Arriving in Homer is like opening one of those pop-up greeting cards – an unexpected thrill. Three miles before Homer, the Sterling Highway provides a few teasers that whet a visitor's appetite but never fully prepare them for the charming, colorful town that lies ahead. As the road makes a final turn east along the bluffs overlooking Kachemak Bay, Homer unfolds completely. It's a truly incredible panorama of mountains, white peaks, glaciers and the famous Homer Spit, a long strip of land that stretches into that beautiful deep blue bay.
Downtown Homer is strung along Pioneer Avenue on a sloping hill between high bluffs to the north and Kachemak Bay to the south. It's little wonder that many Alaskans choose to vacation in Homer: the scenery is inspiring and the climate exceptionally mild. This community of 5,390 residents is protected from the severe northern cold by the Kenai Mountains to the north and east. Winter temperatures rarely drop much below zero degrees, while summer temperatures rarely rise above 70 degrees. As a visitor, this is a town that tempts you to stay for a while. Between the excellent museum, restaurants and art galleries, great scenery and interesting side trips to the other side of Kachemak Bay, you could easily spend a week – or a lifetime – here.
Things to do
Scattered throughout the commercial district are a wide range of restaurants and numerous art galleries. Few small towns have the culinary variety of Homer, where there are coffee bars on nearly every corner next to gourmet sandwich shops and fine restaurants. The art galleries along with museums, a live theater and music venues lend credence to Homer’s reputation as the cultural capital of Southcentral Alaska.
On the other side of the bay from Homer is Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park, a 350,000-acre paradise of glaciers, mountains, protected coves for paddling and an extensive trail system to explore on foot. Kayakers, backpackers and campers hop on water taxis and to escape the bustle of Homer to an idyllic wilderness.
The Homer Spit, a 4.5-mile long needle of land stretching halfway across Kachemak Bay, is a hub of bustling activity during the summer. It hums with throngs of tourists, people camping on the beach, charter boats heading out to catch a record-breaking halibut, beachcombers, and birders amazed at how many bald eagles they can spot. This is where visitors book a fishing charter or simply rent a rod and reel to try their luck at the Homer Spit lagoon, fondly known as the Fishing Hole. King salmon can be caught here from mid-May to the end of June, while silver salmon run in August.