Haines may be known as the “Adventure Capital of Alaska,” but the real excitement lies in its fascinating history and intriguing culture. Originally settled by Native Alaskans of the Tlingit culture, the city is now home to 2,592 people—and any number of tourists that are visiting via cruise ship at any time.
Reality show fanatics may recognize Haines from the Discovery Channel show “Gold Rush,” but the city is best known as the place to see bald eagles. The city is currently in the midst of hosting the annual Alaska Bald Eagle Festival (Nov. 10 to 16) at the American Eagle Foundation, which offers photography workshops, guest speakers, and of course, plenty of opportunities to come face to face with this majestic bird. On average, Haines welcomes over 3,500 bald eagles between the months of September and December every year.
In addition to its notable wildlife, Haines also boasts of spectacular views and outdoor experiences, ranging from rafting on the Chilkat River, racing a snow machine on the Haines Highway, to fishing for Pacific salmon.
Here, our sample itinerary of what to see and do when faced with eight hours in Haines, Alaska.
9:00 a.m.—After a quick breakfast at Sarahj’s Shoppe with freshly baked scones, head on over to Fort William H. Seward, Alaska’s first permanent Army base. Originally begun in 1903, the fort was designed to help settle a boundary dispute between the U.S. and Canada and was garrisoned in 1904. It was named after Secretary of State William Seward, who infamously negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 (“Seward’s Folly”). The only active military post in Alaska between 1925 and 1940, the fort was closed at the end of World War II and designated a National History Landmark in 1978.
11:00 a.m.—Make your way over to Dalton City, a charming, but fake gold rush town that was created for the 1989 Walt Disney film “White Fang.” After taking your photos of the movie set, grab a seat at the Haines Brewing Company to grab a quick lunch while simultaneously sampling some of the best local ales. Beer can be purchased by the sample glass or pint to consume on premise, or by the liter or half gallon to go.
1:00 p.m.—Given that bald eagles are the thing to see in Haines, definitely make time for a visit to the world famous Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. In addition to seeing eagles, visitors should also keep a watchful eye out for salmon, moose, bears, and wolves in their natural habitat. Celebrity Cruise guests can book a shore excursion to the preserve, of which guest Carias593 noted, “Even though it was drizzling rain and grey, we had a magical experience and spotted 70 bald eagles!”
5:00 p.m.—To wrap up your day, take a quick tour of the Haines Packing Company, a distinguished smokehouse that evolved into a state-of-the-art facility. Finish off with a quick seafood dinner at Big Al’s Salmon Shack or an all American bistro fare at the Fireweed Restaurant.