Juneau is located on Gastineau Channel in Southeast Alaska, and is accessible only by boat or plane. Juneau is 2 hours from Seattle by air; 1-1/2 hours from Anchorage by air; it is on the mainline ferry schedule for the Alaska Marine Highway System and has regularly scheduled trips to Haines and Skagway.
In 1880, prospectors named Joe Juneau and Dick Harris, guided by Tlingit Chief Kowee, found gold in a local creek. Juneau quickly boomed into a gold rush town as claims and mines sprang up in the area, including the biggest—Treadwell and the Alaska–Juneau (A–J) mines. In 1900, Alaska’s capital was moved from Sitka to Juneau. Today, Juneau’s skyline is dominated by several government buildings, including the Federal Building (1962), the massive State Office Building (1974), the State Court Building (1975) and the older brick and marble-columned Capitol Building (1931).
Juneau, nestled at the foot of Mount Juneau, is often called “a little San Francisco.” The residential community of Douglas, on Douglas Island, is south of Juneau and connected by a bridge. Neighboring residential areas around the airport, Mendenhall Valley and Auke Bay lie north of Juneau on the mainland. The Juneau area supports 35 churches, 2 high schools, 2 middle schools, 7 elementary schools, 2 charter/community schools, a University of Alaska Southeast campus, 3 municipal libraries and the state library.
Juneau has lodging options that include hotels and motels, bed and breakfasts and an international hostel. More than 60 restaurants offer a wide variety of dining. There are shopping opportunities in the downtown area and at suburban malls in the airport and Mendenhall Valley areas. There are full-service campsites at the Spruce Meadow RV Park and there are 2 USFS campgrounds north of Juneau accessible from the Glacier Highway/Juneau Veterans’ Memorial Highway: Mendenhall Lake Campground and Auke Village Campground.
- Take a walking tour of Juneau; maps available at the Visitor Center.
- Take the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway, one of Juneau’s top attractions, to the 1,800-foot level of Mount Roberts. Observation platform with panoramic view of the city, harbor and surrounding mountains. The mountaintop complex includes a theater, restaurant, bar, gift shop, and access to alpine walking trails.
- Stop by the Alaskan Brewing Company, famous for its flagship beer, Alaskan Amber, and other award-winning brews throughout Alaska and West Coast. Its retail store is downtown at the Alaska Brewing Depot and offers clothing and gourmet items.
- Check out Alaska’s only salt cave at the Glacier Salt Cave & Spa.
- Visit Juneau’s must-see attraction—Tracy Arm—a spectacularly scenic fjord located 50 miles southeast of the city. Cruise tours offer an up-close look at mountains, wildlife, icebergs and tidewater glaciers. Go to Adventure Bound Alaska for information and reservations.
- Juneau–Douglas City Museum exhibits history and culture of the Juneau-Douglas area.
- Alaska State Museum is a major highlight of Juneau, featuring Alaska’s Native groups, artifacts from Russian–America days, WWII, temporary galleries with contemporary art, photography and other special exhibits. Open daily May–September, Tuesday–Saturday in winter.
- St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, a tiny structure built in 1894, is now the oldest original Russian Orthodox church in southeast Alaska.
- Visit the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery and visitor center that features more than 100 different local marine species in touch tanks and saltwater aquariums.
- Visit the historic home of Alaska’s Judge James Wickersham, first judge of the Third Judicial District of Alaska.
- Tour the Governor’s Mansion, home to Alaska’s chief executives since it was completed in 1913.
- Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure is a popular attraction in Juneau. What was once a landslide-scarred hillside has been transformed into a fantastic garden featuring hundreds of plants.
- Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center is located about 13 miles from downtown Juneau. See spectacular Mendenhall Glacier, explore short trails to a salmon stream and out to Nugget falls, join a guided hike, or tour the visitor center.