If you are looking for an enjoyable and milder trip to Alaska, then Haines is the ideal spot for you. Haines is perhaps the most beautiful spot in the entire state, and the picturesque scenery of the snow-covered mountains will satisfy all of your visual desires. When you get close to docking in Haines you are certain to be mesmerized by the landscape, and its aesthetic brilliance is complemented by much better weather than the other regions of Southeast Alaska, with less than half of the annual rainfall of Juneau. The blue waters that encompass Haines are spectacular, and because of the comparatively pleasant weather, the area has become known as the sunny spot of the Southeast. This city is full of culture and tradition, and its citizens make every effort to remain true to their heritage. Many of the Tlingit people reside in Haines, natives whose ancestors lived here hundreds of years ago. Tourists to Alaska often remark that the Tlingits and the other locals in Haines are some of the most likeable people in all of Alaska, comfortable with themselves and with helping one another and visitors to their city. One of the most pleasant nighttime activities in Haines is to venture into one of the local bars and have a drink with someone who has lived in town their entire life. The stories, both contemporary and ancient tribal legends, are absolutely fascinating.
Haines may be a small town, but it's got a lot of energy and life. Its campgrounds are perfect for an afternoon hike, and if photography interests you, you're always in luck. No matter what time of year you visit Haines, you can be sure that you will be snapping some splendid shots. Some fine museums and great restaurants complete a wonderful selection of memorable experiences in Haines.
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships dock in Haines at the pier in the Fort Seward District. From here, you are within walking distance to all the sights in this historic and charming Alaskan town.
Many folks visiting Haines opt to rent a car to explore the sights. Contact Avis (800/331-1212) for more information. If you prefer to rent a bicycle, contact the friendly folks at Sockeye Cycle (907/766-2869) located right next to the Port Chilkoot Dock on Portage Street. Finally, call up TLC Taxi (907/697-2239) to arrange for taxi transportation.
The American Bald Eagle Foundation Natural History Museum is located at Haines Highway and 2nd Avenue (907/766-3094) and is a tribute to the celebrated bald eagle. The film and wildlife room is quite interesting, and the staff provides a wealth of information. Thanks to efforts of both local and national government, the American bald eagle has made a tremendous comeback from the endangered species list. The American Bald Eagle Foundation Center can be contacted at the same number if you are interested in learning more about the cause, or if you wish to make a contribution.
Fort William Seward is located in southern Haines, and was constructed in 1901 by Americans battling the Canadians during a dispute over border rights. Fortunately, battle never reached the fort itself, and there were not any casualties among Americans living here. Fort Seward remains a fascinating historical favorite for visitors to Alaska. The architecture here is magnificent, a wonderful collection of colonial buildings that look even more impressive when covered by a couple inches of snow. This 400-acre parcel was purchased by five World War II veterans who hoped to make it their own private community. They were unsuccessful, but all five men did go on to become highly regarded members of the Haines community.
Kayaking, Fishing, and Biking
There are some outstanding places to see kayaking off the coast of Haines, and the best company to contact for kayak excursions and rentals is Chilkat Cruises & Tours, located at 121 Beach Rd. across from the Chilkat Cruises fast ferry dock. To book a trip or reserve a kayak call toll free (888/766-2103). To fish the gorgeous waters of Haines, you will need a fishing license, so one of your first stops when you get into town should be the Alaska Sport Shop (907/766-2441). During the summer when the snow melts away, beautiful bike trails are uncovered. For bike rentals, contact Sockeye Cycle on Portage Street (907/766-2869). They have a great selection of bicycles, and a helmet and bike lock are included with your rental. They can direct you to the best biking, and lead guided trips as well.
DiningThe Wild Strawberry is a wonderful little place located at 138 2nd Avenue (907/766-3608). The ambiance is comfortable and homey, and the food is incredible. Dishes include seafood specialties and sandwiches. The service is quick and reliable, and the meals are hearty and delicious. Wild Strawberry's décor resembles an old time kitchen, making it a cozy place that is perfect for taking a nice warm break from the cold outdoors. The Fort Seward Lodge (39 Mud Bay Rd., 907/766-2009) is a restaurant and saloon featuring simple, mouth-watering dishes along with a lively bar. The Bamboo Room is on 2nd Avenue (907/766-2800) and features great breakfasts and tasty lunch specials. The pancake breakfasts have made the Bamboo Room famous. There's no bamboo anywhere in the restaurant, but there are plenty of locals who keep this place quite crowded until about 3pm. Bell's Seafood (907/766-2950), located on 2nd Avenue, features the best seafood in town. Next to the Old City Jail, Bell's Seafood has a fine menu full of fresh and scrumptious cuisine.
The Chilkat Center for the Arts features live performances and memorable events. The Chilkat Dancers perform here, their dancing accompanied by a mysterious narration that adds to the eerie mood. During the first weekend of June, the Alaskan Mardi Gras is about the liveliest event in the south. It is a week of dancing, drinking, and enjoyable tomfoolery.