A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Anchorage: 53°/69°/Mostly cloudy
Fairbanks: 59°/88°/Partly sunny
From artsy to outdoorsy, Homer offers variety
Homers reputation as an artistic hotspot and a halibut haven precedes it, but defining this end-of-the-road town by those features is shortsighted. While both fish and fine art can be found in ample supply here, theres far more going on in the town dubbed the cosmic hamlet by the sea.
Regardless of interests, most visitors are spellbound on arrival in Homer by the scenic vista of mountains, glaciers, and the five-mile-long Homer Spit, which juts into Kachemak Bay. There you will find a plethora of businesses catering to visitors of all persuasions, from outdoor enthusiasts looking for kayak tours in Kachemak Bay State Park to those wishing to enjoy sea-fresh oysters topped with extraordinary sunsets.
It is from the Spit that you will also access fishing charters that will take you in search of Homers world-class halibut fishing and the chance to win thousands through the Homer Halibut Fishing Derby. Salmon and other species run in these waters, too, and theres ample opportunity to pursue them all.
For those more interested in exploring on terra firma, water taxis are available to take you across Kachemak Bay to explore the park, which is home to dozens of hiking trails of all levels of difficulty. Cabins can be rented and camping options are plentiful.
In town, you will find amenities, restaurants, art galleries, museums and the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, which houses a wide array of displays and educational opportunities about the remote Aleutian Chain park, an often-unseen part of Alaska.
From the visitor center, you can amble down an easy path to Bishops Beach and Homers old town area, where bakeries, restaurants and galleries are housed in some of the areas historic buildings. A walk on the beach also comes well recommended, and your chances of seeing an eagle flying overhead and an otter bobbing in the waves are high.
In the center of town, Pioneer Avenue provides a host of interests. The Pratt Museum offers a look at the areas history, from its Native cultures to its early settlers. Numerous art galleries, shops, restaurants and a fantastic bookstore round out the areas offerings
Homer is also a hub for communities that ring Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet, from Anchor Point, with its world-renowned fishing, to Halibut Cove and Seldovias beautiful water-influenced communities. And the off-season opportunities, from cross-country skiing to events like the annual Nutcracker Ballet, are extraordinary. Any time of year, theres ample entertainment and interest to be found on the shores of Kachemak Bay.
KACHEMAK BAY STATE PARK
Some 400,000 acres of mountains, glaciers, beaches and waterways make up this extraordinary resource on the south side of Kachemak Bay. Numerous trails ranging from easy day hikes to challenging mountain-ridge traverses offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities, and state cabins are available for rent. Access is via water taxi, air charter or boat rental from Homer, and several local businesses offer guided hikes as well as kayak trips in the area.
Where: Alaska State Parks, Kenai Area Office, 35850 Lou Morgan Road, Sterling
When: Open daily year round
This natural history museum features the Kachemak Bay, an Exploration of People and Place, an exhibit that uses individual stories to tell the larger story of the areas natural history, Native cultures, traditions and homesteading history, among other themes. In summer, there are several live camera feeds running, including a link to the remote Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park where brown bears are often visible.
Where: 3779 Bartlett St., Homer
When: May-September, 10 a.m. 6 p.m.
Cost: $8 with discounts
ALASKA ISLANDS AND OCEAN VISITOR CENTER
Wander through this massive exhibit hall and you will be transported to the sights and sounds of the remote Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, an area rich in marine wildlife as well as history. Movies on various topics are shown regularly throughout the summer, and events and special exhibits for all ages are also presented throughout the summer.
Where: 95 Sterling Highway, Homer
When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, Memorial Day-Labor Day; winter hours vary
CENTER FOR ALASKAN COASTAL STUDIES
If you want to learn more about the marine and coastal ecosystems of Kachemak Bay, this center is a great place to start. Numerous programs and guided tours as well as educational resources and environmental stewardship efforts are sponsored by the center, with comprehensive listings available online. The Petersen Bay Field Station on the south shore of Kachemak Bay offers extraordinary educational opportunities for school groups and summer visitors.
Where: 708 Smokey Bay Way
When: Daily, Memorial Day- Labor Day
Cost: Tours, $120 adults, $80 kids under 12; $170 for combination tour;$5 for harbor tour
ANCHOR RIVER STATE RECREATION AREA
Located on the most westerly point on the U.S. Highway System, this recreation area is set in one of the states richest fishing areas. The Anchor River supports runs of king, silver and pink salmon, as well as Dolly Varden and steelhead. The popular king salmon run begins in late May, while silver fishing begins in late July. Feisty steelhead are fished into October. Camping areas are available on a first-come, first-serve basis for $10 per site. Boat launches are also available from the beach for $75.
Where: Anchor Point Beach Road, Anchor Point
When: Open seasonally
Cost: Various fees for parking, camping and boat launching.
Phone: 907- 262-5581
HOMER JACKPOT HALIBUT DERBY
This year, the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby is changing. Gone are the days of trying to land the biggest fish. Pulling up the biggest fish turns out to be a bad biological idea, and those fish serve a better purpose making more big fish than they do on the dinner table; those big fish are mushy anyway. The details are still being worked out as to how the new derby will be run, but theres talk of a big-dollar fish as well as many more tagged flatfish out there for the catching. One things for sure, you cant win unless you buy a ticket. You can buy the tickets at the derby headquarters on the Homer Spit or from local charter offices, B&Bs and stores in Homer.
Where: Leave from and return to HomerHarbor
When: May 15-Sept. 15
Cost: $10 daily; 10-day ticket for $75
KACHEMAK BAY SHOREBIRD FESTIVAL
Each spring, birders migrate to Homer to see the many species of birds that pass through Kachemak Bay on their way to Alaska nesting grounds. The Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival provides an opportunity for birders to further indulge their passion with a weekend of activities and events. This years keynote speaker will be Jeff Gordon, president of the American Birding Association.
When: May 9-12
Cost: Varies by event
KACHEMAK BAY WOODEN BOAT FESTIVAL
Homer and wooden boats are intrinsically linked, and a festival held in the second week of September celebrates that in Homer. Events include a film night, sea chanteys and tall tales, a wooden boat show, a childrens boatbuilding and painting event, keynote speakers and rowboat races.
When: Sept. 13-15
Cost: Varies by event
Phone: 907- 235-2986
KACHEMAK BAY WRITERS CONFERENCE
This annual conference features nationally recognized fiction, nonfiction and poetry writers participating in workshops, readings and panels. This years keynote speaker is poet Naomi Shihab Nye.
Where: Lands End Resort, Homer
When: June 14-18
Cost: $350 and up
KBBIS CONCERT ON THE LAWN
Two days of music and festivities are held on the baseball fields above Homer, offering a panoramic view of Kachemak Bay. Food and craft booths are also available. Bring a blanket and your dancing shoes.
Where: Karen Hornaday Park, Homer
When: July 27-28
Cost: $20 adults, $10 youth under 18 (free if accompanied by parent or adult guardian