Juneau is the capital city of Alaska, located in the state's Southeastern region, with a population of about 30,000 and an area bigger than Rhode Island or Delaware. It has been the capital of Alaska since 1906, when the government of the then-Alaska Territory was moved from Sitka.
One of the interesting things about Juneau and Alaska is the effect on public life of being such a geographically large state. The state legislature, for instance, takes telephone testimony during its committee hearings. They have a state-wide video conferencing system to facilitate government meetings and deliberations.
Juneau is Alaska's capital, however you can't get there by road. Southeast Alaska is sandwiched between the rugged coastal mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. Constructing roads between many of the towns and cities of SE Alaska is prohibitively expensive and sometimes impossible. Only three towns (Haines, Skagway, and Hyder) in the SE Panhandle are connected to a roadway to the lower 48 states (often called "down south"). Access to the rest (including Juneau) is only by air or by sea.
Downtown Juneau is compact and highly walkable, though above 4th Street it gets very hilly. Watch for the 20 signs that detail the fascinating history of Juneau.
The public Capital Transit provides daily bus service for downtown Juneau and vicinity and charges $1.50 for travel in one direction. Route 3/4 serves the Mendenhall Valley, but can get you no closer than about a mile to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.
he most popular activities in Juneau for visitors are shopping, flight seeing, charter fishing, visiting the Mendendhall Glacier, and hiking. Be aware the Juneau is very spread-out. It is broken into sections. There is "Downtown", and "The Valley" (where the Mendenhall Glacier, Mendenhall Mall, a skate park, as well as most of the residential is located). The distance between the two is a good 15 minutes.
Of the cruiseship tour options, an air tour leaves the biggest impression—especially if the weather is clear. Behind Juneau lies the Juneau Icefield. Helicopter and floatplane tours are available. The most popular floatplane tour is with Wings Airways to the Taku Lodge. Most of the helicopter tours include a stop landing on the glacier. Alternatively, get a group together and charter an small airplane tour. These will generally be less expensive (you pay by the hour) and allows you to customize your experience. Ward Air is highly regarded, but Wings of Alaska and other carriers offer charter flights.
Be sure to go for a hike while in Juneau. There are over 90 hiking trails in the area (many very steep). A few lead to rental cabins available from the US Forest Service or State of Alaska parks. If you want a guide, Gastineau Guiding offers guided hikes on many popular trails and combines some hikes with whale watching or kayaking.