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Juneau, AK

Juneau ("JOO-noh") is the capital of Alaska, located in the state's Southeastern region, with a population of about 30,000 and an area bigger than Rhode Island or Delaware. It has been the capital of Alaska since 1906 when the government of the then-Alaska Territory was moved from Sitka, Alaska would only become a state fifty three years later.

Understand

Juneau is on the North American mainland and yet cannot be reached by land. Effectively, the rugged mountains surrounding it make Juneau into an "island" city, reachable only by air or by sea. It is the only state capital that can not be reached by land from the state it serves. Moreover, Juneau is the largest US state capital in area and the only one that borders a foreign country. The economy is based on government, tourism, mining, and fishing.

One of the interesting things about Juneau and Alaska is the effect on public life of... Read more

Juneau, AK

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Juneau ("JOO-noh") is the capital of Alaska, located in the state's Southeastern region, with a population of about 30,000 and an area bigger than Rhode Island or Delaware. It has been the capital of Alaska since 1906 when the government of the then-Alaska Territory was moved from Sitka, Alaska would only become a state fifty three years later.

Understand

Juneau is on the North American mainland and yet cannot be reached by land. Effectively, the rugged mountains surrounding it make Juneau into an "island" city, reachable only by air or by sea. It is the only state capital that can not be reached by land from the state it serves. Moreover, Juneau is the largest US state capital in area and the only one that borders a foreign country. The economy is based on government, tourism, mining, and fishing.

One of the interesting things about Juneau and Alaska is the effect on public life of being such a geographically large state. The state legislature, for instance, takes telephone testimony during its committee hearings. They have a state-wide video conferencing system to facilitate government meetings and deliberations.

Geography and Climate

The climate in Juneau and the southeast panhandle is best described as a "cooler wetter version of Seattle." It is a mid-latitude oceanic climate in the southern sections and a subarctic oceanic climate in the northern parts. On an annual basis, this is both the wettest and warmest part of Alaska with milder temperatures in the winter and high precipitation throughout the year. Juneau averages over 50 inches (1,270 mm) of precipitation a year, while other areas receive over 275 inches (6,990 mm). This is also the only region in Alaska in which the average daytime high temperature is above freezing during the winter months.

Average annual rainfall ranges from 55 inches to over 90 inches (1400 to over 2300 mm) depending on location; annual average snowfall is 101 inches (257 cm).

The average high temperature in July is 65°F (18°C), and the average low temperature in January is 20°F (-4°C)

Source:
Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

Juneau, AK: Port Information


Juneau is a major port of call for cruise ships plying the Inside Passage, which bring several thousand visitors almost every day between May and September. The cruise ships typically dock just south of downtown Juneau in the following docks, listed in order of distance from downtown Juneau, with nearby facilities:

Sea Drome Dock (SD) - small ship
Alaska Steamship Dock (AS) - large ship - Library and parking garage
Cruiseship Terminal (CT) - large ship - Visitor Information Center (summer)
Intermediate Vessel Float (IVF) - medium ship - Mt. Roberts tram
South Franklin Street Dock (FKL) - large ship
A J Dock (AJD) - large ship - the furthest dock sticking out into the harbor, 1 mile walk around the fuel depot or shuttle to CT and visitor information center

A typical summer day may have four or five cruise ships calling on Juneau, which could bring up to ten thousand visitors for the day. To plan your day, check the cruise ship schedule for Juneau.

Get around Juneau, AK


On foot

Downtown Juneau is compact and highly walkable, though above 4th Street it gets very hilly. The downtown streets are on a slanted grid, with Franklin, Seward, and Main Sts running parallel, and with Front, First, Second, Third, Fourth, etc. cutting across. The State Capitol is at Fourth and Main, City Hall is at the foot of Seward and Marine Way, and touristy grazing is along Franklin. Watch for the 20 historic signages that detail the fascinating history of Juneau.

By bus

The public Capital Transit provides daily bus service for downtown Juneau and vicinity. Route 3/4 serves the Mendenhall Valley but can get you no closer than about a mile to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

Car rentals are available at the airport and are necessary if you wish to explore far on your own.

At the cruise ship docks, several bus services offer low-cost rides to the Mendenhall Glacier during the summer visitors season.

  • Mighty Great Trips "Blue Glacier Express" is a blue schoolbus that departs every 30 minutes, 9 AM to 6:30 PM on most summer days.
  • Juneau Tours Glacier Shuttle runs from the cruise ships to the Mendenhall Glacier and back every 30 minutes on most days.

By taxi

Taxis are an economical alternative. Taxi vans can carry up to 7 passengers and cost about the same as buses for 5 or more. Drivers who want to do tours can often be found in the taxi zones near the Mt. Roberts Tram or the Red Dog Saloon. Metered fares and charter rates are regulated by the city.

What to see in Juneau, AK


  • Alaska State Museum, 395 Whittier St, ☎ +1-907-465-2901, fax: +1-907-465-2976. 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. 
  • 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. 
  •  Alaska State Capitol, 4th Street and Main St. M-F 8:30 AM-5 PM: Sa-Su 9:30 AM-4 PM. 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. An extensive exhibit of historic photographs in the hallways. Complimentary 30-minute tours are available from mid-May through mid-September. 
  • Mendenhall Glacier. 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.
    •   Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, 8510 Mendenhall Loop Rd, ☎ +1 907 789-0097, fax: +1 907 789-6643. May-Sept: 8 AM-7:30 PM daily; Oct-April: 10 AM-4 PM 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. 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 lookout. 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 lakeside to check out 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.
  • 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-9 PM, Tu-Th 8 AM-9 PM, F 9 AM or 1 PM-9 PM, Sa-Su 9 AM-9 PM. 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Chapel By The Lake, 11024 Auke Lake Way (Glacier Highway, just past Auke Lake), ☎ +1 907 789-7592. A 60+ year-old log cabin church with an amazing view of Auke Lake and Mendenhall Glacier through its picture window.
  • Juneau Arts & Humanities Council (JAHC), 350 Whittier St (housed in the JACC, the old armory across from the Coast Guard Station), ☎ +1 907 586-2787. 9-6. Built in 1959 as the National Guard Armory, this building was retired in 2004, and lay empty for several years, until the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly, under Mayor Bruce Botelho, turned the facility over to the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council to manage as the Juneau Arts & Culture Center. It currently houses a gallery and lobby shop that represent ONLY local artists and artisans. They have a large and diverse selection of jewelry, pottery, glassware, and native arts. 

What to do in Juneau, AK


The most popular activities in Juneau for visitors are shopping, flight seeing, charter fishing, visiting the Mendenhall Glacier, and hiking. Be aware that Juneau is very spread out. It is broken into sections. There is "Downtownб" and "The Valley" (where the Mendenhall Glacier, Mendenhall Mall, a skate park, as well as most of the residential is located). The distance between the two is a good 15 minutes.

Of the cruise ship tour options, an air tour leaves the biggest impression—especially if the weather is clear. Behind Juneau lies the Juneau Icefield. Helicopter and floatplane tours are available. The most popular floatplane tour is with Wings Airways to the Taku Lodge. Most of the helicopter tours include a stop landing on the glacier. Trips are fairly expensive, but a remarkable experience that many consider well worth the price. Alternatively, get a group together and charter a small airplane tour. These will generally be less expensive (you pay by the hour) and allows you to customize your experience. Ward Air is highly regarded, but Wings of Alaska and other carriers offer charter flights.

Be sure to go for a hike while in Juneau. There are over 90 hiking trails in the area (many very steep). A few lead to rental cabins available from the US Forest Service or State of Alaska parks. If you want a guide, Gastineau Guiding offers guided hikes on many popular trails and combines some hikes with whale watching or kayaking.

What to eat and drink in Juneau, AK


Eat

Groceries

  • Rainbow Foods, 224 4th St (at Franklin), ☎ +1 907 586-6476. M-F 9 AM-7 PM, Sa 10 AM-6 PM, Su noon-6 PM. Natural food store in Downtown Juneau. Decent produce, awesome weekday deli, and Thursday night dinners. Prices are not so bad considering everything comes in by jet or boat.
  • Foodland IGA (downtown). Used to be A & P (Alaskan and Proud). Sells deli and Filipino food made on premises. Unsatisfactory meat and produce, but convenient for other items you may need that you don't want to spend an arm and a leg on at Rainbow Foods.
  • Fred Meyer's Grocery (across AK-7 from airport). Part of the Kroger chain. Contains a Starbucks cafe.
  • Super Bear (Mendenhall Valley).
  • Safeway (Mendenhall Valley). Contains a Starbucks cafe.
  • Breeze In, Mendenhall Valley, Lemon Creek, and Douglas. Bakery/quick mart and wine/beer/liquor.
  • Costco, 5225 Commercial Blvd. Not convenient for cruise ship passengers, but if you're making an extended stay around Southeast Alaska, may be worth stocking up here. Membership required.

Restaurants

  • Breakwater Inn, 1711 Glacier Ave, ☎ +1 907 586-6303. Better for drinks. Not a very relaxing atmosphere during the summer and the food isn't that great. An order of bread will get you a sandwich roll from Costco with some cheese on it.
  • Canton House, 8585 Old Dairy Rd, ☎ +1 907 789-5075. One of the best, most consistent restaurants in town.
  • Chan's Thai Kitchen, 11806 Glacier Highway. Far from downtown and slow, but serves great Thai food.
  • Douglas Café, 913 3rd Street, Douglas, ☎ +1 907 364-3307. Tues 11 AM-2:30 PM, Wed-Fri 11 AM-9 PM, Sat 9 AM-9 PM, Sun 9 AM-12:30 PM.
  • El Sombrero, 157 S. Franklin St, ☎ +1 907 586-6770. Mon-Thurs 11 AM-9 PM, Fri & Sat 11 AM-10 PM. Try the halibut fajitas or the halibut fajita salad. A Juneau institution for 30 years. No hot sauce (aside from Tabasco) or liquor available.
  • Seongs Sushi. Small and crowded but has good sushi and sashimi.
  • The Hangar (On the Wharf), 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).
  • The Hot Bite, Boat Harbor, Auke Bay, ☎ +1 907 790-2483.
  • The Island Pub, 1102 2nd Street, Douglas, ☎ +1 907 364-1595. Has good pizzas and sandwiches, a good vibe, and a stunning view of the channel looking back towards Juneau. Sometimes you can catch a local bluegrass or jazz band there.
  • The Twisted Fish. Also a good bet for food but it caters to tourists (closed in the winter). Not cheap but not outrageous either. A bit loud for quiet conversation.
  • Zen, 431 W Willoughby Ave. Rather pricey but has truly fantastic Asian fusion cuisine. Serene atmosphere, not too touristy.
  • Suwanna Cafe, Jordan Creek Mall atrium (across from Nugget Mall), ☎ +1 907 789-1250. 11 AM-2:30 PM. Suwanna Cafe is run by two Thai sisters and their momma. Open Mon-Fri only for lunch, they have great summer rolls that are like a salad in an uncooked rice wrap, great Thai curries, wonderful Satay, and Pad Thai, along with Thai iced tea.
  • TLC: A Taste of Local Culture for Visitors, ☎ +1 907 586-2787. Offered by the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, an opportunity to enjoy a home-cooked meal with real Alaskans in their home, and support the arts at the same time. Contact them at or call them to arrange your dinner. 
  • Tracy's Crab Shack. Located in the alley behind the library downtown. Offers great king crab legs and crab cakes. Their bisque is to die for.
  • 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. 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. 9 AM-3 PM. 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 9 AM, for lunch from 10 AM until the food's gone.
  • The Rookery Cafe, 111 Seward St. By day a cafe serving Stumptown coffee, pastries, and lunch items. At night transforms into a bistro with a rotating menu, often featuring Alaskan seafood
  • The Taqueria, 245 Marine Way. Taco restaurant with wine on tap. Outdoor seating available on nicer days

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 the legislative season when the lobbyists, lawyers, and aides can be found there.
  • Island Pub. In Douglas (see the Eat section above)
  • Squire's Rest. Out in Auke Bay for a rustic experience.
  • Alaskan Brewery. Drop into the brewery to sample the brews.

Shopping in Juneau, AK


Juneau, like many towns dominated by the cruise ship industry, is ripe with jewelry, t-shirt, and trinket shops. On busy cruise ship days, you can watch as thousands of cruisers in matching track outfits ply the shopping district to get trinkets for their grandchildren and jewelry for themselves.

There are a few locally owned stores that attract locals and tourists - look for a sign in shop windows that says "This store is owned by an Alaskan family."

  • William Spear Design, Franklin Street (above Heritage Coffee). For awesome pins.
  • Peer Amid Beads (on Front and Seward). A bead store that also carries art (mainly carvings) done by local artists. Also has a large collection of anime.
  • Aurora Projekt, South Franklin. Has customizable gifts for travelers who don't want a boring, touristy-looking T-shirt.
  • The Alaska General Store, Franklin Street. A quirky shop with gifts that can't be found in other shops downtown. It also has a great selection of jeans and clothing. This store is not for the budget traveler.
  • The Alaskan Brewery. Also has good Alaska based products that are popular with locals and tourists alike. There is a large gift shop downtown on South Franklin that also offers a shuttle to the brewery.
  • Kindred Post, 145 S Franklin St. Contract postal station selling curated gifts including some made by local artists
  • Trickster Company, 224 Front St. Selling art and design work by contemporary Alaska Native artists

Safety in Juneau, AK


Alaska enjoys a comparatively low crime rate and is generally a safe place to travel though women need to be especially careful on their own, as Alaska does have a disproportionately high rate of rape and sexual assaults compared with the rest of the United States. While it is mainly Alaska Natives who are affected proportionally nonetheless it is recommended to exercise some caution although most areas visited heavily by tourists are pretty safe.

Also keep in mind that while Alaska is wild and beautiful, it does not tolerate fools easily. It is quite possible to get lost, cold, wet, and even die, all within sight of downtown Anchorage. The state's populace varies between extremely friendly to tourists to openly hostile. A common bumper sticker says: "If it's tourist season, why can't we shoot 'em?" Many Alaskans are understandably tired of those people from the "lower 48" who head North to live out ill-conceived — and sometimes fatal — fantasies of living off the land.

The remote parts of the state are its jewels, but be prepared for the trip you plan. Do your homework, and plan on being self-sufficient. Consider using a guide, or checking out local conditions with locals before jumping in the kayak, and heading for yonder point that looked so nice on the map. The water in Alaska is so cold, falling overboard can be fatal within minutes. More importantly, self-rescue becomes impossible often within seconds, especially around glacier-fed rivers. Treatment for hypothermia is required reading before doing any water sports, even during warm weather.

Bears live in many areas of the state and are best avoided. Moose are equally common and just as dangerous and attack humans more frequently than bears. See wilderness backpacking for more information about staying safe in areas of known bear activity.

Language spoken in Juneau, AK


English is the official language.

LOCAL TIME

8:15 am
September 15, 2019
America/Anchorage

CURRENT WEATHER

6.55 °C / 43.79 °F
sky is clear
Mon

4.19 °C/40 °F
heavy intensity rain
Tue

4.65 °C/40 °F
light rain
Wed

4.95 °C/41 °F
heavy intensity rain
Thu

4.65 °C/40 °F
moderate rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

USD

1 EUR = 0 USD
1 GBP = 0 USD
1 AUD = 0 USD
1 CAD = 0 USD

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