Stupendous ice-capped mountains welcome travelers on cruises to Juneau, Alaska. The capital of the Land of the Midnight Sun, Juneau offers a wide selection of delicious dining and Native art shopping. But Carnival cruises to Juneau also show you the most beautiful setting of any capital city in America, with options for once-in-a-lifetime shore excursions that include walking on glaciers, whale watching, and hikes through the country’s last old growth forests.
Before Juneau was Juneau, it was Rockwell. Before that, it was Harrisburg. And even before that, it was a settlement for several tribes of native Indians.
Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian (sim-shee-an) people have lived in Southeast Alaska for thousands of years, but Tlingits are the most numerous in Juneau and Alaska's northern panhandle. Though their languages differ, all three tribes share common art, ceremonies, and legends. Because of the region's rich resources and constant food supply, Southeast Natives were able to develop a sophisticated social and cultural life.
It wasn't until a man named Joseph Juneau and his buddy, Richard Harris, teamed up with a Tlingit native that this plot of land got its big break: gold. The first rush of 40 miners brought a mix of trading posts, saloons, and missionaries to the area. Soon, Juneau became a bonafide town, the first to be settled after Alaska's purchase from Russia.
A GOLDEN PLACE
Gold mining met its demise during wartime, when it was deemed a non-essential activity, but Juneau's tourism industry was fast becoming a growing portion of its livelihood. In ever-increasing numbers since the early 1900s, Juneau's attractions and adventures have attracted travelers and cruise ship passengers, particularly in the summer months.
Today, Juneau is a thriving city offering a great blend of city amenities and small-town hospitality, all in the heart of Alaska's majestic mountains, rivers, glaciers, and forests. Nearly 31,000 people call Juneau home - many of them working in government, tourism, mining, and fishing, and all of them instilled with a deep love for this place. Such a mix of personalities makes Juneau unique.
THINGS TO DO
So what's there to see and do in Juneau? Plenty. We hope you're planning to stay awhile – it's the best way to maximize your adventure in Alaska!
Whether your idea of fun is a day of shopping followed by a night of hoisting brews with the locals, or an exhilarating outdoor adventure followed by a great dinner featuring the day's fresh catch, there are plenty of things to do in Juneau.
There are several to choose from, but Mendenhall Glacier is our biggest chip off the ol' (ice) block - and you can actually drive right to it if you're so inclined. We've conveniently placed Alaska's most popular attraction just 13 miles from downtown and right near the airport. We're friendly that way.
Everyone wants to see a little wildlife, even if from afar. Juneau has such an abundance of air, land and sea creatures that you are more than likely to catch a glimpse of a bear, bald eagle, or even a humpback whale while you are here - especially April through November. And if you do want to watch our wildlife a little closer, a variety of tours can get you near black bear, Dall's porpoise, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, mountain goats, and Sitka black tail deer.
Sea kayaking, hiking, rafting and other outdoor adventures offer exhilarating ways to enjoy Alaska's wilderness. For something even more unique, take off in a small plane or helicopter to see the sights from above, then land right on a glacier to go hiking or dog-sledding. During the winter, hit the slopes for downhill skiing, heli-skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding.
Arts, Shopping and Dining
You should don your Sunday best (or not - we're pretty casual around here) and attend a performance at Juneau's nationally acclaimed Perseverance Theatre, dine on locally caught seafood, and pick up handcrafted Native artwork to take home to people you like. Yourself, for instance.
Juneau residents schedule their year around the salmon migration. (We're not kidding.) If you're inclined to cast a line, you can charter a boat to catch the good stuff or ask a local - you might just snag a few good tips.