"Independent Traveler's Guide to Juneau" Top 5 Page for this destination Juneau by Colewade
Juneau Travel Guide: 369 reviews and 902 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.
Consider driving the Golden Circle Route from Haines to Skagway. For those interested in a leisurely but long drive... more travel advice
If you have more than 1.5 days in Juneau, renting a car would be both money saving and benificial. Transfer cost add up:... more travel advice
- The Alaskan Hotel Bar
- Red Dog Saloon
- Best place to Buy Souvenirs
- See All Chans Thai Kitchen
Written May 9, 2016
About the Weather in Juneau
Written May 9, 2016
Interior of the Baranof Hotel
Colewade's Related Pages
Juneau Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "Independent Traveler's Guide to Juneau"
- "Juneau in Summer"
- "Juneau - Home of the Mendenhall Glacier."
- "Alaska Cruise - Juneau First Port Of Call"
- "Big State, Little Capitol"
- "Glaciers, Eagles, and Humpbacks in Juneau"
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- Things to Do in Juneau
- Hotels in Juneau
- Transportation in Juneau
- Nightlife in Juneau
- Restaurants in Juneau
- Shopping in Juneau
- Warnings and Dangers in Juneau
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