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As the Sterling Hwy descends into Homer, a panorama of mountains sweeps across the horizon. The Homer Spit juts into a glittering Kachemak Bay, and just when you think the view might unwind forever, it ends with dramatic Grewingk Glacier.

Hearing travelers’ tales, you half expect to find lotus-eaters and mermaids lounging about. At first, though, Homer’s appeal isn't evident. It sprawls and is choked with tourists, it lacks legendary hikes and it has a windswept waterfront that makes kayaking a slog. And then there’s the Homer Spit – a tourist trap you may love to hate.

Stick around, however, and Homer will make you a believer. For one thing, there’s that panorama, and the promise that it holds. And 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.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Homer.