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Essentials

Language: English.

Currency: US dollar.

Docking/Anchoring: There are several places where cruise ships dock, all of which are within walking distance of the downtown area, but on very busy days (meaning when there are more than four ships in port) you might have to anchor and use a tender to get ashore.

Itineraries: Features on Alaska cruises.

Getting Around: There are usually plenty of taxis at Marine Park if you want to venture further afield, but the town itself is easy to negotiate on foot.

Overview

Inaccessible by road and surrounded by a combination of mountains and nature, Juneau is an unusual state capital. It first appeared on the map during the 1880’s thanks to gold mining, and in more recent years returned to the spotlight thanks to the activities of the then US governor, Sarah Palin. Although it can can get horribly crowded during the peak cruising season, Juneau has a certain appeal beyond the twee tourist shops, and plenty for visitors to see and do from sights and active pursuits. All you have to do is get away from the crowds, and pray it doesn’t rain.

Must See And Do

The Mount Roberts Tramway: Starting off on Franklin Street near the main pier, the tram takes visitors up some 550 metres to the mountain top to enjoy a combination of easy to challenging hiking trails, and stunning vistas of the Gastineau Channel and beyond. One option is to hike up or down or both, but it’s challenging, takes time, and isn’t recommended on a wet day (it will leave your shoes filthy). At the top you can also visit the Raptor Centre to see injured bald eagles recuperating.

Alaska State Museum: Located on Whittier Street, the museum features a range of interesting exhibits from various Northwest Coast Indian tribes.

Watery Pursuits: From Juneau you can enjoy a variety of activities on the water, from kayaking and salmon or halibut fishing, to whale watching tours.

Alaskan Brewing Company: If fancy a tipple, and you are over 21, head for the local brew house for a tour and a tasting. It’s just outside of downtown on Shaune Drive, a short taxi ride away, and they have a wide variety of year-round and seasonal brews on offer to whet your appetite.

Alaskan Fudge Company: If your taste buds prefer something sweeter, this pretty shop is located right in the heart of downtown Juneau and has chocolates, fudge and various other edible souvenirs to eat and take home.

Macaulay Salmon Hatchery: Just five kilometres out of town, this is the place to learn all about salmon. Besides raising and harvesting the fish, it is also a fascinating display of local marine life.

Excursions

If you only do one thing, head for the Mendenhall Glacier; although it has shrunk a bit in the last twenty or so years, it is still an easy glacier to see from land. Just 20 kilometres from downtown, there are walking trails to enjoy on good weather days, and rangers will make sure bears are kept at bay. You can take a shuttle from Juneau, go on a ship’s excursion or take a taxi. The cheapest option is taking a bus from town but it stops quite a long way from the visitor centre. Other must-do excursions to consider if your budget will stretch to it include a helicopter ride high above Juneau and the ice fields, or glacier dog sledding, which combines flight seeing with a real life sledding experience on top of the ice.