Juneau, Alaska, harbor
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Juneau Waterfront iStock.com / gabrielasauciuc
Juneau, Alaska, seals
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Sea Lions in Juneau iStock.com / TheGrumpyOldMan
Juneau, Alaska, Sled dogs
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Dog Sledding in Juneau iStock.com / djangosupertramp
Juneau, Alaska, Mendenhall Glacier
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Mendenhall Glacier iStock.com / Wildnerdpix
Juneau, Alaska, Black Bear
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Black Bear in Juneau iStock.com / leannstamper

Juneau

Juneau, Alaska, Lynn Canal Whales in the Lynn Canal iStock.com / ad_foto

Juneau is arguably the prettiest capital city in America and the only state capital you can't get to by car — it's fronted by the Gastineau Channel, backed by mountains, and surrounded by the Juneau Icefield and wilderness (roads out of town all eventually dead-end). The city has a long gold rush history — Joe Juneau was a prospector — and today is home to 32,000 people.

What We Love

Red Dog Saloon: Dating back to the mining era, the Red Dog Saloon plays up its history with swinging doors, sawdust floors, and memorabilia-covered walls. It's a fun (if touristy) place to try an Alaskan Brewing Co. beer.

Alaskan Seafood: Right at the pier, a must-do stop for foodies is Tracy's King Crab Shack, where you can dive into impressively huge crab legs.

Best Known For

Mendenhall Glacier: One of Alaska's most accessible ice faces, this glacier is only 12 miles from downtown. You can get there from the pier in about 25 minutes on the MGT Blue Glacier Express bus.

Flightseeing: Whether you go by floatplane or helicopter, seeing the glacial landscape is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Some excursions even land on the ice, so you can hike or explore via dogsled.

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Who It's Best For

Outdoor Types: Whether you hike the trails at Mendenhall Glacier or fly off to a remote creek for fly-fishing, there are many opportunities for soft adventure in Juneau and its surrounds.

Families and Seniors: Easy excursions get you to see whales, meet sled dogs, or even try your hand at gold panning. Or you can stay in the city and visit top-flight museums.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Expect Crowds: It's not unusual to have five ships and more than 10,000 passengers and crew arriving on the same day in the summer season.

Beware of Imported Souvenirs: The city has a proliferation of tourist shops, but if you're looking for something authentic, make sure it's stamped "Made in Alaska."

Fran Golden

Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.

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