Homer (population 5,800) is located at the southwest end of the Kenai Peninsula, about 4 hours drive south of Anchorage. In Alaskan terms, this is a fairly large town. Homer’s tourism district is a funky collection of small wooden buildings, housing anything from restaurants to water taxi offices to bear viewing companies. This area is located on the far end of the Homer Spit, a natural elongated tongue of land that runs about 2 miles across Kachemak Bay. The Spit is also the location of the harbor, with the famed “Salty Dawg Saloon” next to it.
The west side of Cook Inlet, roughly an hour flight from Homer, is home to some of the densest bear populations in the state (and in the world). Two National Parks, Katmai and Lake Clark, cover much of this coastline; Homer, roughly an hour away using a small plane, is probably the most convenient entry point to this area. This makes Homer the default location for folks interested in bear viewing trips.
The south side of Kachemak Bay, accessible from Homer by floatplane or water taxi, is also worth a visit. Here you can find Kachemak Bay State Park, a relatively diverse park with fascinating beaches and intertidal lagoons (if you’re into starfish, this is the place to go), thick forests and an impressive mountain range. The views from Homer are especially pretty, with the Park’s skyline of glaciers and snowy peaks.
Also on the far side of Kachemak Bay are Halibut Cove and Seldovia, two cute little towns that are well worth the visit. Both town have a maritime character, with cute wooden houses, long wooden walkways along the shore, and a few galleries and restaurants.
Some random recommendations
The Salty Dawg
The Salty Dawg, located in a building at the edge of Homer Spit that looks like a lighthouse (but is not), is a bit of a local phenomenon and is certainly worth a peek. The walls are covered with dollar bills and many of the bar goers are as classic as the bar itself. It’s worth noting that although the Salty Dawg could be pretty touristy, their merchandise – and especially their hoodies – are very popular among the Alaskan crowd, making it an authentic gift to bring home to your loved ones.
A great restaurant, mainly serving Italian food (pizzas and pastas) and good beer. Excellent quality and reasonable prices. Don’t forget there’s usually some waiting time. Not on the Spit itself, but not far from it. Fat Olive’s
Two Sisters Bakery
Another particularly good restaurant / café / bakery in Homer. It is close to the Spit, and serves anything from bread and fresh baked goods to espressos, pies and some more complex dishes. A great spot to buy your breakfast before heading into the wild in Katmai National Park. Two Sisters Bakery
Another fine restaurant, perhaps one of the best in Alaska. Not in Homer but in the neighboring town of Halibut Cove. To get there you have to take a ferry across the bay, but it’s worth the effort: the food is exquisite, the view is amazing and of course Halibut Cove itself is a beautiful place. The ferry is called “Danny J.”, and it departs Homer twice a day, the first run is at noon and the second at 05:00 p.m. The afternoon ride is timed to the dinner schedule. Truth be told, the Danny J is a bit on the old side, but it’s a part of the experience. The Saltry