While Alaska is probably not the first that comes to mind when envisioning a beach vacation, it’s just as incredible as those traditional spots that you’re always hearing about if not more so. How many places can you stand along the shore and see a whale breach from the water’s surface while sea otters float, porpoises play, and bald eagles soar overhead?
In Homer, there are many gorgeous beaches, although they’re wilder than what you’d find in a tropical locale, with an enchanting atmosphere that’s hard to beat. Here you can search through tide pools, enjoy tranquil strolls, horseback rides, and surf fishing. Or just relax and enjoy the jaw-dropping surrounding scenery.
Here is the complete guide to visiting Homer, Alaska in the summer.
Where to Explore
While the off-season comes with many delights, during the warmer months, you’ll have a wealth of options to explore, from Homer’s beaches to activities like hiking on land, flightseeing trips, and city attractions.
Relax at Bishop’s Beach
Access Bishop’s Beach with a short walk on the trail that leads from the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center just outside Old Town Homer. At low tide, tide-pooling is popular with the chance to view a wide range of colorful marine creatures, including starfish and sea anemones. Free tours through the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge are available during a good low tide. And, you can even look for fossils – Pleistocene bones have been discovered here in the past.
The high tides are popular for surfing, and summer is the best time to watch for whales, including humpbacks and orcas. Head to Bishop’s Beach Park if you’re looking for a short and scenic hike. The 1.2-mile loop Beluga Slough Trail will bring you to a saltwater marsh, the lower Beluga Slough, where the bay’s 25-foot tides mixed with Beluga Lake’s freshwater. It winds through forest and meadow to a gravelly beach that’s a great place for birdwatching, including cranes and bald eagles in the summer.
Visit Art Galleries
Homer’s scenery inspires many, which is likely why so many artists and other creative types are drawn here. There are lots of fantastic local galleries like:
- Ptarmigan, one of the staples on the art scene. Owned and operated by local artists, it features works by new and established artists with everything from fine art prints to paintings, woodwork, sculptures, and etchings. It’s one of the best places in town to find works created by Alaskan artists.
- The Art Shop Gallery features original works from highly acclaimed Alaskan artists with many impressive paintings of the area, fauna and flora that can make for a great piece to bring home, representing your time in Homer. Local artists will occasionally be there to sign their items or draw something right on the spot, creating something that’s personalized just for you.
- Dean Family Farm and Art Studios offer a unique opportunity to watch art as it’s created in working art studios. Guided tours are available to learn more, with the grounds home to chickens, cashmere goats, and donkeys, while the gallery space features works by local artists, including significant focal point wood art, metal wall art, and more.
Peonies are a big deal in Homer, in fact, some call it the “City of Peonies” with more than two dozen peony farms here. There’s even a celebration in honor of them held for two weeks around mid-July. In addition to enjoying their fragrance and beauty, you can take a centerpiece workshop at a peony farm where you’ll learn to make your very own centerpiece using foliage and a bucket of blooms from the farm.
It’s also possible to simply visit one of the farms. A visit to family-run Joslyn Peonies helmed by “Betty the Farmer” brings the chance to meet the icon herself and learn how she manages to grow the flowers in this unique climate, complete with a personal tour and even a modest wine and beer reception.
Nature is a highlight for any Homer visit. There are endless options for hiking, with everything from short and sweet trails to challenging jaunts. Get out on the water and paddle around in a kayak, take a wildlife cruise, or a whale watching tour. This town is famous for its fishing as the halibut fishing capital of the world and there are five species of salmon that can be caught including king and silver salmon. Kings can be hooked year-round, while silvers are the target from mid-July through early September.
No matter what you decide to do, being surrounded by stunning mountain and water scenery is guaranteed.
Take a Plane Ride
If you want to fully experience Homer in all its glory, there’s no better way to do it than flightseeing. A plane ride brings a bird’s-eye view of the glistening glaciers and towering mountains in Kachemak Bay, departing right from Homer Airport. Tours are also available of Lake Clark National Park and Katmai National Park and Preserve. You might even spot a bear or two feasting below.
Where to Eat
Sample some of the best of Homer’s delicious bounty at the Chart Room. Located at Land’s End Resort, the only hotel on Homer Spit, it offers one of Alaska’s most memorable dining experiences with the menu featuring local, sustainably harvest seafood and produce. Dine indoors or out, with breathtaking views of the Kenai Mountains and Kachemak Bay.
This fun eatery offers friendly service and a bay view with a focus on local seafood, enjoyed with a bay view. You can even bring fish that you catch and have it cooked up here. Some of the popular items include starters like mussels and entrees like the grilled fish sampler, a great way to try a little of everything, featuring halibut, salmon, shrimp, and scallops with multiple sides.
A Homer tradition for more than 70 years, AJ’s offers a friendly atmosphere with warm hospitality and a supper club type of vibe. Seafood, steak, spirits, and live music are all offered here. Halibut Fish and Chips or perfectly cooked USDA Prime ribeye are two of the must-tries.
Where to Stay
As Homer is a favorite destination among travelers there are plenty of hotels and other types of accommodation available, but there is only one that checks all the boxes: Land’s End Resort.
It’s unique in that it’s the only resort right on the Homer Spit, which means you’ll never have to leave those incredible mountain and water views. You might even be able to watch whales go by right from your beachfront room. Plus, there are cabins and even luxurious four-bedroom homes, making it easy for all types of visitors to find the perfect option.
And, the icing on the cake? The staff treats guests like family, ensuring exceptional service and a trip that will be one to remember.