Alaska may truly be the last American frontier where you can really lose yourself in the rugged outdoors and experience pure nature, untouched by man. If you want to experience the unmatched beauty of Alaska, experience a wealth of outdoor activities, and have the benefits of a quaint town nearby, then Homer, Alaska may be just what you’re looking for.
Located approximately 200 miles south of Anchorage, on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska, it’s a small town of about 6,000 people. Homer is often referred to as the end of the road because it’s the southernmost town on the state’s highway system. Speaking of highways, many people first fly into Anchorage then drive to Homer from there. The drive from Anchorage takes about 5 hours over well-paved highways, so it’s a great way to explore and see more of the beautiful Alaskan wilderness without getting too far off the beaten path.
Things To Do In Homer, Alaska
If the activity you’re looking for can be done in the great outdoors, chances are Homer has it available. Almost unimaginable beauty abounds in the great state of Alaska, and in Homer, you’ll have the opportunity to experience all that is Alaska from a small-town perspective. Depending on the time of year you choose to visit, you’ll find everything from whale-watching tours to dog sled racing to deep-sea fishing to a chance to see the elusive northern lights.
Any time of year is a good time to go to Homer, but you may want to adjust your schedule if you have a particular activity you want to do that’s more seasonal. For instance, for the best chance to see wildlife you’ll want to plan your trip for July and August. If you want the best chance of seeing the northern lights, then plan your trip between September and April.
Check Out The Homer Spit
The Homer Spit is a 4.5-mile-long strip of land that literally extends into Kachemak Bay in Homer. Lined with a multitude of shops, art galleries, and restaurants, it’s definitely one of the places you’ll want to check out while in Homer. After you’ve explored the shops, you can simply walk along the pebble beaches. You’ll be amazed at the wildlife you’ll see right in front of you in the tidepools and beyond. Another great option is to check out the Homer Harbor, home to commercial and pleasure boats. If you’re a boat enthusiast, this is your chance to get up close and personal with the hundreds of boats in the harbor. You may even be able to strike up a conversation with a commercial fisherman and buy a fresh catch right from the boat.
Kachemak Bay State Park
Unique in that it’s reachable only by plane or boat, the first state park in the state of Alaska, Kachemak Bay State Park offers it all: mountains, glaciers, forests, and ocean. Check out one of the many prime spots for wildlife viewing, or try your luck at clam digging on the gravel beaches within the park. Hiking trails are plentiful in the park, but much of the park is true backcountry, so you must be prepared to rough it -- with all your own equipment. There are primitive, public-use cabins available within the park that are very bare bones but will offer you shelter in a pinch! You can choose to hike along the forested areas at lower elevation or head up to higher ground above the treeline and hike around the glacial areas.
Visit The Salty Dawg Saloon
Tradition dictates that when people visit the historic Salty Dawg Saloon, they grab a dollar bill, write a message on it, and tack it up on the wall among the thousands of other dollar bills. Sounds easy enough, but the trick will be to find an open spot for your dollar. There are so many bills on the walls that almost every inch is covered! This tradition is just one of the reasons you should consider stopping into the Salty Dawg as part of your trip to Homer. Located on the Homer Spit, the Salty Dawg offers good drinks, a welcoming atmosphere, and great conversations with the locals. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening!
Editor’s Note: Read about fellow writer Carol Colborn’s experience at the Salty Dawg during her epic Alaska RV road trip: Valdez to Hayder, too!
Sunset At The Spit
For an epic sunset viewing, head over to the Spit and find a spot on the beach. Bring a bottle of wine and some snacks, lay out a waterproof blanket, and settle in. You’ll be in for one of the best natural treats in Homer: a colorful night sky sunset over the bay. You’ll be impressed by the gorgeous array of colors overhead! This is the ultimate way to wind down after a full day of activity around Homer.
One of the coolest things to do in Homer is to take a tour in the waters off the coast of Homer in Kachemak Bay. You can enjoy a wildlife tour with the chance to see water wildlife like seals, sea otters, and porpoises, or you can book a whale-watching tour. Prime time to see whales around Homer is during the months of July and August. So if you’re vacationing in Homer during these months, a whale-watching tour would be a fantastic opportunity to see the majestic humpback and even orca whales. Coldwater Alaska offers both types of tours for around $100 per person.
Homer is home to a thriving art scene with many different types of artists and artwork, including watercolor, sculpture, glass, fine woodworking, pottery, metal, and photography to name a few. From local art galleries to artist cooperatives, there are a plethora of working artists in Homer, and all of them would love for you to check out their work! The Ptarmigan Arts Cooperative Gallery is the local cooperative in downtown Homer. In addition to the art cooperative, there are numerous galleries in town. The Art Shop Gallery is one art shop that specializes in handcrafted, original, local, Alaskan art. Homer also holds First Friday events monthly. The events celebrate local artists and new exhibits and are held the first Friday of the month between 5 and 7 p.m. at various galleries in Homer.
Best Restaurants In Homer
In Homer, the dining focus is most definitely on fresh seafood. With that said, there are many chefs that put their own creative spin on seafood, and there are quite a few options for non-seafood lovers as well. But, if you’re in Homer, sometimes called the halibut fishing capital of the world, you really must try fresh fish.
For an eclectic mix of upscale salads, seafood, Italian specialties, and house-made thin crust pizza, Fat Olives has you covered, no matter what you’re hungry for. With so many good options, it’s hard to choose, but their unique Fish Bowl with a wedge salad for dinner is a good bet.
When you’re this close to some of the freshest seafood in the country, it just makes sense to go with the fish. In this case, it’s fish with a Japanese twist, in the form of sushi. For the freshest take on sushi, visit Wasabi’s Restaurant. Wasabi’s offers a huge selection of the freshest sushi of all types and lots of rolls for sharing. Also, make sure you try some of the different kinds of sake on the extensive drink list.
Captain Pattie’s Fish House
Get over to Captain Pattie’s Fish House for some of the best seafood you’ll find in Homer, along with one of the best views from their waterfront location. Try an appetizer of fresh oysters, then on to the deep-fried halibut for your main dish -- it’s what they're known for.
Best Places To Stay In Homer
Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge
Located within Kachemak Bay State Park, the Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge is a very small, deluxe, all-inclusive resort that offers an in-depth, individualized experience for each visitor. They have fewer than 10 cabins, so you can be sure that you’ll have plenty of peace and quiet, plenty of relaxation, and you won’t have to fight any crowds here. In addition, the lodge offers world-class, five-star gourmet dining along with deluxe accommodations. Kachemak service will pamper you as it provides you with a once-in-a-lifetime vacation opportunity!
The Driftwood Inn
The Driftwood Inn is a great choice and unique in that it offers four different lodging options to suit a variety of tastes. You’ll find accommodations from a super cute tiny house and modern lodges to a more traditional motel. And with two locations, either in downtown Homer or near Bishops Beach, you can choose your perfect spot. Plus, the staff at Driftwood specializes in helping their guests plan outings like customized fishing trips and wildlife tours, so you’ll be in good hands for whatever types of adventures you want to explore.
If you want to rough it, there’s no better place to do it than exquisitely beautiful Alaska. In Homer specifically, there are numerous camping options for both tent campers and those who want a little more luxury in their own RVs. Either way, camping on the Homer Spit along the Kachemak Bay in downtown Homer is a great option. If you have an RV, check out the beautiful Alaskan Heritage RV Park. Their perfect oceanfront campground will allow you to enjoy the natural beauty of both the mountains and the bay. Plus, you’ll have the comforts of home, including water, electrical hookups, and free internet. For tent camping, the Spit is still a good choice because you can pitch your tent seaside, right on the beach, and you’ll have all the necessities close by on the Spit or in downtown Homer.
Don’t let Homer’s somewhat remote location prevent you from exploring this quaint town. For more Alaska inspiration, read up on