Juneau, Alaska’s Capital city, has a population of 32,000 and is only accessible by air or sea. It lies 75 water miles south of Haines and 90 water miles south of Skagway. Juneau is the most scenic capital city in the U.S. and is surrounded by inter-coastal waterways, dense rainforests, steep mountainsides, and the 1500 square mile Juneau Ice Field. It is rich in history, art, music and Native heritage. It’s an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, a shoppers’ delight and a food lover’s dream - not just the capital of Alaska, but the center of Southeast Alaska. Juneau is a picture book community nestled at the base of the mountains, facing the sea, its cosmopolitan downtown is fun to explore with winding streets, brightly painted store fronts and historic buildings. During your 4 hours of free time in downtown Juneau you can take the walking tour, visit the salmon hatchery, enjoy Juneau’s wonderful restaurants, shopping or select other tours.
Highlights of the Fjord Express to Juneau
A favorite stop on our evening cruise, the picturesque and historic octagonal lighthouse was first lit in 1906.
More than just a ferry ride, you will see humpback whales, stellar sea lions, harbor seals, nesting bald eagles and porpoise on every round trip cruise!
See Alaska’s historic capital city. Don’t miss the State Capitol Building, Governor’s Mansion, Mt Roberts Tram, Red Dog Saloon, Alaska State Museum, optional tour to the Dipac Salmon Hatchery, Juneau’s shopping district and new Sea Walk to the life size whale sculpture, fresh Alaskan seafood restaurants and more
This is optional, but included in your city tour if choose to do it. The hatchery raises just over 130 million chum, king and coho salmon annually. You’ll learn about what it takes to raise salmon, the importance of the Alaska hatchery system, and the near shore marine environment that salmon share with other marine life. From mid June through October, you can watch adult salmon swim up a 450 foot fish ladder and gather into holding ponds until the fish are ready to reproduce. View baby salmon year round from a sky bridge and meet over 150 local marine species in the various aquariums and touch tanks.
Take a stroll to enjoy Juneau’s beautiful waterfront and the new Sea Walk that takes you alongside the Gastineau Channel. Many restaurants, shops, gardens and art line the boardwalk along the waterfront. The walk ends at a life size humpback whale sculpture. A great photo opportunity!
Wildlife and Whale Watching Cruise
The Fjord Express fast ferry from Skagway and Haines to Juneau is a great way to see Alaska's wildlife. The Juneau and Chilkat icefields rim the shorelines between the port cities of Skagway, Juneau and Haines Alaska. Glacial nutrients kick start the food chain in these waters. This summer bloom provides for concentrating marine life on your route through the deep fjord of Lynn Canal. For many, drifting and quietly observing humpback whale behavior will be a highlight of the voyage. Keep a camera handy as we quickly navigate the shorelines of these fertile waters and watch for wildlife.
Depart Skagway and Haines in the morning and head south through Lynn Canal, the continent’s longest and deepest glacial fjord. Lynn Canal stretches over 100 miles long and is over 2000 feet deep. We will see many hanging glaciers high on the mountainside and cascading waterfalls on our route. Marine life abounds in these waters, and a fully-narrated wildlife and whale watching cruise will highlight the roundtrip voyage. You’ll see hanging glaciers, nesting bald eagles, harbor seals, porpoise and humpback or killer whales. We’ll stop at a rookery where hundreds of Steller sea lions gather in the summer to breed and pup.
Downtown Juneau’s Walking Tour
This 1 hour (not including going into sites) walking tour begins from Marine Park where you will get off the bus. Use your downtown Juneau map provided on board the boat, bus or download the map here. Watch for the blue three-sided historic signposts throughout the downtown area that give more information about points of interest.
On the Docks
Your walking tour begins right off the bus at Marine Park in downtown Juneau.
- Patsy Ann Statue, Juneau’s most famous dog, Patsy Ann, deaf from birth, greeted visitors off the ships for 13 years until she died in 1942. She could somehow “hear” the whistles of the approaching ships.
- On the dock adjacent to Marine Park Plaza are pictures of Southeast's lighthouses, a Juneau distance map made of nails hammered into the decking, and a tidewater gauge is near the floating dock.
- Use the spotting scopes to find mountain goats on Mt. Juneau.
Start on South Franklin. Some of Juneau's oldest establishments are bars - remnants of the early gold mining era. The town sported 30 saloons around 1914.
- The Alaskan Hotel & Bar, 167 South Franklin, is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and is filled with ornate Victorian-era furnishings. The bar is a favorite with locals on "open mic" night.
- Find the Red Dog Saloon at 278 South Franklin, where you'll see Wyatt Earp's gun from Nome, lots of stuffed critters, and interesting Alaska memorabilia.
Downtown Juneau's most famous thoroughfare.
- The restored Senate Building at 175 South Franklin retains much of its former elegance and houses a variety of shops.
- The Alaska Steam Laundry, now the Emporium Mall at 174 South Franklin, was the center of Juneau's business district. Built in 1901, the building has shingled turret and ornate shingled front parapet.
- The historic Elks Hall at 109 South Franklin was the first Territorial Capitol in Alaska. Gunakadeit Park, named for a legendary Tlingit sea creature, is across the street from the Downtown Clock on the corner of Front and Franklin streets.
On Front Street
Front Street was the water's edge at high tide before the Alaska-Juneau mine tailings became the foundations of the streets closer to today's waterfront.
- Juneau's first bar, the Missouri (built in 1891 and later renamed the Louvre), is now the Imperial Bar at 241 Front. The pressed tin ceiling and walls behind the bar date from 1906.
- Sea Alaska Heritage Institute, a cultural center where you can walk through an authentic clan house, listen to ancient stories, participate in interactive displays including the fishing technology exhibit which is particularly informative and view art pieces from the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian. $5 for adults, $4 for seniors. 105 S. Seward St. https://www.sealaskaheritage.org/
Head two blocks uphill on Seward to see some of Juneau's prominent historic sites.
- In 1913, jeweler and businessman Emery Valentine built the Valentine Building, which now houses the Juneau Drug Company, at 119 Seward. He organized the Volunteer Fire Department and served six terms as mayor.
- In 1914 the Goldstein Building, 130 Seward, featured a department store. It also served as Alaska's Capitol three times.
- At the corner of Seward and Third, turn left on Third and walk uphill on Main Street to see local artist Skip Wallen's "Windfall Fisherman," a life-sized bronze brown bear at the state courthouse.
The State Capitol on Fourth
The Alaska Capitol, on Fourth between Main and Seward, was completed in 1931. Alaska's political powers pass laws here from January through May, but it has free self-guided tours Monday through Friday during the summer.
- Although it has no dome, this working Capitol has marble columns, a reproduction of the Liberty Bell, and historical photographs and paintings.
- Across Main is the State Office Building (locals call it the SOB). Check out the 8th floor to view the “Old Witch Totem Pole” carved in the late 1800’s, a spectacular view of Juneau and free pipe organ concerts on Fridays. If you are headed to the Alaska State Museum or the Life Size Whale Statue you can take a short cut and avoid eight flights of stairs by taking the buildings elevator down.
- Juneau-Douglas City Museum focuses on local history, art and culture. Exhibits on fishing, mining, skiing, native history, politics and statehood. Check out the 1959 American Flag out front with 49 stars, not many were made, Hawaii was admitted as the 50th state within the year. $6 adults, $5 seniors
Follow Fourth Street, which becomes historic Calhoun Avenue, about two blocks to the Governor's House, a "liberal interpretation of New England colonial" architecture built in 1912 for $40,000.
- Gov. Mike Dunleavy is the 12th to live in the house since statehood in 1959. Prior to that, nine territorial governors and one secretary of Alaska resided in the house.
- Over the years, Charles Lindbergh, Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover, and Gerald Ford entered its halls.
- The 14,400-square-foot building has 35 rooms, not including the garage or closets, 10 bathrooms, and six bedrooms. The house boasts eight fireplaces. The second floor serves as the family's personal quarters.
- The totem pole outside, commissioned in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, tells the story of the mosquito's origin.
Backtrack on Calhoun, take the overhead walkway and trek down Fifth Street a little more than two blocks to the next stop.
- St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church at 326 Fifth Street, with its gold onion dome, is a reminder of the Russian presence in 19th-century Alaska. Built in 1894 by newly baptized Orthodox Natives and Siberian gold miners, the church has been refurbished and is a national historic landmark. The octagon-shaped structure houses 18th-century Russian icons and religious relics.
- Across Gold Street on Fifth Street is the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, home to the Catholic Diocese of Juneau.
House of Wickersham
Two blocks further uphill will take you through Juneau’s “nob Hill” and to the House of Wickersham at 213 7th Street. The home remains much as it was when Alaska pioneer Judge James Wickersham purchased it in 1928. It was the first large Victorian home built on "Chicken Ridge," the "Nob Hill" of Juneau.
Alaska State Museum and Whale Statue
If you have additional time, go back to the State Office Building and take the elevator down to the ground level and head over to the Alaska State Museum on Whittier Street. Further out on the Sea Walk you can see the life size whale statue.
- The Alaska State Museum located in the new state-of-the-art Fr. Andrew P. Kashevaroff (APK) in Juneau. Exhibits feature an expansive collection of Alaska Native materials, fine art, and objects relating to topics such as mining, fishing, forestry, tourism, Russian-American period, and World War II .There is a discovery room, with a climb-aboard replica of an early sailing ship and fun activities for all ages. There is always something new to see in the changing temporary exhibitions. Open 7 days a week, $12 adults, $11 seniors. 395 Whittier St., museums.state.ak.us
- Takhu, a life-sized bronze statue of a humpback whale breaching at Overstreet Park, next to the Juneau Douglas Bridge sits in an infinity pool beside the Gastineau Channel so it looks like it is literally jumping out of the water.
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