This town of 5,000 is bursting with artists and craftsmen of all mediums. Locals are skilled tradespeople who value their close-knit community and the stellar view of Kachemak Bay outside their living-room windows. Many families have lived here for generations and seem to radiate an entrepreneurial spirit that is unique to Alaska. This can-do attitude is evident in the lives of the town’s artists, authors, gallery owners, charter operators, commercial fishermen, lodge and bed-and-breakfast owners, restaurateurs, and water-taxi operators. Homer marks the end of the road in Southcentral Alaska, and is well worth the drive to see what the hype is about.
Attractions & Transportation
- Visiting the Spit is an easy way to meet Alaskans anywhere along the shore. You’ll find lots of small buildings housing gift shops as well as fishing charters and tour companies. It’s a bit touristy here, but many of the small-business operators are happy to strike up a conversation. Also look for people camping or RV’ing on the beach; it’s generally easy to walk up and start a conversation or even join their campfire.
- Flying into Homer on a RavnAir flight from Anchorage gives you 45 minutes to chat with locals, who travel between the two cities for their jobs, medical appointments, shopping and family trips. You might be seated near a school teacher, charter fishing boat operator, or even the mayor!
- Wander along the town’s small boat harbor and you’re sure to meet local fishermen. Ask them about their favorite place to cruise out to for the day within the Bay. Many families here dock their boats at the harbor when they’re not commercial fishing near Bristol Bay during the peak summer months.
- The Pick and Pay thrift shop is a local secret for incredibly inexpensive items and a place to find local treasures that make for true Alaskan souvenirs. It’s only open Saturday mornings, but if you enjoy a good treasure hunt, this place is the ticket.
- Visit High Tide Arts to see the impressive work created by local artists. Find something uniquely Alaskan here and support the local economy without sifting through the same wildlife T-shirts and moose-dropping earrings. Ask the young local staff about town artists like the Salmon Sisters, whose local clothing line depicts the life of a commercial fisherman in Alaska. Kristin Vantrease is another local printmaker creating art and apparel inspired by her summers spent salmon fishing with her family in Bristol Bay.
- Visit the farmer’s market on Saturdays and Wednesdays throughout the summer for fresh produce and seafood. It’s located between Beluga Lake and the Spit, right on the main drag—you can’t miss it.
Restaurants, Bars & Coffeehouses
- Two Sisters Bakery is the local favorite for sticky buns, turtle bars, and indulgent treats in town. Locals enjoy this place for its warm, comforting atmosphere and staff who have a passion for quality food and relationships. It’s near the airport, only a few miles from the Spit, and a perfect stop before or after a walk along the rocky beach for a warm drink and a carb-filled treat.
- The Salty Dog Saloon, an iconic spot along the Spit, is one of the top dive bars in Alaska. This locally run shop, restaurant, and bar combo sits in a historic building that dates to 1897 and is now delightfully quirky, covered wall-to-wall with notes on dollar bills. If you can still find space, leave your mark here by contributing a personalized dollar to the ceiling or wall. You can brag to your friends back home that you helped decorate the place.
- K-Bay Caffe serves locally roasted coffee and has a true community vibe for all who stop in. Locals go here because the coffee is just really, really good. Ask the resident barista, Michael McGuire, about his unmatched latte foam art skills. Stop by to read, sample hearty soups made daily, and strike up conversation.
- The Bagel Shop is the place to go for fantastic bagels and a charming local staff. It’s a little bit out of the way, about 3 miles from the Spit at East End Road, yet it’s a delight to find handmade New York-style bagels, signature salmon spread, and bagels with lox fresh from the Bay. You can't eat here without feeling the love that goes into everything. Just walking in the door will make you feel better.