Alaska State Capital: Juneau
Harrisburg. That was Juneau‘s name before Richard Harris fell out of favor with the locals, who turned their allegiance to his co-founder, Joe Juneau. In 1880, prospectors Harris and Juneau relied on a local Indian chief to guide them to the mouth of Gold Creek, where they discovered gold. The state’s first major gold strike was broadcast (starting the Alaska Gold Rush), and the timeline for modern Juneau history began. That was in the 1800’s!
A first rush of about 40 miners brought trading posts, saloons and missionaries. Within a year, the tent camp became a small town and was the first one founded here after Alaska’s purchase from Russia.
Today, Juneau is a thriving city offering a great blend of city amenities and small-town hospitality, all in the heart of Alaska’s majestic mountains, rivers, glaciers, and forests. Nearly 32,000 people call Juneau home – many of them working in government, tourism, mining, and fishing, and all of them instilled with a deep love for this place. Such a mix of personalities makes Juneau unique. There is no better way to see the city sights and the surrounding areas than by plane or helicopter.
From National Geographic to the New York Times, everyone’s talking about Juneau. Between food trucks, art walks, open mic nights and beyond, the streets of Alaska’s capitol city are humming with activity. Find your next running challenge with one of our many summer races or get out and walk the hills with the locals on a berry walk. In the winter months, watch as fireworks light up the sky at Eaglecrest Ski Area or prepare to be dazzled by a swirl of costumes at Wearable Arts. No matter the season, Juneau is your Alaskan event.
Juneau’s “off season” – October through April – may be a sleepy time for the local bears, but we’re wide awake! Not ones to hibernate, and with hefty amounts of snow to enjoy, we love spending quality time in the mountains surrounding Juneau. Our breathtaking winter landscape is the backdrop for adventure, and we invite you to join in! Just a quick two-hour flight from Seattle lands you in the middle of some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the Northwest.
For the winter/snow enthusiasts…downhill, snowboarding, and heli-skiing options will test the mettle of the most experienced powder buffs. Cross-country ski in picturesque mountain meadows or skate ski on the lake in front of the majestic Mendenhall Glacier. Now that’s something you don’t do every day!
Most often time visited is May thru September.
However, if you want to go home with a cool story, be in Juneau on the longest day of the year, June 21, for the Midnight Sun. There are 18 hours and 18 minutes of daylight that day, and the sun never really “sets” — it just dips below the horizon, where its glow keeps illuminating the sky until it reappears the next morning just a few hours later. In the fall, we experience a rapid decrease in light. The shortest day, December 21, has just 6 hours and 21 minutes of daylight.
Glacier Sightseeing & Activities – Join us on hikes along Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau’s #1 choice for full-day cruises to Tracy Arm & Sawyer Glacier, View the majestic Glaciers by Helicopter, Floatplane, or Bus!
Wildlife Viewing – Bears, Whales, and Fishing, waterfalls, seals, & eagles
Outdoor Adventures & Activities – The USDA Forest Service Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center is in the Mendenhall Valley, 12 miles from downtown Juneau. Visitors may reach the visitor center by city bus, taxi, tour bus or rental car. The city bus drops visitors a mile and a half from the visitor center.
The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center provides a high-quality recreation experience with emphasis on glacial phenomena, ecosystems and protection of fish and wildlife. Staff at the visitor center are available to answer questions about the area. There is a $5 entrance fee for 16 & over
Sportfishing – fly fishing, salmon, & halibut among other types
Attractions & Tours – historic city/museum and gold panning, along with city sightseeing, Glacier Gardens Botanical Gardens Rainforest Adventure began as a stream restoration project and soon became a unique botanical garden.
Restaurants – The Gold Creek Salmon Bake is an event that’s been grilled to perfection for more than 30 years. Savor an all-you-can-eat adventure, in a unique outdoor environment you’ll find nowhere else. Arrive at a beautiful setting, in lush rain forest alongside a creek, under translucent domes that protect you from the elements, rain or shine. Savor the aroma of wild salmon, grilling slowly over fires of fragrant alder wood. And settle in for a feast for all your senses! The sumptuous spread has something for everyone. Pubs, breakfast bars, Thai cuisine, bake shoppes, etc.
Shopping – Fine Crafts from the locals, knife shops, fudge shops, salmon stores, leather and fur goods. Shipping them home would be suggested, especially the knives.
Flying to Juneau is as easy and affordable as flying to any popular vacation destination. Believe it or not, it’s only about two hours nonstop from Seattle.
Humpbacks breaching, Orcas jumping, porpoises playing, glaciers sliding down mountainsides to meet a never-ending coastline — these and other sights await the ocean-going voyager to Juneau.
Cruising is by far the most popular way to explore the Inside Passage — and for good reason (be sure to free-up plenty of space on your camera). With cruise ships docking right downtown, Juneau is a natural port of call for large and small lines alike. Large cruises offer entertainment, extensive dining options, and shopping; small cruise companies focus more on a more “boutique” wilderness experience. Either way, if you’re taking an Alaskan cruise, your itinerary will probably include Juneau.
Where to stay: Bed & Breakfast, major hotels, quaint owner motels downtown.
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