Lucky is the visitor who drives into Homer on a clear day. As the Sterling Hwy descends into town, a panorama of mountains sweeps across the horizon in front of you. The Homer Spit slowly comes into view, jutting into a glittering Kachemak Bay, and just when you think the view might unwind forever, it ends with the dramatic Grewingk Glacier.
Hearing travelers’ tales of Homer, you half expect to find lotus-eaters and mermaids lounging about. At first blush, though, Homer’s decidedly feminine appeal might not be evident. The city isn’t overhung with mountains like Seward, nor does it have the quaint townscape of Cordova. It sprawls a bit and is choked with tourists; it isn’t lushly forested, it lacks legendary hikes, and it has a windswept waterfront that makes kayaking a bitch. And then there’s the Homer Spit – a tourist trap you may love to hate.
Stick around for a bit, however, and Homer will make you a believer. For one thing, there’s the panorama, and the promise that it holds. Across Kachemak Bay, glaciers and peaks and fjords beckon – a trekkers’ and paddlers’ playground to which Homer is the port of entry.
And then there’s the vibe: the town is a magnet for radicals, artists and folks disillusioned with mainstream society, who’ve formed a critical mass here, dreaming up a sort of utopian vision for their city, and striving – with grins on their faces – to enact it. Because of that, this is the arts capital of Southcentral Alaska, with great galleries, museums, theater and music.
Homer lies at the end of the Sterling Hwy, 233 road miles from Anchorage. For tourists, there are two distinct sections of town. The ‘downtown’ area, built on a hill between high bluffs to the north and Kachemak Bay to the south, lies along – or near – busy Pioneer Ave. Heading eastward, Pioneer Ave becomes rural East End Rd, with a number of other lodging and eating options. The second section of Homer, and certainly the most notorious, is the Homer Spit, a skinny tongue of sand licking halfway across Kachemak Bay.