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Purple wildflowers with a mountainous backdrop in Homer Alaska
Photo Credit: ATIA, Michael DeYoung
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6 Things to Do in Homer

6 Things to Do in Homer

 

Homer isn’t only known for its cerulean bay, excellent halibut fishing, and access to prime bear viewing areas. This cheerful coastal town boasts an artsy downtown and numerous dining destinations serving up local seafood, produce, brews, and baked goods. Here are six ways to make the most of your visit.

1. Peruse the Galleries

Known throughout Alaska as a vibrant artists’ haven, Homer is home an expansive creative community that encompasses theater performances, films, music, painting, sculpting, and writing. Here you’ll find galleries, live music, and plays, plus classes and workshops ranging from theater and dance to writing and visual arts. Stop in local art galleries—from Pioneer Avenue to the end of the Spit—to see paintings, paper and glass art, Alaska Native art, and intricate beading.

Highlights of the eclectic Homer arts scene include the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference, the Pier One Theatre, the Mariner Theatre, and monthly First Friday events. To learn more about Homer’s bountiful arts programming, stop into Homer Council on the Arts’ office and gallery in the Bunnell Street Arts Center.

2. Stroll the Homer Spit

No trip to Homer is complete without taking a trip down the 4.5-mile “Spit,” a thin sliver of land where Kachemak Bay meets Cook Inlet. The Spit is the remains of an ancient glacial moraine that’s constantly reshaped by ocean currents. Archaeological finds reveal the Spit was used by people long before written history. Today, it’s known as the “end of the road” and a gathering place for everyone from campers and fishermen to shoppers and artists.

Many outfitters have storefronts along the Spit where visitors can book fishing, bear viewing, water taxi rides, kayaking, or other adventures. Wander the harbor and see the fishermen’s catch of the day, talk with local artists, shop for unique Alaska gifts, or taste fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants built on stilts above the rocky shoreline. Visitors who can’t get enough of the landscape, or who want to stay close to their fishing charter’s launch location, can camp on the beach or book a room at hotels and accommodations that are right on the Spit.

3. Spot Bears & Birds

Homer is a gateway community to Southwest Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve and Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, which are both located across Cook Inlet on the Alaska Peninsula. From June through late September, brown bears congregate on coastal sedge flats and streams in the vast wilderness of the parks. Depending on the season, visitors can see them digging for clams at low tide, grazing on salty grasses along tidally influenced rivers, or running after salmon swimming upstream to spawn. There are many ways to experience these wildlife adventures, including half-, full-, or multi-day outings by helicopter, floatplane, or boat.

Also visible from the coastline in town are eagles, shorebirds, and sandhill cranes. Visitors can see the birds all around town, but the best sightings are on the Spit, especially at the fish filet stations. Visit in spring for Homer’s Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival—Alaska’s largest wildlife-viewing festival—and join birders from all over the world for workshops, seminars, and guided birding adventures.

4. Indulge in the Flavors of Alaska

Homer, the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World,” is home to large commercial and sportfishing fleets. Take a fishing charter to catch salmon, halibut, and more to ship home; or dip a line into Homer’s “fishing hole,” an artificial lagoon on the Homer Spit stocked with hatchery salmon.

If you’d rather skip the work while enjoying the ocean’s bounty, try the day’s fresh catch at one of Homer’s many restaurants. Almost every restaurant in this fishing town includes a wide range of seafood. Halibut, salmon, rockfish, lingcod, scallops, and oysters are all harvested in Kachemak Bay. On the Homer Spit alone, you’ll find offerings from elegant gourmet dining to local food trucks.

Start the day off with locally roasted coffee and fresh baked goods at one of Homer’s tasty bakeries, and enjoy a late-afternoon libation at the Salty Dawg Saloon or other local watering holes. Sip mead made from local honey or try a wine made from local Alaska currants, rhubarb, raspberries, or other fruit. Travelers who prefer beer can check out Homer’s local brewery scene for samples ranging from crisp pale ales to dark and malty stouts. For a guided introduction, take a brewery or winery tour.

5. Explore Kachemak Bay State Park

Kachemak Bay State Park, a gem of the Alaska state park system and Alaska’s first state park, is found across Kachemak Bay from Homer. Covering more than 400,000 acres, the wilderness park has more than 80 miles of trails and no road access. It contains mountains, glaciers, forests, oceans, and rock formations created by the many movements of earth’s crust and glacial activity.

Visitors must take a boat or airplane to reach this scenic destination for hiking, camping, kayaking, or wildlife viewing. Water-taxi transportation is available from the Homer Spit to the park, and destinations across the bay include Seldovia and Halibut Cove. Enjoy a fully narrated Kachemak Bay tour with stops at Gull Island Seabird Rookery and Eldred Passage. Spot whales, bald eagles, sea otters, and shorebirds while enjoying spectacular glacier views.

6. Nurture the Inner Naturalist

There are many kayaking adventures around Homer, including the Kachemak Bay Water Trail. This 125-mile route extends from the Homer Spit and heads east and south along Kachemak Bay to the tiny community of Seldovia. Take a guided paddle trip and pass by diverse habitats—from intertidal areas to alpine trails, soaring mountains and ice-blue glaciers—that all host spectacular wildlife-viewing opportunities.

Continue your nature exploration with forest and glacier hikes or by peering into tidepools. Enjoy naturalist-led guided walks at the Carl E. Wynn Nature Center or day trips across Kachemak Bay to Peterson Bay Field Station, a living laboratory of biological diversity. Also, be sure to check out the exhibits at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center to discover the wonders of local marine wildlife.

Learn more about Homer >>

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