Juneau for a day

Well rather than starting our very first post about one of our earlier trips, or even the very start and that wonderful summer on the Greek islands. We thought we would start with one of the latest trip from the group, or to be precise a day extracted from that trip.

Why I hear you ask, well you see we are old (oldish). This presents us with several problems, most notably trying to remember exact details from a trip we took over 20 years ago!!! I sometimes have trouble remember exact details from a year ago. That’s part of the motivation for the blog, so as we grow older and memories grow weaker, we have something to look back on.

This may seem a little strange to you millennial’s, you are lucky you have not experienced a time when every single detail of your lives is not documented, archived and stored in the cloud. For folk our age things are a little different, we didn’t have cameras on our phones, hell we didn’t even have mobile phones! Neither did we have digital cameras. Nope we had old fashioned film camera’s, you had one chance to take the perfect photo, and you would not find out how it looked until a few weeks later when it got developed.

So not only did we not have photographic evidence of our trips, we also didn’t keep digital journals, blogs or post our every move into Facebook. So the only record we have is what we can find in our organic hard drives (brains). Which after years of drinking and mindless reality TV is not too much.

So back to the actual topic……

Juneau – For those who are not familiar is the capital of the US state of Alaska. Alaska is the largest state in the US by land mass, and the least densely populated. It really is the wilderness state. Located to the north of Canada its not actually attached to the rest of the USA.

Getting to Juneau……

Being in Alaska it is not the easiest place to get to. Especially if from “across the pond” in Europe. It will be most likely involve a change of planes somewhere, Seattle or Vancouver are the easiest change points. But if your like us and looking to save money on the flights, you are most likely going to have 2 changes. One cheap option when we looked was via Iceland to Seattle, then change again to Juneau. This may seem a little of a long way round, but it only added 3hrs to the total flying time. Plus it means you could also stop off and see Iceland on the way. Almost like 2 trips for the price of 1.

We flew the Iceland route to Seattle and then got a ferry to Vancouver. You see we heading for our very first cruise, and Vancouver is where we would be boarding the ship.

So for us getting to Juneau was actually quite easy, once we’d got to Vancouver.

Some facts on Juneau

  • Juneau cannot be accessed by road, if you do visit, sea or air are the only way
  • Was originally formed as a gold prospecting town in the gold rush era
  • Tourism is now the towns biggest industry over 1million annual visitors
  • Fishing is another major industry
  • Year round population is 32,200 (smallest of any state capital)
  • Nearly as many bald eagles live in Juneau, 20,000 eagles

What to do if you only have a day….

Of the 1million people who visit every year, 900,000 come by cruise ship, and the majority of these will be here for 1 day only. Well less than a day actually, 12-18hrs is the average length of time a ship stays in port.

So if you are coming by cruise then how do you get the most out of your time in port?

Well there is so much to do in such a small town its unbelievable!!

  1. Visit a Glacier – the Mendenhall Glacier has to be the number 1 attraction in Juneau. If your a vacationing in Alaska then you surely want to experience its natural beauty. It is after all one of the most stunning places on earth.
  2. Juneau-Douglas Museum – Great option for those history buffs among you, make sure you pop to the museum. Inside you can learn all about the history of Juneau and its role in the gold rush. Also great if your on a budget as entry only costs $6 US.
  3. Downtown Walking Tour – This self guided tour is a free and a great way to spend an afternoon at your own leisure. The tour is self guided and can therefore be taken at your own pace and leisure. Maps can be picked up all over town, inc cruise ship terminals, information booths and tourist shops.
  4. Mount Roberts Tram – A short stroll from the cruise ship terminal you can jump aboard the tram, which in about 5mins will get you halfway up the mountain. From here you can really appreciate the beauty of Juneau. There are also many hiking trails at the top.
  5. Lunch in the Red Dog Saloon – The most famous bar/saloon in all of Alaska is the perfect place to stop and refuel.
  6. Whale Watching tour – Most of you will have arrived by ship so there is a good chance you have already seen some whales en-route, if not then you can always jump aboard a specialist whale watching boat in Juneau. Captains are very experienced in the local waterways and chances of seeing whales up close are high.
  7. Do a Spot of Sports fishing – For those that like a bit of fishing then you could hire a boat a head out to grab some Salmon. Alaskan Salmon is the best in world, and it doesn’t taste better than when you’ve caught it yourself. The Juneau smoke house on the shore, will smoke your catch for you and post to your home address when ready. What better way to surprise family during the holidays.

So there you go, some great ideas for spending a day in Juneau, Alaska. Obviously there is plenty to more to offer but the above are in our opinion the best things to do.

Do get in touch if you have any questions.