Juneau, Alaska was built on the backs of outlaws and desperation, men and women hoping to strike it rich when gold was discovered in the Gastineau Channel in 1886. Juneau's wild-west history is filled with stories that could never be made up. So it's no wonder you naturally get a little mischievous once you set foot on the streets built on gold.
Downtown Juneau is incredibly accessible to outdoor activities, most everything in the downtown area is walkable, which makes it convenient to get in a good hike during the day, hit the shops in the afternoon, and then transition smoothly into a night out. Whether you're a local or just passing through, here's how to get a little crazy in downtown Juneau.
Here's a quick day time guide to Downtown Juneau, Alaska
Exploring the streets of downtown is something that never gets old. All the colorful houses backed up against the mountainsides make it a complete picturesque little city. There are all sorts of historical sites mixed in with modern day life, and if you come in summer, flowers make up a good percentage of front yards.
Explore your Way up Franklin Street
- Red Dog Saloon - Juneau's most famous saloon. This place makes history time and time again with it's swanky, rough style. I dare you to find the Resolute's business card! Browse the walls, you can easily spend hours taking it all in!
- The Narrows - Next move up to the corner of Front and Franklin for an eclectic vibe and killer specialty cocktails! This street corner has been pouring alcohol for over 100 years, it'll no doubt put a grin on your face.
- Amalga Distillery - Continue up Franklin to the corner of Second Street and enjoy some locally brewed gin and soon to be whiskey! This is a fun environment and one of Juneau's newest scenes, they use traditional techniques and combine art with taste.
- Wickersham House - One of Juneau's oldest homes, this house was once occupied by a federally appointed judge in the early 1900's. This house is worth visiting for those who love a little nostalgia and views of the Gastineau Channel. Take your time in the entertainment room, it's full of early century furniture and memorabilia.
- Juneau City Museum - I love this little museum for its in depth overview of Juneau's early mining history, so after you grab a cocktail from the lowlands, head up main street and hit the museum!
- Explore City Streets - It's hard to go wrong when exploring downtown Juneau, the streets twist and turn, climb and descend, and wind their way until they run into the mountainside.
Head up Franklin Street and work your way up the hill, skip over one block to the right on to Gold Street, and follow that up to Basin Road. Basin Road was the first road ever built in the entire state of Alaska, definitely an oldie but a goodie! Follow the dirt road up Gold Creek which leads to multiple trails you can then access depending on skill level and mood.
- Mt. Roberts - Access the trailhead at the top of 5th Street and up the stairs. Approximately 45minutes to the Mt. Robert's Tram you'll look down on downtown Juneau. Either take the Tram down the mountain to town, or continue on to the Summit. This hike is moderate to advanced at times.
- Perseverance Trails - This trail system offers plenty of routes and destinations to keep you coming back for more. Access the trails at the top of Basin Road. Perseverance Trail marks Alaska's first road, built to access the Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine you can see old mine ruins at an easy to moderate pace.
- Mt. Juneau - Access from the Perseverance trail, you'll vere left up the mountain. 2-3 hours to the top, advanced hiking but the view at the top is breathtaking and well worth it. You can see the entire length of the Gastineau Channel and Douglas Island.
- Flume Trail - One of the prettiest, scenic downtown walks you can take! Great for a lunch hour, or a relatively flat trail on a boardwalk that follows Gold Creek. If taken from Basin Road, the trail pops out in a downtown neighborhood on the other side of Gold Creek.
- Dupont Beach - Take a taxi, Uber, or Lyft to the very end of Thane Road, a couple miles south of Downtown. The trail itself is 1.7 miles with small amounts of incline here and there. It ends at the old DuPont Dock where they use to off load dynamite for the mines in the early 1900's. There is also a pebbly beach that faces to the south down Gastineau Channel.
What to wear on your hike
These trails can get muddy depending on how much its rained that week so ask a local on your way up. I like to hike these trails in Teva Sandals, jean shorts, and a tee that way I can transition my outfit and shop afterwards. Xtratufs or any athletic shoe, hiking boot works great too. If you're headed to the mountain tops then definitely pack a lunch, water, flannel or extra layer, sun screen, shades, a beer or a joint, bear spray as an extra precaution, and/or a dog.
PLEASE remember to always hike with a buddy and let someone know what time to expect you back, always send a text to someone to let them know which trail. Hikers go missing every summer, only the Kooshdakhaa and old gold miner ghosts know what happens to them.
Shopping & Eats
After your hike, wind your way back through the streets and down to Seward, Front, and Franklin Streets where all the best shopping and eating is. Weather depending, eat inside at the Rookery, then shop Shoefly, and hit the bookstore. All three shops are neighbors so it's easy to avoid the outdoors if you stick to one block! For a gorgeous day, eat out at either Crepe Escape or Deckhand Dave's, then wander over to Boheme on Franklin. You'll pass the Alaska Fudge Co on your way so it'd be a good idea to swing in there for some chocolate covered oreos!
- Rookery - Great spot for coffee, lunch and dinner! Alaskan dishes, homemade soups (always vegetarian or vegan), and fantastic baked goods. Lunch special comes with soup of the day and panini of the day for $10. Dinner is upwards of $30-$80 for two.
- Crepe Escape - Open seasonally, this shack makes crepes and smoothies with everything from smoked salmon to nutella! This is a great place for lunch on the docks, and some quality people-watching.
- Deckhand Dave's - Voted best in Alaska for their fish tacos and man do they live up to it! Dave never disappoints.
- Alaska Fudge Company - As if you needed anymore information.
- Salt - Upscale restaurant with great food, and a fantastic wine selection.
- Pel'Mini - Your late night snack and best drunk food around! Russian dumplings, $6 and only two items on the menu make it easy!
- Boheme - Women's boutique, amazing accessories and dresses for any occasion.
- Kindred Post - A gem of a post office, this place has knick knacks and amazing jewelry!
- Juneau Artists Gallery - Locally handmade jewelry and photographs from around Southeast, Alaska. Find unique earings for roughly $40.
- Shoefly - Best shoe store in Southeast! Find cute boots, sandals, heels and handbags! Shoe prices range from $30- $500 depending on your taste and impusle needs. You will not be disapointed!
- Aurora Projekt - Essential Southeast gear. Get your locally designed stickers, shirts, hats, and jewelry at this little hole in the wall. Completely unique to Southeast, Alaska, Aurora Projekt brings it's own style mixed with Tlingit designs and Southeast lifestyle. Prices range from $20 - $60 for a tank or sweatshirt.
If you happen to be in town on a Thursday, make sure you hit up Open Mic Night at the Alaskan Bar!
What to Wear
The weather in Juneau is a hit or miss. For Summer days, plan for anything between 60 degrees (Farenheight) with light rain, to 75 degrees and gorgeously unreal. For Fall and Spring, expect cooler temperatures, so layers are key. For Winter you'll need a pair of water-resistant boots!
- Light top
- Cardigan or light outer jacket
- Comfortable shoes for walking/light hiking, I like Teva
- Day dress if you're sticking around town
LOCALS: What are you favorite things to do downtown?
VISITORS: What was your highlight?
*All Photos were taken by Sydney Akagi, an amazing photographer, no doubt!