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Homer

Posted: January 1, 2012 - 2:00am  |  Updated: January 9, 2014 - 3:26pm

Head south on the Sterling Highway. Before you hit the absolute end of the road, you'll crest a hill and your jaw will drop at the spectacular scenery before you. More than one visitor to this spot has rewritten his or her life story after experiencing this one-of-a kind view.

Welcome to Homer.

The first thing likely to catch your eye is a narrow, wiggly strip of land jutting into the shimmering waters of Kachemak Bay. That four-mile strip of land is the Homer Spit, a terminal moraine composed of sand, gravel, coal and other debris left by a glacier retreating into the Kenai Mountains.

During the summertime, the Spit buzzes with activity. Boardwalks and shops of all kinds line the harbor and bay sides of the road. It's on the Spit you'll find everything from luxury hotels and fine dining to rustic camping and seafood shacks.

Looking for a fishing adventure? The Spit is where you'll find it. Dozens of charter operations make their home here.

Demanding your attention across the bay are the mountains, forests and glaciers of Kachemak Bay State Park. The 400,000 acres of pristine wilderness on the south side of the bay not only provide Homer its magical view, but they also give residents and visitors alike an unparalleled wilderness playground. There are no roads to the park, making boat or air travel necessary for access. Charter operators, water taxis and boat rental companies in Homer know the area and can point you in the right direction.

But don't get so focused on adventures waiting at the end of the road that you miss the heart of Homer.

In addition to an amazing array of unique shops, galleries featuring the work of local artists and restaurants, there are several must-see attractions in town.

The Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, at Mile 95 of the Sterling Highway, is headquarters for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and provides hands-on learning labs and educational programs, indoor exhibits and a trail system to give visitors a glimpse of the wealth of marine life and shorebirds that thrive in Kachemak Bay.

Another community attraction worth checking out is the Wynn Nature Center, Mile 1.5 of East Skyline Drive, which provides guided nature tours and hikes, as well as educational programs.

And if you're in Homer during the colder seasons, the area's cross-country ski areas get some of the first snow of the season, and hang onto the white stuff well into the spring. Check out the ski trails at Baycrest  or Ohlson Mountain. Visit kachemaknordicskiclub.org for maps, directions and trail reports.

Must-see in Homer

If you're in Homer, be sure to swing by the Pratt Museum on Bartlett Street. The award-winning museum has indoor and outdoor exhibits showcasing local artists and telling the story of the people, plants and animals of Kachemak Bay.

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