One of the most important things to know about Juneau is this: you can only get into and out of this city – the capital of Alaska – by sea or by air. No roads go into or out of Juneau, making it charmingly remote and achingly beautiful. Without a doubt, Juneau has to be one of the most scenic state capitals in the United States. As a port of call, Juneau is a surefire hit due to its abundance of beauty and outdoor activities. When Alaska was still just a territory, Juneau became its capital; that carried over when Alaska became a state in 1959, and the city continues to be one of Alaska’s most important.
Sightseeing & Things To Do
Alaska is world renowned for its majestic beauty, stunning vistas and natural splendor. Juneau undoubtedly plays up all of those characteristics, and is the perfect place to get a real taste for the rugged charms of this massive state. If your cruise ship stops at Juneau, take the time to get off it and do a little exploring. Whether you reach the lofty peak of Mount Roberts or simply choose to do a bit of window shopping, Juneau will wend its way into your heart.
As rugged as the scenery around Juneau is, it makes sense that many of the prime things to do here involve the outdoors. By getting off the ship and heading into the city and its surrounding area, you can enjoy one – or several – of the following options:
One of the most popular tourist attractions in or near Juneau is the Mendenhall Glacier. Visitors can pick up a bus right in downtown Juneau and go spend an hour or two taking in the majestic scenery. Several trails are available for those who would like to immerse themselves in the Alaskan scenery a bit; however, getting right up close to the glacier is not permitted. Consider a helicopter ride for an even more exciting view.
Mount Roberts Tramway
Take the tram up to the top of the approximately 1,800-foot-high Mt. Roberts for stunning views of Juneau and the outlying area. You can extend the fun by roaming around on some of the well-marked trails that can be found up at the top. However you spend your time, be sure to bring a camera along!
Several outfits in Juneau will take you out on a catamaran or other kind of boat in order to see whales in their natural environment. Although there is no guarantee that you will see a whale, simply being out on the stunning sea is reason enough to sign up for such a tour.
Tour The Brewery
The Alaskan Brewing Company is a nice place to visit, since they give tours to thirsty visitors. Enjoy tastes of some of the different kinds of beer and take a break from all of the outdoor fun at this Juneau institution.
Juneau has a compact shopping district where you can find the usual assortment of touristy shops and stores. In order to find something a bit more authentic and unusual, though, try to visit shops that display the sign “This store is owned by an Alaskan family.” There tends to be more locally produced merchandise in such shops and you can feel good about helping to support a local Juneau family.
Best Souvenir To Bring Back To the Cruise Ship
Since Juneau is, of course, famous for being terrifically cold at times, picking up a signature ice cube key chain while here can make for a nice souvenir. Otherwise, a nice picture of you and your traveling companions atop Mt. Roberts will make for a very nice memento indeed.
Eating – Sample the Local Cuisine
There is a plethora of mouthwatering ways to experience the local delicacies of Juneau. In the spring, look for fresh wild blueberries. All year round, take your pick from among favorites like salmon, caribou and reindeer jerky. With its proximity to the sea, Juneau also has an abundance of restaurants that offer fresh seafood; salmon, halibut and king crab are top picks. Regardless of what you eat, though, it is bound to be wonderfully fresh and delicious.
When, Where, and How
When To Go
July and August are the most popular months to visit Juneau. These are the warmest and most comfortable months out of the year, but visitors shouldn’t shy away from the winter months. In many ways, Juneau’s winter climate is quite similar to that of Seattle, making it bearable and not unreasonable.
Where You’re Docked
There are three possibilities for where any given cruise ship will dock in Juneau. There is the South Franklin Dock, the Ferry Terminal and Marine Park. Happily, all three are quite centrally located and passengers can get over to all of the city’s best attractions from them with relative ease.
Which Cruise Ships Go Here?
A large number of the most popular cruise lines have itineraries that include stops at Juneau. A few of the biggest cruise lines that stop in Juneau are Carnival Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Holland America. However, there are many other options available in terms of ships, dates, days in port and at sea when it comes to Juneau.