Juneau's downtown historic district is a short walk from the waterfront. Photo by Maurice Wangberg.
Juneau sits in the heart of majestic mountains, rivers, glaciers, and forests. Photo by Ken Hill.
About Our Town
A place built on gold still shines through its people
What's in a Name?
Before Juneau was Juneau, it was Rockwell. Before that, it was Harrisburg. And even before that, it was a settlement for several tribes of native Indians.
Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian (sim-shee-an) people have lived in Southeast Alaska for thousands of years, but Tlingits are the most numerous in Juneau and Alaska's northern panhandle. Though their languages differ, all three tribes share common art, ceremonies, and legends. Because of the region's rich resources and constant food supply, Southeast Natives were able to develop a sophisticated social and cultural life.
It wasn't until a man named Joseph Juneau and his buddy, Richard Harris, teamed up with a Tlingit native that this plot of land got its big break: gold. The first rush of 40 miners brought a mix of trading posts, saloons, and missionaries to the area. Soon, Juneau became a bonafide town, the first to be settled after Alaska's purchase from Russia.
A Golden Place & People
Gold mining met its demise during wartime, when it was deemed a non-essential activity, but Juneau's tourism industry was fast becoming a growing portion of its livelihood. In ever-increasing numbers since the early 1900s, Juneau's attractions and adventures have attracted travelers and cruise ship passengers, particularly in the summer months.
Today, Juneau is a thriving city offering a great blend of city amenities and small-town hospitality, all in the heart of Alaska's majestic mountains, rivers, glaciers, and forests. Nearly 31,000 people call Juneau home - many of them working in government, tourism, mining, and fishing, and all of them instilled with a deep love for this place. Such a mix of personalities makes Juneau unique.
Some of its oldest establishments are pubs, and there you'll find a diverse crew of bikers carousing with teachers, government workers sitting with salty boat captains, suits sharing drinks with tourists. Even descendents of the Tlingit and others from this region are prominent in the social and political fabric of modern-day Juneau, while evidence of their past is still seen and felt around town.
Juneau's history, culture, and topography have resulted in many interesting activities for visitors to enjoy. And not all of these activites come with a price tag! Here's a list of family-friendly free things to do in Juneau.