Located between Skagway and Tracy Arm Fjord is Alaska’s capital – Juneau.
Juneau is surrounded by the Tongass National Forest and has a population of just over 30,000.
It is the only U.S. state capital that cannot be reached by road. Visitors can only get there by plane or ship.
Juneau sees around 1.3 million tourists annually – with the majority of them arriving on cruise ships from May to September.
Founded during the gold rush, Juneau is a popular cruise port that offers visitors many historical site tours, shopping opportunities and unique sightseeing experiences. The city of Juneau is located at the base of 4,000 feet tall mountains.
Daily highs hover around the mid-60s F (17 to 20 C) in the summer and there’s a good chance of rain when you visit. Dress appropriately and be prepared for the wet weather.
The likelihood of you getting a dry day in Juneau is slim – Juneau experiences an average of 220 days of rain each year. April to June is Juneau’s driest period – with 1 to 3 sunny days per week. But in September and October expect a lot of rain – they are the wettest months.
Primary Language Spoken: English
Currency: US Dollar
Contents & Quick Navigation
Where Do Cruise Ships Dock in Juneau?
Juneau is Alaska’s busiest cruise port and can accommodate up to four cruise ships at a time. The Juneau cruise ship terminal is located at the southern end of the downtown area. Ships that dock here are steps away from Franklin Street where cruise passengers can explore the city’s shopping, dining and historic areas.
The Mount Roberts Tramway (the most popular attraction in Juneau) and the Juneau Visitor Center can be found right at the docks as well. Make sure you pick up a map in the tramway parking lot before you start exploring Juneau. The majority of tours and shuttles leave from the tramway parking lot.
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When all berths are being occupied, some cruise ships will need to anchor and use tenders to get passengers ashore. The tender pier is located just north of the Alaska Steam Ship Dock and next to the public library.
You can see the 2019 cruise ship schedule for all Alaskan ports here.
Getting Around Juneau with Kids
Navigating downtown Juneau is very easy. It’s only 8 to 12 blocks in any direction the best ways to get around is by tour bus, taxi or on foot. Just remember to pack rain gear and your best walking shoes if part of your day is spent walking around the city. There are tour guides and taxis waiting at the dock for cruisers who don’t want to book a tour in advance.
Below are other ways to explore Juneau while fitting in some sightseeing.
Juneau Tours – For a scenic tour of downtown Juneau, hop aboard the 45 minute City Trolley Tour. You’ll visit Juneau’s historic and shopping areas on this narrated tour. You can hop off at the City Museum (entrance to the museum is extra) and the Macaulay Hatchery (admission is included with the City Trolley Tour ticket price – the tour here will take about an hour). The trolley runs every 30 minutes. Adults are $30 and kids are $25.
Blue Glacier Express – For cruisers who want to do Mendenhall Glacier on their own instead of a packaged tour, hop on the Blue Bus from M&M Tours of Juneau in the parking lot next to the Mount Roberts Tramway. This bus offers direct transportation to Mendenhall Glacier. Bus service begins at 8:00 AM and runs every 30 minutes until 6:00 PM. Roundtrip fare is $30. You can buy your ticket at the port or beforehand online.
Cycle Alaska – If you have kids 10 or older, take a self-guided bike trip around Juneau. Cycle Alaska rents a variety of bikes (road, mountain and street bikes) for $37 for 4 hours. Parents with toddlers can rent a kids trailer to attach to their bikes. All rentals include a helmet, bike lock, bike bag (handlebar bag) for your use, extra tube, tire pump, tire levers for to change the tube, and a bike multi tool. A bottle of water, small snack and map are included too. Two popular tours Cycle Alaska offers are Bike and Brew Glacier View tour and the Bike and Tram Mountain Adventure tour which starts at the Eaglecrest Ski Area on Douglas Island and a ride up the Mount Roberts Tramway.
Capital Transit – Using Juneau’s bus system is an inexpensive way to get to the Mendenhall Valley and Douglas Island. The ride from downtown Juneau to Mendenhall Glacier takes over an hour though so keep that in mind when planning your day. Bus fare is $2 per adult and $1 for kids 18 years and under.
What to Do with Kids in Juneau
From Mendenhall Glacier, exploring the rainforest, panning for gold, dog sledding, hiking, flightseeing on a floatplane or helicopter or riding the tram up Mount Roberts – there’s lots to do in Juneau.
Below are popular attractions and activities to do with kids in Juneau:
Mount Roberts Tramway – A ride up Mount Roberts on the tram is a must-do when visiting Juneau. Owned and operated by Alaska natives, it is the most popular attraction in downtown Juneau. It is one of the most vertical tramways in the world and rises up 1,800 feet from the cruise ship dock.
Once you get to the top, the views over Juneau and the surrounding landscape are absolutely amazing – you’ll get a glimpse of Alaska’s mountainous terrain and forests. You will also likely see eagles up close in the trees as you ride up or down. Along with a visitor center, there’s some short hiking trails, a gift shop and a restaurant at the top of Mount Roberts. Plus if you’re lucky you may a totem pole being carved. Adults $31/$15.50 ages 6 to 12, 5 and under are free. Recommended for: all ages.
Alaska State Museum – The Alaska State Museum offers some excellent exhibits which depict the history of this incredible state. There’s lots of interesting artifacts to help tell the story of early Alaskan life, history and culture. Visitors will learn about Native American history, Russian settlers in Alaska and the gold rush. This is a great place to visit for a couple of hours on a cold, rainy day. Recommended for: school age kids or older.
Mendenhall Glacier – No visit to Alaska is complete without getting close to a glacier and Mendenhall Glacier is one of the biggest draws for tourists visiting Juneau. Many cruise ship excursions and private tour companies focus tours around Alaska’s most accessible glacier. The visitor center has lots of informative displays and educational talks so you can learn about the glacier itself and how it has shifted over the years.
There are some easily accessible trails outside where you can get to within a mile of the glacier plus see the amazing Nugget Falls and maybe even catch a glimpse of salmon and bears in Steep Creek. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous you can take the West Glacier trail which will give you access to the glacier itself as well as the chance to see the ice caves beneath depending on the weather conditions at the time of your visit. Recommended for: school age kids or older.
Macaulay Salmon Hatchery – Learn about Alaska’s commercial fisheries at this hatchery located 3 miles north of downtown. See salmon in the fish ladder, sea lions on the sandbar and huge aquariums filled with starfish, eel, shrimp and anemone. The touch tanks filled with starfish and other sea creatures are sure to be a hit with the entire family. Recommended for: all ages.
Where to Eat in Juneau with Kids
Clam chowder, crab legs, and fish and chips are some of the must-try dishes and foods for foodie families visiting Juneau.
Here are some kid-friendly restaurants and snack stops we recommend visiting while you’re in port:
Tracy’s King Crab Shack – Crab legs and the crab bisque are to die for. They are both definitely worth the splurge. The kids still talk about the crab legs here – and our cruise was almost 2 years ago!
Twisted Fish – Good for families looking for a full service restaurant. The clam chowder gets some really good reviews.
Alaskan Crepe Escape – Grab a sweet or savory crepe from this little stall located near the cruise ship dock. The smells wafting from the stall are hard to resist.
Heritage Coffee Co & Cafe – Looking for a caffeine fix, small snack or light lunch? Head to this busy coffee shop less than 10 minutes walking from the cruise dock. The pastries are quite large here and can easily be split between people. We split one muffin between 2 adults and 2 kids! There is free WiFi here for paying customers and you’ll see many cruise ship staff here with a coffee in one hand and a laptop or tablet in the other.
Where to Get WiFi in Juneau
Many cafes and restaurants along Franklin Street including Heritage Coffee Co & Cafe provide free WiFi for customers.
The public library adjacent to the cruise ship docks also offers free WiFi internet access. The library is open from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday to Thursday and 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM Friday to Sunday.
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