"Independent Traveler's Guide to Juneau" Top 5 Page for this destination Juneau by Colewade

Juneau Travel Guide: 369 reviews and 903 photos

Juneau at First Sight

The view of the Juneau and the surrounding areas was unforgettable, as we approached on our Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle. The Eagle, Herbert, and Mendenhall Glaciers came into view. The Alaska Marine Highway had a ferry docked in Auk Bay. The sun shimmered on Auk Lake framing the view of the valley and the massive Mendenhall Glacier.

Sure, I had read all about Juneau, but seeing it in person for the first time was a visceral experience for me. I knew that this rugged land of evergreens and ice would live up to it's reputation as the scenic hub of tourism for Southeast Alaska. Like most people who live in the region, my travels began and ended in Juneau. It is not unsual to find yourself in Juneau multiple times on a point-to-point ferry trip of the region. All northbounds and southbounds stop in Juneau, if only for a brief layover. Before you decide it is the perfect northwestern nirvana, read "About the Weather in Juneau" under travelogues.

Juneau is a fairly sophisticated city of 30,000 people. Unlike Ketchikan and Sitka, it is actually located on the mainland, though it cannot be approached by road. (A new road to Atlin, BC or Skagway Alaska has been much talked about.) It is a university town with all the modern amenities. I fell in love with this town that has glacier views from the parking lots of department stores, bear warnings posted within the city limits, and streets that end at steep stairways. The blend of people, cultures, and politics is also noteworthy. In addition to a large native population, summer brings seasonal downtown workers which range from Jamaicans to Russians. Young Rastafarians may rub elbows with conservative politicians. Environmentalist find unlikely allies in the commercial fishermen, in the war against farm raised fish. Juneau is a busy melting pot year round. In the summer it is the most popular cruise port in Alaska. Just as the last cruise ship leaves, the state politicians and lobbyist converge on Juneau to start the new year. Even with all this activity, Juneau manages to retain a small town atmosphere.

Juneau what to do?

With time and money, you could easily spend more than a week in Juneau and not run out of things to do. You need at least one full day to see the obligatory sights of downtown Juneau and the Mendenhall Glacier. You will even have time to fit in a helicopter ride over the glaciers, if it fits your budget. For a short visit, a car is not really neccesary in Juneau. Although, rentals are cheaper here than in most cities in the southeast. The public transportation options are generally good, with a couple of notable gaps. (You can almost get to the ferry terminal and almost get to the glacier. Both require a two mile walk from the bus.) You can also whale watch, bear watch, hike, or attend a salmon bake. Juneau is the one port that does have pretty much all the typically Alaskan sights and activities, while being unlike any other city in Alaska in many respects. Check the Travel Tips for enough of information to plan a few days in Juneau.

Colewade's other Alaska Pages:

Independent Traveler's Guide to Skagway

Independent Traveler's Guide to Sitka

Independent Traveler's Guide to Haines

Ratings and comments are greatly appreciated.

  • Last visit to Juneau: Sep 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (21)

Comments (16)

  • setikeyvan's Profile Photo
    Feb 19, 2009 at 5:09 PM

    Excellent page about Juneau! Absolutely excellent!

  • Jul 6, 2008 at 8:17 AM

    Fernando's Mexican went out of business this summer, '08

  • RedEaredPanda's Profile Photo
    Feb 27, 2008 at 10:23 PM

    Thank you for the excellent tips.. I am looking forward to spending a day off cruise ship here in July.. Gotta get my camera equipment together though for some serious nature photography.. Thanks again for sharing...

  • Sininen's Profile Photo
    Apr 8, 2006 at 8:33 AM

    Hello Darren! What an information package! Looks very interesting and would love to visit Jeneau one day. Happy birthday from Finland!

  • Dec 2, 2005 at 7:20 PM

    A very interesting page! Thank you for sharing. Greetings from Cape Town.

  • cruisingbug's Profile Photo
    Apr 14, 2005 at 6:22 PM

    I've been enjoying your detailed and interesting tips - great job!

  • Radiomom's Profile Photo
    Jun 19, 2004 at 6:14 AM

    Wow -- I just got here from the VT Home page...I'm a sucker for sensational scenery...and after checking out the whole page, Alaska (primarily Juneau and environs) has jumped to the top of my list!

  • Sharrie's Profile Photo
    May 27, 2004 at 7:20 PM

    Ok, ok, I think it's time to visit Juneau! Spectacular shots of the whale & glacier btw! Wish I could be there right this moment! Great tips! Keep up the good work!

  • madamx's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2004 at 10:12 AM

    Very informative page! You've made me put Alaska on my "wish list". Greetings from Calgary :o)

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2004 at 5:16 AM

    Very well written, great tips and exceptionally comprehensive page! ! Do I sense you love cruise ships too? Returning to Alaska with my family this June on HAL to do what we missed the first time on this route!


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