Scenery, spit spark allure of visitors to Homer

Posted: Saturday, May 26, 2001

Visitors crest the hill at the south end of the Sterling Highway and say, "Wow."

For decades, the panorama of scenic Kachemak Bay, mild weather and a thriving art colony have made Homer a favorite destination for visitors and Alaskans with time to kick back.

The most famous feature of the seaside town of about 4,000 is the Homer Spit, a slender bar stretching nearly five miles into the sea. The spit is a hangout for mariners, tourists and bald eagles. Anglers can try for salmon (including winter kings), cod, rockfish, flounder and greenling. The spit's fishing hole lagoon lets landlubbers hook salmon and even provides wheelchair access.

Kachemak Bay, renowned for its wildlife, is a state critical habitat area and national estuarine research reserve. The harbor is the starting point for tours to view seabirds, fish, marine mammals and tide pool critters or to visit Kachemak Bay State Park, Seldovia and Halibut Cove on the bay's south shore.

Homer is reached by air, ferry or highway. Entering town by road, the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge visitors' center, with more information on wildlife, is just past the Best Western Bidarka Inn.

The Homer Chamber of Commerce's new visitors' center is a block further. The chamber runs the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby through Labor Day.

The cultural scene offers less fishy attractions. Homer is famous for its art galleries and sports gift shops, cafes, music, theater and nature trails. The annual summer street arts and crafts fair will be July 21. Pier One Theatre stages plays all summer weekends on the spit. The season's biggest musical event is the annual KBBI Concert on the Lawn on July 28 and 29.

The Pratt Museum showcases history, wildlife and art. This year's exhibits include works of contemporary Inuit artist Ron Senungetuk and an international bead show. There also are live video links to Alaska brown bears and a seabird colony.

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