"The Independent Traveler's Guide to Haines" Top 5 Page for this destination Haines by Colewade

Haines Travel Guide: 96 reviews and 208 photos

A Quiet Place With Loads of Character(s)

Haines may be one of the most underrated cities in Alaska. Nothing quite prepared me for sites and sounds of Haines, Alaska: the Cathedral Peaks behind the Ft. Seward's parade grounds, the unbelievable blue-green color of Lutak Inlet, the brown bears feeding on salmon in the Chilkoot River, the occasional bald eagle flying about town, a rush of north wind off the mountains at night, the haunting call of an unknown bird, the bearded old timer who spouted riddles and showed us the singing toy songbird in his pocket in Howser's IGA, or the awe inspiring northern lights, as I waited to load on a departing ferry.

This site provides almost all the information you may need to enjoy a rich two to three day trip to my favorite town in Southeast Alaska. A summer visit to Haines supplies all the elements of the grand Alaskan tour, without the time and effort of 800 mile drives over rough roads. Whenever possible, I have attempted to give real descriptions, impressions, and opinions about places we encountered on our trip to Haines. The site also includes: links, photos, and phone numbers whenever possible. Haines Convention and Visitor's Bureau maintains and excellent web site that will easily fill in any information gaps with more basic listings and contacts.

Haines Convention and Visitor's Bureau

A good place to start planning a trip to Haines is by requesting three very useful brochures from the Haines Visitors bureau: Haines Visitors Guide, Haines is for Hikers, and A History Walking Tour of Ft. William H. Seward. These brochures will be mailed for free at your request.

Haines is a Most Alaskan Town

The natural beauty of the sights surrounding Haines more than make up for it's lack of mass market appeal. Unlike its neighbor to the north, Haines is never overwhelmed by multiple large cruise ships, nor do most of it's business establishments operate by the schedule of the cruise ships. Haines has a few excellent dining options that stay open after 5pm, and a few one of a kind accomodations. There is always at least one bar that stays open late. Sometimes they consult by phone to see which bar has the late shift. I found Haines' locals to be interesting, bright, quirky, and genuinely welcoming to visitors. (see travelogue below)

The downtown area itself doesn't have that freshly painted brand of "authenticity" that the national park service and cruise lines' massive investments brought to Skagway, but no matter where you go in town you cannot escape a beautiful and open views of the mountains or the ocean. Almost as common, are the many otherwise plain wooden buildings that have succumbed to art "Alaska style" by being overwhelmed with planted flowers and the token moose antler above the door. While downtown Haines usually very quiet, but big events like the Alaska State Fair or the Southeastern Alaska Conference planning meetings may leave the town sold out. On weekend afternoons you will likely dodge skateboarders on mainstreet, and meet many of the town's people shopping at Howser's. If it were it not for the stunning setting, downtown Haines could remind one of a small but vibrant small 1970s town in the midwest that is slightly down on it's luck .

The 100 year old Ft. Seward area (very old for Alaska) is much more disctinctive in appearance than the downtown area. It's stately white houses line up like the regal soldiers they once housed. It is also even more quiet than the downtown area. The surrounding parks and nature preserves are a nature lovers delight. There is plenty to keep the independent traveler busy for a couple of days. Check out our travel plan and "must see activities".

Colewade's other Alaska Pages:

Independent Traveler's Guide to Skagway

Independent Traveler's Guide to Sitka

Independent Traveler's Guide to Juneau

Ratings and comments are greatly appreciated.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:It is very small and quiet town that is inhabited by truly friendly people and surrounded by gorgeous scenery.
  • Cons:You must have an appreciation for nature and people to truly enjoy Haines.
  • In a nutshell:In short, I agree with the Haines Visitor's Bureau "This is the Alaska of your dreams!"
  • Last visit to Haines: Sep 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (29)

Comments (4)

  • cruisindarryl's Profile Photo
    Apr 17, 2008 at 7:34 PM

    What a great tip that you would not find anywhere. I'll be in Haines in june on a cruise and I definitley plan to do some hiking . Thanks colewade!

  • ezaguryk's Profile Photo
    Apr 8, 2005 at 5:38 AM

    Happy B-Day!!!!!! Wish you the best……in a special day as our B-Day. Have fun!!!!!! Kisses from Venezuela

  • florry's Profile Photo
    Mar 19, 2004 at 4:23 AM

    hi, great travel-pages..all the best

  • may1273's Profile Photo
    Sep 25, 2003 at 9:06 PM

    Hello I've never been to Haines before. You have a lovely page of Haines. Great.


“Live to travel and travel to understand”

Online Now


Top 5,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 1 6 2 0

Badges & Stats in Haines

  • 29 Reviews
  • 31 Photos
  • 0 Forum posts
  • 3,986PageViews

Have you been to Haines?

  Share Your Travels  

Latest Activity in Haines


No friends yet.