16 Best Things to Do in Haines, AK

Haines, AK
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If you're an outdoor enthusiast, you may find Haines, Alaska, a treat to your senses.

While thousands of tourists pass here each summer on their way to the Yukon and Alaska's interior, Haines is a charming holiday spot in and of itself.

Haines is a major stop on the Alaska Marine Highway System's ferries.

It provides a gateway to the Alaska Highway and the Inside Passage to the north for tourists and RVers.

For the most part, it is the only community in the area accessible by road to Canada and the Alaska Highway.

Although Haines is a popular tourist destination, it maintains its small-town charm and character.

Breathtaking glacial lakes and rugged mountains surround the town, allowing tourists to create their unique journey.

Read on to discover the best things to do in Haines, Alaska.

Go Fishing at Chilkat River

The waters of Chilkat River
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Flowing from British Columbia's Chilkat Glacier to the Lynn Canal in Haines, the 50-mile Chilkat River eventually empties into the Pacific Ocean near Juneau.

The river serves an area of 1,400 square miles, the most prolific coho spawning habitat in Southeast Alaska.

Additionally, the river is home to Chum salmon, wild sockeye, and Chinook salmon.

Also found in the area are brown and black bears, moose, and wolves, plus several kinds of waterfowl and shorebirds.

A person fishing on Chilkat River
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It's possible to see bald eagles between mile markers 18 and 22 on the Haines Highway.

However, the Chilkat River doesn't any official tourist facilities to help you do so.

You will have to do prior research to make the most out of your trip.

Keep to designated highway pullouts and don't upset endangered eagle or fish populations.

Sunset reflecting on Chilkat River
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Learn about Local Raptors at the American Bald Eagle Foundation Museum

The American Bald Eagle Foundation has served as a vital resource for visitors from Haines and all over the world.

Likewise, the foundation has opened a museum of natural history showcasing Southeast Alaska's animals.

This is the American Bald Eagle Foundation Museum, which opened to the general public in 1994.

Besides the museum's 12 permanent bird ambassadors, you can find dioramas and exhibitions showcasing the animal life in this area.

Special events, such as festivities for the yearly Alaska Bald Eagle Festival in November, occur at the museum regularly.

Explore the American Bald Eagle Foundation Museum!

Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Area

The waters of Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Area
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Located ten miles northeast of Haines, Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Area provides visitors with various recreational opportunities.

Outdoor activities on the 80-acre leisure area include salmon fishing from June through October.

Popular day-use activities include watercraft like boats, canoes, and kayaks.

The Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Area has 32 campsites, each with a picnic table, for overnight visitors.

Visitor safety is a top priority here, so please know that the salmon flows are also home to a large population of bears.

Exercise caution while approaching them.

See Cultural Performances at Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center

The indigenous Klukwan community is a historic Southeastern Alaskan Native hamlet.

Its Traditions Center, the Jilkaat Kwaan, protects the Klukwan culture and heritage.

Several clan houses underwent demolition or got abandoned in the village during the epidemics of the 20th century.

Various initiatives helped return this property, formerly inside clan homes, to its rightful owner.

The Heritage Center contains a traditional knowledge camp and an exhibit hall displaying antiques such as canoes, log homes, and smokehouses.

As part of the Center's relationship with Chilkat Guides, local indigenous tour guides give guided tours of the facilities and traditional drumming and dance performances.

Go Hiking through Battery Point Trail

Nature trail in Battery Point Trail
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Located just outside Haines, the Battery Point Route is a 3.7-mile wildlife trail readily accessible from the city's downtown area.

You can find paved trail parts near the trailhead entry.

People of all abilities can enjoy the trail.

As the trail winds through an old-growth forest, you may spot marine animals like seals, sea lions, and humpback whales in the early summer months.

In addition to swimming and picnics, you may have a bonfire at the beach.

As a result of its popularity, people love the heavily used routes; tour organizations often visit it.

If you bring your dog, keep them on a leash and control them while walking the trail.

Cruise the Waters at Haines-Skagway Fast Ferry

To go from Haines to Skagway, use the Haines-Skagway Fast Ferry.

Its route goes via Lynn Canal's Taiya Inlet, North America's deepest fjord.

During the ferry ride, you can see the Sawmill, Twin, and Long Falls waterfalls.

There are also seasonal sightings of seals, bald eagles, and Humpback whales in the area.

A 45-minute train ride from one town to the other dramatically reduces travel time.

Enjoy complimentary refreshments and naturalist tours if you want to know more about the area's animals and history.

At an extra cost, visitors may bring bicycles, kayaks, rafts, and dogs onboard the Skagway-Haines Fast Ferry.

Small groups and non-profits may also take advantage of private charters when making reservations.

Explore Local History at Fort William H. Seward National Historic Landmark

The grounds of Fort William H. Seward National Historic Landmark
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In 1904, the government built twelve gold rush period forts around Alaska to control unruly gold seekers.

One of them was Fort William H. Seward.

After the gold rush, the fort served as a training ground for Alaskan draftees during World War I.

During WWII, the Army used the fort for recruiting and training.

Visit the Fort William H. Seward National Historic Landmark and see what remains.

For example, see one of the original barracks buildings and a small row of old officers' homes.

The formerly well-equipped buildings have remained well-preserved to this day.

The Valley of the Eagles Golf Links promises to be one of the most memorable courses you've ever played.

Because it lies on tidal flats, the nine-hole links course can get entirely submerged several times a year.

It employs artificial grass on tees and greens instead of hazardous pesticides.

Likewise, it aims to protect the course's immaculate and environmentally sensitive circumstances.

There aren't any pristine fairways or greens at Valley of the Eagles Golf Links.

However, that doesn't mean you won't have a fantastic time playing golf in the middle of nature.

Meet the Animals at Kroschel Wildlife Center

A wolverine in Kroschel Wildlife Center
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It's rare to see Alaska's animals up close and personal in a controlled atmosphere.

However, you can do so at the Kroschel Wildlife Center.

Naturalist and filmmaker Steve Kroschel developed the reserve as a sanctuary for orphaned and abandoned wild animals from the Alaska area.

The Kroschel Wildlife Center lies 28 miles from Haines' town center.

Pine marten in Kroschel Wildlife Center
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It has more than 600 yards of tourist pathways, allowing you to watch grizzly bears, lynxes, wolves, porcupines, and reindeer in their native habitats.

During the summer, you can join various guided excursions, including private tours for small organizations and groups.

Check out art from Alaskan artists at the gift store.

Reindeers in Kroschel Wildlife Center
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Grab Your Outdoor Equipment at Alaska Sport Shop

Alaska Sport Shop provides all you need for every outdoor pursuit.

Get a warm and dry coat to cutting firewood to gill nets.

If you want to brave the Alaskan outdoors, look no further than its assortment of heavy-duty rain gear and camouflage apparel.

Its waterproof gloves and its wool socks are also durable.

There is no better place to go for fishing supplies in Haines than the Alaska Sport Shop.

It offers a wide variety of fishing equipment, including rods, reels, lures, nets, and more.

Likewise, its staff can help you put together your new fishing gear.

They can also tell you where the best fishing places are in and around Haines, Alaska.

You can also ask them about local fishing rules.

The Alaska Sport Shop also has vacuum packers, canners, and smokers if you capture more fish than you can fit in your sack.

Anglers from out of town can also use its free freezer space.

Tour the Hammer Museum

Exterior of The Hammer Museum
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No other museum in the world is like the Hammer Museum, which collects, preserves, and exhibits ancient hammers.

More than 7,000 renowned hammers from across the globe are on display at the museum.

It opened in 2002 and has collected hammers since.

Check out up to 2,000 artifacts, which change throughout the year to keep things interesting.

You can see hammers used in manufacturing, building, and production.

Then, you can see specialized hammers for dentistry and music.

You can even find award-winning hammers at the Hammer Museum.

Spend a Retreat at Chilkoot Haven

Come and relax at Chilkoot Haven (previously the Chilkoot River Lodge) in the heart of the world-famous Chilkoot River.

Enjoy the river's natural splendor and magnificent fauna.

You can see grizzly bears from your front window, and you're only a few feet from a salmon fishing pier.

You can also spot wildlife such as eagles, sea lions, and seals.

Chilkoot Haven offers a complete nature experience, with the forest as the perfect background.

Choose from one of three tastefully decorated rooms.

Each room offers two queen-sized beds, a private bathroom, a mini-fridge, a coffee machine, and a microwave.

Guests gather around the BBQ grill or the outdoor hot tub to compare notes and swap fishing tales.

Appreciate Indigenous Culture at Haines Sheldon Museum

Exterior of Haines Sheldon Museum
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Haines Sheldon contains artifacts spanning the region's history from prehistory to the present.

The museum opened in 1980.

Check out its vast collection of artifacts and historical documents relating to Haines and the surrounding area of Southeast Alaska.

The Hakkinen Gallery features changing history and art exhibitions.

Likewise, the Children's Gallery provides hands-on learning opportunities for children.

These are two of the three primary displays in the museum.

There are also semi-permanent exhibits.

The Haines Sheldon Museum offers public education programs like kids' workshops and summer camps.

Try the Spirits of Port Chilkoot Distillery

The award-winning Port Chilkoot Distillery in Haines creates small-batch artisanal spirits that reflect the essence of the last American frontier.

They craft all Alaskan spirits using locally sourced clean lake water, organic grains, and fresh herbs.

The distillery's tasting room provides a variety of flights and unique drinks.

If you want their bestsellers, try the distillery's Icy Strait Vodka, Boatwright Bourbon, Green Siren Absinthe, and 50 Fathoms gin.

Its products have also garnered recognition from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and American Craft Spirits Awards.

Feel the spirit at Port Chilkoot Distillery!

Appreciate Local Art at Alaska Indian Arts in Haines

Exterior of Alaska Indian Arts in Haines
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In the historic Fort Seward, you will find an art gallery dedicated to the region's indigenous peoples.

You can find it inside an old hospital building on the fort's grounds.

The Alaska Indian Arts gallery has emerged as a significant resource for preserving and promoting indigenous art in the Haines area.

Artists Ben Bard, Greg Horner, and Lee Heinmiller run the place, which opens on weekdays.

Check out jewelry, wood sculptures, and silkscreen prints during the exhibition.

Heinmiller gives cultural history lectures daily, focusing on the gallery's history and the region's art.

Regular art workshops and studio demonstrations allow visitors to see the artisans at work.

Learn more about the people in Haines at Alaksa Indian Arts.

Taste Local Beer at Haines Brewing Company

When Paul Wheeler and Jeanne Kitayama conceived of the Haines Brewing Company, they chose the Southeast Alaska State Fairgrounds as its initial location.

They started selling Haines Brewing's Beer in 1999.

Their brewery can only seat 49 guests, so they moved the taproom to Haines' main street in 2015.

This location also features an outdoor beer garden during the warmer months.

They also have a total growler fill station and all of the brewery's year-round and seasonal beers.

Haines Brewing Company brews each batch of beer using only the finest ingredients and Alaskan traditional methods in Alaska.

These methods include no filtering and no pasteurization.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of small villages in Alaska, but visiting Haines is well worth the time and effort.

Experience the best things to do in Haines, Alaska, from challenging treks to tasty beers.

For those visiting Juneau or Skagway, a day trip or multi-day excursion to Haines is a good option.