The town is at the centre of great walking country, a jewel of Upper Wensleydale and a centre for exploring the Yorkshire Dales. It is within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The Pennine Way passes through Hawes.
Wensleydale draws many folk here and the little town is a honeypot tourist attraction. Local tourist attractions include:
- The Dales Countryside Museum, based in the old Hawes railway station of the Wensleydale Railway;
- Hardraw Force, the nearby waterfall;
- The Buttertubs Pass, which links Wensleydale to Swaledale.
- The Aysgarth Falls further down the dale.
Hawes itself has a regular market, as well as many shops, pubs and tearooms.
Originally the town was known as The Hawes, a name meaning "the neck", from the Old English or Old Norse word hals, meaning in each language "neck" or "pass between mountains". Hawes granted its market charter in 1699.
The Hawes Promotion/Relegation party for fans of Sunderland AFC takes place there every summer. It is well attended and organised, and grows year upon year.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
- Hawes Guide
- The railway may eventually return here
- Gayle Mill - website of restored C18 Hawes watermill
- Wensleydale, Ella Pontefract, J.M. Dent & Sons, London 1936