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Homer excels at expanding views

Posted: Monday, April 05, 2004

It can take your breath away on any day, but when the sun is high and the sky a brilliant blue, it's almost blinding.

That's how people have described the view of Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains presented to the eyes as you top Baycrest Hill overlooking Homer.

You've just discovered Alaska's Shangri La.

Nestled along the toe of a steep ridge falling to the north shore of the bay, the city of Homer and its surroundings have become the stuff of near legend, a place of extraordinary scenic beauty, ocean air currents that bring relatively easy winters and comfortably mild summers, and an active, involved and artistic population. Is it any wonder Homer has become a favorite destination for visiting tourists and Alaskans?

From the paved pullout and parking area on Baycrest Hill, the entirety of Kachemak Bay and part of lower Cook Inlet can be seen. To the south are the Kenai Mountains. To the west, the peak of the Mount Augustine volcano rises from the horizon.

Perhaps the city's most famous feature is the Homer Spit, a finger of land that reaches almost five miles into Kachemak Bay. Homer's port and harbor are at the far end and around them has grown a vital commercial and recreational center, intimately connected to the marine environment. It is a hangout for mariners, tourists and bald eagles.

Scores of fishing charter outfits offer anglers a shot at salmon, halibut and other species. The Homer Spit Fishing Hole, a manmade lagoon seeded each year with salmon smolt, lets landlubbers hook returning adult salmon from shore. There's even a wheelchair ramp.

Kachemak Bay is a critical habitat area and a national estuarine research reserve. Several tours take visitors on sightseeing trips to view the bay's myriad of wildlife. Visitors are drawn to it all, from the graceful flight of seabirds to the unhurried tempo of tide pools. Visitors also may sail or fly to Kachemak Bay State Park, Seldovia and Halibut Cove on the bay's south shore.

Homer can be reached by air, or by car it's a leisurely 90-minute drive south on the Sterling Highway from Soldotna.

Completed in December, the new Islands and Ocean Visitors Center is open for business. It is a state-of-the-art interpretive, educational and research facility built for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve. Dedicated to the understanding and conservation of the marine environment, it offers visitors an unparalleled interactive experience. It is on a portion of the Sterling Highway that Homerites call "The Homer Bypass."

Be sure to visit the Homer Chamber of Commerce's new visitors center also on the Homer Bypass not far from the visitors center.

Homer is famous for its art and supports several art galleries around town. Other businesses include gift shops, cafes, music venues, live theater and nature trails.

Don't miss the Pratt Museum on Bartlett Street, which showcases history, wildlife and art, as well as live video links to a seabird colony. The museum may be small by big-city standards, but it has been internationally recognized.

It can take your breath away on any day, but when the sun is high and the sky a brilliant blue, it's almost blinding.

That's how people have described the view of Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains presented to the eyes as you top Baycrest Hill overlooking Homer.

You've just discovered Alaska's Shangri La.

Nestled along the toe of a steep ridge falling to the north shore of the bay, the city of Homer and its surroundings have become the stuff of near legend, a place of extraordinary scenic beauty, ocean air currents that bring relatively easy winters and comfortably mild summers, and an active, involved and artistic population. Is it any wonder Homer has become a favorite destination for visiting tourists and Alaskans?

From the paved pullout and parking area on Baycrest Hill, the entirety of Kachemak Bay and part of lower Cook Inlet can be seen. To the south are the Kenai Mountains. To the west, the peak of the Mount Augustine volcano rises from the horizon.

Perhaps the city's most famous feature is the Homer Spit, a finger of land that reaches almost five miles into Kachemak Bay. Homer's port and harbor are at the far end and around them has grown a vital commercial and recreational center, intimately connected to the marine environment. It is a hangout for mariners, tourists and bald eagles.

Scores of fishing charter outfits offer anglers a shot at salmon, halibut and other species. The Homer Spit Fishing Hole, a manmade lagoon seeded each year with salmon smolt, lets landlubbers hook returning adult salmon from shore. There's even a wheelchair ramp.

Kachemak Bay is a critical habitat area and a national estuarine research reserve. Several tours take visitors on sightseeing trips to view the bay's myriad of wildlife. Visitors are drawn to it all, from the graceful flight of seabirds to the unhurried tempo of tide pools. Visitors also may sail or fly to Kachemak Bay State Park, Seldovia and Halibut Cove on the bay's south shore.

Homer can be reached by air, or by car it's a leisurely 90-minute drive south on the Sterling Highway from Soldotna.

Completed in December, the new Islands and Ocean Visitors Center is open for business. It is a state-of-the-art interpretive, educational and research facility built for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve. Dedicated to the understanding and conservation of the marine environment, it offers visitors an unparalleled interactive experience. It is on a portion of the Sterling Highway that Homerites call "The Homer Bypass."

Be sure to visit the Homer Chamber of Commerce's new visitors center also on the Homer Bypass not far from the visitors center.

Homer is famous for its art and supports several art galleries around town. Other businesses include gift shops, cafes, music venues, live theater and nature trails.

Don't miss the Pratt Museum on Bartlett Street, which showcases history, wildlife and art, as well as live video links to a seabird colony. The museum may be small by big-city standards, but it has been internationally recognized.



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