Homer, Alaska Visitor Guide
Homer, Alaska, often referred to as the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World,” is a beautiful and charming coastal town located on the Kenai Peninsula. With its stunning views of Kachemak Bay and the surrounding mountains, Homer offers a wide range of recreational activities, cultural experiences, and opportunities for relaxation. In this guide, we’ll cover Homer’s latitude and longitude, directions from Anchorage, things to do, the area’s history, RV and camping information, and annual festivals and events.
**Latitude and Longitude**: Homer is located at approximately 59.6425° N latitude and 151.5483° W longitude.
Getting to Homer from Anchorage
Homer is approximately 218 miles (351 km) southwest of Anchorage and can be reached by car, bus, or plane.
1. From Anchorage, head south on the Seward Highway (AK-1) towards Seward.
2. After about 37 miles (60 km), take the exit onto Sterling Highway (AK-1) heading towards Soldotna and Homer.
3. Continue on Sterling Highway for approximately 181 miles (291 km).
4. Upon reaching Homer, the highway becomes Lake Street, which takes you into the heart of town.
The drive from Anchorage to Homer typically takes around 4-5 hours, depending on traffic and weather conditions.
Several bus companies offer service from Anchorage to Homer, with varying schedules and prices. Check with individual operators for specific route information and booking details.
There are scheduled and charter flights from Anchorage’s Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to Homer Airport, with a flight time of approximately 45 minutes. Check with individual airlines for schedules and prices.
Things to Do
Homer offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors, from outdoor adventures to cultural experiences.
As the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World,” Homer is a prime destination for anglers looking to catch the prized fish. Numerous charter companies in Homer offer guided fishing trips, providing everything you need for a successful day on the water.
Kachemak Bay State Park
Kachemak Bay State Park, Alaska’s first state park, covers 400,000 acres of pristine wilderness, including mountains, glaciers, forests, and coastline. Visitors can access the park by water taxi or air taxi from Homer and enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing, kayaking, and camping.
The Homer Spit
The Homer Spit is a 4.5-mile (7.2 km) long stretch of land that extends into Kachemak Bay. This iconic feature of Homer offers a variety of recreational activities, including fishing, beachcombing, and birdwatching. The Spit is also home to several shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
The Pratt Museum is a regional natural history museum that showcases the art, culture, and science of the Kachemak Bay region. The museum features exhibits on local marine life, Alaska Native culture, and the history of the Homer area.
Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center
This visitor center is a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve. The center offers interactive exhibits, educational programs, and guided walks exploring the unique coastal ecosystems of the area.
Homer’s history dates back thousands of years, with evidence of Alaska Native peoples, particularly the Dena’ina and Sugpiaq/Alutiiq, inhabiting the area. The town was officially founded in 1896 when a gold prospector named Homer Pennock arrived and established a mining camp. However, the gold deposits in the area were minimal, and many early settlers turned to fishing, trapping, and coal mining.
In the early 1900s, Homer became a hub for commerce and transportation with the construction of a dock and the arrival of the Alaska Railroad. Over the years, the community continued to grow and diversify, with the development of the Homer Spit, tourism, and the arts playing an increasingly important role in the local economy.
RV and Camping Information
Homer offers several options for RV and camping accommodations:
Homer Spit Campground
The Homer Spit Campground is located on the famous Homer Spit and offers RV sites with hook-ups, as well as tent camping sites. Amenities include restrooms, showers, and a dump station. The campground is within walking distance of the beach, fishing spots, and local shops and restaurants.
Baycrest RV Park
Baycrest RV Park is situated on a bluff overlooking Kachemak Bay and offers RV sites with full hook-ups. The park features restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi access. It is located a short drive from downtown Homer and the Homer Spit.
Karen Hornaday Park Campground
This city-operated campground is located within Karen Hornaday Park, a short drive from downtown Homer. The campground offers tent and RV sites with water and electric hook-ups, as well as dry camping options. Amenities include restrooms, picnic tables, fire rings, and a dump station. The park itself features playgrounds, picnic shelters, and walking trails with beautiful views of Kachemak Bay and the surrounding mountains.
Mariner Park, located on the eastern side of the Homer Spit, offers waterfront camping for both RVs and tents. The park provides picnic tables, fire rings, and portable toilets, but no hook-ups are available. This location is perfect for those looking for a more rustic camping experience close to the beach and fishing opportunities.
Annual Festivals and Events
Homer hosts several annual festivals and events that celebrate the community’s unique culture and natural surroundings.
Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament
Held annually in March, the Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament is a popular fishing event that attracts anglers from all over Alaska and beyond. Participants compete for cash prizes while raising funds for local organizations and projects.
In May, the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival is a celebration of the migration of thousands of shorebirds through the area. The festival features birdwatching tours, workshops, guest speakers, and a variety of family-friendly activities focused on bird conservation and appreciation.
Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby
Running from May through September, the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby is one of the longest-running and most lucrative fishing derbies in Alaska. Anglers compete for cash prizes and the chance to catch the largest halibut of the season.
Kenai Peninsula Fair
Held in nearby Ninilchik in August, the Kenai Peninsula Fair is a celebration of local agriculture, crafts, and culture. The fair features live music, carnival rides, a rodeo, and a variety of food and craft vendors.
Homer Burning Basket Festival
The Homer Burning Basket Festival is an annual community art event held in September. Participants create large, intricate baskets from natural materials, which are then filled with personal messages and intentions before being ceremonially burned in a spectacular and cathartic display.
Famous People of Homer, Alaska
Homer, Alaska, has been home to several notable individuals, both past and present. These individuals have made significant contributions to various fields, including art, literature, wildlife conservation, and more. In this section, we will highlight some of the famous people from Homer and provide extra detail on the “Eagle Lady.”
Tom Bodett is an author, voice actor, and radio personality who was a longtime resident of Homer. He is best known for his humorous stories and essays about life in rural Alaska and as the spokesperson for the Motel 6 hotel chain. In addition to his work in radio and advertising, Bodett has published several books, including “As Far As You Can Go Without a Passport” and “The End of the Road.”
The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jewel Kilcher, known professionally as Jewel, was raised in Homer. Her family was featured on the reality television show “Alaska: The Last Frontier,” which chronicled their lives as homesteaders on the Kenai Peninsula. Jewel’s music spans various genres, including folk, pop, and country, and she has released multiple albums to critical and commercial success. Some of her most popular songs include “Who Will Save Your Soul,” “You Were Meant for Me,” and “Foolish Games.”
Ernest Gruening, a former governor of the Alaska Territory and one of Alaska’s first two U.S. Senators, had a summer home in Homer. Gruening was a strong advocate for Alaskan statehood and played an instrumental role in the state’s admission to the Union in 1959. He was a prominent political figure in Alaska and the United States, championing various causes such as civil rights, environmental conservation, and opposition to the Vietnam War.
Jean Keene – The Eagle Lady
Jean Keene, affectionately known as the “Eagle Lady,” was a beloved Homer resident who gained fame for her unique relationship with the area’s bald eagles. Keene moved to Homer in the late 1970s and began feeding the eagles during the harsh winter months when food was scarce. Over time, she developed a special bond with the birds, and they came to rely on her for sustenance.
Keene’s eagle-feeding activities attracted the attention of both locals and tourists, with many visiting her home on the Homer Spit to witness the incredible spectacle of dozens of eagles gathered together. Her dedication to the welfare of these majestic birds earned her widespread admiration and respect.
Keene’s work with the eagles was not without controversy. Some wildlife biologists argued that her feeding practices disrupted the eagles’ natural behavior and could potentially cause harm to the birds. Despite this, Keene maintained that her actions were necessary to help the eagles survive Alaska’s harsh winters.
Jean Keene passed away in January 2009, but her legacy lives on in the Homer community. The Jean Keene Memorial Park, located on the Homer Spit, was established in her honor and serves as a reminder of her love and dedication to the bald eagles of Homer.
In conclusion, Homer, Alaska, has been home to several notable individuals who have left their mark on various fields. Their contributions to art, literature, wildlife conservation, and politics have helped shape the town’s unique character and continue to inspire future generations.
In conclusion, Homer, Alaska, is a vibrant and picturesque coastal town that offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors. From world-class fishing and outdoor adventures to unique cultural events and a rich history, Homer provides an unforgettable experience for all who visit.