Wide Open Roads
Open Search form

Juneau, Alaska: 10 Reasons for Inclusion on Every Bucket List

Ah, Alaska! What is known as the wildest and one of the least-populated states in the entire United States of America, Alaska is also one of only four states to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day. This arctic state features its largest city, Anchorage, which has the world’s largest and busiest seaplane hub. Alaska is home to many Native tribes, including the Koyukon, Dënéndeh, and Tlingit peoples.

This vast region spans 663,300 square miles and is the largest US state. If you have never been to Alaska, chances are you have heard of someone going on a cruise ship adventure there or that you have most likely eaten seafood caught in the waters off of Sitka. The state of Alaska offers phenomenal whale watching, outdoor adventure, and a harsh climate that can not be withstood my most. Today, we will talk about the capital of Alaska.

What is the Capital City of Alaska?

Nestled in the southeast Alaska panhandle is the state capital of Juneau. The Alaskan capital city, Juneau, is the only capital in the US that is not accessible by road — you have to travel by plane or boat. In fact, the road system in Juneau is limited as the city and borough of Juneau is surrounded by the Juneau Ice Field and any road in or out of town would have to cross many rivers and obstacles, causing more risk than reward.

10 Reasons to Visit Juneau, Alaska

1. Downtown Juneau Historic District

Take a walking tour of downtown Juneau with this downloadable map. Throughout downtown, you will see blue three-sided historic signposts that give details on the feature of the area. Explore the waterfront, Franklin Street, Heritage Square, and other prominent areas.

2. Tongass National Forest

This National Park and Forest serve as one of the most visited attractions in all of Alaska. Located in the Mendenhall Valley 12 miles from downtown Juneau, the USDA Forest Service Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center is reachable by city, bus, taxi, tour bus, or rental call. Take in incredible views of the glacier and lake as well as learn about the impending future with climate change and other natural factors regarding the ecosystems in the region.

3. Tour the State Capitol Building

Home to the state government, the capitol building offices the house of representatives, and legislators and is headed by a Governor. To talk about the history of the city, you must talk about Richard Harris, was a famous gold prospector who originally named the town Harrisburg after himself. After the locals stop pledging allegiance to him, they put their trust in his co-founder, Joe Juneau.

The city and nearby Douglas Island saw much glory from the gold rush and was established as the capital in 1906 when the was transferred from Sitka. When Alaska obtained its statehood in 1959, the building that had been completed in 1931 was given to the state as its new building after the capital move between cities. The building is open to the public for self-guided tours on weekdays.

4. Alaska Native Heritage

The Native tribes of Juneau are the Lingít Aaní (Tlingit) and the Dënéndeh. A wonderful way to spend an afternoon is to check out the Alaska State Museum. Experience the history, art, and culture of Alaska through the museum’s permanent and seasonal exhibits. During the summer months, admission is $14 and during the winter, it is a little less. Youth 18 and under get in free.

5. The Juneau Icefield

RELATED: Redwood National And State Parks’ Guard California’s Coastline

The 1,500-square-mile icefield that lies 2,000 feet above downtown is the fifth largest icefield in North America and is where 38 major glaciers were birthed from. The only way to witness this mindblowing field of dance ice is to fly or take an extremely challenging hike up Mt. Juneau.

6. Gastineau Channel

More of a geographical feature than a destination, the Gastineau Channel was created over millions of years between the ocean and mainland Alaska. The channel refers to the stretch of sea between Douglas Island and Juneau, making it the perfect access point for transportation of tourists, residents, and other people who come to explore the state.

7. University of Alaska Southeast

The University of Alaska Southeast might be one of the most scenic higher learning institutions in the US as it’s the only university located next to a glacier. This college focus on environmental science, marine biology, and other related fields. If you are in town, enjoy a leisurely stroll around the scenic campus.

8. Whale Watching

One of the major activities that people come to Alaska to participate in, whale watching is such a magnificent way to spend a day in the city! Many different tour companies offer amazing opportunities to get as close as you will ever be to some of the most incredible creatures in the sea. The best time to see them is from April to November — and the most common species include humpbacks and orcas.

9. Hiking

If you are a hiker, Juneau is the right place for you! With over 250 miles of hiking trails, there are amazing chances for everyone to get their body moving in nature. Discover forests, meadows, mining ruins, glacier lakes, and more.

10. Dining

Juneau offers some of the freshest and most delicious seafood. There are also known for their delectable craft beers and gourmet coffee.

Other Towns Near Juneau to Visit

If you are in the region, other popular places to visit include Fairbanks and Wasilla.

READ MORE: Congaree National Park: An Old-Growth Bottomland Hardwood Wonder