Just across the Kenai Peninsula from Seward lies a quaint little Alaskan fishing town that you will love. There is not a shortage of things to do in Homer Alaska. Aside from the sheer beauty of the mountains and the Kachemak Bay, visitors can enjoy the grandeur of Alaskan nature and wildlife. Enjoy self-guided activities or go all out and charter an adventure guide for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
My First Visit
My first trip to Homer took place on my seventh trip to Alaska in 2016. That year I first took my two oldest children (13 and 9.) The excitement began long before we arrived in this small lazy fishing town 220 miles south of Anchrorage. On Alaska State Highway 1, within a 30-minute drive out of Anchorage and along the banks of the Turnagain Arm, the opportunities were almost endless. Along the way we had the opportunity to visit Portage Glacier, the Begich-Boggs Visitor Center, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, the Ninilchik Russian Orthodox Church, and many other fascinating sights. And that’s not to mention several roadside stops to photograph moose and bald eagles. We also climbed up the roadside cliffs that make this a gorgeous half-day drive to Homer.
Our Arrival to Homer
After arriving to the little fishing village we discovered the Homer Spit on the very southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula. The spit isa narrow strip of land that juts out about 4.5 miles into the Kachemak Bay. It is home to up to 1500 commercial and pleasure boats in the peek times of the year. As soon as we arrived, my 2 children and I found a spot on the side of the spit. We had a great view of the Kenai Mountains to the South and some picturesque views of old half sunken boats to the East. We climbed on the rocks and found a place to enjoy our sack lunches and soak in the crisp July air of the Kachemak Bay. As we ate our lunch, we watched sea otters rolling and diving just a dozen yards out.
The Homer Boat Harbor
After a brief lunch, we stopped and strolled the docks at the Homer boat harbor. The boats docked in the harbor were a joy for the kids as they walked the dock. They went from boat to boat admiring the wildness of life as a fisherman in the “Last Frontier.” We enjoyed a little shopping at the various gift shops along the harbor.
We even got to take a peek at the world famous Salty Dawg Saloon housed in an old cabin built in 1897. The building served as the first post office, a railroad station, a grocery store, and a coal mining office for twenty years. Of course the kids had to view it from just outside the door since it is a working bar. The actual Salty Dawg itself was opened in 1957. One thing that makes the Salty Dawg so special is the thousands of dollar bills from around the world that hang from the ceiling, cover the floor and are attached to every bare spot of wood inside the Salty Dawg. That has been a tradition there for many years.
The Wildlife and Sealife
One of our favorite experiences in Homer was to see the abundance of wildlife and sea life. From the multiple moose we spotted (even right beside our car) to the soaring bald eagles and octupus and starfish, we were amazed at how nature surprised us. The wildflowers also made us feel like we were in a different world. They were bursting with vibrant purples, yellows, whites and blues. The colors were spectacular. Beachcombing the shore of the spit was like treasure hunting for wildlife and we had a blast walking the beach of an overnight campground.
Below are several other fun things to do in Homer, Alaska.
The inter-coastal tide pools of Homer are home to millions of brightly colored starfish. It is one of the best places in the world to be awed by the glowing starfish. The best time to view the starfish is during low tide when the receding water reveals a myriad of sea life. In addition to the starfish, you may see sea stars, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins-and maybe even an octopus. We found an octopus dead on the campground beach, which made a great photo opp for the kids.
Bald Eagle Sightings
Homer has one of the largest populations of Bald Eagles on the planet. If you don’t see a bald Eagle in Homer, you probably had your eyes closed! Some of the best spots for viewing Bald Eagles include the Homer Spit Trail, the Homer Bypass Active Eagles Nest, and Ninilchik, just north of Homer on Alaska Highway 1.
Kachemak State Park
Kachemak State Park is Alaska’s first state park containing about 400,000 acres of recreation land including ocean, mountains, glaciers and forest. The park has some great hiking trails and plenty of land to roam and explore. The only catch to the Kachemak park is that there is no road accessibility. This means you get there by plane or water taxi. There are several options at the harbor. However, you can expect to spend a minimum of $75 to get to the park.
Bear Viewing Tours
For the adventurous traveller willing to invest more money into their trip, Homer has some of the best bear viewing in all of Alaska. You can take a short flight to Brooks Falls or one of many other bear viewing areas. Bear viewing is a breathtaking trip if all goes well. You can expect to pay a minimum of $600 and up for a good bear viewing flight. Check out this LIVE cam of Brooks Falls that can be watched on Youtube 24-7.
In the summer months, the Homer area averages a low temperature of the mid-40s to a high in the mid-60s. Homer only gets about an inch of rain per month in the summer. You can expect a high probability of cloudy skies. The beauty of Alaska in the summer is the long days. Homer gets about 18 hours of full sunlight per day in July.
Plenty of Things to Do in Homer Alaska
Although Homer is not one of the most popular spots in Alaska, it provides the summer visitors with a very authentic Alaskan experience. If you choose to make Homer one of your destinations, you will see a huge variety of sea life and wildlife. You may not see these in other parts of the state. The locals are super friendly and the scenery is some of the best.
Let me know if I can answer any questions as you prepare to make your Alaskan vacation an epic adventure!