JUNEAU, ALASKA: CAPITAL OF ALASKA
You will find Alaska’s charming capital along Alaska’s Gastineau Channel - Juneau! Nestled at the base of Mount Juneau amid a rainforest, this city is the largest capital in geographic size in the United States (it’s bigger than all of Delaware!). It’s also the only U.S. state capital located on an international border.
Juneau was originally a fishing outpost for local Tlingit Native Americans. The city was founded in 1880 after two prospectors discovered gold in the region, thanks to help from Chief Kowee from the Auk Tlingit Tribe. This discovery transformed the region, and it began to flourish, with “gold fever” prompting hard-rock mining, sawmilling, canning, and expanding the fishing industry. Juneau officially became the capital of Alaska in 1906.
Aside from the heavy Tlingit Native American influence, Juneau is also steeped in Russian culture. Boasting timeless natural wonders, museums, and historic sites, Juneau continues to stir the imaginations of all who visit.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Fishing, mining, and tourism are important parts of the Juneau economy. Some popular recreational activities include hiking, kayaking, fishing, skiing, whale watching, and wildlife viewing. It’s hard not to fall in love with this pristine destination. Witnessing a brown bear fishing for food or a bald eagle casually soaring overhead is not unusual in Juneau!
Here are some of the top attractions in Juneau:
For those looking to shop, head to South Franklin Street. Parallel to the dock and the downtown area, you will find many boutiques and stores selling typical Alaskan wares like furs, Alaskan jewellery, baleen baskets, carved ivory, lacquered boxes, and nesting dolls.
Mount Roberts Tramway
Mount Roberts Tramway offers tramcars that transport guests to an observation deck approximately 610 metres above Juneau for an unforgettable bird's-eye view of the city. You can also hike the trails, purchase treasures at the gift shop, explore the nature centre, or dine at the restaurant and bar.
An enormous ice field flowing down a valley incline to the edge of a lake, Mendenhall Glacier must be seen to be believed! Located 21 km from Juneau's city centre, this natural wonder is half a mile wide and up to 548 metres deep. The glacier's blue appearance makes the spectacle even more unforgettable. An onsite glacier museum, educational exhibits, videos, and park ranger seminars make this arctic locale a must-visit.
Alaska State Museum
In operation since 1900, this historic museum harbours an extensive collection of artefacts and exhibits detailing the state's native people, the city's mining and fishing heritage, and the natural wildlife that calls Alaska home.
Red Dog Saloon
The Red Dog Saloon was built during the city's mining era and displays Wyatt Earp's gun, which he allegedly checked but forgot to claim on his way to Nome. This "watering hole" is home to swinging saloon doors, sawdust floors, live music, and unique memorabilia.
Macaulay Salmon Hatchery
Get an up-close look at how salmon eggs are harvested and fertilized, thanks to an aquarium tank that offers glimpses of salmon fighting their way up a 137-metre fish ladder from mid-June through October. In May and June, you can even feed salmon smolts!
Escape to this awe-inspiring, 50-acre botanical garden 13 km north of Juneau. Overflowing with countless rare flowers and plants, still ponds, rushing waterfalls, and winding walking paths, Glacier Gardens is an unspoiled oasis amid the natural splendour of Alaska.
The Shrine of St. Therese
Dedicated to St. Therese of Lisieux, the patron saint of Alaska, this 60-year-old site includes a stone chapel, a small stone labyrinth, and a gift shop. Located on a tiny island (easily reached by a causeway), 14 km from the Juneau's dock, it offers a serene sojourn, as well as views of the nearby Lynn Canal. Another great cultural and historical site to visit nearby is Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, the state's oldest operating church.
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