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It’s no wonder Homer is an artsy town. Surrounded by dramatic mountains with snow peaks, glistening glaciers, driftwood-strewn beaches, and a sparkling blue bay, the scenery is sure to inspire. But it offers a whole lot more as Southcentral Alaska’s cultural hub. You’ll find a wide range of museums and art galleries, live theater, music venues, and a long list of restaurants and coffee bars. Planning your itinerary can be almost overwhelming, but we’ll help you make it easier with this list of the best things to do in one of Alaska’s best places to visit.
What Is It? A flightseeing excursion via helicopter or plane.
Why Do It? There may be no better way to experience the beauty of Homer than from a bird’s eye view. A flightseeing trip will bring you soaring over breathtaking mountains and glaciers while enjoying the chance to spot wildlife, like bears, below.
Good to Know: In addition to flightseeing over Homer and Kachemak Bay, there are air tours of Katmai National Park and Preserve and Lake Clark National Park.
What Is It? Bishop’s Beach is one of the most popular stretches in Homer, accessed via a short walk from the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. At low tide, tide-pooling is a fun activity that simply involves peering into the tide pools to see what marine life might be inside.
Why Do It? At Bishop’s Beach, you can view all sorts of colorful creatures in the tide pools, including sea anemones and starfish. While you’re here, keep an eye out for fossils, too, as Pleistocene bones have been discovered here. In the summer, watch for humpback and orca whales out in deeper waters.
Good to Know: Free tours hosted by the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge are available during a good low tide.
What Is It? Alaska draws anglers from across the globe to take advantage of some of the world’s best fishing opportunities, and Homer is one of the hottest spots for halibut.
Why Do It? Besides being one of the top things to do in Alaska, another reason is that halibut in this area averages between 25 and 35 pounds but catches over 100 pounds aren’t unheard of, while the record catch is an incredible 459 pounds.
Good to Know: Salmon, lingcod, and rockfish are frequent catches here too. Fishing charters are available for half-day, full-day, and multi-day trips that depart from the harbor, but if you want to fish on your own, the Fishing Lagoon on Homer Spit is a popular choice.
What Is It? A wildlife cruise offers the chance to enjoy the scenery from the perspective of the water, all the while watching for Homer’s abundant wildlife in one of Alaska’s best small towns for wildlife and scenery.
Why Do It? The photo-ops are fantastic and the cruises in Kachemak Bay State Park bring the chance to marvel at whales, sea otters, seals, sea lions, puffins, bald eagles, and more.
Good to Know: There are multiple options to choose from in a variety of lengths, and kids 12 and under often cruise for free.
What Is It? Mako’s Water Taxi is a great way to get to Kachemak Bay State Park if you want to explore its 80 miles of trails on your own. Customized tours are available, too, if you prefer a guided trek.
Why Do It? Hiking routes range from easy to difficult, from climbing over steep, rugged terrain to winding through coastal forest. You’ll enjoy stunning views and opportunities to spot mountain goats, moose, black bears, wolves, and coyotes.
Good to Know: If you’re looking for an independent experience, Mako’s can also provide recommendations to help you find the ideal trail.
What Is It? Kilcher Homestead is the star of the long-running Discovery Channel show “Alaska: The Last Frontier,” which documents the Kilcher family, descendants of Yule and Ruth Kilcher, who were Alaskan pioneers and Swiss immigrants. They continue their legacy and have opened the cabin as a living museum, allowing visitors to view old photographs and schoolbooks, farm implements, and other items used during the early homesteading days.
Why Do It? Tours are available that provide an outstanding look at homesteading and a peek at a life that might seem romantic to outsiders while revealing the reality of how challenging it can be in Alaska. You might get to meet one or more of the family members too.
Good to Know: For those with a more serious interest in homesteading and on the hunt for a memorable Airbnb stay in Alaska, one of the cabins on the property is available for rent on Airbnb, allowing guests to watch the family as they go about their daily lives and even to chat with them about their activities and history.
What Is It? Katmai National Park is famous for its bears, and excursions departing from Homer are available to see them.
Why Do It? The park is inhabited by the world’s largest population of coastal grizzly bears. During the peak salmon migration that occurs in July, you’ll enjoy a bucket-list experience: witnessing the bears as they fish for salmon along the Brooks River from various viewing platforms.
Good to Know: Homer tour operators will fly you to Katmai, so you’ll also enjoy an incredible flightseeing experience along the way. In addition to Katmai, there are opportunities to see bears in Lake Clark, McNeil River Sanctuary, and Bruin Bay.
What Is It? The Pratt Museum is the place to go to learn about the history of the region, including how early Alaskans survived and even thrived despite the grueling conditions.
Why Do It? This is one of the leading educational and cultural institutions in Alaska. In addition to the interesting exhibits, it includes a historic homestead cabin, and a variety of talks and book launches are held here too.
Good to Know: The museum hosts extensive collections that include more than 24,000 objects related to the region, including photographs, prints, and archaeological artifacts.
What Is It? The Salty Dawg is a saloon, but it’s much more than that. Visitors enjoy the total experience, including its unique historic character and the opportunity to mingle with the locals.
Why Do It? It has an interesting history, set within one of the first cabins built in Homer back in 1897, not long after the townsite was established. It was moved in the 1940s, put on skids, and taken to its new home on the Homer Spit. It was the first grocery store, a post office, and a coal mining office at various points before opening as the Salty Dawg Saloon in 1957 and becoming a hotspot among locals and visitors alike.
Good to Know: A trend was started when someone left money for fishermen to have a drink on them, particularly after a bad day out. It wasn’t long before there was an explosion of bills throughout the saloon. Dollar bills cover the walls and ceiling, signed by those who left them.
What Is It? With Homer’s best of the best American mountain town scenery inspiring so many creative types, it’s no surprise that it’s home to lots of artists and art galleries featuring local works.
Why Do It? Browsing the galleries offers the chance to pick up a unique gift or souvenir, but you don’t have to buy to enjoy them. In fact, the Dean Family Farm and Art Studios offer a unique opportunity to watch works as they’re created in the art studios. The gallery space displays pieces by local artists, and guided tours are available to learn more. You’ll even get to explore the grounds, which include donkeys, cashmere goats, and chickens.
Good to Know: There are many different galleries here, but local artists occasionally sign their items or draw something on the spot at the Art Shop Gallery downtown.
What Is It? Homer is known for its peonies, beautiful flowers with extravagant blooms. Known as the “City of Peonies,” it’s home to over two dozen peony farms. For two weeks, around mid-July, there’s a celebration that honors them with all sorts of events and activities.
Why Do It? Not only are the flowers fragrant and stunning, but if you’re here during the celebration, you can also visit the farms and even take workshops, such as learning to create a centerpiece using them. In 2022, Sweetgale Meadows & Cider House and Odin Mead collaborated to make peony meads, while Homer Council on the Arts and Pratt Museum & Park offered peony art classes.
Good to Know: Fritz Creek Garden is one of the top farms to visit, with around 100,000 peony stems processed in a season. It’s been in operation for over a half-century. Rita Jo Shoultz, who helped pioneer peony farming here, is incredibly passionate about the flowers and will share her insight with guests during a guided farm tour which typically includes making your own bouquet.
What Is It? Bear Creek Winery is known for its fruit wines made from local fruits and fruit wine blends, like Black Raspberry and Strawberry Rhubarb.
Why Do It? The winery offers spectacular views across Kachemak Bay and the glaciers beyond, while the wines are award-winning, providing the opportunity to sample some of Homer’s best flavors.
Good to Know: Tastings are offered seasonally and daily from mid-May through Labor Day.
What Is It? The Homer Spit is a thin stretch of land that juts out 4.5 miles into Kachemak Bay, surrounded by water on three sides.
Why Do It? It’s the perfect spot to walk, beachcomb, or fish right from shore. You’ll find many shops and eateries to enjoy along the way too.
Good to Know: Be sure to keep an eye out for sea lions, sea otters, and whales, particularly in the deeper water.