The Alaskan capital, Juneau has a tangible sense of history and contemporary charm. Gateway to the region’s otherworldly glacial landscapes, the city has heaps of gold-rush memorabilia as the site of Alaska’s first gold strike.
Day 1: A Day in Juneau
Explore the waterfront on your first day in Juneau, taking a stroll past the historic clapboard buildings lining Franklin Street. Drop into a seafood restaurant to taste the flavors of the sea, or shop for Native American artworks and artifacts in the town’s souvenir and craft stores.
For insights into the boom-era town, visit the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, or discover brewing history and lip-smacking ales at the Alaskan Brewing Company’s headquarters in Juneau. The area’s Russian roots are revealed at the St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, built in 1894 and filled with Russian icons.
Day 2: Gold in Those Hills
Juneau was built on gold, launching Alaska’s gold rush in 1880 and bringing prospectors in their thousands to the area. The port was also a staging area for the Klondike gold rush. The main mines were Treadwell near Douglas and the Alaska-Juneau mine, which you can visit today at the Last Chance Mining Museum and Historic Park.
Before its closure in 1944, the Alaska-Juneau mine produced more than $80 million worth of gold. For background into Juneau’s gold history, visit the Juneau-Douglas City Museum downtown, take a mine tour or get into the swing of things in Juneau’s raffish waterfront taverns, with their underfoot sawdust, pioneer chic and honky-tonk piano entertainment.
Day 3: Glaciers and Alpine Lakes
You know you’re in Alaska when you visit Glacier Bay National Park. Tidewater glaciers spill down from the surrounding snow-clad mountains, icebergs dot the lakes, and hiking trails wind their way past forests of spruce. Kayaking, wildlife-watching and wildflower trails are other highlights of a visit to Glacier Bay.
For the most stunning views imaginable, arrive at Glacier Bay by helicopter. Closer to Juneau, ride the tramway to the top of Mt. Roberts for more alpine views, or visit Mendenhall Lake and its visitor center viewing platform.