Juneau is the capital of Alaska, and the second largest city in the state (which is not saying much, when you consider that it has a population of just over 31,000). It is situated along the Gastineau Channel, surrounded by lofty mountains, in the southeastern part of the state, known as the Inside Passage. The city itself is a happy mix of old Victorian homes and contemporary buildings, with a fairly lively downtown. It must also be noted that it is this part of Alaska, the Inside Passage, that has the most pronounced Russian influence, which harks back to the time when Alaska was a Russian territory.
What to See and Do in Juneau
In Juneau, the places to see are the St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church that dates from 1887, the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery, and the spectacular Mendenhall Glacier. Among others, you can take a flight tour over the Juneau icefield, the “birthing ground” for scores of glaciers, or take in the scenic Tracy Arm Fjord on a boat tour, to see whales, seals and shore birds in their natural habitat.
Also, near Juneau, you can visit the Admiralty Island National Monument, which boasts one of the largest brown bear populations in the region, as well as one of the highest concentrations of bald eagles in North America. Of interest here, too, is the Tlingit Indian village of Angoon. Other points of interest in the area include Elfin Cove, an old Alaskan fishing village just west of Juneau, with nearly a dozen sport fishing lodges there now; and close to it, the quaint fishing town of Pelican, which has a boardwalk and is well worth visiting.
Juneau, we might add, is also an ideal base from which to explore the nearby Glacier Bay National Park and other places of interest in the region, including historic Sitka and Skagway, both with a strong Russian influence, as well as Ketchikan on a longer drive south.
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