Alaska’s state capital is truly breath-taking in its isolation. While still a major player on the North American tourist circuit due to its popularity with cruise ships navigating the Gastineau Channel, Juneau still oozes with a truly untouched and uncultivated "off-the-beaten-track" charm. Most visitors who come here are eager to catch a glimpse the whale pods that that bask in the glacial waters of the Alaskan Gulf, but any lover of the great outdoors is bound to be right at home in this mountain-shrouded city. Tour services offer daily excursions to the nearby Glacier Bay National Park, where vast and formidable UNESCO-certified ice fields work their way northwards into grizzly bear territory. But the drama doesn’t end there: Juneau itself is overshadowed by 3500 foot peaks, shrouded in mist and home to the mighty Mendenhall Ice Rivers, where tourists can enjoy magnificent panoramic views over the South Alaskan valleys. A wealth of heritage attractions, great eateries and lodgings pepper the downtown, too, meaning there’s something for every caliber of traveler in this cold and remote mountain destination.
A hundred and eighty degree panoramas of Juneau’s closest ice fields await at the Mendenhall Glacier visitors center. Perched high on a fir forested cliff top just to the south of the icy lake, the center also has immersive exhibitions that chronicle the development of the glacial ecosystem and the damaging effects of climate change. There are also a number of hiking trails that start here, giving walkers the opportunity way to explore the Alaskan wilds during the warmer months.
The waters of the Alaskan Gulf are famed for their high populations of migrating North Pacific humpback and killer whales. Today there are a number of tour services that offer visitors the opportunity to spot these majestic beasts of the marine wilds in their natural habitat, and many will even throw in a little dolphin spotting session for good measure.
Since 1976 this DIPAC not-for-profit has been aiding salmon enhancement and sustainability projects in the south Alaskan region. Facing all-time record lows in 1974, this hatchery was one of the first and flagship projects in Juneau and has since helped raise numbers significantly. Today, the on-site visitor’s centre hosts regular educational programs for locals and visitors looking to learn more about the frontline environmental struggle, in this, one of America’s premier fishing destinations.
As featured in Top Chef and Deadliest Catch, this iconic seafood joint has won a real myriad of awards for service, culinary flair and creativity. The owners are proud supporters of local fishermen, serving high-quality Alaskan crab and nothing else. Now something of an institution in Juneau, the Crab Shack is a ‘must taste’ for any visiting foodie.
Photo via their official FB page.
Situated in an attractive renovated building from 1914, the Silverbow Inn is right in the historic heart of downtown Juneau. The hotel is family owned and curiously decorated, with a wealth of antique trinkets adorning the lobby. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice on what’s on in town, because the staff here are happy to help!