Homer: Where Alaskans go

Posted: Saturday, May 27, 2000

Great scenery, mild weather and a reputation for creativity have given Homer the dual nicknames of "Alaska's Shangri-La" and "the cosmic hamlet by the sea." The seaside town of about 4,200 is 225 highway miles south of Anchorage.

Visitors first notice the panorama of Kachemak Bay and the Homer Spit, a landmark feature stretching nearly five miles into the sea. The spit is home port for Homer's fishing fleet and visitor industry and a great place to watch eagles.

Kachemak Bay, renowned for its wildlife, is a state critical habitat area and a 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 and Seldovia on the bay's south shore. The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge visitors' center, across from the middle school, has more information on wildlife.

Halibut fishing is hot out of Homer, and the Homer Chamber of Commerce runs the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby through Labor Day. Anglers can try for salmon (including winter kings), cod, rockfish, flounder and greenling. An artificial run to the spit's fishing hole lagoon allows fishers to dip a lure without leaving land and even provides handicapped access.

Entertainment ashore in-cludes gift shops, cafes, nature trails and the art galleries for which Homer is famous.

Homer inspires resident visual artists, musicians, writers and actors, who support a rich cultural life of concerts, plays, art shows and craft fairs.

The Pratt Museum on Bartlett Street is the peninsula's only nationally-accredited museum. Exhibits on history, wildlife and art include unusual marine mammal bones, live sea critters, a major exhibition on Alaska brown bears and remote video links to a seabird colony. Sept. 1-4, the museum will host Tamamta Katurlluta Gathering 2000, celebrating Native cultures with featured Tlingit artists and Russian Native dancers.

Pier One Theatre stages plays all summer weekends on the spit. The summer's biggest musical event is the annual KBBI Concert on the Lawn, on July 29 and 30.

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