Homer, Alaska’s claim to fame is “The Halibut Fishing Capital of the World”, but what if you don’t plan on fishing? There is so much to see and do around Homer—I fell in love almost immediately. Homer is also known as “The End of the Road” for the famous Homer Spit, a natural stretch of land jutting out into the Katchmak Bay on the Kenai Peninsula. The Spit is home to the Homer Harbor, shops, restaurants, campgrounds and lodging. It is the natural draw to the area regardless of your reason to visit.
There are daily flights from Anchorage direct to Homer as well as a shuttle service. Some cruise ships also port in Homer during the summer months. My friend and I chose to rent a car and drive, taking us around 5 hours from Anchorage with construction and stopping for lunch in Soldotna. There are many scenic stops on the way, but Soldotna and Kenai offer great options for a pit stop with the most variety. I recommend the Kenai River Brewing Co.
Living Amongst Wildlife
Homer has many options ranging from museums, shops, galleries, hiking trails; however, our goal was to see some wildlife. We started at Land’s End, the end of the Homer Spit, for some beach combing at low tide. Sea gulls chatter all along the ferry pier, while hundreds of star fish cling to the columns below. The beach was our own except for two fishermen. One hooked a sizable cod, but threw it back: “Why would I eat cod when I can have halibut?”
Want to see some bald eagles? You don’t have to search, they are all over the beaches on the Spit and around Homer.
While on the Spit, wander around the harbor to spot some sea otters and possibly some seals. We found a couple otters that were cautious of us, but let us observe for a bit.
Another spot for wildlife viewing, especially birds, is the Beluga Wetlands Wildlife Viewing Platform. Heed all moose warnings and follow the advice on the signs posted around the area. We did see one moose in the wetlands, but thankfully did not directly encounter one outside of our car.
Visiting in early May is “Moose Season” as we were warned by almost every local we met. Moose are everywhere. We passed six on the side of the highway from Anchorage to Homer. One was in the laundromat parking lot a block from our rental - how Alaska is that! Driving on East End Road, we saw two grazing on the side of the road. Don’t be that tourist—stay in your car and pull safely off the road for other cars to get around you.
Homer on the Discovery Channel
At the time of our visit, the Time Bandit, the crab fishing ship from the “Deadliest Catch”, was docked in the Homer Harbor. No longer on the show, the boat is for sale sporting a price tag just under $2.9 mil.
The Kilcher Family homestead featured on the show, “Alaska: The Last Frontier” is just outside of Homer. They offer many activities including a tour of the original log cabin, now a living museum. You can also book an overnight stay. Be sure to plan ahead and arrange your visit before you arrive in Homer.
Where to Eat
In the Old Town area, order both a sweet and a savory crepe from Wild Honey Bistro, where Melody gets inventive with fresh ingredient combinations. Sip on a rhubarb mimosa while you wait for your crepes! If you are hungry, the halibut fish-n-chips at AJ’s OldTown Steakhouse & Tavern will fill you up. Almost everyone recommends Captain Pattie’s Fish House that sits waterfront on the Homer Spit. Highly recommend the clam chowder!
If you are researching Homer, Two Sisters Bakery is always mentioned, but did not seem to be open while we were there (it was pre-tourist season). Cafe Cups and The Chartroom Restaurant were also recommended for dinner, but we ran out of time to stop in.
No visit is complete to Homer without having a couple beers and pinning a dollar on the wall at Salty Dawg Saloon on the Spit.
Where to Stay
There are many hotels, B&B’s, and rentals available in and around Homer; however, if you are visiting in the summer months, plan ahead and book well in advance.
We chose the Ocean House Inn, perched right above the beach with amazing views of Katchemak Bay and the Homer Spit. I could have spent days watching the tides roll in and out or combing the beach directly from the Inn!
I can’t wait to get back…
Homer is well worth the visit. I can’t wait to plan a longer stay to see the things I missed and to spend more time photographing the many moods of Katchemak Bay.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve been to Homer and what you would recommend!
Please note this article includes photos taken by my fellow travel mate and sports photographer. Find her on Instagram @alisonpmcnabb