Many visitors to Homer, at the tip of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, where the road meets the sea, describe it as funky. Home to around 7,000 year-round residents, Homer’s atmosphere and population swells during the summer months when tourists arrive to fish and camp like “real Alaskans.” A no-frills community, Homer nonetheless rolls out the red carpet for anyone willing to toss on a pair of rubber boots, shoulder a backpack, and start exploring one of the most scenic areas of Southcentral Alaska.
Getting to Homer is relatively simple since daily air service is available from Anchorage via a local air carrier. Driving offers the opportunity to drink in the scenic rural landscape. Flights are short, about 30 minutes, while road-tripping can take five hours or more along the two-lane Sterling Highway.
Lodging between May and September is plentiful, but reservations should be made as far in advance as possible, since Homer’s proximity to halibut and salmon fishing is world-famous. Bed-and-breakfast accommodations are popular for experiencing Homer’s culinary diversity. Or stay in a city hotel or motel along the Sterling Highway. There’s even a resort at the tip of Homer Spit within full view of Kachemak Bay and the far side of the Kenai Peninsula.
Start your Homer adventure by sipping locally-roasted coffee and enjoying a sweet or savory pastry at Two Sisters Bakery, located in Old Town Homer. It’s just steps from popular Bishop’s Beach. Then walk the beach with Homer locals, especially during low tide when everyone is beachcombing.
From Old Town, the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center overlooks a bluff overlooking Beluga Slough, a brackish estuary that serves as home to thousands of shore birds and several local moose. The center provides an excellent area overview of Kachemak Bay and offers guided hikes and walks.
The perfect lunch spot in Homer Spit is La Baliene Cafe, a small and seasonal but vibrant restaurant packing a big punch with locally-sourced foods. Wander among the spit’s eclectic vendors who sell everything from kayak tours to fresh fish and chips. The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies tours visitors around the local small boat harbor daily in summer. It’s an excellent way to learn more about the creatures inhabiting the Kachemak Bay section of a briny Pacific Ocean.
Finish your first full day in Homer at Captain Pattie’s Fish House. Enjoy some freshly-caught seafood satisfaction.
Catch an early half or full-day fishing charter to hook giant halibut (Alaskans call them “barn doors”) or returning salmon. Trips range from placid trips in Kachemak Bay to longer (and sometimes rougher) routes into Cook Inlet.
Not a fan of fishing? Enjoy the coastal area with a birding or wildlife cruise around Kachemak Bay. Look for humpback whales, seals, sea otters, bald eagles, and thousands of birds nesting on the bay’s rocky islands.
For local hiking, consult the helpful Homer Chamber of Commerce, which has a map of forest or beach treks.
End your Homer adventure with dinner and drinks at Fat Olive’s, offering Mediterranean and Italian cuisine paired with fine wines.