Juneau is the capital of Alaska and quite unusual. There is no land access to the city and therefore people/goods/cars must arrive by plane or ferry. I flew in on my own and spent five days there. Right away I pretty much fell in love with Juneau and can’t recommend it enough. I think three or four days is probably enough time, and then if you wanted you could branch out and check out some of the small fishing towns nearby. I loved how the city is sandwiched between these roaring mountains, the Gastineau channel and Douglas Island. Because of this the streets tend to get very hilly and all the houses have these rickerty stairs going up to them. That, mixed with all the brightly painted houses, native artwork and querky shops makes Juneau a really fun place to walk around and explore.
Mount Roberts is the main mountain by downtown. There is a skytram that takes people to the top but to save some money (and get some exercise), you can hike to the top and then ride down for free if you buy something from the gift shop. I opted to do this and hiked up the trail. It was all uphill and on a hot day was very exhausting. Just make sure to take some water and have regular breaks and you’ll be fine. In total it took me around an hour and the little stops/viewpoints along the way were breathtaking of the city. At the top there are lookouts of the cruise ships and Douglas. There’s also an option to hike more trails and a resident eagle to say hello to. I took the tram down and it took around five minutes in comparison haha but c’est la vie.
As Juneau is the capital of Alaska that means there is a capitol building. Admittedly it isn’t as fancy as ones I’ve seen in the past but still a gem to see. If you want a fun photo then post with the bronze bear outside, I saw many tourists from the cruise ships doing this haha – I wonder if there’s a special hashtag for it? #alaskabearcapitol #ABC? Nearby is the Alaska State Museum which was unfortunately under renovation but I heard it’s a must do!
Just outside the city is Mendenhall Wetlands. I’m not sure if you can walk on it but there is a bridge/lookout thing. It’s just a very beautiful and vast space to ponder, read or hang out. You can drive or cycle there and it’s about ten/fifteen minutes out. Another idea is to cross over to Douglas and go to Sandy Beach. I went there for a BBQ at night and it was lovely to feel some sand between my toes. The fact that it is again around ten minutes from downtown really shows just how many landscapes and terrific places there are around Juneau. There is also the Mendenhall Glacier which is spectacular but I have a whole post on that for Friday.
If you’re feeling peckish in Juneau there are multiple great food places. The most popular for tourism (and I have to say it was really scrumptious) is Tracy’s King Crab Shack. They’re located right by the cruise terminals and offer a variety of crab dishes. I went for the bisque, rolls and crab cakes. If you’re going to be in Alaska you have to try crab and therefore if you’re in Juneau you have to go to Tracy’s.
Something that isn’t fishy is Saffron just up the hill. I’m putting this place in here because the food was great, it was affordable and if you’ll probably want a break from salmon or cod or crab. I got the lunch special which was a combination tray full of little bits of different meals. Coming from the UK I’m used to my Indian food and this was a valiant effort. If you need a break from Alaskan delicacies it’s a decent option to consider.
Lastly are two coffee cafe places that are perfect for taking a break in. One has several locations across Juneau and is called Heritage Coffee. I went to what I think was the main store and got some of their pistachio gelato (so so so good). They have a big selection of snacks, pastries, sandwiches and of course coffee. The other suggestion is The Rookery Cafe and they are by the capitol building. They have a smaller selection but everything is more ‘crafted’ and it felt much more homey. It really depends on your mood but both places were great and affordable.
I hope my enthusiasm for Juneau was adamant today. If it wasn’t so isolated I could definitely see myself living there. Outside the city near the wetlands is a Walmart so you aren’t completely ‘alone’ haha. See you on Friday for the last Alaska adventure (and it’s a doozy)!