Nestled in the stunning natural beauty of Southeast Alaska, Juneau is a veritable feast for the senses. From its majestic mountains to its wondrous waters, it draws travellers from all over the world in search of adventure and excitement. Perched along Gastineau Channel and the Pacific Ocean with no roads leading out, getting into or out of Alaska’s capital city can only be done by plane or ferry. This geographical feature has left an indelible mark on Juneau’s past and present, giving this destination a unique character, unlike any other place on earth. Offering a unique blend of small-town vibes, and an abundance of activities – a summer trip to Juneau can quickly turn into a lifetime stay. Here’s our one-day in Juneau, Itinerary to help you pick the best ones!
Best Time to Visit Juneau, Alaska
The best time to take a trip to Juneau is from May until August. While there may be a lot of other travellers around, you’ll benefit from lots of daylight during this season. During this period, whale migration occurs, so you can be sure that you won’t miss out on witnessing some remarkable activity in and around local waters.
- There are no roads connecting the city to the rest of the state or North America – you can only arrive here by plane or boat!
- Juneau, Alaska, changed its name twice – from Gold Creek to Harrisburg to now – Juneau.
- You can see the sun at midnight -on June 21 – from roughly 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., the sun drops below the horizon for a few hours, but its beams never leave Juneau.
- There are 280 different species of birds, brown and black bears, five different kinds of salmon, and whales in Juneau (primarily humpback and orca).
Even if you only have one day, Juneau, Alaska has a lot of things to do. You can choose your favourites or follow our 24-hour Juneau schedule to make the most of your one day in this gorgeous spot. Here are some of the top locations to see in Juneau in one day:
Check into a downtown hotel and start your one-day in Juneau itinerary in its picturesque downtown. At the heart of downtown Juneau, Front and Seward Streets is home to Heritage Square, the headquarters of Sealaska Heritage Institute. This nonprofit is devoted to maintaining and developing the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures.
View the iconic art at the Walter Soboleff Building and wander through a traditional hand-adzed cedar clan house or shop for authentic Native crafts. Located just across Seward Street from the Walter Soboleff Building is Sealaska Heritage’s Arts Campus. This 6,000-square-foot site is set to contain both indoor and outdoor spaces for artists to craft Northwest Coast pieces, including totem poles and canoes.
The vibrant waterfront of Juneau during the summer is abuzz of activity. Commence your exploration with the Juneau Voices tour, which are sound installations linked to street signs that reveal stories and memories shared by locals. It serves as a tour through the past and its unexplored histories.
Around the tram terminal, look for a sidewalk sundial and a memorial in memory of fishermen who perished at sea. The dock next to the Marine Park Plaza exhibits a Southeast lighthouse, a Juneau map crafted with nails embedded in the floorboards, and a tide measuring station. Make sure to use the binoculars to find mountain goats on Mt. Juneau.
For those hoping to learn more about public policy and government, a must-see destination is Juneau’s Alaska State Capitol. With a population of 728,903, this building serves as an important seat of state government. Open from 7:00 am-5:00 pm Monday-Friday, you can explore it in person or virtually. If you want to experience it for yourself – grab a brochure offered in its lobby for self-guided tours year-round.
Follow Fourth Street, which turns into Calhoun Avenue, to the Governor’s House, a “liberal interpretation of New England colonial” architecture built in 1912. Since 1959, the Dunleavy household has been the 12th in a long line of official residences for Alaska’s governors. Before them, nine territorial governors and one secretary of Alaska had all lived within its walls. Notably, many famous visitors have graced the house over time. Charles Lindbergh, Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover, and Gerald Ford have all passed through it at different points in history.
Head over to 278 South Franklin and find the Red Dog Saloon! Home to Wyatt Earp’s gun from Nome, and a wide variety of stuffed critters and memorabilia, visitors should not miss the opportunity to sample the infamous Duck-Fart drink special. For more historical locations, make sure to check out Filipino Hall at 251 South Franklin, built in 1891 and formerly home to Anna Goldstein’s Merchandise Store. Finally, visit the Elks Hall at 109 South Franklin, the original Territorial Capital in Alaska, and just next door the Pocket Park, now home to food trucks serving fish tacos, crepes, ice cream, and beer.
The Historical Library and Museum for the District of Alaska was formed by a congressional act on June 6, 1900, and the museum’s mission was to gather, protect, and display artifacts from the region. Even though the collection of books and artifacts expanded quickly, it took 20 years to find a permanent home for the collection. The collection was first kept in any available location with no consideration for public access. The Alaska Historical Museum’s collection opened to the public in Juneau’s Arctic Brotherhood Building in 1920. The Alaska State Museum reopened in 2016 following an extensive makeover with an amazing collection of galleries that present visitors to every facet of Alaskan life, culture, and art. The museum begins by instructing visitors about the various Alaska Native tribes spread around the state. It then discusses the territorial history of Alaska as well as more contemporary topics including tourism, the oil sector, and other topics.
For an unparalleled view of Alaska’s mountainous and forested terrain, take the Aerial Tramway, located directly next to the cruise ship docks upon disembarkment. The ticket grants a whole-day admission, so those that are enthralled by the experience can make a return journey.
At the summit, guests can take part in a variety of activities, from dining, shopping, and watching a short cultural film, to admiring the artwork, viewing an American Bald Eagle, and traversing short trails through the surrounding forest. The view up there is breathtaking so do not miss your chance to go!
Juneau has a variety of places to go and something for every type of traveller. If you are looking for the best local food and a good spot for dinner, Deckhand Dave’s is a must! The Island Pub on Douglas has the best pizza in town. Try their famous fish tacos! If you want beer, food, and a relaxed atmosphere try, Devil’s Club Brewing Company or Forbidden Peak! Another great night-out option is the popular Griz Bar. The National Register of Historic Sites holds the Alaskan Hotel & Bar at 167 South Franklin, boasting ornate Victorian-era furnishings and a lively Karaoke or Open Mic Night. You can also check out the local events on the community calendar here!
Where to Stay In Juneau, Alaska
Alaska’s Capital Inn Bed and Breakfast
113 West Fifth Street, Juneau, AK 99801
Across from the Alaska State Capital building, this Gold Era mansion has been restored and equipped with contemporary furnishings. Each room in Alaska’s Capital Inn Bed and Breakfast offers free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen cable TV, along with bath robes and slippers for guest comfort and soundproofing for privacy. Every morning, a hot breakfast is available, with options like crab eggs benedict, Alaskan sourdough pancakes, and smoked bacon, as well as granola, juice, tea, and muffins. Guests will be just a short distance away from the Mendenhall Glacier (16.1 km), Juneau International Airport (16.1 km), and the Salmon Hatchery (6.4 km).
1200 West Ninth Street, Juneau, AK 99801
Conveniently situated in downtown Juneau, Hotel Juneau offers its guests comfortable suites with free WiFi, full kitchens, and seven HBO channels. Every suite has a bedroom with a flat-screen TV, a living room with a sofa bed, a work desk, and a DVD player. Furthermore, there is a washing machine and tumble dryer for added convenience. The hotel provides complimentary shuttle services to Juneau International Airport and the Ferry Terminal, which are 16.1 km away. It also features fitness and business facilities, and meeting rooms for its guests. The Alaska State Capitol and Centennial Hall Convention Center are only a short 3-minute drive away.
Silverbow Inn Hotel & Suites
120 2nd Street , Juneau, AK 99801
Located in the heart of Juneau, the Silverbow Inn Hotel & Suites provides guests with a host of comfortable amenities. With the Mt Roberts Tramway only 800 m away, the hotel features a garden, private parking, a shared lounge, and a terrace. Rooms at the hotel are outfitted with a desk, flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, bed linen, and towels, with select rooms including a kitchen. Guests can enjoy a delicious breakfast, as well as Italian cuisine at the onsite restaurant, with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options also available. In addition, the hotel offers 3-star accommodations complete with a hot tub. While staying at the Silverbow Inn Hotel & Suites, guests can enjoy various outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and cycling.
Alaska is famous for glaciers, and if you have time – definitely take a tour of Mendenhall Glacier. Take time to truly appreciate the beauty of Alaska! Follow the trail down to a breathtaking glacier-fed lake surrounded by mountains, and don’t forget to marvel at Nugget Falls. You will be greeted by gusts of wind coming off Mendenhall Glacier, making you feel officially welcomed into the wilds of Alaska. During your hike, soak in all the information available from experienced guides and learn about the history of this place.
Set off on a kayak expedition to uncover the remarkable beauty of Southern Alaska. Launch your journey from an isolated island and allow yourself the opportunity to witness humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, and porpoises in their natural habitat. Guided by experienced professionals, this excursion is designed for all levels of kayaking proficiency. What better way to experience the stunning waters of a whale feeding ground than a tandem kayak ride?
Take a tour of breathtaking Fish Creek Valley at Eaglecrest on an adventure like no other. Get up close to nature on a Segway and experience the sights, smells, and sounds of the Alpine meadows. Your journey begins with a short training session to learn how your body language works with your own personal Segway. Receive safety equipment afterwards and be amazed by how quickly you master riding it!
- Juneau is a pretty spread-out and car-dependent town, however, you can travel within downtown fairly easily. If you are planning on venturing out – rent a car.
- If you only have one day in the area – visit the glaciers. It might take up most of your day but it is a sight you should not miss!
- As an alternative to Alaska State Museum – a fun activity for kids, you could check out the fishing boat fleet at the downtown harbour.
- Uber and Taxi operate in Juneau – however, they can get quite pricey!
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Romi is a llama coach from Split, Croatia. This sounds made up but it’s true. She lived in Toronto, Canada for about ten years, give or take, but she wasn’t working with llamas. She was working in PR, restaurants, daycares, one yoga clothing store. She doesn't know how she got that job as she has never done yoga at that point. She taught English in Colombia and Vietnam. Traveled the world for two years. Then she got into writing. Actually, she was always writing, but then someone paid her to write. Then more people paid because they saw she was making them money. Then it became a thing she does for a living. And here we are now. Specializing in travel, real estate, and digital nomad guides, familiar with SEO, and always ready to learn something new so she can branch out and take over the world.