 30,000 and an area bigger than Rhode Island or Delaware. It has been the capital of Alaska since 1906, when the government of the then-Alaska Territory was moved from Sitka.
One of the interesting things about Juneau and Alaska is the effect on public life of being such a geographically large state. The state legislature, for instance, takes telephone testimony during its committee hearings. They have a state-wide video conferencing system to facilitate government meetings and deliberations.
The climate in Juneau and the southeast panhandle is best described as a "cooler wetter version of Seattle." It is a mid-latitude oceanic climate in the southern sections and a subarctic oceanic climate in the northern parts. On an annual basis, this is both the wettest and warmest part of Alaska with milder temperatures in the winter and high precipitation throughout the year. Juneau averages over 50 inches (1,270 mm) of precipitation a year, while other areas receive over 275 inches (6,990 mm). This is also the only region in Alaska in which the average daytime high temperature is above freezing during the winter months.
Juneau is located at 58°21′5″N, 134°30′42″W (58.351422, -134.511579).GR1
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 8,430.4 km² (3,255.0 mi²). 7,036.1 km² (2,716.7 mi²) of it is land and 1,394.3 km² (538.3 mi²) of it (16.54%) is water.
Average annual rainfall ranges from 55 inches to over 90 inches (1400 to over 2300 mm) depending on location.; annual average snowfall is 101 inches (257 cm).
The average high temperature in July is 65°F (18°C), and the average low temperature in January is 20°F (-4°C)
Juneau is Alaska's capital, however you can't get there by road. Southeast Alaska is sandwiched between the rugged coastal mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. Constructing roads between many of the towns and cities of SE Alaska is prohibitively expensive and sometimes impossible. Only three towns (Haines, Skagway, and Hyder) in the SE Panhandle are connected to a roadway to the lower 48 states (often called "down south"). Access to the rest (including Juneau) is only by air or by sea.
Juneau International Airport (IATA : JNU) is a public airport located seven miles (11 km) northwest of downtown Juneau. The airport serves as a regional hub for all air travel, both bush carriers and the regional airline, Alaska Airlines , which provides daily jet service to Anchorage and Seattle. Alaska Airlines also has regularly scheduled flights to Ketchikan, Sitka, Wrangell, and Petersburg -- with summer service to Gustavus. Smaller airlines that operate regularly scheduled and chartered flights out of Juneau to nearby communities have offices at the airport. The most trusted are Wings of Alaska and Haines Air. Many locals avoid LAB Flying Service.
Juneau is a main port for the Alaska Marine Highway , Alaska's ferry system. The ferry runs regularly throughout Southeast Alaska with regular stops in Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangel, Sitka, Haines, and Skagway. Small communities, such as Angoon, Hoonah, Tenakee Springs, Pelican, and Kake, get occasion AMHS service. The closest port with a road connection is Haines, about a five-hour ride away from Juneau by regular ferry or a two-hour ride on one of the state's new catamaran ferries. The ferry system is the only way to transport a car to Juneau, short of shipping it up on a barge.
Juneau is also a main port of call for cruise ships plying the Inside Passage, which bring several thousand visitors almost every day between May and September. The cruise ships typically dock just south of downtown Juneau in the following docking facilities, listed in order of distance from downtown Juneau:
Sea Drome Dock (SD)
Alaska Steamship Dock (AS) -- large ship
Cruiseship Terminal (CT) -- large ship
Intermediate Vessel Float (IVF)
South Franklin Street Dock (FKL) -- large ship
A J Dock (AJD) -- large ship A typical summer day may have four or five cruise ships calling on Juneau, which could bring up to ten thousand visitors for the day. To plan your day, check the cruise ship schedule for Juneau.
Downtown Juneau is compact and highly walkable, though above 4th Street it gets very hilly. Watch for the 20 signs that detail the fascinating history of Juneau.
The public Capital Transit provides daily bus service for downtown Juneau and vicinity and charges $1.50 for travel in one direction. Route 3/4 serves the Mendenhall Valley, but can get you no closer than about a mile to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.
Car rentals are available at the airport and are necessary if you wish to explore far on your own.
At the cruise ship docks, several bus services offer low-cost rides ($14 round trip) to the Mendenhall Glacier during the summer visitors season.
Mighty Great Trips' "Blue Glacier Express" is a blue schoolbus that departs every 30 minutes, 9am to 6:30pm on most summer days.
Taxis are an economical alternative. Taxi vans can carry up to 7 passengers and cost about the same as busses for 5 or more. Drivers who want to do tours can often be found in the taxi zones near the Mt. Roberts Tram or the Red Dog Saloon. Metered fares and charter rates are regulated by the city.
One of Alaska's best exhibits covering the breadth of the State's history, native cultures, wildlife, industry, and art. Approximately a ten-minute walk from the Cruise ship Terminal. Open year round: daily mid-May through mid-September ($5), Tue-Sat rest of the year ($3).
Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church , +1-907-586-1023, 5th St. and Gold St. Tiny ornate octagonal structure was originally built by the Tlingits in 1893. When the Russians were still in Sitka 50 years earlier, Father Ivan Veniaminov of the Russian Orthodox Church translated the Bible into Tlingit. Thus this building became southeast Alaska's oldest continuously operating church.
Alaska State Capitol, 4th Street and Main Street. Completed in 1931 as the territorial Capitol, this building does not have the typical imposing architecture of a State capitol. Today this Capitol building, remodeled in 2006, houses the State Legislature, the Governor, and the Lieutenant Governor. Extensive exhibit of historic photographs in the hallways. Free 30-minute tours, mid-May through mid-September .
Mendenhall Glacier - When in Juneau take a bus or taxi from the center of town, where the boats dock, to the Mendenhall Glacier park. You can pay the driver in cash or buy two tickets at one of the many kiosks on the dock. A taxi ride is about the same cost as a bus if you have 5 or more passengers.
Although you can't get right up to the glacier, you get a great view of it, and the visitors center is very informative. Admission to the recreation area from May through September is $3.00 per person. If you want a moderate hike through some beautiful forest, try the East Glacier trail which loops around east of the visitors' center. Follow the trail clockwise to avoid having to climb many steps -- you'll come down those steps at the end of your hike and to keep the best views of the glacier ahead of you, instead of over your shoulder.
Several businesses offer helicopter rides which will take you from the city to Mendenhall Glacier, giving you a bird's eye view of the surrounding terrain, and some time on the ice itself. They're fairly expensive (about $200 per person and up, depending on the length of the excursion), but a remarkable experience that many consider well worth the price.
Mendenhall Glacier West Glacier Trail - For the more adventurous, the West Glacier trail which leads directly to the glacier (you can walk on it, but be careful to stay away from crevasses!) and also to a look out. Get off the bus just past the Mendenhall Glacier Campground stop. The stop is called Montana Creek. Walk up the road to the car park at the end (around 2km) and you will see the trail-head. Stick to the path, maybe dropping down to the lake side to checkout the icebergs and grab some photos. Continue along the path, across several bridges and up some switchbacks with fixed cables. Soon you will come to fork in the path, the left is steep and heads to the lookout, the right goes downhill into some dense vegetation. Shortly into the right-hand trail you will come across a shelter slightly off the track. Continue for several miles along the track, taking care on the slippery rock areas. Eventually you will come to a break in the cliff where it is possible to scramble/climb to the top. Recommend taking crampons if you want to walk on the glacier, stay away from crevasses and don't fall in. There are usually guides walking people out there so watch where they walk. Return the way you arrived, the whole thing should take about 5 hours. Don't forget to sign out when you leave the area.
Mount Roberts Tramway. There is a tram that runs from the docks in downtown Juneau up Mount Roberts, one of the peaks overlooking the city, $27 for an all-day pass. At the top is the Mount Roberts Nature Center which features a captive eagle (not as impressive as seeing them from a distance in the wild) and some not-too-difficult scenic hiking trails with interpretive information. The more adventurous hiker can branch off from these trails and continue upward to the summit, where snowfields can be found even in the warmth of summer. It's difficult going in places, but provides some stunning views of the channel and city far below. If you don't want to pay $24 to ride up the tram, you can also hike the whole mountain. The trailhead starts at the end of 6th street and takes about an hour to climb up to the top of the tram. A one way tram ride down the mountain costs $5.
Alaskan Brewing Company Brewery Tour, . If you head down to the Alaskan Brewing Company headquarters they will give you a tour/talk and free tasting of some great beer. A good way to end a day of hiking. To get there, jump on the bus and ask the driver which stop to get off at. Walk across the road and turn at the second right.
The most popular activities in Juneau for visitors are shopping, flight seeing, charter fishing, visiting the Mendendhall Glacier, and hiking. Be aware the Juneau is very spread-out. It is broken into sections. There is "Downtown", and "The Valley" (where the Mendenhall Glacier, Mendenhall Mall, a skate park, as well as most of the residential is located). The distance between the two is a good 15 minutes.
Of the cruiseship tour options, an air tour leaves the biggest impression—especially if the weather is clear. Behind Juneau lies the Juneau Icefield. Helicopter and floatplane tours are available. The most popular floatplane tour is with Wings Airways to the Taku Lodge . Most of the helicopter tours include a stop landing on the glacier. Alternatively, get a group together and charter an small airplane tour. These will generally be less expensive (you pay by the hour) and allows you to customize your experience. Ward Air is highly regarded, but Wings of Alaska and other carriers offer charter flights.
Be sure to go for a hike while in Juneau. There are over 90 hiking trails in the area (many very steep). A few lead to rental cabins available from the US Forest Service or State of Alaska parks. If you want a guide, Gastineau Guiding offers guided hikes on many popular trails and combines some hikes with whale watching or kayaking.
Rainbow Foods (4th and Franklin downtown). Juneau's natural food store. Good produce, awesome weekday deli, and Thursday night dinners. Prices are not so bad considering everything comes in by jet or boat.
A&P Market (downtown)
Fred Meyer's Grocery
Super Bear (Mendenhall Valley)
Safeway (Mendenhall Valley)
WalMart (Lemon Creek which is between Mendenhall Valley and downtown)
Breakwater Inn, 586.6303, 1711 Glacier Avenue
Canton House, 789.5075, 8585 Old Dairy Road
Chan's Thai Kitchen
Douglas Café, 364.3307, Tues 11A-2:30P, Wed-Fri 11A-9P, Sat 9A-9P, Sun 9A-12:30P, 913 3rd Street, Douglas
El Sombrero, 586.6770, Mon-Thurs 11A-9P, Fri & Sat 11A-10P, 157 S. Franklin Street, Try the halibut fajitas or the halibut fajita salad. A Juneau institution for 30 years.
Seongs Sushi is small and crowded but has good sushi and sashimi.
Silverbow Bakery Great fresh bagels; Tuesday is two for one! The Silverbow also has a movie theater where they show the occasional free movie. It is a meeting place for a diverse group of people. Free Wirelesss access with purchase. They host wine tastings, an independent film/video makers conference and the occasional LGBT event. A really great place.
The Hangar (On the Wharf) , 586.5018, 2 Marine Way, Great place to sit at the bar and gaze at the view. It also has a good selection of food. The Halibut Taco is good as are the burgers and soups. It hosts a mixture of locals and tourists.
The Hot Bite, 790.2483, Boat Harbor, Auke Bay
The Island Pub, 364.1595, 1102 2nd Street, Douglas, Has good pizzas and sandwiches, a good vibe, and a stunning view of the channel looking back towards Juneau. Sometimes you can catch a local bluegrass or jazz band there.
The Twisted Fish is also a good bet for food but it caters to tourists (closed in the winter). Not cheap but not outrageous either. A bit loud for quiet conversation.
Zen is in the Goldbelt Hotel across from the downtown waterfront. Rather pricey but has truly fantastic Asian fusion cuisine. Serene atmosphere, not too touristy.
Suwanna Cafe, 907-789-1250, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Jordan Creek Mall atrium, across from Nugget Mall, Suwanna Cafe is run by two Thai sisters and their momma. Open Mon-Fri only for lunch, they have great summer rolls that are like a salad in an uncooked rice wrap, great Thai curries, wonderful Satay, and Pad Thai, along with Thai iced tea. Great lunch for under $10!
The Juneau Arts & Humanities Council offers TLC: A Taste of Local Culture for Visitors, an opportunity to enjoy a home-cooked meal with real Alaskans in their home, and support the arts at the same time. Contact them at or call them at 907 586-2787 to arrange your dinner. $35/person.
Pel Meni, Pel Meni serves authentic Russian Dumplings. There is no menu as Pel Meni dumplings are all they serve. it's small and not the fanciest place in the world, but it is a must visit while in Juneau.
By far the most popular with locals is The Alaskan Bar (South Franklin Street) to hang out with locals, listen to music (Thursday is open mic night) and drink an Alaskan (beer) with an Alaskan in the Alaskan. A bit rough looking but a great hangout.
The Hangar which is also good for food. Sit and watch the float planes takeoff and the cruise ships come and go. During daylight hours in the tourist season, when the floatplanes are constantly arriving and taking off next door, either sit inside or plan to leave with a headache and a hoarse throat. When tourist season is over, sit outside and enjoy the relative solitude.
The Triangle Bar. Looks like somewhere you wouldn't want to go, but sometimes it fills the bill, especially during legislative season when the lobbyists, lawyers and aides can be found there.
Island Pub in Douglas (see the Eat section above)
Squire's Rest out in Auke Bay for a rustic experience.
Drop into the Alaskan Brewery to sample the brews. 01:50, 14 April 2010 (EDT)01:50, 14 April 2010 (EDT)~~
Beachside Villa Luxury Inn , 907-463-5531, 3120 Douglas Hwy., This is one of Juneau's extremely rare waterfront Inns. Beachside Villa has views of Mt. Juneau and Mt. Robert's as well as the city lights and cruise ships, watercraft and Alaskan wildlife on the water. Sometimes you can see whales out in the harbor. The rooms are nice and have fresh nice coffee/tea/cocoa in the rooms.
Juneau, like many towns dominated by the cruiseship industry, is ripe with jewelery, t-shirt, and trinket shops. On busy cruiseship days you can watch as thousands of cruisers in matching track outfits ply the shopping district to get trinkets for their grandchildren and jewelry for themselves.
Look for a sign in shop windows that says "This store is owned by an Alaskan family."
Juneau is a great place to base for a camping vacation. It's the gateway to the Admiralty Island National Monument and the Tracy Arm/Ford's Terror Wilderness Area. . Both areas are popular with kayakers.
The U. S. Forest Service operates two campgrounds on the Juneau road system, one at Auke Bay Recreation Area at the site of Juneau's original Tlingit village, and one located on Mendenhall Lake near Mendenhall Glacier.
If you don't want to tent camp, there are a number of public use cabins in the Juneau area, some located on trails accessible from the Juneau road system. Those located in state parks are operated by Alaska State Parks, and those located in Tongass National Forest are operated by the U.S. Forest Service. They are often fully booked for weekends and holidays early in the year, but it's possible to find cabins available on weekdays.
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