Juneau, Alaska

whatsitlikeJuneau, Alaska’s mining heritage stretches from 1880 when a Tlingit chief directed Richard Harris and Joe Juneau to gold deposits. The resulting Klondike Gold Rush attracted the likes of Wyatt Earp and Soapy Smith. While checking out gold rush history, don’t forget that Juneau is home to Alaska’s most accessible glaciers, with the Juneau Icefield offering nearly 40 major rivers of ice. Experience its wonders by taking a flightseeing tour—many include a landing on the glacier for trekking adventures or dogsledding.

What attraction in Juneau should not be missed?: The Mendenhall is Juneau’s “backyard” glacier and is enjoyed year-round by locals and visitors alike. The USFS has a beautiful interpretive center and offers guided nature walks in the area.

What historic sites do most schoolchildren visit?: The Treadwell Mine Trail, with its 1890s mining artifacts, and the Last Chance Basin (1001 Basin Rd.), the site of the original gold strike. Alaska State Museum (95 Whittier St.) and the Juneau-Douglas City Museum (4th & Main Sts.) are also popular for school visits.

Who knows Juneau’s history best?: City Assembly member David Stone is our resident expert on Juneau’s mining history.

Juneau’s Old West Attraction: The A-J Gastineau Mine (151 Mill St.) offers a fascinating tour with a demonstration of hydraulic equipment used to locate gold.

Best Cowboy Bar: The Sandbar (2525 Industrial Blvd.) is the closest we’ve got—and it serves excellent fish and chips.

Best Western Bookstores: Hearthside Books (8745 Glacier Hwy.), Rainy Day Books (113 Seward St.) and The Observatory (historical books; 200 N. Franklin St.).

Best Spot to View Wildlife: The best place to spot marine mammals and birds is from the water (seek out whalewatching, wildlife tours and sportfishing charters).

Special event in June: The annual Gold Rush Days, with logging competitions and mining events; held at Diamond Park in the Mendenhall Valley from June 30-July 1.

Local Cuisine: We love our seafood—salmon, halibut, crab and shellfish. I recommend: Hangar on the Wharf (2 Marine Way), Twisted Fish (550 S. Franklin St.) and Baranof Gold Room (127 N. Franklin St.).

Average Temperature: Summer days are in the 60s with many days reaching into the high 70s. Winter’s mild temperatures average 29 degrees. In fact, Juneau’s winter temperatures are warmer than cities like Minneapolis, Chicago and Cleveland.

Average House Cost: $250,000.

Best Route to Juneau: The quickest is a two-hour flight north of Seattle on Alaska Airlines. The leisurely route is a cruise through the Inside Passage (above). Or you can try the Alaska Marine Highway ferry, departing from Bellingham, Washington, and Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

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