Juneau is the most unusual state capital. You can’t drive there — located at the northern end of Alaska’s Inside Passage, with its back to a steep set of mountains and vast tracts of roadless wilderness, Juneau is accessible only by air or sea.

A gold strike in the (now) aptly named Gold Creek led to the town’s formation — and the creek is still there, running straight along the fringe of downtown. During August you can still see salmon swimming up the creek to spawn, with great blue herons and bald eagles and maybe even the occasional black bear coming down to partake of the mobile feast. But that’s still only a fraction of what Juneau has to offer to savvy cruise visitors. 

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Juneau’s cruise docks are located at the south end of the downtown area. With multiple berths that can accommodate large ships, all connected by a broad boardwalk, you’re perfectly poised for access to most of the visitor-oriented shops and activities in town.

The heart of the cruise area consists of a visitor information center, a pretty seaside park with a few food trucks in it, and the aerial cable cars of the Mount Roberts Tramway.The most important street in town for cruisers is Franklin Street — the main street that links the cruise ship docks to downtown Juneau proper. 

As you might expect, Franklin Street is designed to catch, and hold, your attention. But if you’re willing to walk just another couple of blocks along Franklin Street and into downtown, you’ll find a world of locally owned shops and one-of-a-kind souvenirs.