9 Best Things To Do in Homer, Alaska
1. Bear Viewing in Katmai National Park
Homer is Alaska’s best staging grounds for world-class bear viewing. With over 98 percent of the Unites States population of brown bears, Alaska offers a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience in bear viewing. A short plane ride away, Katmai National Park and Preserve contains one of the highest concentration of brown bears in Alaska. You will get to fly in a small bush plane, enjoy stunning mountains, glaciers, or volcanoes on your approach to Katmai, and spend hours on the ground with the incredible coastal brown bears that call this Alaskan wilderness home. There are plenty of incredible things to do while visiting Homer, but we think this tops the list for all the right reasons.
**You can find a short video summary of our bear viewing trips into Katmai National Park here.
2. Kachemak Bay State Park
Alaska’s first state park, Kachemak Bay State Park, sprawls across 400,000-acres (1,600 square km) of dense forests, rocky and sandy beaches, rivers, glaciers, and ice fields. The park is home to sea otters, seals, and whales, which you can spot from the coast or by boat. While within the park, you may spot moose, black or brown bears, or a host of sea and land birds. We recommend enjoying many of the hiking trails through the park or a day-trip across the bay to see tidal pools, starfish, sea urchins, crabs, jellyfish, and all sorts of other sea creatures.
Accessing Kachemak Bay State Park
Because the park is across the bay, it must be accessed by boat or plane. We recommend scheduling a water taxi for your trip across the bay. Fishing, boating, kayaking, hiking, camping, exploring, and all sorts of adventures are yours to have here in Kachemak Bay State Park.
3. The Homer Spit
Surrounded by a stunning panorama of mountains, the Homer Spit is a long, narrow strip of land that juts out nearly five miles into the bay. The Spit features small businesses, restaurants, lodging, and miles of beaches to walk along. Grab a coffee and walk through the harbor, admiring the boats and picking out your favorites. Go window shopping at various businesses and grab a souvenir by which to remember your trip. Take a long walk down the beach. Visit a ceramic shop and take a custom coffee mug home. Sit just about anywhere and enjoy the stunning view or spot otters and seals along the shore, who sometimes enjoy watching the interesting passerby.
4. Local Artists
Homer has a surprising number of local artists. You will see local artists featured in restaurants and buildings around town. You can find their art in several different galleries in town, as well as more at their private stores or shops, like ceramic artist Paul Dungan.
Normal Lowell Gallery
Technically located in Anchor Point, the Norman Lowell Gallery features 10,000-square-feet dedicated to the history and work of Normal Lowell, which sits on the original Lowell homestead. Norman Lowell painted the scenery of Alaska from his arrival in 1958 until his advancing blindness compelled him to finish his work in 2017.
Ptarmigan Arts is a local co-operative gallery in downtown Homer featuring local artwork and handcrafted items. You can find watercolors, acrylics, woodworking, sculpture, metalwork, photography, and fine art prints at Ptarmigan Arts.
5. Local History, Culture, and Museums
Homer’s Pratt Museum preserves and retells the history of the Kachemak Bay region. Learn more about local ecosystems like Gull Island, or understand more about the tools used by Alaskan natives for their own subsistence. During the months of June, July, and August, the Pratt Museum also offers walking tours of the Homer Harbor on Fridays at 3PM.
Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies
The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies focuses on fostering responsible interaction with surrounding living environments through teaching and education. They offer guided walks, tours, and other educational programs by which you can explore and understand the local ecosystems and lands here in the Kachemak Bay Region.
Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center
Designed as a walking experience, the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center features indoor exhibits and outdoor trails by which you can explore the past and present of the the Kachemak Bay region through the sights and sounds of, for example, a seabird colony. This is a great family activity, and worth swinging by the indoor exhibits for a concise yet complete telling of Kachemak Bay’s animal residents.
6. Hiking and Camping
Hiking in Homer is divided by the bay. You can hike trails on the Homer side of the bay, or you can cross the bay for a more quintessential Alaskan hiking and camping experience in Kachemak Bay State Park. For an excellent overview of hiking trails on the Homer side of the bay and across, check them out here.
7. Enjoy Alaskan Coffee
Many local restaurants and coffee shops serve two of Alaska’s most popular coffee: KBay Coffee or Kaladi Brothers Coffee. And if you’d like to take some home with you, you can find some from a local grocery store in town. Homer, Alaska continues the Pacific-Northwest’s tradition in brewing excellent coffee.
8. Taste Local Beer and Wine
Bear Creek Winery
The Bear Creek Winery produces fruit wines from locally-grown produce. Swing by and visit the tasting room or grab a bottle and take it home. Along with locally-roasted coffees, you can find the products of Bear Creek Winery, Homer Brewing Company, and Grace Ridge Brewery on tap (or in bottles) at local restaurants here in Homer.
Homer Brewing Company
The Homer Brewing Company is a production brewery that also sells beer directly. Grab a half-gallon growler to go, or grab a glass and visit at their outdoor seating area, perfect for a warm summer evening. Don’t forget to try the Red Knot Scottish Ale while you’re there!
Grace Ridge Brewing
Grace Ridge Brewing, like the Homer Brewing Company, has outdoor seating that makes for an excellent get-together on beautiful, warm, clear summer evenings. You can also grab a half-gallon growler to take home with you. Try a local brew if you get the chance to stop by.
9. Taste Local Food (Trucks)
Homer has very few restaurant chains. However, you can find delicious food from independent restaurants all over town. Dine in for a nice sandwich, soup, or pizza at Fat Olive’s. Indulge in a more luxurious evening with steaks at AJ’s Oldtown Steakhouse & Tavern. Enjoy a breakfast out at the Duncan House Diner or grab a delicious breakfast (or lunch) bagel sandwich on freshly-baked bagels at The Bagel Shop. Looking for a burger, fries, and a brew? You can find those at Alice’s Champagne Palace. With plenty of other restaurants worthy of mention for a delicious meal, you can discover more through a google or map search, or a ride through town.
Grab tacos or burritos from the Dandelion Food Truck and find a nice spot on a nearby beach (we recommend Bishop’s beach or somewhere on the Spit) on a beautiful, sunny afternoon. Or, while you’re out on the Spit, check out the Tickled Pear food truck. Grab a burger and fries from Bigfoot Burger Co. off of Pioneer Ave.
During the summer, the Homer Farmer’s Market allows you to buy fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the source. You can also find a food truck or two, fresh salsa, flowers, and other craft-related items during your visit.