The shops near the dock cater primarily to cruise-ship passengers. After almost 500 summer port calls, many close their doors. The year-round community and more local shops tend to be farther up the hill. If you're looking for authentic Alaska Native arts and crafts, be warned that counterfeiting is widespread.
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The Raven's Journey, 435 S. Franklin (tel. 907-463-4686), shows Tlingit and other Northwest Indian carvings and masks, and whalebone, ivory, basketry, and fossil ivory carvings and jewelry from the Yupik and Iñupiat of western and northern Alaska. Works are displayed with biographical placards of the artists.
Juneau Artists Gallery, in the Senate Building at 175 S. Franklin (tel. 907-586-9891;www.juneauartistsgallery.com), is staffed by a co-op of local artists and shows only the members' work: paintings, etchings, photography, jewelry, fabrics, ceramics, and other media. Much of it is good and inexpensive, and the way it is displayed creates a panorama of artistic visions.
Juneau's Rie Muñoz is one of Alaskans' favorite artists for her simple, graphic, generally cheerful watercolors of coastal Alaskan communities and Native people. Her prints and tapestries are shown downtown at the Decker Gallery, 233 S. Franklin (tel. 907-463-5536), and in the Mendenhall Valley at the Rie Muñoz Gallery, at 2101 Jordan Ave. (tel. 800-247-3151 or 907-789-7449; www.riemunoz.com).
For gifts, try Annie Kaill's fine arts and crafts gallery at 244 Front St. It's a little out of the cruise-ship shopping area and gets business from locals. The shop has a rich, homey feeling, with local work at various price levels. The long-established Ad Lib, at 231 S. Franklin St., also is fun little shop.
Hearthside Books (www.hearthsidebooks.com/) is a cubbyhole of a bookstore at the corner of Franklin and Front streets, but has a good selection for its size, especially of Alaskan books. (A larger branch, with a good toy department, is in the Mendenhall Valley's Nugget Mall, at 8745 Glacier Hwy., a 5-minute walk from the airport.) Also downtown, Rainy Day Books has more than 10,000 new, used, and rare books at 113 Seward St.
The most remarkable shop in Juneau is The Observatory, at 200 N. Franklin St. (tel. 907-586-9676;www.observatorybooks.com). This browser's paradise specializes in rare maps and books about Alaska. The collection of antique etchings on parchment is mind-blowing in its comprehensiveness. Among the items I've seen here were huge charts drawn by the first 18th century explorers to trace Alaska's coastline. The shop's greatest treasure is its owner, Dee Longenbaugh, who created this collection and knows its history. Her expertise is certified: she is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the only Alaskan member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association. Just ask her a question to begin a fascinating tour of Alaska history.
Bill Spear sells his own brightly colored enamel pins and zipper pulls from his studio, hidden upstairs at 174 S. Franklin (tel. 907-586-2209;www.wmspear.com). Alaskans collect the vividly executed fish, birds, airplanes, dinosaurs, vegetables, and many other witty, provocative, or beautiful pins, which cost from $4 to $20 each.
Taku Store, at 550 S. Franklin, across the parking lot from the tram station (tel. 800-582-5122 or 907-463-3474; www.takustore.com), is worth a stop if you're nearby, even if you're not in the market for the pricey seafood in the case: It's interesting to watch workers fillet, smoke, and pack salmon through large windows, and to read the explanatory signs about what they're doing. They'll ship fish anywhere in the U.S.
Visit our complete Juneau, Alaska guide online at www.frommers.com/destinations/juneau.
Frommer’s is America’s best-selling travel guide series. Visit Frommers.com to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.