Juneau

Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Alaska Juneau

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Introduction

South View from Mount Roberts viewpoint, Juneau, Alaska

South View from Mount Roberts viewpoint, Juneau, Alaska

© jengelman

Juneau is the capital of Alaska, located in the southeastern panhandle of the state. Although the urban surface is just around 30 square kilometres, the total municipal area covers a massive 8,430 square kilometres, making it one of the biggest in the world. To give an idea: that's almost a quarter of the Netherlands.

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Sights and Activities

The city itself doesn't have much to offer, but the immediate surroundings more than make up for this. There are also a few things to do and see in the city itself.

  • Alaska State Museum, 395 Whittier St, ☎ +1-907-465-2901, fax: +1-907-465-2976. Summer: 9 AM to 5 PM. Winter: 10 AM to 4 PM. 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. Adults: May-Sept $12, Oct-Apr $7. Children 18 and under free. Also free with military ID.
  • Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, 326 5th St., ☎ +1-907-586-1023, fax: +1-907-465-2976. 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. $2 entrance donation.
  • Alaska State Capitol, 4th Street and Main St. M-F 8:30AM-5PM: Sa-Su 9:30AM-4PM. 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. Complimentary 30-minute tours are available from mid-May through mid-September. Free.
  • Mendenhall Glacier and Visitors Center. This is a massive 1.5 mile wide glacier calving into its own lake, located about 13 miles north of downtown Juneau. To get there, you may take a bus or taxi from where the ships dock to the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area. 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. 8510 Mendenhall Loop Rd, ☎ +1 907 789-0097, fax: +1 907 789-6643. May-Sept: 8AM-7:30PM daily; Oct-April: 10AM-4PM Thurs-Sun. Although you can't get right up to the glacier without a long walk, you can get a great view of it from the visitors center, which is operated by the US Forest Service and is very informative. Photo Point Trail and the salmon, bear and Steep Creek Trail are easy and accessible trails. In August and September, black bears, often with cubs, visit Steep Creek to feed on spawning sockeye (red) salmon. Some trails may be closed then. A series of viewing platforms let the bears walk underneath the many folks watching them fish. No food or soft drinks are allowed in the recreation area, and dogs must be on leash. 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. $3 fee for visitors center from May to September. Activities outside the center building itself are free of charge, and visitors may use the restrooms and visit the bookstore without paying the fee.

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.

  • 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.
  • Mount Roberts Tramway, 490 South Franklin St., toll-free: +1-888-820-2628, fax: +1 907 463-5095, e-mail: mail.mrt@goldbelt.com. May-Sept: M noon-9PM, Tu-Th 8AM-9PM, F 9AM or 1PM-9PM, Sa-Su 9AM-9PM. There is a tram that runs from the docks in downtown Juneau up Mount Roberts, one of the peaks overlooking the city. 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 $27 to ride up the tram, you can also hike the whole mountain. The trailhead is on Basin Road and takes about an hour to climb up to the top of the tram. A one way tram ride down the mountain is $5 or free if you eat at the restaurant at the top and show your receipt. $27 adults, $13.50 children, 5 and under free.
  • Shrine of St Therese, Mile 23 Glacier Highway (past Auke Bay Ferry Terminal), ☎ +1 907 780-6112. This is a Catholic retreat center operated by the Diocese of Juneau, with a small stone chapel on a small island connected by a causeway to the mainland, a very peaceful and scenic location. The three albums of wedding pictures demonstrate the Shrine's popularity as a wedding site. There are extensive gardens, a prayer labyrinth, and a columbarium (memorial site for storing ashes of the deceased) with an outdoor chapel, and a lodge and cabins that are available for rental when they are not being used for Church purposes. Sunday Mass is held in the Shrine Chapel at 1:30 on Sundays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The Shrine may be closed occasionally to the public for retreats. Free, but donations are encouraged.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Weather

Juneau's climate is a mild maritime one can not be compared to much of Alaska's bitter cold climate. Summes last from June to August when daytime temperatures average around 18 °C and nights are just under 10 °C. During winter, days are mostly around zero and nights around -5 °C. Occasionally, temperatures plummit way below though. Juneau is a wet place, with around 100mm of precipitation a month, though September and October see double this amount. Snow is possible from October onwards, though usually won't start before November. It peaks in January with around 75 centimetres of snow.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max-1.4 °C1.2 °C3.7 °C8.4 °C12.8 °C16.1 °C17.7 °C17.1 °C13.3 °C8.4 °C2.6 °C-0.2 °C
Avg Min-7.2 °C-5.2 °C-2.9 °C0.1 °C3.8 °C7.2 °C8.9 °C8.5 °C6.1 °C2.9 °C-2.7 °C-5.2 °C
Rainfall115.3 mm95.3 mm83.3 mm70.4 mm86.9 mm80 mm105.7 mm135.1 mm170.9 mm199.1 mm124.7 mm112.8 mm
Rain Days14.613.314.512.313.312.312.914.917.42115.816.2

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Getting There

Juneau can only be reached by ferry or plane, though you can take your car on the ferry if you wish.

By Plane

Juneau International Airport (JNU) currently only receives Alaska Airlines flights to/from Anchorage, Seattle, Ketchikan and several other smaller places. Alaska Seaplane Service flies to a few places as well, just like Wings of Alaska. Both have small airplanes/seaplanes to serve communities as well as tourists wishing to explore more of the region.

By Boat

Juneau can be reached by Alaska Marine Highway, which handles transport along most of Alaska's southern coastlines. It's officially even part of the National Highway System. In summer, there are about one million visitors who come to Juneau by cruiseship. To add, there fast car ferries connecting Juneau with Haines and Skagway, which have road access further away.

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Getting Around

By Car

There is about 300 kilometres of paved roads and rental cars are available at the airport. Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

The government runs a bus services, called Capital Transit, which has services throughout the city and surroudings.

By Foot

Most of Juneau itself can easily be negotiated on foot.

By Bike

Bikes are a good way to go if you want to explore more of the outskirts of town and further away, though outside the summer season it is not really advised to go out.

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Eat

  • Doc Water's Pub and Restaurant
  • Fernando's
  • The Hangar on the Warf, 2 Marine Way, ☎ +1 907 586-5018. 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. On warmer days you can sit outside on the deck overlooking the float planes (can get noisy though).
  • 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. Only $6 per order. A local favorite because it's cheap, quick, delicious, and open after bar-closing hours.
  • Twilight Cafe, 324 Willoughby Ave (Next to Bullwinkle's Pizza), ☎ +1 907 523-1044. 9AM-3PM. Full Espresso bar and Filipino food. The Chicken Adobo and Pork Adobo are great, and they also have other Filipino soups and stews. When it's not raining, you can sit under the trees on the deck in back and eat your lunch or drink your latte. Open for coffee around 9AM, for lunch from 10AM until food's gone. under $10.

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Drink

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. 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.
  • Squire's Rest. Out in Auke Bay for a rustic experience.
  • Alaskan Brewery. Drop into the brewery to sample the brews. editShuttle bus available from downtown, also reachable by public bus (Anka Street stop)
  • The Narrows. Craft cocktail bar with large whisky selection and beer on tap.
  • Amalga Distillery. Micro distillery with tasting room featuring gin and tonics on tap.
  • Barnaby Brewing Company. Micro brewery with tasting room

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Sleep

Budget

  • Juneau International Hostel, 614 Harris St, ☎ +1 907 586-9559. Check-in: 5PM-10:30PM (winter), 5PM-11PM (summer), check-out: 9AM. Lockout from 9AM-5PM daily. Guests are assigned a daily job. Walking distance to downtown. Curfew at 10:30PM (winter) or 11PM (summer). Five night maximum stay. $12.
  • Goldbelt Hotel Juneau, 51 Egan Dr, ☎ +1 907 586-6900, fax: +1 907 463-5861. $109+.
  • Prospector Hotel, 375 Whittier St, ☎ +1 907 789-5005, fax: +1 907 789-2818. $109-$179.
  • Beachside Villa Luxury Inn, 3120 Douglas Hwy, ☎ +1 907 463-5531. Check-in: 5PM, check-out: noon. This is one of Juneau's extremely rare waterfront inns. Beachside Villa has views of Mt. Juneau and Mt. Roberts 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.
  • Westmark Baranof Hotel, 127 N Franklin St, ☎ +1 907 586-2660, fax: +1 907 586-8315. $129-$250.
  • Best Western Country Lane Inn, 9300 Glacier Hwy, ☎ +1 907 586-3737, fax: +1 907 586-1204.
  • Best Western Grandma's Feather Bed, 2358 Mendenhall Loop Rd, ☎ +1 907 789-5566, fax: +1 907 789-2818.
  • Extended Stay Deluxe, 1800 Shell Simmons Dr, ☎ +1 907 790-6435, fax: +1 907 790-6621.
  • The Driftwood Lodge, 435 Willoughby Ave, ☎ +1 907 364-1595. In downtown Juneau. You will also find a restaurant, a liquor store and a deli nearby.
  • Juneau Travelodge Hotel, 9200 Glacier Highway, ☎ +1 907 789-9700, toll-free: +1-800-578-7878, e-mail: gmtravelodge@gci.net. Check-in: 3:00 pm, check-out: 12 Noon. 24-hour complimentary shuttle to airport and ferry terminal, indoor heated pool, meeting rooms, on-site Mexican restaurant ("Mi Casa").

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Accommodation in Juneau

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Juneau searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

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This is version 15. Last edited at 9:51 on Jun 14, 19 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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