18 Things to do in Haines Alaska on a Cruise Ship

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Haine’s is a small, peaceful town that’s becoming a popular stop for cruise ships. The island is home to 2,500 residents, and you won’t need much more than an hour or two to walk the town.

As you approach the town, you’ll quickly notice the incredible scenery. The town is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and a dark blue ocean.

Town of Haines Alaska, photo from the deck of a cruise ship

Though Haines, Alaska, is smaller than most of the cruise ports you’ll visit, there’s plenty to see and do.

Here are 18 things to do in Haines, Alaska, on a cruise ship.

1. Alaska Indian Arts Gallery

Bear Totem in Haines Alaska

If you consider yourself a history buff or simply appreciate every art piece’s unique story and beauty. In that case, the Alaska Indian Arts Gallery is the perfect place for you to visit.

The non-profit gallery houses a collection of Tlingit artworks and offers daily history lectures.

The gallery is located within Haines’ Fort Seward, originally built in 1904 as a peacekeeping military fort.

At the Alaska Indian Arts Gallery, you’ll learn about the region’s history, culture, and the significance of the Tlingit’s handcrafted art pieces, including silver jewelry, delicate wood carvings, beautiful totem poles, and unique silkscreen prints.

You may even spot a local artisan working on their next masterpiece. But if not, don’t worry. The gallery allows you to create a one-of-a-kind art piece in their interactive workshops or participate in studio demonstrations.

2. Haines Sheldon Museum

The Sheldon Jackson Museum in downtown Haines, Alaska

Ever wonder what daily life in the Southeastern region of Alaska is like?

The Haines Sheldon Museum, located on Main Street, showcases the social culture, history, and magnificent lifestyles of Chilikate Valley’s Indigenous inhabitants.

The museum features three main exhibits, including the Hakkinen and Children’s Gallery. Guests can explore various collections of artwork, civic documents, photographs, gold mining equipment, and woven Chilkat blankets.

If you are more of a hands-on or proactive person, check out the totem pole carving demonstrations and the interactive activities scattered throughout the museum.

3. SE Alaska State Fair

If you’re visiting Haines during the last week of July, the annual SE Alaska State Fair is a sight to see.

Because of Alaska’s geographic size and sparse population, they have four state fairs throughout the year. Hains is the proud host of the South Eastern Alaska State Fair.

The festival features agricultural exhibits, demonstrations, local cuisine, games, and shopping. 

The fair allows visitors to let loose, have fun, learn something new, or simply explore the town. It’s the year’s highlight, as people from all over Southeastern Alaska visit the small town to let loose.

4. Chilkoot River

Chilkoot River in Haines Alaska during the salmon run in August

Chilkoot River is one of the best locations to view the salmon run. The river is close to the dock, so you can venture out on your own or take a guided tour.

Spanning approximately 20 miles from the Takshanuk Mountains to Lutak Inlet, the Chilkoot river’s vast banks and low bridge allow you to get close to five species of salmon as they make their way upstream to the nearby Chilkoot Lake or Chilkat Lake.

If you visit during June through October, keep an eye out for grizzly bears. Brown bears are a common sight along the river as they look for an easy meal. It’s common to spot a mom with her cubs as she teaches them how to fish and prepares them for life in America’s Last Frontier.

5. Kayak or Canoe on Chilkoot Lake

Kayaking Shore Excursion on Chilkoot Lake

Named after the Indigenous community that inhabited its surrounding areas, Chilkoot Lake is most well-known for its thrilling and heart-pumping kayaking adventure.

Whether you are looking forward to relaxing on the calm waters or hoping to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife, kayaking is the best way to achieve both goals.

After a short ride from the dock, you’ll arrive at the picturesque Chilkoot Lake. 

From there, guides will escort you to the dock, where you will get suited up and ready to board your kayak or canoe.

Once on the water, watch for fast salmon swimming below or animals roaming along the shoreline.

If you get tired of paddling in the canoe, your tour guide will start the engine and take your group on a scenic ride around the lake, stopping at several landmarks and providing history lessons. Unfortunately, there’s no outboard motor in the kayaks.

6. Fort William H. Seward National Historic Landmark

The HistoricFort William H. Seward National Historic Landmark barracks used by the USA Army Haines

Some of Alaska’s most remote locations became home to thousands of Gold Rush stampeders who desperately wanted to strike fortune during the 1890s.

But, in the early 1900s, when many gold seekers became disruptive and rowdy, Fort William H. Seward was built to keep the rebellious miners under control. From the fort, troops would prevent miners from committing theft, embezzlement, illegal gambling, and alcohol selling. When the Gold Rush ended, Fort William H. Seward remained open and served as a military training center, recruitment camp, and rest stop during WWI and WWII. 

When you visit this historic landmark in Haines, you’ll discover the remnants of the original barracks and some of the former Officers’ residences. Although the buildings are not accessible to the public, much of the original equipment is preserved to help you envision life during this era.

7. Haines-Skagway Ferry

The 45-minute Haines-Skagway Fast Ferry takes passengers through the scenic Alaskan waterways to nearby Skagway.

But, the ferry is more than just a means of transportation.

On your journey, not only will you travel through the spectacular Lynn Canal’s Taiya Inlet, but you’ll also observe the Long Falls, Sawmill, and Twin waterfalls. 

Naturalist guides will join you along the way, pointing out sightseeing hotspots, sharing stories about the region’s past, answering questions, and providing complimentary beverages.

But, most importantly, be sure to bring your binoculars and cameras as humpback whales, seals, orcas, sea lions, bald eagles, and minke whales have been known to make surprise appearances. So keep your camera at the ready.

8. Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve

A bald eagle sitting at the top of the tree at the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in Haines Alaska

The American bald eagle symbolizes strength, freedom, and independence. The Founding Fathers chose the bird as the United States of America’s national animal.

The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is the best place to view these incredible birds in their natural habitat.

The preserve encompasses over 49,000 acres. And by some estimates, it holds the world’s largest population of bald eagles.

Upon arrival, you’ll witness first-hand the passion locals have for preserving the lives of thousands of eagles and nurturing the ecosystems they call home.

If traveling to this region between September and February, keep your eyes peeled on the river banks as bald eagles gather more frequently when salmon spawn.

9. The American Bald Eagle Foundation Museum

The American Bald Eagle Foundation Museum was established in 1994 by two locals, Dave Olerud and Hans Fluehler. The Bald Eagle Foundation Museum serves as a historic site that provides visitors with an up close and personal experience with some of Alaska’s most renowned wildlife species.

Guests can explore the history, existence, habitats, and ecosystems that make up the lives of the local wildlife through over 200 dioramas.

Museum personnel offers regular seminars along with interactive and educational opportunities.

The raptor show is arguably the most exciting attraction at the museum. Get up close with twelve avian ambassadors, including eagles, owls, hawks, and falcons. Volunteer trainers provide guests with information on the animals, their habitats, and the rehabilitation goals of the museum.

10. Valley of the Eagles Golf Links

Every amateur or professional golfer knows how vital the fairways and greens are in making the best shot.

At Valley of the Eagles Golf Links, the pure Alaskan landscape offers one of the most memorable rounds of golf you’ll ever play. The course is on wetlands submerging completely underwater during the fall and winter months. And the 9-hole course allows you to observe Haines’ breathtaking mountain views and wildlife species.

With many holes beside the river bank, stay on the lookout for salmon or trout swimming in the stream and local moose and bears.

Valley of the Eagles Golf Links strives to preserve the pristine conditions of the course and its nearby areas. They never use toxic chemicals; instead, they use artificial turf around tees and green spaces.

11. The Hammer Museum

Exterior of the Hammer Museum in Haines with the world's second tallest hammer

The world as we know it today would not have been made possible without the invention of mankind’s first-ever tool, the universal hammer.

Whether you are a handyman or are fascinated by construction, the Hammer Museum in Haines, Alaska, is sure to amaze every visitor. It’s not a place most people think to visit, but it’s one you can’t miss.

Outside the museum sits the world’s second-tallest hammer, at 20 feet tall.

Since opening in 2002, the Hammer Museum has collected over 7,000 hammers from countries around the world. Some of their most notable hammers are as old as the Ancient Egyptian Era.

Although only 2000 hammers are on display at any given time, the rotating collection showcases a variety of hammers, including those used in manufacturing, dentistry, music, throwing competitions, construction, and more.

The Hammer Museum is open from Monday to Saturday with admission fees of $5.00 for adults and is free for children under 12 years old.

12. Port Chilkoot Distillery

The award-winning Port Chilkoot Distillery in Haines is the perfect stop for beer lovers.

Port Chilkoot Distillery uses locally sourced ingredients, such as pure glacier water, fresh grains, and flavourful herbs. Each uniquely crafted Alaskan gives guests a taste of the great Alaskan character with every sip.

It’s no wonder how the distillery won top honors from the American Crafted Spirits Awards and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, featured in the Food and Wine Magazine

If you prefer other specialty drinks, the Port Chilkoot Distillery also provides a wide variety of tasty beverages, including vodka, rye, bourbon, rum, whiskey, absinthe variants, and cocktails.

13. Haines Borough Public Library

If you are a bookworm looking to immerse yourself in new worlds filled with action, mystery, thrill, fantasy, romance, or literature. In that case, Haines Borough Public Library will become your new favorite getaway.

Initially built in 1928 by the Haines Women’s Club, it holds the honor of being the only library in town.

But that’s not why it’s on our list.

Haines Borough Public Library was named the Best Small Library in America and recipient of the Library Journalist award in 2005. 

They boast a collection of over 40,000 books and floor-to-ceiling glass windows that overlook the mountain landscape. The library offers something for every curious mind to explore and a sense of comfort or relaxation.

Temporary cards are provided to cruise passengers so visitors can borrow books, use their computers, or access the internet. If you happen to get lost or are curious about your surroundings, the library also offers regional maps so you can locate your next stop or find your way back to the ship.

14. Hike Battery Point Trail

View from a hike along Battery Point Trail

Whether this is your first or 100th time hiking, the Battery Point Trail is an adventure everyone will enjoy.

The trail is accessible by a paved entrance and pebble exit. You’ll explore Haines’ lush greenery, beautiful lookout points, picture-perfect mountains, and incredible ocean views here.

Along your one to two-hour journey, be sure to pay attention to your surroundings as some lucky hikers reported hearing “whale sounds” by the river, spotting eagles in the trees, and even paw prints in the mud.

The Battery Point Trail is one of Alaska’s most family-friendly paths and even welcomes dogs as long as they are leashed. Once you reach the end, you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous beach where you can go for a quick swim, have a beachside picnic, or start a small, containable campfire.

You may also want to keep your binoculars handy as you may see marine animals in the distance. 

15. Saint James Bay State Marine Park

Saint James Bay State Marine Park. Photo from the rear of a cruise ship with the wake in the forground and snow capped mountains in the background

Located roughly 45 miles from Haines, Saint James Bay State Marine Park is known for its heart-racing, exciting, and memorable recreational activities.

You can spend the day boating, hunting, kayaking, berry picking, hiking, and bird or wildlife watching. But, as the marine park encompasses over 1000 acres of land between the Chilkat Peninsula and Lynn Canal surrounding St. James Bay, you will find some of the best fishing spots Haines offers.

Keep in mind, however, that inclement weather often settles in quickly and without much warning, so be sure to stay close to land and pack extra layers and waterproof shoes or jackets. 

16. Rainbow Glacier Adventures LLC

Since opening its doors in 1989, Rainbow Glacier Adventures LLC has been committed to providing high-quality, ethical, and eco-friendly tours throughout the Skagway and Haines region.

The tour company host several popular shore excursions in Haines and Skagway, including:

  • Chilkoot Lake Nature and Wildlife Viewing
  • Private Photography Tour
  • Chilkat Eagle Preserve Rafting
  • White Pass Summit and Suspension Bridge Tour
  • Nature Tour to Dyea

You’ll be joined by knowledgeable and friendly tour guides who will provide a comfortable and educational experience.

Along the way, you’ll learn about the region’s past, community life, and intriguing facts about the local wildlife.

17. The Bamboo Room and Pioneer Bar

If you’re looking for some delicious tasting home-cooked meals, the Bamboo Room and Pioneer Bar is the place to visit. 

It was established in 1953 by Marty and Helen Tenges, and Fran Fox. The Bamboo Room and Pioneer Bar feature over 95 menu items ranging from breakfast delights to exquisite dinner choices.

Although famous for its halibut fish and chips dish, the Bamboo Room and Pioneer Bar is also known for their eggs benedict sandwich, biscuits and gravy, and breakfast burritos.

Everyday lunch favorites include Bob’s homemade chili and a variety of wraps, salads, and sandwiches. The dinner menu is primarily seafood specials featuring crab, salmon, and halibut dishes.

You’ll also find a beer selection from the nearby Alaskan or Haines Brewing Company at the restaurant. 

18. Haines Brewing Company

Haines Brewing Company has been the vision of Paul Wheeler and Jeanne Kitayama for many years. The two began brewing beer in their homes before opening a brewery. 

Their love of beer dates back to when friends and family would sip Paul’s handcrafted brews in their home’s kitchen.

The brewery was established in 1999 and is located on Haines’ Main Street. They pride themselves on serving completely unfiltered, unpasteurized, authentic, and custom-made beers.

Each beer represents a refreshing taste and a unique name to match. You’ll find beers like Big Hammer, Captain Cook’s Spruce Tip Ale, Elder Rock Red, ‘The Devil Made Me Do It, and the Buster Board Lager.

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Marissa

An avid cruiser of over 15 years. She has a passion for exploring new ports and excursions.

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Dont Miss the Boat

Get the latest travel tips, news, and advice to get the most out of your next cruise vacation.

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