The Driftwood Inn

Your Year-Round Guide to the Best Time to Visit Homer, Alaska

Many residents of the continental U.S. have shared misconceptions about Alaska. Is it really dark for six months of the year and light for the remaining six? Is it always cold and snowy? Is there wildlife around every corner? Whether perpetuated fiction or loose fact, there’s a lot of myths to bust about Alaska. This is especially important if you’re planning on taking a trip to our neck of the Arctic Ocean! At Driftwood Inn, we’re Homer locals and love to share our home with visitors year-round. That’s why we’ve compiled all of our favorite things to do and see in Homer by season. This is your guide to the best time to visit Homer, Alaska. 

Browse through our expert tips below, then access even more helpful information on Homer with our complimentary Vacation Guide !

Get Your Guide to Homer

The Best Time to Visit Homer, Alaska, by Season 

Winter | december, january, february .

Most assume that Alaska winters are frigid cold. For the interior of the state, that can be true! However, because of Homer’s coastal location and maritime climate, winter lows really only dip down to about 17 degrees Fahrenheit with highs peaking around 30 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Alaska is also known for going completely dark in the winter. The thought of having any stretch of time without any real sunlight is intriguing, but not the case here in Homer. Our shortest day of the year is in mid-December, with only about six hours of sunlight. When you visit Alaska, rest assured you can keep your body on a regulated sleep schedule!

Naturally, winter is the coldest time of year, but there’s still an abundance of things to do. Satisfy your inner arts and culture enthusiast with a stroll in downtown Homer along Pioneer Avenue and the boardwalks of the Homer Spit. These stretches of Homer are brimming with art galleries and specialty shops that allow you to take a small piece of Homer home with you.

Spring | March, April, May

In the continental U.S., the rainiest season tends to be spring. As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers. However, you can escape this cloudy, damp season when you visit Alaska in the spring! April and May average only around 2 inches of rainfall. During this season, high temperatures linger around to 40s and 50s. 

The quiet nature of our area in the spring makes it the perfect season for a romantic getaway. Enjoy tasting fresh, daily-delivered seafood at our area restaurants with your special someone. Or, visit on or after Memorial Day to be some of the first to taste our area’s bounty at the Homer Farmers Market . Stay in our accommodations on the bayside to take morning strolls along the beach and then explore Homer at your own pace. 

Summer | June, July, August 

Strictly for weather purposes, mid-July to mid-August is the visitor-rated best time of year to visit Homer, Alaska. Average temperatures range in the 60s with little rain. This warm, dry time of year is ideal for visiting Bishop’s Beach for relaxing as well as other forms of outdoor exploration such as charter fishing. 

Fishing is one of the most popular forms of outdoor recreation in Homer, Alaska. Homer is the halibut fishing capital of the world, so this isn’t surprising! Our halibut and salmon fishing charters run year-round, but the peak season for halibut fishing is from mid-May to mid-September. 

When you visit in the summer, you can take in Homer’s best weather and outdoor activities. If fishing isn’t your thing, don’t worry. You can get outside other ways, like with a hiking tour . The views on land are just as awe-inspiring as those on the sea! Or, take advantage of a bear viewing tour as this opportunity is only available from mid-May to mid-September. 

Fall | September, October, November 

In the fall, warm temperatures lingering from the summer begin to fall. In September, you can still enjoy the sunshine and high 50s, but by November, you can expect temperatures to dip down into the 30s. Fall is a refreshing time to recharge from all of the excitement of the summer! 

In the fall, peak season for outdoor recreation winds down, and our arts and culture scene takes the driver’s seat. September alone hosts the Alaska World Arts Festival, the Homer Documentary Film Festival, and the Annual Burning Basket Impermanent Art Experience. After that, the holiday season kicks in with Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Driftwood Inn has spacious accommodation types, like our Modern Lodges , for you and the whole family to have a destination holiday! Christmas in Homer is an exciting time, as our area hosts a plethora of events for community members and visitors alike to attend. 

Driftwood Inn is Your All-Seasons Home Away from Home 

Deck view of the Seaside Lodge at Driftwood Inn.

We understand that you vacation for your own reasons. Some come to Homer for the world-class halibut fishing, others to stroll along the beach and relax. In this way, there’s no best time to visit Homer, Alaska. The bottom line: any time you want to come is the best time to visit. Driftwood Inn has a wide variety of accommodation types to suit different travelers’ needs. Our Modern Lodges are perfect for group getaways and families, while some of our Historic Inn Rooms are designed for outdoorsmen who just need a place to take off their boots and rest at night! We even have an RV park that overlooks Bishop’s Beach. Rest assured that you’ll easily find comfortable lodging with a seamless direct booking process at Driftwood Inn!

After you book your accommodation , browse our owner-curated itineraries for ideas on how to spend three or 14 days in Homer! The possibilities are endless. 

What will you discover? 

Champion Traveler

The Best Time to Visit Homer, AK, US for Weather, Safety, & Tourism

The best times to visit Homer for ideal weather are

April 23rd to August 19th

based on average temperature and humidity from NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Read below for more weather and travel details.

Homer Travel Guide

Temperature.

  • Perceived Temperature
  • Rain and snow
  • Humidity and wind
  • The busiest and least popular months
  • Overall travel experience by time of year

Other Homer Travel Info

Weather in homer.

Average temperatures in Homer vary greatly. Considering humidity, temperatures feel cold for most of the year with a fair chance of precipitation about half of the year. The area is less temperate than some — in the 18th percentile for pleasant weather — compared to tourist destinations worldwide. Weeks with ideal weather are listed above . If you’re looking for the very warmest time to visit Homer, the hottest months are July, August, and then June. See average monthly temperatures below. The warmest time of year is generally early August where highs are regularly around 62.3°F (16.8°C) with temperatures rarely dropping below 49.3°F (9.6°C) at night.

Homer Temperatures (Fahrenheit)

Homer temperatures (celsius), “feels-like” temperatures.

The way we experience weather isn’t all about temperature. Higher temperatures affect us much more at higher humidity, and colder temperatures feel piercing with high winds. Our perceived temperatures factor in humidity and wind chill to better represent how hot or cold the day feels to a person.

Homer Perceived Temperature (F)

Homer perceived temperature (c), average homer temperatures by month.

Daily highs (averaged for the month) usually give the best indication of the weather. A significantly lower mean and low generally just means it gets colder at night.

Show Fahrenheit

Show celsius, precipitation (rain or snow).

If dry weather is what you’re after, the months with the lowest chance of significant precipitation in Homer are June, May, and then April. Note that we define “significant precipitation” as .1 inches or more in this section. The lowest chance of rain or snow occurs around mid March. For example, on the week of March 19th there are no days of precipitation on average. By contrast, it’s most likely to rain or snow in early September with an average of 3 days of significant precipitation the week of September 3rd.

Chance of Precipitation

The graph below shows the % chance of rainy and snowy days in Homer.

Snow on the Ground

The graph below shows the average snow on the ground in Homer (in).

Average Rain and Snow by Month

Show inches, show centimeters, humidity and wind.

Homer has some very humid months, with other comfortably humid months. The least humid month is March (58.3% relative humidity), and the most humid month is August (74.3%).

Wind in Homer is usually calm . The windiest month is November, followed by April and March. November’s average wind speed of around 5.5 knots (6.3 MPH or 10.1 KPH) is considered “a light breeze.” Maximum sustained winds (the highest speed for the day lasting more than a few moments) are at their highest in early March where average top sustained speeds reach 13.8 knots, which is considered a moderate breeze.

Relative Humidity (%)

The graph below shows the average % humidity by month in Homer.

The graph below shows wind speed (max and average) in knots.

Average Wind Speeds

Show wind speeds.

All wind speeds are in knots. 1 knot = 1.15 MPH or 1.85 KPH.

Show Relative Humidity by Month

Is it safe to travel to homer.

Our best data indicates this area is generally safe. As of Dec 04, 2023 there are no travel advisories or warnings for the United States; exercise normal security precautions. Check this page for any recent changes or regions to avoid: Travel Advice and Advisories . This advisory was last updated on Dec 04, 2023.

The Busiest and Least Crowded Months

The busiest month for tourism in Homer, AK, US is July, followed by August and June. Prices for hotels and flights will be most expensive during these months, though you can save if you purchase well in advance. Tourists are unlikely to visit Homer in November. Those willing to visit at these times will likely find it the least expensive month.

Estimated Tourism by Month

Most popular months to visit, overall homer travel experience by season, spring (march through may).

Humidity and temperatures combine to make this season feel moderately cold. Highs range from 55.8°F (13.2°C) and 32.3°F (0.2°C) with warmer temperatures in the later months. Rain is rare with 3 to 4 days of significant precipitation per month. Spring is the second busiest for tourism, which makes it a good time for those looking for things to do.

Summer (June through August)

The middle-year months have cold weather with high temperatures that are brisk. These months see moderate precipitation with 2 to 7 days of precipitation per month. June – August is the busiest season for tourism in Homer, so lodging and other accommodations may cost more than usual.

Fall (September through November)

Fall daily highs range from 58.5°F (14.7°C) and 33.8°F (1°C), which will feel chilly given the humidity and wind. It rains or snows a significant amount: 7 to 10 days per month. Tourism is the slowest during these months due to the weather, so hotels may be affordably priced.

Winter (December through February)

Weather is far too cold this time of year in Homer to be enjoyable for warm weather travelers. The average high during this season is between 36°F (2.2°C) and 28.9°F (-1.7°C). On average, it rains or snows a fair amount: 5 to 8 times per month. These times of year are fairly slow with tourists.

Best Times to Travel › the United States › Homer, AK, US

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Alaska Itinerary

27 Top Things to do in Homer, Alaska

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Nestled in the picturesque Kachemak Bay, Homer, Alaska, is a gem waiting to be explored. With multiple visits under our belt, we’ve curated an essential list of the top 27 activities in Homer, ensuring your trip is packed with unforgettable adventures. From the thrill of sea kayaking to the excitement of world-class fishing and the wonder of wildlife viewing, including bear watching, Homer’s array of activities is diverse. Enjoy serene beach strolls and hikes, and discover the rich marine life in tide pools. Homer Spit, a highlight of the area, offers its own set of enchanting experiences. Beyond outdoor adventures, we’ll guide you to Homer’s vibrant cultural spots: explore captivating galleries, dine at the finest local restaurants, and browse unique shops. Each recommendation enriches your visit to Homer, making every moment count.

Things to do in Homer Alaska.

27 Top Things to Do in Homer, Alaska – Introduction

With the breathtaking glacier-studded mountains and crystal-clear blue water of Kachemak Bay, Homer is one of the most incredible towns in Alaska that should be on every Alaska road trip itinerary . Chris and I have visited the Kenai Peninsula several times and explored Homer each time because we can’t resist the charm of Homer Spit. Just as Homer Spit is 4.5 miles long, Homer offers a long list of attractions for travelers to enjoy.

In this article, we’ll show you 27 of the best things to do in Homer and its surrounding area that we’ve experienced ourselves. This is not a sponsored post; we paid for all the attractions we described below.

Our selection includes a mix of budget-friendly and free activities alongside premium experiences that are truly worth the splurge, like this unforgettable floatplane tour to Brooks Falls for bear-watching from Homer.

Our aim is to help you tailor your visit according to your interests and travel plans. After exploring our list, deciding on the length of your stay in Homer becomes simpler. We recommend a minimum of 2-3 days to fully immerse in the enchanting atmosphere of Homer Spit and its attractions.

Things to do in Homer Alaska - wooden bars and restaurants along the shore.

We’ve organized the activities in Homer into distinct categories for your convenience: top aquatic adventures, wildlife encounters, culinary delights for food lovers, prime shopping and art experiences, must-see attractions at Homer Spit, and more. For easy browsing, refer to the table of contents.

Pro Tip: In this article, we delve into the top attractions and activities that Homer has to offer. For detailed planning tips, including advice on scheduling your visit, selecting the best hotels or campgrounds, and pinpointing the ideal time to explore Homer Spit, be sure to check out our comprehensive post on the 3 days in Homer itinerary.

best time to visit homer alaska

Brooks Falls Bear Experience from Homer

Katmai National Park is one of the best places in the world to watch brown bears in their natural habitat when they catch salmon. Take this floatplane tour from Homer to enjoy this spectacle of nature.

Things to do in Homer Alaska - walk along the beach with stunning glaciers in the backdrop.

Top Water-Based Activities in Homer, Alaska

At the heart of the Kenai Peninsula lies Homer Spit, a striking 4.5-mile (7.2 km) land stretch that reaches into the mesmerizing Kachemak Bay. Notably, the Spit boasts the world’s longest road extending into oceanic waters.

Given its unique location, we begin with the finest water-based activities in Homer. The merging of glaciers with Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay creates unparalleled opportunities for active, memorable experiences.

1. Embark on a Halibut Fishing Expedition

Renowned as the “Halibut Capital of the World,” Homer is a haven for halibut fishing enthusiasts. This activity draws anglers globally, eager to reel in one of the ocean’s largest fish species. It’s not just for the pros, though. Take, for example, Chris’s beaming smile when he landed his first halibut – an experience packed with fun and topped off with a scrumptious dinner!

In Homer, you can obtain an Alaskan fishing license for a day or longer, based on your preference. Booking a halibut fishing trip is the best way to experience this. Note that there’s a sustainable limit on the number of halibuts per person, as Alaskan fishing practices are among the world’s most sustainable. The halibut fishing season runs from April to September, with catches in Kachemak Bay typically weighing between 15 and 100 pounds.

Pro Tip: Prioritize halibut fishing early in your Homer trip so you can savor the catch. If you’re RVing across Alaska , your catch can provide meals for several days. For those traveling by car, consider a portable fridge and grill for a delightful halibut feast. If you find yourself with more fish than you can eat, sharing with fellow campers in Homer is always a welcomed gesture – you’ll find no shortage of takers!

best time to visit homer alaska

2. Rent a Kayak or Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) in Kachemak Bay

Kachemak Bay, known for its tranquil waters, is an ideal spot for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. For a safe and enriching experience, consider hiring a local guide familiar with the safest routes. Remember, Alaskan weather can be unpredictable, so always check the forecast before embarking on water activities. The rental costs are reasonable, making this a worthwhile addition to your Homer itinerary.

Paddling in Kachemak Bay offers a unique opportunity to witness its rich marine life. Imagine gliding through the water with views of sea otters, seals, snow-draped mountains, fjords, and distant glaciers. Local guides are eager to share insights about the bay’s wildlife and their habitats, adding depth to your adventure. We had an unforgettable experience kayaking with True North Kayak Adventures and highly recommend them.

Pro Tip: Dress warmly for your aquatic adventure, as temperatures can drop on the water. If you don’t own a wetsuit, consider renting one along with your kayak or paddleboard. Gloves and booties are also essential for a comfortable experience. For those intrigued by glacier kayaking, check out our separate article. We also had a remarkable kayaking journey in Valdez .

best time to visit homer alaska

Top Wildlife Watching Experiences in Homer, Alaska

The Kenai Peninsula is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise, and Homer stands out as one of Alaska’s premier destinations for bear watching, whale watching, marine wildlife observation, and birding. Here are our favorite wildlife activities in Homer.

3. Take a Kachemak Bay Wildlife Tour

On our latest trip to Homer, we opted for a Wildlife Boat Tour in Kachemak Bay , operated by Coldwater Alaska , which was a fantastic choice. This 2 hour tour is perfect for those with packed Alaska itineraries, offering a brief yet fulfilling glimpse into Homer’s diverse wildlife without demanding too much time.

The tour accommodates only six passengers, ensuring a personal and uncluttered experience. This setting is ideal for photography enthusiasts and those keen to observe marine life closely. The captain, an avid lover and connoisseur of Alaskan wildlife enriches the tour with fascinating stories. Depending on the time of year, you might spot humpback and orca whales, various bird species, sea otters, and even puffins.

Additionally, this tour is budget-friendly, making it a great option for those watching their expenses. For more on this enthralling experience, including photos and a comprehensive review, check out our article, Kachemak Bay Wildlife Tour – Review .

Pro Tip: We recommend booking a tour for early in the morning or late in the evening for optimal photography lighting and increased wildlife activity. Be sure to dress warmly, as it can get windy on the boat. A windproof and waterproof jacket is a must. Check out a detailed list of what to pack for a trip to Alaska .

Katchemak Bay sea otter.

4. Embark on an Unforgettable Bear Viewing Tour in Homer, Alaska

Experiencing a bear viewing tour in Homer is a must-do for anyone visiting Alaska. The chance to witness these majestic creatures in their natural setting is a dream for many, including us. We’ve consistently included bear-watching tours in our Alaskan adventures .

Though these tours are among the pricier activities in Alaska, the investment is well justified by the unparalleled opportunity to observe bears in the wild. Homer’s proximity to two exceptional, remote parks known for brown bear sightings – Lake Clark National Park and Katmai National Park, home to the famous Brooks Falls – makes it an ideal base for these tours.

Bear Watching at Brooks Falls in Katmai from Homer

  • Traveling from Homer to Katmai National Park is an adventure in itself, and while it’s one of our most expensive journeys, the experience is incomparable for bear enthusiasts. For those planning a bear viewing trip in Alaska in 2024, consider this floatplane tour to Brooks Camp from Homer , where you can enjoy at least 3 hours of admiring bears at Brooks Falls.
  • If you’re contemplating an independent trip to Katmai, be sure to check out our comprehensive guide on planning a Katmai visit , including other worthwhile activities in Katmai . Although going solo is challenging and not necessarily cost-effective compared to organized tours, our articles will help you weigh your options between a self-guided expedition and joining one of the top-rated tours from Homer .

Brooks Falls Bear Watching from Homer - three brown bears catching salmon.

Bear Watching at Lake Clark National Park from Homer

  • Bear viewing in Lake Clark National Park was also a fantastic experience. We had a chance to observe coastal brown (aka grizzly) bears walking along the shore of the lake, collecting and eating clams, or wandering through the bush surrounded by mountains. From Homer, consider this bush plane tour to Lake Clark .

Pro Tip: We recommend booking your Alaska bear-watching excursion several months in advance. Early planning ensures better prices and availability, especially during the peak season when accessing these remote parks can be challenging.

best time to visit homer alaska

5. Discover Bald Eagles in Homer

Birdwatching ranks high on our list of favorite activities in Homer, and for good reasons. Firstly, it’s entirely free. The Kenai Peninsula, particularly around Homer, is a haven for bird enthusiasts, boasting a rich variety of bird species. As avid photographers with a special interest in raptors, we find this area to be a photographic paradise. All you need is a camera and a keen eye. The beaches along Homer Spit are excellent spots for observing bald eagles.

Pro Tip: For the best bald eagle-watching experience near Homer, head to Anchor Point, just 16 miles north of the town. We were captivated by the sight of numerous bald eagles at the Anchor River State Recreation Area . If you’re traveling to Homer from Anchorage, this area is conveniently located on the Kenai Peninsula road system. To get there, take Mile 156.9 on the Sterling Highway, turn onto Old Sterling Highway, cross the Anchor River Bridge, and take the first right onto Anchor River Road. It’s also a fantastic camping spot for those on Alaska RV trips or sleeping in tents.

Bald eagle at Anchor Point near Homer.

The Best Things to Do at Homer Spit

Homer offers much more than just tours. You can spend several enjoyable hours or even days exploring the town and Homer Spit. Here’s our guide to the best experiences in Homer and on the Spit.

Agnes swinging in Homer with the sea view.

6. Enjoy a Leisurely Stroll on Homer Spit

The top free activity in Homer is undoubtedly a leisurely stroll along the 4.5-mile Homer Spit. This unique landform offers endless entertainment, with its beaches, shops, galleries, restaurants, and the stunning backdrop of mountains and glaciers.

The Spit presents a different charm at various times of the day and throughout the seasons. Experience its serene beauty at sunrise, the lively atmosphere during the day with other tourists, and the breathtaking sunsets that Homer Spit is famous for.

Stroll and explore the Homer Spit with the glacier views.

7. Tack a dollar to a wall in Salty Dawg Saloon

No visit to Homer is complete without stopping by the Salty Dawg Saloon . Famous for the thousands of dollar bills signed by visitors and tacked to its walls, this tradition dates back to a patron who left a dollar for a friend’s drink.

The Salty Dawg, originally built in 1897, has a rich history, having served as Homer’s first post office, railroad station, grocery store, and coal mining office. Today, it’s known for its fantastic ambiance and super-friendly staff.

Pro Tip: The building is historic and unheated, so it can get chilly inside. Even on warmer days, bring an extra sweatshirt to stay cozy while enjoying a beer. The Salty Dawg Saloon is open year-round, welcoming early birds from 10 am in the summer.

Salty Dawg Saloon in Homer.

8. Explore the Homer Boat Harbor

Homer is famous for its Homer Boat Harbor, which looks very attractive in the background, with mountains and glaciers reflecting on the surface of Kachemak Bay. One of the best things to do for free is a stroll through the Homer marina along the docks at the harbor. During the summer peak months, the harbor serves up to 1,500 boats. Valdez Harbor is our second favorite port in this part of Alaska, which impresses us with its location.

Pro Tip: The best time to walk around the harbor is just before sunset, in the so-called golden hour. Then you have the best light for photos and the calmest water for pictures of reflections.

Homer Boat Harbor.

9. Hike the Trails of Homer Spit

Kachemak Bay State Park boasts over 25 miles of trails, many accessible only by boat. However, if you’re to choose just one, opt for the popular 4.5-mile trail that spans the entire length of Homer Spit, from its beginning to the very tip.

The Homer Spit Trail is an easy yet spectacular hike that doesn’t require a boat. For those seeking variety, consider the locally guided Grewingk Glacier hike for a more leisurely experience, or challenge yourself with the higher elevations of the Sadie Knob or Grace Ridge Trail hikes.

Pro Tip: Wear waterproof footwear for your hike. Alaskan rubber boots are an excellent choice, offering protection from water, moisture, wind, and cold. Their strong grip is also ideal for preventing slips on rocks or mud.

Homer Spit Trail during sunny day.

10. Explore Bishop’s Beach Park

Bishop’s Beach in Homer, Alaska, is a 1.25-mile-long peninsula that juts into Kachemak Bay. This bay is the most popular beach destination for locals and visitors. The beach is tranquil and breathtaking. Walking on this beach is one of the best things to do in Homer for free. You’ll find a 1.2-mile loop trail at Bishop’s Beach Park called the Beluga Slough Trail. This trail is relatively easy but offers beautiful views of Homer.

Pro Tip: Visit this beach at a low tide to see the tide pools. Wear rubber boots and a windproof jacket. This is a great spot for bird-watching. You can admire migrating shorebirds, bald eagles, herring gulls, and harlequin ducks at Bishop’s Beach.

herring gulls.

11. Try Tide Pooling in Homer

One of the most amazing and unique things to do in Homer is tide pooling. But what exactly is tide pooling? It’s a delightful way to breathe in the salty ocean air while uncovering the hidden marine life of Kachemak Bay. Picture yourself finding starfish, sea stars, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and perhaps even an elusive octopus.

Tide pools are natural pools formed on the beach or rocky shoreline when the tide goes out, trapping seawater in small depressions. Tide pooling involves investigating these miniature ecosystems during low tide, revealing a world of marine habitats usually concealed beneath the waves. For this adventure, equip yourself with rubber boots and a warm, windproof jacket, preparing for an engaging exploration of the coastal wonders of Homer.

Pro Tip: The best spots in Homer with tide pooling are the Coal Point area near Bishop’s Beach and Diamond Creek, five miles north of Homer. Other great places accessible only by boat or plane are China Poot Bay and Jakolof Bay. Before you try tidepooling, learn more about Tidepooling Etiquette .

Kachemak Bay State Park during foggy day.

12. Experience the Sunset at Homer Spit

Witnessing the sunset at Homer Spit is an absolute must-do while in Homer. Even if your visit is brief, make time to stay for the evening – the sunsets here can be truly mesmerizing. While we can’t promise perfect weather, as it’s unpredictable, a clear, rain-free day often leads to a spectacular sunset display.

Remember to dress warmly and wear windproof clothing, as temperatures tend to drop significantly after sunset. For guidance on what to pack for Alaska’s varied weather, refer to our detailed Alaska Packing List .

Pro Tip: For a truly remarkable sunset view, head to Skyline Drive Overlook. However, almost any spot at the end of Homer Spit offers a unique sunset experience.

Sunset in homer from the boat trip during halibut fishing.

Discover Homer Culinary Delights

Homer stands out as a haven for food enthusiasts. This charming town is a gastronomic paradise unmatched in Alaska for its exquisite culinary offerings. The quality and freshness of the local seafood, from halibut to salmon, oysters to fish and chips, are unparalleled. Sampling the local cuisine, particularly the seafood, is a top experience in Homer.

13. Indulge in Exceptional Oysters at Broken Oar Oyster Bar 

As connoisseurs of gourmet oysters who have sampled them worldwide, we assure you that Homer’s oysters are in a league of their own. Fresh, succulent, and simply divine, they’re best enjoyed with a glass of wine while soaking in the views of Kachemak Bay and the glacial mountains. The Broken Oar Oyster Bar is a must-visit on your Alaska trip.

Homer Spit Oyster Bar with the Kachemak Bay view.

14. Enjoy lunch with locals at Fresh Seafood Market

The Fresh Seafood Market at Coal Point Seafood Comp any offers more than just shopping. Here, you can sit at the bar and relish freshly caught and prepared local seafood. From chowder to oysters and crabs, every dish is a delight. The prices are surprisingly reasonable compared to restaurants. Inside, there’s also a store where you can buy fresh seafood to cook yourself and an intriguing gift shop. Make sure to include this spot in your Homer itinerary.

For lunch, we also recommend Little Mermaid for their superb Alaskan fish chowder and Kodiak scallops, not to mention delicious pasta and pizzas. For the best coffee, vanilla cheesecake, or cinnamon rolls, head to Two Sisters Bakery .

Coal Point Seafood Company.

15. dinner at Captain Pattie’s Fish House

Captain Pattie’s Fish House is one of our favorite places on the Homer culinary map. We highly recommend it for dinner due to its exceptional seafood and excellent service. The fresh seafood dishes, including fish and chips and seafood pasta, are mouthwatering. It’s wise to book a table in advance for dinner.

16. Enjoy a Brew at Homer Brewing Company

If you like beer, be sure to try a beer at Homer Brewing Company on your Homer trip. Their unfiltered, unpasteurized traditional country ales are a treat, with five flagship beers available year-round. Try the Old Inlet Pale Ale or the Red Knot Scottish. Interestingly, they also craft teas like The Alaska Chai and the Zen Chai.

people drinking local beer during sunny day outside of bar in Homer.

17. Savor Alaskan Wine at Bear Creek Winery 

As wine enthusiasts who enjoy exploring vineyards and wineries, we were pleasantly surprised to discover local Alaskan wine in Homer. Alaska, known for its rugged landscapes, also boasts its own wineries!

Bear Creek Winery and Lodging stand out with its exceptional fruit wines and fruit-grape blends. Their award-winning wines, handcrafted from the world’s finest berries, are a testament to quality and flavor. And for those looking for a romantic retreat, the winery offers cozy accommodation. Tasting their wine is definitely among the top experiences in Homer.

18. Explore Homer Farmer’s Market

It’s worth visiting Homer Farmers Market , especially if you are traveling by RV and want fresh products for your road trip. This bi-weekly market showcases a variety of locally grown and harvested items, including produce, seafood, oysters, flowers, eggs, ham, jam, and honey. All products are organic, and by shopping here, you’re supporting Homer’s local agricultural community.

Pro Tip: It is worth making reservations for a table in the summer months of July and August. Especially for dinner. You will avoid waiting an hour in line.

Chris tasting local Alaskan beer in Homer.

Top Things to do in Homer for Shopping and Arts Lovers

Homer is home to a rich art scene with many artists and works of art including watercolors, sculpture, glass, woodwork, pottery, metal, photography, and more. If you want to bring back a beautiful and high-quality souvenir from your trip to Alaska, Homer is the right place to find one.

19. Visit the Ptarmigan Arts Cooperative Gallery

Don’t forget to include Ptarmigan Arts in your itinerary. This exceptional art gallery has been in Homer on Pioneer Avenue since 1984. Here, you’ll find local and native artwork and handmade items, including original watercolor and acrylic paintings, pottery, woodwork, jewelry, sculpture, metalwork, photography, Alaskan art prints, and more.

20. Visit Norman Lowell Studio and Gallery

Alaskan Artist Norman Lowell painted Alaska for sixty years, and every gallery aspect is expertly positioned and lit to make the most of the art. He painted the scenery of Alaska from his arrival in 1958 from Iowa until his advancing blindness compelled him to finish his work in 2017. It’s one of the best places to view art in Homer.

21. Stroll “Gallery Row”

The “Gallery Row” stretches along Pioneer Avenue between Main Street and Lake Street. Here you’ll find the famous Ptarmigan Arts. You’ll also find several other places worth visiting if you’re an art fan. So if you have time, check out Picture Alaska, Fireweed Gallery, and Bunnell Street Gallery.

22. Walk the shops along the boardwalk on the Homer Spit

One of the best things to do in Homer is window shopping along the boardwalk. The windows of the tiny gift shops, galleries, and cafes are lovingly decorated down to the smallest detail. One day isn’t enough to look at them all.

shops along the boardwalk on the Homer Spit.

23. Take a look at the Art Shop Gallery

If you are looking for high-quality, beautiful Alaskan souvenirs, visit the Art Shop Gallery . It’s a unique place where it’s easy to spend money on great Alaskan art, Alaskan Native ivory, bone, and Native crafts, limited edition prints, posters, jewelry, woodwork, and more.

24. Go to the performance at Pier One Theatre

You can visit the local theater if you have time during the evening in Homer and love the arts. The Pier One Theatre has been a community-supported live theater since 1973. Check their performances, especially since 2023 is their 50th season, and they are excited about this anniversary. There will be a lot going on in their art stage.

Chris in Homer Alaska.

25. Visit Cultural Centers and Local Museums

If you have more time for your trip, or the weather is bad, then one of the best things to do in Homer, Alaska is to visit the local museums and cultural centers.

  • The Alaska Islands & Oceans Visitor Center houses interactive exhibits and displays describing the important work and research of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and Kachemak Bay Research Reserve. Located on Sterling Highway 95, visitors can enjoy the exhibit hall, informative videos, regular educational programs, and ranger/naturalist-led walks.
  • The little Pratt Museum is an award-winning regional museum focusing on natural history, Native culture, historic cabins and forest trails, and marine ecology. In 1982, the Pratt Museum was accredited by the American Association of Museums, making it the first private museum in Alaska to receive this national distinction.
  • Centre for Alaskan Coastal Studies is an environmental education center that offers natural history day tours for all ages that range from the boreal forest of the Wynn Nature Center on the north side of Kachemak Bay to the south.

Cultural Centers and Local Museums in Homer.

26. Visit Ninilchik

It’s one of the best things to do near Homer, on your way back, or to Homer Spit. If you’re interested in the culture and art of the region, you should make a short trip to the Russian Church of Ninilchik. The visit takes about 15-20 minutes. The site is located 35 miles north of Homer.

Built in 1901, the church is a reminder of the Russian fur-trading village this town once was. The historic structure, with its five golden onion domes, offers incredible views of Cook Inlet and the volcanoes on the west side of the inlet. Next to the church is a Russian Orthodox cemetery.

Russian Cementary and Church of Ninilchik.

27. Take pictures of Homer, Homer Spit, and Wildlife around Homer

Our favorite and best thing to do in Homer, Alaska is taking pictures. We can do that for hours from sunrise to sunset. Homer Spit provides endless photo opportunities. Wildlife, glaciers, mountains, beaches, marine wildlife, birds. Also, small shops, galleries, and fishermen on fishing boats. The scenery can change dramatically from minute to minute, depending on the weather. The same landscape never looks the same. Homer, Alaska, is the haven for those who love photography. So be sure to pack your camera.

Pro Tip: Be sure to pack a rain cover for your camera, as showers are frequent. Be sure to bring a telephoto zoom. Thanks to this you will catch glaciers and wildlife.

moose.

Things to do in Homer – Summary

In this article, we share an exclusive list of the best activities and attractions in Homer, Alaska, curated from our personal experiences. As seasoned travelers, we provide insights that will enhance your visit, ensuring you don’t miss out on Homer’s highlights. You’ll discover our top outdoor activities, including serene kayaking in Kachemak Bay, invigorating hikes along Homer Spit, and the unique experience of tide pooling amidst rich marine life.

Our guide also takes you through Homer’s vibrant culinary scene, from the freshest seafood at Homer Spit Oyster Bar to the intimate atmosphere of Captain Pattie’s Fish House. Plus, we introduce you to the delight of Alaskan wines at Bear Creek Winery. These personal recommendations are designed to give you an authentic taste of Homer.

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best time to visit homer alaska

Agnes Stabinska is the creative force and co-founder behind the Alaska Itinerary blog. With a degree in Tourism Management and postgraduate studies in Journalism, Agnes combines academic expertise with real-world experience. Alongside her partner, Chris, she's your go-to guide for an authentic Alaskan adventure.

Agnes doesn't just write about Alaska; she lives it. From capturing the state's breathtaking landscapes through her lens to hiking its rugged trails or observing bears and whales in their natural habitat, her firsthand experiences are your compass to all things Alaska.

With Agnes and Chris, you're not just reading another travel blog; you're tapping into a treasure trove of insider tips, curated itineraries, and invaluable insights to make your Alaskan journey truly unforgettable.

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How To Spend A Perfect Weekend In Gorgeous Homer, Alaska

best time to visit homer alaska

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  • Destinations
  • Types of Travel
  • United States
  • Weekend Getaway

Alaska may truly be the last American frontier where you can really lose yourself in the rugged outdoors and experience pure nature, untouched by man. If you want to experience the unmatched beauty of Alaska, experience a wealth of outdoor activities, and have the benefits of a quaint town nearby, then Homer, Alaska may be just what you’re looking for.

Located approximately 200 miles south of Anchorage, on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska, it’s a small town of about 6,000 people. Homer is often referred to as the end of the road because it’s the southernmost town on the state’s highway system. Speaking of highways, many people first fly into Anchorage then drive to Homer from there. The drive from Anchorage takes about 5 hours over well-paved highways, so it’s a great way to explore and see more of the beautiful Alaskan wilderness without getting too far off the beaten path.

Things To Do In Homer, Alaska

If the activity you’re looking for can be done in the great outdoors, chances are Homer has it available. Almost unimaginable beauty abounds in the great state of Alaska, and in Homer, you’ll have the opportunity to experience all that is Alaska from a small-town perspective. Depending on the time of year you choose to visit, you’ll find everything from whale-watching tours to dog sled racing to deep-sea fishing to a chance to see the elusive northern lights .

Any time of year is a good time to go to Homer, but you may want to adjust your schedule if you have a particular activity you want to do that’s more seasonal. For instance, for the best chance to see wildlife you’ll want to plan your trip for July and August. If you want the best chance of seeing the northern lights, then plan your trip between September and April.

Shops along the Homer Spit in Alaska.

Linda Harms / Shutterstock

Check Out The Homer Spit

The Homer Spit is a 4.5-mile-long strip of land that literally extends into Kachemak Bay in Homer. Lined with a multitude of shops, art galleries, and restaurants, it’s definitely one of the places you’ll want to check out while in Homer. After you’ve explored the shops, you can simply walk along the pebble beaches. You’ll be amazed at the wildlife you’ll see right in front of you in the tidepools and beyond. Another great option is to check out the Homer Harbor, home to commercial and pleasure boats. If you’re a boat enthusiast, this is your chance to get up close and personal with the hundreds of boats in the harbor. You may even be able to strike up a conversation with a commercial fisherman and buy a fresh catch right from the boat.

Glaciers in Kachemak Bay State Park.

Jesse Hasup / Shutterstock

Kachemak Bay State Park

Unique in that it’s reachable only by plane or boat, the first state park in the state of Alaska, Kachemak Bay State Park offers it all: mountains, glaciers, forests, and ocean. Check out one of the many prime spots for wildlife viewing, or try your luck at clam digging on the gravel beaches within the park. Hiking trails are plentiful in the park, but much of the park is true backcountry, so you must be prepared to rough it — with all your own equipment. There are primitive, public-use cabins available within the park that are very bare bones but will offer you shelter in a pinch! You can choose to hike along the forested areas at lower elevation or head up to higher ground above the treeline and hike around the glacial areas.

The Salty Dawg Saloon in Homer, Alaska.

Vicki L. Miller / Shutterstock

Visit The Salty Dawg Saloon

Tradition dictates that when people visit the historic Salty Dawg Saloon , they grab a dollar bill, write a message on it, and tack it up on the wall among the thousands of other dollar bills. Sounds easy enough, but the trick will be to find an open spot for your dollar. There are so many bills on the walls that almost every inch is covered! This tradition is just one of the reasons you should consider stopping into the Salty Dawg as part of your trip to Homer. Located on the Homer Spit, the Salty Dawg offers good drinks, a welcoming atmosphere, and great conversations with the locals. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening!

Editor’s Note: Read about fellow writer Carol Colborn’s experience at the Salty Dawg during her epic Alaska RV road trip: Valdez to Hayder , too!

Sunset on the shores of the Homer Spit.

Daniel Friend / Shutterstock

Sunset At The Spit

For an epic sunset viewing, head over to the Spit and find a spot on the beach. Bring a bottle of wine and some snacks, lay out a waterproof blanket, and settle in. You’ll be in for one of the best natural treats in Homer: a colorful night sky sunset over the bay. You’ll be impressed by the gorgeous array of colors overhead! This is the ultimate way to wind down after a full day of activity around Homer.

A killer whale in Kachemak Bay, Alaska.

Whale-Watching Tours

One of the coolest things to do in Homer is to take a tour in the waters off the coast of Homer in Kachemak Bay. You can enjoy a wildlife tour with the chance to see water wildlife like seals, sea otters, and porpoises, or you can book a whale-watching tour. Prime time to see whales around Homer is during the months of July and August. So if you’re vacationing in Homer during these months, a whale-watching tour would be a fantastic opportunity to see the majestic humpback and even orca whales. Coldwater Alaska offers both types of tours for around $100 per person.

Homer is home to a thriving art scene with many different types of artists and artwork, including watercolor, sculpture, glass, fine woodworking, pottery, metal, and photography to name a few. From local art galleries to artist cooperatives, there are a plethora of working artists in Homer, and all of them would love for you to check out their work! The Ptarmigan Arts Cooperative Gallery is the local cooperative in downtown Homer. In addition to the art cooperative, there are numerous galleries in town. The Art Shop Gallery is one art shop that specializes in handcrafted, original, local, Alaskan art. Homer also holds First Friday events monthly. The events celebrate local artists and new exhibits and are held the first Friday of the month between 5 and 7 p.m. at various galleries in Homer.

Best Restaurants In Homer

In Homer, the dining focus is most definitely on fresh seafood. With that said, there are many chefs that put their own creative spin on seafood, and there are quite a few options for non-seafood lovers as well. But, if you’re in Homer, sometimes called the halibut fishing capital of the world, you really must try fresh fish.

For an eclectic mix of upscale salads, seafood, Italian specialties, and house-made thin crust pizza, Fat Olives has you covered, no matter what you’re hungry for. With so many good options, it’s hard to choose, but their unique Fish Bowl with a wedge salad for dinner is a good bet.

Wasabi’s Restaurant

When you’re this close to some of the freshest seafood in the country, it just makes sense to go with the fish. In this case, it’s fish with a Japanese twist, in the form of sushi. For the freshest take on sushi, visit Wasabi’s Restaurant . Wasabi’s offers a huge selection of the freshest sushi of all types and lots of rolls for sharing. Also, make sure you try some of the different kinds of sake on the extensive drink list.

Captain Pattie’s Fish House

Get over to Captain Pattie’s Fish House for some of the best seafood you’ll find in Homer, along with one of the best views from their waterfront location. Try an appetizer of fresh oysters, then on to the deep-fried halibut for your main dish — it’s what they’re known for.

Best Places To Stay In Homer

Kachemak bay wilderness lodge.

Located within Kachemak Bay State Park, the Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge is a very small, deluxe, all-inclusive resort that offers an in-depth, individualized experience for each visitor. They have fewer than 10 cabins, so you can be sure that you’ll have plenty of peace and quiet, plenty of relaxation, and you won’t have to fight any crowds here. In addition, the lodge offers world-class, five-star gourmet dining along with deluxe accommodations. Kachemak service will pamper you as it provides you with a once-in-a-lifetime vacation opportunity!

The Driftwood Inn

The Driftwood Inn is a great choice and unique in that it offers four different lodging options to suit a variety of tastes. You’ll find accommodations from a super cute tiny house and modern lodges to a more traditional motel. And with two locations, either in downtown Homer or near Bishops Beach, you can choose your perfect spot. Plus, the staff at Driftwood specializes in helping their guests plan outings like customized fishing trips and wildlife tours, so you’ll be in good hands for whatever types of adventures you want to explore.

If you want to rough it, there’s no better place to do it than exquisitely beautiful Alaska. In Homer specifically, there are numerous camping options for both tent campers and those who want a little more luxury in their own RVs. Either way, camping on the Homer Spit along the Kachemak Bay in downtown Homer is a great option. If you have an RV, check out the beautiful Alaskan Heritage RV Park . Their perfect oceanfront campground will allow you to enjoy the natural beauty of both the mountains and the bay. Plus, you’ll have the comforts of home, including water, electrical hookups, and free internet. For tent camping, the Spit is still a good choice because you can pitch your tent seaside, right on the beach, and you’ll have all the necessities close by on the Spit or in downtown Homer.

Don’t let Homer’s somewhat remote location prevent you from exploring this quaint town. For more Alaska inspiration, read up on

  • The 10 Most Stunning Hikes In Alaska
  • Booze And Brothels: 9 Things You Didn’t Know About Ketchikan, Alaska
  • (Another!) Epic Alaska RV Road Trip: Kenai To Chena Hot Springs

Image of SJ Morgensen

SJ is a professional travel writer based in the Midwest. She has a background in credit card points and miles, having spent years working on loyalty campaigns for various financial institutions. She has a B.A. in history and is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association, the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association, and the International Travel Writers Alliance. SJ specializes in writing about travel, food, and wine.

Best Things to do in Homer and Kachemak Bay

Last Updated on June 15, 2023

The delightful end of the road town of Homer and Kachemak Bay are wonderful additions to any Alaska itinerary ! Off the cruise ship circuit, you’ll be sharing it with independent travelers as well as Alaskans exploring other parts of their home state. It takes some effort to get to Homer (a six plus hour gorgeous drive from Anchorage) but it’s well worth it to experience the art galleries, tasty food, outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery .

To elevate your Alaskan adventure to the next level, spent a few days camping in a yurt in Kachemak Bay State Park and paddling around in a kayak. This is hands down one of the best adventures you can have in Alaska so spend some extra time here if you can!

Homer, Seldovia and Kachemak Bay are the homeland of the Dena’ina and Alutiiq People.

Where are Homer and Kachemak Bay?

How do you get to homer, when is the best time to visit, kachemak bay state park, alaska islands and ocean visitor center, center for alaskan coastal studies.

  • Homer Boat Harbor

Bishop’s Beach

  • Art Galleries

Pratt Museum

Kilcher homestead living museum.

  • Seldovia fast ferry

Katmai National Park

Lake clark national park.

  • Best places to eat and drink in Homer
  • Exploring the rest of the Kenai Peninsula

Homer is located at the south end of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, just over 200 road miles south and west of Anchorage. Homer sits on Kachemak Bay, an inlet off the Gulf of Alaska and Cook Inlet.

Homer takes some time and planning to get to, but it’s totally worth it! This also means you won’t find big cruise tours here. There are two main ways to get to Homer:

  • Drive from Anchorage – this will take at least six hours and is an incredibly scenic and beautiful drive. Give yourself the whole day to make the trip, you won’t regret it!
  • Fly from Anchorage – you’ll be on a smaller plane and the flight takes about 45 minutes one way. This flight can be absolutely beautiful or you might see only fog, depending on the weather!

It’s also possible to take the Alaska Marine Highway (state ferry) to Homer, but this is not really a practical option for most visitors, since the ferry ride is long and expensive and doesn’t go to Anchorage or any other major airline hub.

The best time to visit Homer and Kachemak Bay is late May through early September . Many opportunities available for travelers are only open and operating during the summer season. In addition, Homer experiences windy, rainy and foggy conditions all year so summer gives you the best chance of decent weather. You still need to be prepared for cold, rain and wind any time of year ( see my packing list for Alaska here ).

The best weather and the most people visit Homer in June and July. Homer is off the beaten track for big tourism companies, you’ll only find independent travelers here along with plenty of Alaskans exploring a different part of the state. It’s plenty busy during the summer season so make sure to book everything ahead of time.

Mountains with lingering snow rise above a thick cloud layer on a sunny day

Kachemak Bay State Park is one of my favorite places in Alaska and a terrific reason to go to Homer all by itself! This area is only accessible by water taxi (or your own boat) and there are several companies in Homer that provide this service. You can do a day trip hiking or kayaking in the park, or for even more adventure (and one of my top Alaska experiences in the whole state ) spend the night in one of the yurts!

Yurt Camping in Kachemak Bay State Park

This is an amazing trip for any traveler (or Alaskan!) who really wants to get away from it all and just soak up the incredible scenery of southcentral Alaska . Yurt camping is a great option for Alaska since it offers protection from weather and bugs and gives you some space to spread out inside a shelter. Yurts are NOT appropriate storage for food from bears. It is extremely important that you use the food caches provided for all your food and toiletries. You will receive details about this when you book. This is important for your safety as well as the safety of bears and future human visitors.

Alaskan Yurt Rentals offers camping at 8 yurts in Kachemak Bay State Park. They must be reserved in advance. The yurts have sleeping bunks and pads, a wood stove and a propane burner. Everything else you need to bring yourself (drinking water, cooking fuel, etc). You should bring everything you would normally bring for camping (except the tent and sleeping pad). You are in a completely remote area so you need to bring everything with you, including extra food and water in case weather delays your pick up time.

A yurt in the forest

I’ve stayed at the Kayak Beach Yurt, which is fantastic! There was a bear cache conveniently located near but not TOO near the yurt. The yurt was super comfortable with plenty of room for four adults. There was also a firepit on the beach for campfires. We enjoyed exploring the beach by the yurt as well as kayaking.

A campfire in the foreground on a rocky and grassy beach along a small bay. Across the bay there are forested hillsides and higher mountains with lingering snow

To get to any of the yurts, you’ll need to take a water taxi from Homer . I’ve gone with True North Kayak Adventures and they did a great job! In addition to dropping us off at the beach in front of the yurt, we also rented kayaks from them for our stay which they brought over on the water taxi with us. We enjoyed paddling around from the yurt and exploring! We also took a hike on the trail that goes up into the forest behind the yurt.

A small boat is beached to let passengers and kayaks ashore on a remote rocky beach. The boat has a white cabin and a blue hull and a ladder to get to the beach. There are rocky islands and mountains in the background

This was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in Alaska in seven years of living there and many visits! I highly recommend it.

Related : Complete Guide to Camping in Alaska

Day tripping for Hiking or Kayaking in Kachemak Bay State Park from Homer

If camping, even in a yurt, is more adventure (or more packing) that you’re up for, you can still enjoy a day in Kachemak Bay State Park out of Homer.

You’ll still need to take a water taxi. You can get dropped off and picked up again or take a guided hiking or kayak tour. You can also take a water taxi ride even if you don’t go ashore.

In the park you can hike some of the 25 miles of hiking trails through forests and to epic vistas and mountain lakes. You can also kayak around the sheltered areas of the park, checking out the intertidal zones and shorelines. On the boat ride as well as while kayaking or hiking you may see seals, sea otters and whales as well as bears and moose ashore. There are also a ton of birds including eagles and puffins . Bear knowledge and safety is a must while hiking here!

I recommend asking your water taxi company for their suggestions on good places to go for hiking and kayaking in current conditions. You can always book a guided tour so you don’t need to worry about where to go!

The front of a white kayak in Kachemak Bay near Homer, Alaska. There are high snowcapped mountains in the distance and forested hillsides

The Homer Spit is a fascinating place jutting out 4.5 miles into Kachemak Bay from downtown Homer. You can walk the length of the spit on a trail , or drive there and walk around near the tip of the spit. There are beaches to explore, as well as a few shops and the forever famous Salty Dawg Saloon (more on that below). The small boat harbor is big and bustling and the Alaska Marine Highway ferry dock is at the tip of the spit, next to the Land’s End Resort. There is also the Seafarer’s Memorial , dedicated to those who have died at sea.

If you have the chance, check out one of the wonderful performances at the Pier One Theatre on the Spit, which has regular performances during the summer months. You can get tickets locally or request them online here .

Low tide on the beach at gravelly Homer Spit. In the distance is gray water and mountains with snow and fog surrounding them on an overcast day

Operated by the US Fish and Wildlife service, the visitor center in Homer offers exhibits about the wildlife of Kachemak Bay as well as interpretive trails and ranger programs. It’s open from Memorial Day (late May) until Labor Day (early September).

The Center operates a really fun interpretive program on the docks in the harbor of Homer Spit. Here you can learn all about the creatures right below you in the water! They also offer guided hikes in a couple other locations on trails near Homer. Learn all about their current offerings and locations here .

Explore the Homer Boat Harbor

Located near the end of the Homer Spit, the harbor is bustling and busy. If you’re taking a water taxi or going on a fishing charter, you’ll be departing from here. Even if you aren’t, it’s an interesting place to walk around, packed with water taxis, private boats, fishing boats of all sizes and probably quite a few seals.

The Homer small boat harbor with many pleasure and fishing boats tied up at the docks. There are low buildings behind the harbor and low fog over the water. Above the fog mountains are rising up

One of the wonderful beaches in and around Homer, Bishop’s Beach has miles of beach to explore. Beachcombing here is especially enjoyable at low tide, with tidepool creatures to discover as well as a wider beach to explore. There are restrooms here as well as covered picnic areas with BBQ grills.

In addition to the beach, the Beluga Slough Trail goes up from the beach to the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies with great views of Homer, Kachemak Bay and the mountains beyond.

Fishing is fantastic out of Homer and many places on the Kenai Peninsula. Many Alaskans come here at some point during the summer for fishing trips (I did every year when I lived in Fairbanks – a 10 hour drive away!). The Kenai Peninsula has both freshwater and salt water fishing opportunities.

Fresh water fishing on the Kenai Peninsula is generally centered around the salmon runs and includes different types of fishing along rivers such as the Kenai and the Russian River.

A woman wearing hip waders and a hat is fishing for salmon in the Russian River in Alaska. The river is surrounded by forest

Saltwater fishing is for salmon before they run up the rivers and also for halibut and other deep water fish. Halibut fishing is my personal favorite!

A halibut being pulled up to the edge of a fishing boat

For most visitors it makes sense to do a fishing charter , that way they provide all the gear you need (including boots if necessary!) which is really convenient if you’re traveling. They also know where to go and how to help you have the best chance of catching fish. Another benefit is they often clean and package your fish for you for travel (ask about this when reserving if this is important to you). This is fully worth the extra money!

If you bring fishing gear with you, inquire about good places to go at the time you happen to be visiting when you get your fishing license, or with your campground or vacation rental host, or the hotel where you are staying.

There are lots of fishing charter companies that leave from the Homer harbor, there are also several in Ninilchik that depart from Clam Gulch or Anchor Point. You can also do fishing charters in Seward and Whittier.

If you’re looking to save some money on a fishing trip, grab the Alaska Toursaver book and get two for one on your fishing charter (and lots of other attractions and tours in Alaska….this is one of my 20 tips for saving money on your Alaska vacation !).

There are lots of great kayaking opportunities around Homer! There are several companies that offer kayak rentals and tours from half a day up to multi day adventures. I’ve rented from True North Kayak Adventures and they were absolutely terrific. They also offer Stand up paddleboard rentals and have a water taxi to take you to yurts and more remote areas.

Homer Art Galleries

Homer is known all over Alaska for its vibrant art scene. Don’t miss the chance to stroll “gallery row” in downtown Homer and check out all the art. If you want to bring something home from Alaska, this is a great place to do your shopping.

The Pratt Museum is all about the connection between the land and people throughout history in the Homer area and around Kachemak Bay. This small museum is packed with information and displays and includes outdoor exhibits as well as indoor.

Fans of the Discovery Channel TV show featuring the Kilcher family will get a kick out of visiting the homestead that welcomes visitors. You can explore the property and visit some of the buildings on the tour while you learn about Alaska’s homesteading tradition.

Seldovia Fast Ferry

The 45 minute ferry ride to Seldovia is absolutely beautiful with an excellent chance of seeing wildlife (especially sea otters) along the way. Seldovia is a charming small town accessible only by boat and plane. The town is built up on stilts and boardwalks and is a wonderful day trip. In addition to strolling the boardwalks and visiting the art galleries and museum, you can also explore one of the hiking trails that depart from Seldovia.

six sea otters in the water on a sunny day

Katmai is a remote park accessible only by airplane from anywhere else! Homer is one of the closer places to fly to Katmai from as it’s about a 1.5 hour flight in a small plane to Katmai. You can opt for a flightseeing tour of Katmai’s incredible volcanic landscapes, or you can book a trip that includes landing along the coast or at Brooks Falls. Both of these places have tons of gigantic brown bears who are busy fishing for salmon during the summer months. Brooks Falls is more famous but also more busy (day trips are available here from Anchorage) but the coastal areas are less visited. Several tour operators operate these trips out of Homer. This is an expensive trip, but a trip of a lifetime!

A brown bear with a salmon in its mouth at the edge of a river

Similar to Katmai, Lake Clark National Park is also only accessible by airplane . You can take a flightseeing tour here from Homer or get flown into a remote location to land. There are many bear viewing opportunities in Lake Clark also.

Even if you keep your feet on the ground, you’ll still get the opportunity to see Lake Clark from the highway if you’re driving to Homer from Anchorage. The highway along the west side of the Kenai Peninsula near Ninilchik has impressive views of the massive volcanoes in Lake Clark National Park.

Best Places to eat and drink in Homer

Some of Alaskans favorite places to eat in Alaska are in Homer! One thing is for certain, you cannot go wrong with seafood in Homer. Alaskans do not tolerate bad seafood anywhere in the state and that’s certainly true in Homer. A few other specific places to check out include:

Salty Dawg Saloon

There’s no food here (other than bags of chips), but this is a mandatory stop! All across Alaska you’ll see Alaskans sporting a hoodie from the Salty Dawg , which is known all around Alaska. Grab a drink and settle into this iconic establishment.

Two Sisters Bakery

Anywhere in Alaska, you should always stop at the local bakery because no one does baked goods like Alaska! In Homer, make it the Two Sisters Bakery . They offer a variety of sweet and savory baked goods as well as bread, cake and delicious coffee.

An Alaskan favorite, Fat Olives offers a menu with lots of possibilities including seafood, pasta, calzones, pizza, sandwiches and salads. They also have some really delicious desserts and a kids menu.

Bear Creek Winery

Alaska doesn’t have many wineries, so when you find one you should be sure to stop! Bear Creek has a variety of inventive fruit and grape wines (try anything with rhubarb…always!) that are unique and delicious. They also offer lodging.

Homer has two local breweries with taprooms. Don’t miss the chance to sample some local beer at Grace Ridge Brewing or the Homer Brewing Company.

Exploring the rest of the Kenai Peninsula on the way to Homer

If you’re driving to Homer from Anchorage, a few places I highly recommend stopping include:

  • Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center – A terrific place to learn about and see Alaska’s wildlife and a great place for photography. Wildlife are protected here and are in open areas where you can view them safely from boardwalks
  • Portage Glacier and Portage Lake – read more here about how to spend your time at Portage Glacier ! You can take a boat tour across a lake to Portage Glacier, or take a hike up to see it. You can also explore the hiking trails of the Valley of Blue Ice.
  • Hope – a 30 minute detour off the main highway (turn just beyond the Canyon Creek Rest Area if you’re coming from Anchorage), this tiny and historic community is fun to explore
  • Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park – a well signed turn off takes you to Seward. A delightful harbor oriented town, you can check out the Alaska Sealife Center or take the day boat tour into Kenai Fjords National Park. There are also some excellent hikes here leading into the park, including Exit Glacier and the Harding Icefield.
  • Russian River – a great place for fishing! Or watching others fish if that’s more your thing. Be extremely careful about bears here, they are EVERYWHERE. The Pink Salmon Parking lot is a good place to stop (and also has restrooms). If you want to stretch your legs, you can hike up to Russian River Falls, a 5 mile round trip with about 600 feet of elevation gain. You’re likely to see salmon (when running) and bears here. Use extreme bear caution and safety procedures and do not hike this trail alone.

A brown bear on the shore of the Russian River. Behind the bear are bushes and then a forest and in the distance, higher mountains

  • Captain Cook State Recreation Area – about an hour off the main highway, this area has a campground and an expansive beach on the Cook Inlet. Look across the water to the massive volcanoes on the Alaska Peninsula. There is a campground here too.
  • Ninilchik – the tiny community of Ninilchik is along the stretch of the highway that goes right next to the coast. This stretch is absolutely stunning! There are mulitple places with pullouts and beaches you can access with views across the Cook Inlet to the stunning volcanoes of Lake Clark National Park.

A high snow covered volcano surrounded by a few clouds with water in the foreground seen from the highway to Homer Alaska

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Launch your kayak from Otter Cove out of Homer.

Homer Alaska

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Every small town in Alaska is unique, but Homer is especially so. There's nowhere else like it in the state. It somehow blends an ancient history of Native Alaskan cultures with longstanding Russian influences, a rich artists' scene with a productive fishing industry, and popular hobbies like gardening and backcountry skiing into a single vibrant community. It's also a fantastically beautiful place to visit.

Homer is built on a bluff looking south onto Kachemak Bay. Across the bay are enclaves like Halibut Cove and Seldovia, but beyond those waterside communities, a vast mountain wilderness rises high. The area is also home to diverse and abundant wildlife. Moose and bears roam the land while sea otters, seabirds, eagles, starfish, and harbor seals populate the cold bay water. Birders especially enjoy Homer where every year a shorebird festival celebrates the return of migrating waterfowl to the area's protected wetlands.

Homer's four-mile spit is the town's most notable feature. It's a natural land form, likely the remnants of a glacial moraine, although modern manmade support keeps it from eventually washing away with the tides. Plentiful beaches, galleries, fishing charter offices, water taxis, gift shops, and restaurants (as well as the infamous Salty Dog Saloon) dot this fun and bustling area.

Although halibut fishing draws a lot of visitors to Homer, there are many ways to enjoy the town's natural surroundings. Among our favorites are hiking and kayaking on the southern side of Kachemak Bay. On rainy days, which are not uncommon with Homer's maritime climate, visitors can tour the Pratt Museum and Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center. Homer also hosts a fantastic farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer.

Homer offers over a hundred lodging choices, from campgrounds and RV parks, to hostels, bed and breakfasts, and motels. We highly recommend the Homer Aspen Suites Hotel . The Aspen is an all-suites property offering guests full kitchenettes. The hotel is next door to the Alaska Island & Ocean Visitor Center and has walkable access to the interpretive trails and Bishops Beach.

Most visitors reach Homer by rental car . The town is 225 miles from Anchorage, or about a five-hour drive. Homer has a small airport with regular summer plane service from Anchorage. Homer is also served by the Alaska State Marine Highway. In the summer months, smaller cruise ships occasionally visit Homer as a port of call.

Homer Lodging

With so much to see and do in Homer, find lodging that will allow for access to a wealth of activities in or out of town. Learn More >

Things To Do in Homer

Homer is a charming homesteading and fishing community that values the outdoors. Hike to a mountain glacier, take a kayak tour, or just relax and enjoy the scenery. Learn More >

Homer Aspen Hotel

The new Homer Aspen Hotel features spacious guest suites with full kitchenettes. Located in the heart of the oceanside community, the hotel is a perfect jumping off point for excursions into beautiful Kachemak Bay. Learn More >

Famous for its fishing, Homer has a well-earned reputation as the "Halibut Fishing Capital of the World." Here's how to catch that big one. Learn More >

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Homer —At the “End of the Road” – The Adventure Begins!

South of Anchorage and accessed by 225 miles of scenic highway or daily flights, Homer is located on the shores of Kachemak Bay , surrounded by glaciers and mountains and a home base for great fishing, and kayaking, bear viewing , hiking, foodie and art vacations .

Homer has the unique attraction of the 2nd longest “Spit” in the world. The Homer Spit is a natural geologic phenomenon formed initially by terminal glacial moraine and juts 5 miles out into Kachemak Bay . It is a great jumping-off place for endless adventures in and across Kachemak Bay and is home to the Homer Port and Harbor where vessels of all shapes, sizes, and uses can be seen.

The “Time Bandit”, made famous on the TV show “The Deadliest Catch” calls the Homer harbour home and can be seen whenever it is in port. Wildlife cruises of Kachemak Bay and King salmon fishing are offered year-round.

Homer has bear viewing trips to Katmai National Park, home of the famous Brooks River Falls. This is where bears can be seen fishing for salmon all along the falls. It is also home to the annual Fat Bear Week Contest.

 Homer was named for Homer Pennock , a gold miner who established the first development on the Homer Spit in 1896. Today’s Homer Alaska is a thriving community of approximately 5,400 residents. Across the sparkling waters of Kachemak Bay , the rugged Kenai Mountains spread east, west, and south . Soaring snowcapped peaks overlook massive glaciers crawling toward the sea.

Along the coastline, the steep mountain valleys form narrow fjords. It is one of the few places in the world, if not the only one, where several glaciers and active volcanoes can be viewed at the same time. Homer is at the southwest tip of the Kenai Peninsula on Kachemak Bay . The town lies 225 paved highway miles from Anchorage and is easily accessible by highway, sea, or air. Homer is 76 miles south of the city of Kenai and 78 miles from Soldotna .

Homer Visitor Information Center on your right as you enter town from Soldotna. The Center is open year-round and has a very helpful staff. 201 Sterling Highway. Open daily 9am to 6pm during the summer with reduced hours in the winter. 907-235-7740 www.homeralaska.org

The Kenai – Alaska’s Playground: No other destination offers such an up close and personal Alaskan experience. With over 15,000 square miles of extraordinary adventure and excitement to choose from, even the rest of the state comes here when they need a reminder of why they moved to Alaska in the first place. That’s why it’s known as Alaska’s Playground. Check out Online Specials, a Free Kenai Peninsula Travel Planner and a Free Passport to Adventure on the Kenai. Full of discount coupons for your visit to the Kenai Peninsula. 35571 Kenai Spur Hwy, Soldotna. 800-535-3624 www.kenaipeninsula.org

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Ocean Shores Resort

Heritage rv park, pioneer inn, ulmer’s drug & hardware, goldmine gifts & fine jewelry, the homer spit trail, alaska islands and ocean center, center for alaskan coastal studies, homer halibut derby, homer council on the arts, kachemak bay state park & state wilderness park, pratt museum and information center, the homestead trail, captain pattie’s fish house, alaska marine highway, camping in homer alaska.

The best place to camp in Homer Alaska in on the Homer Spit. There are private and city owned campgrounds on the beaches of the Homer Spit. The city campgrounds are open from mid-Mat to September. The best private campground on the spit is Heritage RV Park.

Heritage Beachfront RV Park on the Homer Spit has 107 spacious, first-class camping sites. All sites include 50 amp, SAT TV, free Wi-fi, laundry & showers. There is an espresso bar and gift shop in the office.

Homer Alaska Fishing Charters

Homer is well known as a major Fishing Charter destination. There are many, many fishing charters in town that will take visitors fishing for halibut or salmon. Some of the biggest halibuts in the world are caught right here is Homer. that’s why they call it the halibut fishing capital!

Bob’s Trophy Charters

Bobs have been fishing for halibut in Homer since 1980 and have worked hard to become some of the best! Their captains and their crews are friendly and helpful. You’ll lookforward to a day on the waters catching your limit. Bob’s has charters for Halibut, salmon and many other species of fish including ling cod and rock fish. Whether you are an expert angler or a beginner, they will help you get the most from your fishing charter. Ask about their special overnight charters for an incredible fishing experince.

Homer Ocean Charters

This long­time char­ter com­pa­ny have highend boats, expe­ri­enced cap­tains, and excellent crews. They also have an inside line on find­ing the best spots for hal­ibut, rock fish and sil­ver salmon. Beyond fishing charters they also offer a vari­ety of oth­er ways to enjoy Kachemak Bay, from wildlife cruis­es, kayaking or hik­ing in Kachemak Bay State Park.

O’Fish’ial Charters of Alaska

Spe­cial­izing in salt­wa­ter hal­ibut and king salmon fish­ing expe­ri­ences. Come find the secret hotspots discovered from count­less hours with sea­soned Alaskan fish­er­men. O’Fish’ial Charters has a cus­tomer-ser­vice focus and pas­sion for shar­ing all the excite­ment and adven­ture Alas­ka fish­ing has to offer.

North Country Charters

North Country Charters operates a fleet of owner-operated boats that all provide you with an excellent fishing experience. They supply high quality fishing equipment and vessels are Coast Guard equipped for your safety. They accommodate from novice anglers to the experienced and individuals to large groups.

Destination Alaska Fish and Fly

If you don’t want to experience a 2 hour boat ride to the fishing ground, take a scenic 30-minute float­plane flight straight to the boat instead! Destination Alaska Fish and Fly offers this unique option for it’s guests. All trips are pri­vate to ensure the best pos­si­ble expe­ri­ence.

Homer Alaska FAQS

What is homer alaska known for.

Homer Alaska is known as the Halibut Fishing Capital of Alaska. It is also known for having the 2nd longest Spit in the World. “The Spit” is a piece of land that sticks out into the water. The Homer Spit is 5 miles long.

How far is Homer from Anchorage?

Homer is 220 miles from Anchorage. The first 85 miles are on the Seward Highway. At mile 37, take the Tern Lake Junction onto the Sterling Highway. From The Tern Lake Junction is 135 miles to Homer.

Is there an airport in Homer?

Yes, the Homer Airport has one airline, Ravn Airlines , that operates and runs scheduled flights to Anchorage, Kenai, Valdez and other smaller towns in Alaska.

Homer Alaska Map

This Homer Alaska Map shows the downtown area of Homer but doesn’t include the Homer Spit, which is where many of the tourism businesses are located. Downtown Homer has restaurants, hotels, gift shops and the Alaska Islands & Oceans Visitor Center .

Homer Alaska Map

Map of Homer Alaska

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Everyday Alaska

Everyday Life in The Last Frontier

Valdez, Seward, or Homer: Which Should You Visit?

June 9, 2023 by Everyday Alaska

Should I visit Valdez, Seward, or Homer during my Alaska vacation? I’ve seen this question asked quite a bit in various groups, and the answer is dependent on many factors. How far do you want to travel? How much time do you have? Are you more interested in whale watching or halibut fishing? Do you like a small town feel or the hustle and bustle of a tourist town? Those questions and more will help you determine which costal Alaskan town to visit on your Alaska vacation.

Below, I’ll answer those question and give you local insight that will help you with planning your travel itinerary. If you’ve got limited time on your travels and need to decided between visiting Homer, Valdez, or Seward, this guide is a must read.

best time to visit homer alaska

Please note that this post contains affiliate links which I may earn commission from. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Commissions from these qualifying purchases help support Everyday Alaska at no extra cost to you. Please follow the instructions on all of the recommended items. All of the information provided is my personal opinion, unless otherwise cited or noted.

How far do you want to travel?

This will be a big factor in determining which town to visit. If you’re basing yourself in Anchorage and don’t want to have a full day of driving to your destination, Homer and Seward will be your options. Seward will be the shortest of the two drives, being less than three hours, so you can even make a day trip there. Homer is about four hours away, so you’ll want to stay at least overnight there.

Valdez is about a six hour drive from Anchorage. If you have the time, this is the most beautiful drive of the three. Obviously, this is my personal opinion (And being born and raised in Valdez I may be a bit biased!), but the views and variety of scenery are breathtaking. If you are able to break the drive up and stay a night somewhere along the way that would be ideal. Also, with the drive being long, you’ll want to stay in Valdez long enough to explore.

Tip: Check out our local’s guide to Valdez to find some great spots to stop along your road trip.

If you’re traveling throughout Alaska and have no particular starting point or home base, but have time constraints that will allow a visit to only Seward, Homer, or Valdez, the next things to consider are activities you’d like to do and sights you want to see.

Tip: Be sure to factor in road construction, traffic, and weather conditions into these travel times. To learn more about things to consider when planning an Alaska vacation check out this article .

best time to visit homer alaska

What activities would you like to do on your Alaska vacation?

Activities and excursions are somewhat similar in all these beautiful towns, but they vary enough to help narrow your decision down. Below, I’ll list some popular activities and which towns I’d recommend for each.

Glacier and Wildlife Cruise

Glacier and wildlife cruises are a popular excursion when visiting Alaska. Valdez and Seward are your options for these, and both are incredible. You’ll have the opportunity to see whales, puffins, otters, seals, glaciers, and more on cruises out of either location.

best time to visit homer alaska

Homer is known as the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World”, so you can correctly assume that the halibut fishing there must be good. But, you can also catch great halibut in Valdez and Seward.

All three locations also have salmon fishing. In Valdez you can fish for salmon off the rocks at Allison Point or on a charter. In Seward and Homer you can do the same; either fish on a charter boat or from the shore.

To narrow your choice down, consider the species of fish you’re after, when and what fish runs are occurring during the time you’ll be here, and which places still have charters available during the dates you want. The timing of your trip and your target fish species will help you narrow down the area you’d like to visit.

Tip: Book you fishing charter ASAP as they are very popular and book up well in advance.

Wood carving of man with halibut in Homer, Alaska.

I’d love to give you insight into the best hikes in Valdez, Seward, and Homer, but I don’t hike much so my qualifications in this category are null. But, I can suggest using AllTrails to view lists of popular trails, difficulty levels, and more.

Are there any specific sights you’d like to see on your Alaska adventures?

Although all of Alaska is beautiful, there are some places you’ll want to visit to see certain sights. From glaciers and moose to National Parks and boat harbors, I’ll suggest the best of the best below.

This is a bit of a tricky one since there is no guarantee of wildlife sightings, but some of these places will increase your chances of seeing certain animals. After living in Alaska over thirty years, I have a pretty good idea of where you’ll have the best chances to see specific critters.

Tip: Keep in mind that what season you visit will effect what animals you’ll see. Check out a complete Alaskan wildlife bucket list here!

If you want to see whales, head to Seward or Valdez and hop aboard a glacier and wildlife cruise . This goes for most marine life, as I’ve had some great wildlife sightings on these cruises. You can usually spot otters and check out tide pools in Homer, but if you want to have a better chance of seeing the bigger animals, I’d opt for Seward or Valdez.

Moose. A popular highlight of many people’s trip! You may see them along the road to Valdez, but you likely won’t see them in town. You’ll have a chance to see them on your way down to Seward, and you’re almost (but not quite!) guaranteed to see them while driving to Homer and in Homer itself.

Bears can be spotted along the way to any of these places if you’re lucky. But, your best chance of seeing bears in the wild is in Valdez. You can see them on the way to town, in town, and at Allison Point eating salmon.

Look up for eagles! You can see eagles in Homer, Valdez, and Seward. Where there’s harbors and fish, you’ll find the eagles!

best time to visit homer alaska

Speaking of harbors, which one is the best? They’re all fun to check out, so no matter which town you choose to visit, I’d make time to walk around the harbor. You’ll likely see a sea otter, and it’s pretty entertaining to read all the boat names, too!

best time to visit homer alaska

There are tons of glaciers around Alaska, so you have a vast amount of options to view them. Comparing Valdez, Homer, and Seward for glacier viewing experiences, though, I would rate Valdez first. You can see Worthington Glacier when driving into Valdez, view Valdez Glacier by kayak, and take a glacier cruise. Seward would be my next choice, with glacier cruises and a visit to Exit Glacier being popular ways to view these colossal mounds of ice.

Tips: Are you looking for the best ways to see glaciers around Alaska? My glacier viewing guide can help you find the best ways and places to see these magnificent sights.

A blue glacier on a clear day out of Seward, Alaska.

National Parks

If you want to check another National Park off your bucket list, visit Seward. You can explore the beautiful Kenai Fjords National Park from there. Or, on your drive to Valdez you can stop at a Wrangell St. Elias National Park visitor center and view a slice of America’s largest National Park.

This is really a subjective category. Personally, I have to put Valdez first. Maybe I has to do with my bias after living there most of my life, but it’s one of my three favorite places in the world. The mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, and the drive in really seal the deal for me. Homer would be second. The views of the bay, surrounding mountains, and beaches are quite amazing. Next up would be Seward. You can’t beat those big, beautiful trees, mountains, and costal views. No matter which you choose, you’ll have fantastic scenery to view since you’d be hard pressed to find a bad view in Alaska.

best time to visit homer alaska

Of the three, does Valdez, Seward, or Homer have better weather?

The weather you’ll have on your vacation, and the scenery that’s visible, will vary greatly depending on which season you visit. Weather in Alaska is unpredictable, though, no matter what time of year. I’m writing this in June. It just got warm enough to plant my garden, and some areas recently had snow, so you never know what you’ll get.

If you’re in any of these towns for any length of time, you’ll see rain. Valdez and Seward tend to see more rain than Homer, though, so you may have a better chance of sunny days in Homer.

During the winter you’ll see snow in all these towns, but it varies depending on the area. Valdez is one of the snowiest towns in the world, Seward also gets an abundance of snow, and Homer tends to get a bit of snow, but it doesn’t get too snowy there.

Mural of whales in Seward, Alaska.

Are there things to do in these places year round?

Seward, Homer, and Valdez are seasonal, as is the rest of Alaska, as far as tourism activities go. They are all very busy and bustling in the summer, but when the snow and cold start to creep in seasonal business and activities close up.

Seward and Valdez are less “touristy” than Homer, though. Of the three, Valdez is likely the most popular during the “off season” due to the immense amount of snow making it a famous destination for winter sports such as snowmachining (snowmobiling), skiing, and snowboarding. Homer has the popular Winter King Salmon Tournament in March, and there are winter fishing options in Seward as well.

best time to visit homer alaska

Which has the best food: Valdez, Seward, or Homer?

As mentioned above, all of these costal Alaska towns are seasonal. There are restaurants in each place that are open year round, but many of the food trucks and smaller restaurants you’ll see are just open during summertime.

I would say Homer has the best variety of food options. There are a number of great places to eat, and a handful of them stay open all year. Many of the places you’ll find on the Homer Spit are only open for summer, though. There’s a tie for Seward and Valdez being second. Very few places are open during winter, but food trucks and seasonal vendors widen your options during summertime.

Captain Pattie’s In Homer

Are you looking for the journey or destination?

Now, I have a question for you! Are you all about the journey or destination? If a long, scenic drive through the vast beauty of Alaska doesn’t intrigue you, choose between Homer or Seward. Both of these destinations will likely be shorter drives for you, depending on where your starting point is. They are both scenic trips through the Kenai Peninsula, but much shorter than the drive to Valdez.

There are more “tourist” type activities on the Peninsula than there are in Valdez, but personally I think the journey to Valdez, and the scenery you’ll experience there beats any type of paid excursions you could do elsewhere. So, if you’re looking for a beautiful journey and destination, choose Valdez. If you’re wanting a shorter trip and a few more activities, choose Seward or Homer.

Would you choose to visit Valdez, Seward, or Homer?

If someone asked for my opinion on which of the three to visit, I would choose Valdez first, Seward second, and Homer third. Consider this a very biased opinion, though, as I was born and raised in Valdez. The drive there, the people, the views, and the wildlife are unmatched. Although I live on the Kenai Peninsula now, and enjoy visiting Seward and Homer just as much as the next person, there’s no place like home.

I know this is a lot of information to digest, but I hope it give you the insight you need to plan the best trip for you! If you have questions about traveling to Alaska feel free to leave a comment below, or  sign up for the Everyday Alaska newsletter , and send me an email.

You can also join the  Everyday Alaska Travel Tips, Information, and Advice group , and/or our  New to Alaska Tips, Information, and Advice group  to ask any questions you may have. I’m happy to help you get the most out of your time in our beautiful Last Frontier!

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Experience the Magic of Homer, Alaska: Unforgettable Adventures Await

Unravel the wonders of kachemak bay.

Nestled in the beautiful Kachemak Bay, Homer, Alaska, offers a world of adventure for every type of traveler. Discover the wonders of the bay and its marine life on harbor tours, water taxis, and bay cruises. Hike to the Grewingk Glacier and witness its serene lake, or camp in the remoteness of Kachemak Bay State Park . Learn more about hiking around Homer HERE .

Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

Embrace the spirit of adventure and get up close and personal with Alaska's incredible wildlife on bear-viewing excursions, eco-tours , and wildlife-watching adventures. Enjoy water activities such as sea kayaking , paddleboarding, kite surfing, and spearfishing. Horseback riding, biking, and ATV outings are also available with expert guides.

Cast Your Line in the World-Class Fishing Capital

Homer, famously known as the "Halibut Fishing Capital of the World," boasts a wide variety of fish species teeming in its icy waters. Anglers from all corners of the globe flock here, relishing the exhilarating experience of catching these majestic white fish. Salmon fishing closely follows in popularity, with year-round opportunities to satisfy the cravings of even the most avid enthusiasts. Click HERE to learn more about Fishing in Homer! 

Immerse Yourself in Homer's Rich Cultural Landscape

Immerse yourself in Homer's rich cultural landscape by visiting museums and visitor centers such as the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies , Islands & Oceans Visitor Center , and the Pratt Museum . Explore Homer's vibrant art scene featuring numerous galleries, Bunnell Street Arts Center , and the First Friday Gallery Walk. Attend the Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference or catch a show at the Mariner Theater or Pier One Theater . Don't forget to support the Homer Council on the Arts .

Savor Homer's Culinary Delights

Savor Homer's culinary delights by indulging in tastings at local wineries and breweries and treating yourself to exquisite dishes at award-winning restaurants. Homer has earned a reputation as a " foodie destination ," offering a delectable array of dining options to satisfy any palate.

Shop 'til You Drop

Shop 'til you drop at the Farmers' Market, Pioneer Avenue, Historic Old Town, and the Homer Spit for unique local crafts, souvenirs, and delightful dining options.

With so much to see and do, Homer, Alaska, promises an unforgettable adventure for every traveler. Explore and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Divergent Travelers

Best Time to Visit Alaska: Month by Month Breakdown (2024)

Trying to decide the best time to visit Alaska? This month by month breakdown will help you figure out the best time to travel to Alaska, depending on what you’d like to do and see.

We spent 5 weeks exploring Alaska and can attest that is the last real wilderness left in the United States. It is an untouched, rugged, and pristine destination that’s just waiting to be explored by intrepid travelers. 

Be sure to also check out our extensive Alaska Travel Guide

The northernmost state though, is a very seasonal place to visit, because the vast landscapes and sporadic towns and small cities are at the mercy of the weather. 

This far north, you find a land of extremes. Alaska endures long, dark winters with some areas having no daylight for weeks at a time. There are fierce snowstorms and temperatures are well below zero for much of the year. 

Summer is beautiful, and arguably it’s the best time to visit Alaska because the days are long and the temperatures are relatively high. Although, I’ll admit that we prefer the spring months for better contrast and cooler weather.

You’ll even catch the midnight sun in some locations. But the summer season is short, lasting only from late May to September, and this is when it’s peak season, and the cities and glaciers are full of cruise ship tourists. 

So When Is The Best Time to Go to Alaska?

Table of Contents

When it comes down to it, the best time to plan a trip to Alaska depends on what you want to do in Alaska and which Alaskan destinations you want to visit.

If you want to go on an Alaska road trip , you’ll want to visit at a completely different time than if you want to see the Northern Lights . The Alaska cruise season is different still.

And while there are only a few months of the year where you can hike in the national parks, cities like Anchorage , Juneau , and Fairbanks offer a longer tourism season.

Below, we’ll go into a month-by-month breakdown of the best time to travel to Alaska. Once you know what you’d like to do, you can use this guide as a reference to decide the best time to plan your trip.

Best Time to Visit Alaska FAQs

Before we go into the month-by-month breakdown, here are a few quick answers if you’re wondering about things like the best month to see Northern Lights in Alaska or the best month to cruise Alaska.

April, May, and September are typically the cheapest months to visit Alaska. The weather isn’t perfect but it’s not winter and the crowds are a lot smaller. Just note that some activities may not yet be open (or may already be closing).

July tends to be the most expensive month to go to Alaska – because that’s when most people want to go to Alaska. It’s the peak of high season for both cruises and those flying in. Expect higher prices on accommodation, flights, cruises, and tours.

The Alaska cruise season runs from April to September, which peak months being June-August. While most would say that summer is the best time to cruise Alaska , I actually think that spring is an even better time!

The Northern Lights are technically visible from August to April. However, you’re most likely to see them between November and February.

The spring and summer months are the best time to see wildlife in Alaska. Grizzly bears are usually all awake from their winter hibernation in May. June is the peak season for whale watching and most other animals are active too.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Alaska (Regional Guide)

Best Time to Visit Alaska: Month by Month Breakdown

To be able to plan the ultimate trip to the national parks, and to remote destinations, you’ll need to know the best time to visit Alaska.

Here’s our month by month guide on the weather and the best places to go! 

January in Alaska 

January is a cold, cold time to be in Alaska. But it’s also a unique time of the year to explore the state, as you’ll experience the region in the throes of winter. 

The far north of Alaska sees almost no daylight in January, being well within the Arctic Circle. However, stay south in Anchorage or Juneau and you can enjoy a few hours each day of sunlight.

In fact, the skies are beautifully clear when the sun is out for its brief stint each day. This makes January the best time to visit for flightseeing trips over the glaciers and mountains. 

At night you’ll likely see the Northern Lights too, especially if you head further north.

There’s ample opportunity for snow sports, including dog sledding and snowshoeing of course. You can learn more about local cultures during the dead winter months too.

Remember though that travel in January can be difficult, especially if you want to head to the Arctic areas.

Overland travel is almost non-existent, even in summer, and even less so in winter, of course. 

February in Alaska

In February, it’s just as cold and just as dark as in January, perhaps even colder depending on the weather patterns.

This is not the best time to visit Alaska, because there’s almost perpetual darkness and you’ll be at the mercy of the extreme weather. 

This is still very much winter. But as in January, stick to the cities and you can enjoy Alaskan culture at this unique time of the year.

You can still take the odd flightseeing trip if the skies stay clear and of course, this is a great time to see the Northern Lights. 

Head out from the cities and you’ll likely catch the Northern Lights in the sky, while there’s lots of chance to go dog sledding or snowshoeing too, all across Alaska. 

March in Alaska

While March sees the beginning of spring in more southern areas of the USA, in Alaska, it’s a completely different story. 

It’s still winter, but in March the temperatures are rising incrementally, and the darkest days are now over. 

The days are getting longer and this is a good time to visit if you want to enjoy outdoor activities in the snowy wilds of the Alaskan national parks. 

In fact, if you want to enjoy the Northern Lights, this can be the best time to visit Alaska, because you’ll catch them in the night, but still be able to enjoy the daylight hours too.

April in Alaska

April is when the weather begins to transition from winter to summer. This is the short Alaskan springtime and it’s the best time to visit Alaska before the summer crowds arrive. 

Small numbers of cruise ships begin to dock in places such as Anchorage or Juneau, while it’s much easier to travel overland. 

The wildlife begins to emerge from hibernation and if you head into the national parks you’ll begin to see all sorts of animals, including moose and perhaps even the odd bear. 

May in Alaska

May is the start of summer, or at least, the end of spring, and temperatures continue to rise all through the month. Truth be told, this is one of our favorite times to be in Alaska. There is still snow on the mountains, yet the land is green and flowers are starting to bloom.

In May, the days are now incredibly long, and the further north you travel the longer they’ll become. 

You’ll start to see whales in the ocean and more and more wildlife in the national parks.

In fact, this is probably the best time to visit Alaska if you want to spot wildlife because as the ice thaws across the state new life emerges into the sunlight.

Alaska is well and truly in bloom in May, and luckily, this is still very much a shoulder season too, because the summer crowds have yet to arrive in port. 

June in Alaska

Those summer crowds really make their first appearance in June, because this is the start of the high season. That said, we loved being there in early June. It’s not quite high season yet but everything is open and operating again.

This is not the best time to visit Alaska if you want the most popular places, such as Denali National Park or the famous glaciers around either Juneau or Anchorage, to yourself. 

Remember though, that Alaska is a vast place and there is so much more to see than just the tourist hot spots. We booked a trip to Bear Camp in Lake Clark National Park in the first week of June and were the first group to visit that year.

Take the time to head north, and you’ll quickly find the cruise crowds dissipate, and you’ll have the backcountry all to yourself.

Go to Fairbanks or head to the Kenai Peninsula, or better yet, head far, far north for the Midnight Sun in the Arctic Circle, where the sun never sets for most of the month of June. 

July in Alaska

July is still peak season and it’s still the height of summer in the state. If you’re looking to explore the national parks and to go hiking then this is the best time to visit Alaska. 

All the national parks are now well and truly open as the snow has melted in most locations, and you can enjoy trekking deep into Denali National Park or even attempt to summit Mount Denali if mountaineering is your pursuit of choice. 

The days are long and there is little darkness in July, and you’ll find wildlife everywhere, both in the oceans and on land.

For an off-the-beaten-track experience, take a cruise to the little-visited Aleutian Islands, which are glorious this time of the year.

August in Alaska

In August, the days begin to get slightly colder but there’s still a lot of daylight, with sunshine averaging around 18 hours per day across the state. The next time we visit Alaska, we want to go in August.

The wildlife is out and about and enjoying the weather before the short autumn soon arrives and before Alaska is then plunged into darkness when winter begins all too soon.

The last of the summer crowds are here in August, but by the end of the month, things are getting quieter.

This is a great last chance to enjoy the best of the national parks and outdoor activities in Alaska, while the waters off the coast will be teeming with humpback whales and orcas.

September in Alaska

As early as September the beautiful summer weather is gone, but it’s prefaced with a resplendent autumnal glow across the state. 

The wildlife is very active in September, and this is the best time to visit Alaska to see the wildlife preparing for their winter hibernation, by stocking up on food and hunting. 

You might have the chance to see the Northern Lights too, but you’ll need to head up north and get lucky.

The nights are getting longer but there’s still plenty of daylight too, and none of the summer crowds of the previous few months either.

October in Alaska

By October, winter is almost upon Alaska, and the days are getting much shorter and the nights are much longer. 

Wildlife begins to slow down in the wilderness and you’ll have a harder time spotting them in the wild as they prepare for the cold weather. 

This is very much a shoulder season meaning that there are few other tourists around.

Unfortunately, this is also a transition month and not just in terms of the weather but in terms of tourist activities too.

Many summer activities such as hiking are difficult now, while there’s also not much snowfall, meaning winter activities have yet to actually begin.

All of this ensures that October isn’t the first choice for many travelers and really isn’t the best time to visit Alaska. 

November in Alaska

November sees the beginning of winter and the start of heavy snowfall across the state. 

The days are much shorter now and temperatures are extremely low, especially at night time. 

You’ll have a great chance of seeing the Northern Lights however and winter activities will be in action, and you can enjoy snowshoeing and dog sledding. 

December in Alaska

December is a dark time to be in Alaska, but if you’re after a true winter escape and a guaranteed white Christmas, then this would make for an unusual getaway. 

Be prepared to be cold, but also be prepared for unique winter experiences. Stick to the south for better weather, and because you’ll have a high chance of seeing the Northern Lights too, rather than needing to venture too far north. 

You might also like:

  • 27 Things You Should Know About Alaska Before You Visit
  • Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska: Ultimate Planning Guide
  • Ultimate Guide to Visiting Chena Hot Springs
  • Denali State Park Heli-Hiking Adventure in Remote Alaska

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Travel planning resources, about david stock.

I have always been an outdoorsman so becoming an adventure traveler was just the next natural step. I love nature, I love to get off the beaten path and I like to explore. I enjoy scuba diving and cars. And yes, Lina and I have a naked dog.

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' class=

I dint want to go when it’s cold outside on deck of ship. I dint mind “sweater “ weather.

I would be interested is seeing whales if this makes a difference in what months are best.

Any advice would be appreciated

' class=

Yes, mid-August is a good time.

If you mean humpbacks, the best places for whale-watching tours are Juneau and Icy Strait Point . You might also see some from your cruise ship if you spend a lot of time out on deck or in a forward lounge watching for them--but those will be just short glimpses as your ship passes by.

Are you taking a round trip cruise , or a one-way from Vancouver to Seward or Whittier to include a few days landtour?

  • august weather? 7:18 am
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Alaska Hotels and Places to Stay

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best time to visit homer alaska

best time to visit homer alaska

21 Best Things To Do in Alaska You Can’t Miss

T he area that we now call Alaska, or the 49th state, was thought to be “discovered” in 1741 by a team of Russian expeditioners. However, it is believed by most to have been populated with humans as far back as 15,000 years ago by people following herd animals across the Bering Land Bridge. 

The United States bought Alaska in 1867 for $7.2 million dollars, which averaged about 2 cents per acre, but didn’t officially become the 49th state until 1959, nearly 100 years later. As part of the Gold Rush in the 1800s, more than 150,000 people moved to Alaska for a chance to get rich. The discovery of oil brought another flood of people in and the infamous Alaskan Pipeline was built. 

Native Alaskans still make up a huge number of the population and tribes continue to live off the land, abide by their own laws, and pride themselves in their diversity throughout their culture and their traditional ability to hunt, fish, and gather food while intertwining with modern-day living.

Alaska is known for its extreme beauty and endless adventures. It is one of my favorite states and I find myself returning multiple times throughout the year. 

Here are 21 things to do in Alaska that you’re not going to want to miss.

VISIT WITHIN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE

Not many people can say they have been to the Arctic Circle or swam in the Arctic Ocean, however, there are several tours in Alaska that provide this experience. The Arctic Circle is an imaginary circle around the top of the globe which marks the northernmost point where the sun appears above the level of the horizon on the winter solstice. This means the sun is above the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year, making it visible at midnight and below the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year.

To get to the Arctic Circle, you have to drive 400 miles of the Dalton Highway . This dirt road follows the Alaskan Pipeline all the way to Prudhoe Bay where you can take a dip in the Arctic Ocean. Not many rental cars are allowed up the highway and you have to have special permission to get into Prudhoe Bay so booking a tour is one of the easiest ways to gain this experience. 

Other things to do in the Arctic Circle, depending on the season, include seeing the northern lights, rafting, hiking, fishing, dog mushing, wildlife viewing, and gorgeous photo opportunities. 

Ready to see more? Try one of these fun tours in Alaska!

  • Talkeetna: Denali Southside Explorer Scenic Air Tour . Join a scenic tour by air offering a bird’s eye view of the wonders of Denali National Park and the Alaska Range on this once-in-a-lifetime plane ride adventure.
  • Kenai Fjords National Park 6-Hour Cruise . Explore the world of whales, wildlife, and glaciers on an incredible cruise through the Kenai Fjords National Park. Enjoy the unparalleled beauty of the pristine Alaskan waters onboard a stable, high-speed catamaran.
  • Fairbanks: Gold Dredge 8 Historic Train Tour. Travel back to the gold rush era on a tour of the Gold Dredge 8 gold mining site. Uncover the secrets of the gold fields, try gold panning and enjoy a scenic ride on the Tanana Valley Railroad.

ICE HIKE IN KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK

Kenai Fjords National Park is open all year, though exploring in winter requires a bit more planning. The park contains 40 glaciers, hiking trails, whale watching opportunities, mountaineering, ice climbing, dog mushing, snowmobiling, fat bikes, cross country skiing, and kayaking. You can explore the park on your own or take a guided tour.

Kenai Fjords is thriving with wildlife in all seasons. It is home to 191 species of bird, bears, beaver, coyote, mountain goat, river otter, snowshoe hare, little brown bat, lynx, hoary marmot, marten, mink, moose, meadow jumping mouse, northern bog lemming, porcupine, gray wolf, wolverine, Dall’s porpoise, harbor porpoise, Steller sea lion, harbor seal, orcas, fin whale, gray whale, humpback whale, minke whale, and sei whales.

Read More: 9 ALASKA NATIONAL PARKS YOU’VE GOT TO EXPLORE

SEE THE BEARS AT KATMAI NATIONAL PARK

Katmai National Park was originally designated as a national park to protect the geological features created by one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions ever recorded. Today, Katmai is famous for bear viewing. It’s home to thousands of brown bears and is a popular park to watch bears catch fish during the summer salmon run. The best time to see bears is June through September.

In addition to bears, the Katmai National Park is a great place to go birding and is considered one of the best places in North America to watch migratory birds. The park is also home to 42 species of mammals including wolves, whales, and caribou. 

WHALE WATCH MULTIPLE DIFFERENT SPECIES OF GIANTS

The waters surrounding Alaska provide shelter and food for some of the world’s giants. The most common species of whales spotted in Alaska are Orcas, sometimes referred to as killer whales, humpback whales, gray whales, and fin whales. More rare sightings of beluga, blue, sperm, and minke whales can also occur. 

You can spot whales in the Gulf of Alaska, the Bering Sea, and the Beaufort Sea. The most common and accessible areas to whale watch are Resurrection Bay, Juneau, Icy Strait, Beluga Point, Prince William Sound, Gustavus, Sitka, and Wrangell. There are dozens of whale watching tours throughout Alaska if you want to get up close and personal with these gentle giants.

The best months to visit Alaska for whale watching are May through September. 

RIDE THE ALASKA RAILROAD

One of the most popular ways to explore Alaska is by railroad. The Alaskan Railroad runs from Seward to Fairbanks, crossing 470 miles. Described as one of the most beautiful railways in the world, the Alaskan Railroad offers several tours and even trains. The main tours include The Coastal Classic, The Denali Star, Glacier Discovery, The Hurricane Turn Train, and The Aurora Winter Train. 

The railroad also offers special event trains like the Ski Train, Easter Train, The Fair Train, Great Alaska Beer Train, Fairbanks Family Fun Train, The Hoodoo Choo Choo, a Kids Halloween Train, as well as a Holiday Train.

Looking for more train fun? You can ride on a narrow-gauge railroad from Skagway into the Yukon on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. They offer several ride options, and you can take in the beautiful Alaskan scenery along the way.

Read More: 27 PHENOMENAL THINGS TO DO IN FAIRBANKS ALASKA | Visit: FOUNTAINHEAD ANTIQUE AUTO MUSEUM

WATCH THE TIDE CHANGE AT GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK

Glacier Bay National Park is more than just a national park. It is also a designated wilderness, a biosphere reserve, a marine park, and a world heritage site. It is also the homeland of the Huna Tlingit. The park contains glaciers, intertidal zones, lush forest, mountains, and of course the bay providing endless adventures no matter what time of year you’re visiting. 

People come to the park for camping, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, rafting, and mountaineering. Fishing and hunting are also allowed in the park. Animals that call the park home include Humpback Whales, porpoises, otters, seals and sea lions, moose, porcupines, mountain goats, brown and black bears.

Read More: 24 AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN ANCHORAGE YOU’LL LOVE

WALK ON A GLACIER

Hiking and walking on a glacier is a truly unique Alaskan adventure. Most glaciers in the world are retreating and melting, and this is true in Alaska as well. However, there are several you can still get to and explore.

The Matanuska Glacier is located just outside of Anchorage and measures 4 miles wide and 27 miles long. It’s the largest glacier accessible by car in the entire U.S. Guided tours are available all year long, but winter is the best time to visit Matanuska Glacier.

Exit Glacier is found in the Kenai Fjords National Park and is one of Alaska’s biggest tourist attractions because of its accessibility. There are hiking trails and guided tours that get you up close to the glacier. 

SEE A GLACIER FROM THE INSIDE

Alaska is also home to the Mendenhall Glacier . You can see this glacier from the inside, making it a true winter wonderland experience. 

The Mendenhall Glacier is disappearing at a faster rate than others in Alaska and trekking to and from can take up to 9 hours with steep and icy conditions. Professional guides take you to and from as they pass on interesting information about the glacier and if the conditions are safe enough they will take you through the ice caves.

SOAK IN A HOT SPRING

Chena Hot Springs Resort can be found north of Fairbanks and they offer overnight packages as well as day passes to soak in the natural hot springs.

The resort includes a hot springs lake (adults 18+ only), an indoor heated pool, both outdoor and indoor hot tubs, and a locker area and shower facilities.

While there, make sure to visit and explore the amazing Aurora Ice Museum . The museum was created from over 1,000 tons of ice and snow, and stays at 25 degrees Fahrenheit inside. The ice sculptures are a must-see!

Read More: 27 PHENOMENAL THINGS TO DO IN FAIRBANKS ALASKA

CATCH THE NORTHERN LIGHTS (IN WINTER)

During the winter months, from August through September, the northern lights can be visible in the skies of Alaska. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, witnessing them is a magical experience.

The best chances to see the northern lights are in Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Nome, Anchorage, Juneau, Coldfoot, and Barrow.  

ENJOY A MIDNIGHT SUNSET (IN SUMMER)

Fairbanks is known as “the Land of the Midnight Sun” because every year from April 22 to August 20 the sun never fully sets.

Life thrives in Alaska during this season, you can find people hiking, rafting, fishing, playing golf, and biking in the middle of the night. Flowers, plants, and vegetables often grow larger than those in the lower 48 because of all the sun exposure.

EXPLORE KLONDIKE GOLD RUSH NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

This historical park preserves the history of Alaska’s Gold Rush . The park has a visitors center, a historic district, and hiking trails. The trails range from 1 to 7 miles, with varying degrees of difficulty. 

There are museums on the side as well, including the Visitors Center Museum, Moore House Museum, Jeff Smith’s Parlour Museum, and the Mascot Saloon Museum.

ROAD TRIP THE KENAI PENINSULA

Taking a road trip through Alaska is one of the best ways to take in all the staggering views. Road tripping the Kenai Peninsula is one of the most popular routes, and makes for a great day trip. From Anchorage, you’ll first drive to Whittier where only 200 people call the cozy little town home. There is only one road into Whittier and you’ll have to drive through a tunnel in the mountains to get here, however, it’s important to note that the tunnel is closed at night, so plan to get there before sunset.

Most of the town residents live in old army barracks converted to a condo building called Begich Towers, and there is a bed and breakfast on top for visitors. Whittier offers boat and whale watching tours, kayaks, or jet skis around Prince William Sound. You can take 2 hiking trails that give you breathtaking views of waterfalls, glaciers, and the sound. 

From Whittier you head to Seward, which is a favorite amongst outdoor enthusiasts. This tiny town is surrounded by snow-topped mountains, glaciers and the ocean. There are plenty of things to do in Seward all through the year including hiking, fishing, boat and air tours, horseback riding, sailing, dog sledding, wildlife tours, and much more. You can also visit the Railroad Museum, Sealife Center, and the Wildlife Conservation Center.

From Seward, you can drive to the town of Kenai. Kenai is famous for fishing during the summer salmon runs and spotting bears who are also catching salmon. Kenai is also a great spot for whale watching, hiking, biking, boating, birding, and wildlife viewing. The town is also home to an 18-hole golf course and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Kenai is a beautiful town with views of the Alaska Range and three active volcanoes named Mount Spurr, Mount Iliamna, and Mount Redoubt.

Homer is your last town to stop in before making your way back to Anchorage. Homer sits on the shores of Kachemak Bay and is often referred to as the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World” and the “City of Peonies.” In town, you can find museums, art galleries, fine dining, and shopping opportunities. Once in Homer, you can find adventures like helicopter tours over glaciers, ATV tours, spearfishing, kite surfing, kayaking, horseback riding, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and dozens of other things.

If you’re feeling brave, you can head down to the ghost town of Portlock, and see what’s left of this once-thriving place.

LEARN ABOUT THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Alaska Native Heritage Center aims to “preserve and strengthen the traditions, languages, and art of Alaska’s Native People through statewide collaboration, celebration, and education.” The Heritage Center is open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the winter, and Tuesday – Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the summer. They offer self-guided tours as well as private tours. 

You can take classes and workshops to further your knowledge about Alaska’s indigenous like their history, skills, and their culture that still stands today. The center consists of The Gathering Place for music and dance, The Hall of Cultures, The Theater, and Village Sites.

Visit: Totem Bight State Historical Park

ATV IN THE DENALI NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE

Denali National Park consists of six million acres ready for exploration. One of the more exciting ways to cover the most ground is by exploring on and ATV.

Denali ATV Adventures offer several models of ATVs and several tour options. You can choose from 2.5 hours, 3.5 hours, a 2.5-midnight sun tour, as well as a private tour.

More Alaska National Parks: GATES OF THE ARCTIC NATIONAL PARK – EPIC GUIDE 2023

FERRY (OR FLY) BETWEEN MULTIPLE ISLANDS

Island hopping is a great way to explore all the different islands that Alaska has a claim to. The state has 2,670 named islands, and many of these can be found in the Aleutian Chain. The Aleutian Islands are made up of 14 large volcanic islands and 55 smaller islands. The Aleutians are almost always shrouded by thick fog giving it an eerily and peaceful place to live or visit. 

The Aleutians have several parks to explore, including Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, the Aleutian Islands World War II National Historic Area, Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, and the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. People who visit these islands are looking for solitude while hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

Other islands you can visit while in Alaska are Admiralty Island, Baranof Island, Bogoslof Island, Douglas Island, Kodiak Island, Fox Island, Hall Island, and Montague Island. There are plenty of others too.

CATCH (AND EAT) A MAMMOTH SALMON OR HALIBUT

Alaska is known for fishing, especially its legendary Mammoth salmon and halibut. There are various fishing charters that can help you hook the catch of a lifetime. If you’re looking to get salmon, you’re going to want to head to The Kenai River, Kasilof River, the towns of Homer, Seward, and Whittier. The best time of year to catch salmon is May through August.  

If you’re looking to fish for halibut, check out Seward, Ninilchik, and Homer. Homer is actually nicknamed the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World. The best time for hooking a halibut is mid-May to mid-September.

DAY CRUISE THE PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND

Prince William Sound is one of the most beautiful areas in Alaska. Many people book day cruises through the sound to experience the incredible beauty of this space. Prince William Sound is the best place to see remarkable coastal scenery and tidewater glaciers calving into the ocean.

The sounds are thriving with animal activity as well. You can see humpback, sei, fin, minke, and killer whales, as well as Steller sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, Bald eagles, brown and black bears, moose, and wolves. 

DRIVE THE SCENIC SEWARD HIGHWAY

The drive from Anchorage to Seward along the Seward Highway is one of the most alluring drives in the country. The 2-lane highway is 123 miles and takes about 3 hours to complete. The highest pass is at Turnagain Pass with an elevation of 1,015 feet.  The highway runs along the Turnagain Shoreline, with the snow-capped Chugach Mountains on the opposite side. 

During the drive, there are plenty of stop-offs you can make to experience different activities or take in your surroundings. The best places to stop are Turnagain Arm, Potter Marsh, McHugh Creek & Falls, Beluga Point, Indian Valley Mine National Historic Site, Bird Creek, Virgin Creek Falls, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Portage Lake, Hope, Tenderfoot Creek & Summit Lake, Moose Pass, Kenai Lake, Exit Glacier/ Harding Icefield/ Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward, and Resurrection Bay.

The road can be hazardous all year round, so make sure you check the road conditions before and during your drive.

DOG-SLED (OR MUSH) LIKE AN IDITAROD PRO

Mushing, also known as dog sledding, is a huge part of Alaskan history and still is today. Sled dogs are considered top-notch athletes and are treated as such, especially during the winter racing season. During races, dogs are constantly checked by veterinarians and are only allowed to run if they are happy and healthy. 

When a dog doesn’t want to run anymore, they are put into retirement and are put up for adoption. I have a retired sled dog and he is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. If you are interested in rehoming a sled dog, you can get more information by emailing me at [email protected].

The most famous sled dog race is called the Iditarod, and it runs every year in March. The race honors a miraculous venture that a team of 20 mushers and 100 dogs completed in 1925. Diphtheria was causing many deaths. At -40 degrees, flying the life-saving medication was impossible and so the dogs went.

Dog sledding is a must-do when visiting Alaska and there are various places to book an experience with most tours running all year long. You can find mushing kennels, no matter what area of Alaska you’re traveling in.

SEE A VOLCANO AND GLACIER IN ONE DAY

Seeing a volcano and glacier is a pretty epic experience that you can only do in Alaska, as it has the largest volcanoes and greatest concentration of glaciers in North America. Wrangell–St. Elias National Park And Preserve is the largest U.S. national park, and is larger than six Yellowstone parks put together. 

The park has more than one active volcano and dozens of glaciers. In the park, you can find guided ranger tours, backpacking, day hiking, mountaineering, boating, hunting and fishing, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. 

Many animals call the park home, including Dall sheep, moose, brown, black, and polar bears, lynx, wolverine, fox, coyotes, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, porpoises, and whales.

Things To Do in Alaska FAQ

What are the most popular activities to do in alaska.

Some of the most popular things to do in Alaska include taking a tour, visiting a glacier, whale watching, exploring one of the national parks, and camping.

What are some of the things Alaska is best known for?

Alaska is best known for its sourdough, wildlife, gold mining, the Iditarod dog race, fishing and seafood, and its numerous outdoor adventures. It’s also known for its amazing natural beauty.

When is the best time of year to visit Alaska?

The best time of year to visit Alaska is the summer months. In the summer, you’ll find milder temperatures during the day, plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, and lots of sunlight.

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO ALASKA

  • YOUR ALASKA VACATION
  • ANCHORAGE: 24 Amazing Things To Do In Anchorage You’ll Love
  • FAIRBANKS: 27 Phenomenal Things To Do In Fairbanks Alaska
  • NATIONAL PARKS: 9 Alaska National Parks You’ve Got To Explore

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Alaska House passes operating budget with dividend around $2,300, extra school funding

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Rep. DeLena Johnson, R-Palmer, speaks about the House's operating budget before it advanced to the Senate on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Juneau. "The word of the day is 'compromise,'" she said. (Sean Maguire/ADN)

JUNEAU — The Alaska House advanced the operating budget to the Senate on Thursday with an almost $2,300 Permanent Fund dividend and $175 million in extra one-time school funding.

House Republicans responsible for crafting the budget said Thursday that their plan would not require drawing from savings. But leaders of the Senate majority, along with members of the House minority, have said the budget draft would lead to a more than $276 million deficit because it does not account for some expected pieces of legislation and $550 million in state infrastructure spending that is poised to pass the Senate later this week.

The budget passed along caucus lines on a 23-17 vote, with all members of the Republican-led majority caucus in favor of the spending plan. All 16 members of the Democrat-dominated minority voted no, along with Wasilla Republican Rep. David Eastman, who doesn’t sit with either caucus.

“We have a balanced budget and the word of the day is ‘compromise,’” said Palmer Republican Rep. DeLena Johnson, who manages the operating budget in the House. “Good compromise is reached when no one is particularly happy with the final product.”

Johnson called the budget a “collaborative project” and “far from perfect.”

Taking into account the expected size of the capital budget, expenditures on energy and required elements yet to be calculated, “this budget is hundreds of millions of dollars out of balance,” said Rep. Cliff Groh, an Anchorage Democrat.

“Revenues could fix this problem,” he said. But the Legislature has not seriously considered any legislation to significantly increase state revenues this year.

Permanent Fund earnings are expected to eclipse oil revenue this year as a source of state revenue, as has been the case in recent years, making the state increasingly dependent on those funds to pay for basic services.

The size of the Permanent Fund dividend again proved contentious. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposed a budget in December with a full statutory dividend at roughly $3,400 per person. The governor’s spending plan would be more than $1 billion in deficit, requiring a substantial draw from state savings.

There has been a broad unwillingness among legislators to use savings to balance the budget. Johnson said Monday that “it was not possible” to approve a full PFD.

”I know some at home may be disappointed with the lower dividend in the budget, but this is the biggest PFD that the state can realistically afford,” she said Monday.

[ Alaska Legislature approves subscription health care bill ]

The roughly $2,300 House dividend would cost roughly $1.5 billion. It is the largest single spending item in the House spending plan, and was cobbled together from a variety of sources: earnings from the Permanent Fund, a revenue surplus from the current fiscal year, and money the Legislature intended to deposit in state savings last year.

Supporters of the large dividend said that reducing its size would have the greatest impact on lower-income Alaskans.

“The people who rely on the dividend the most are the people with the least amount of income in this state,” said Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski.

That view is shared by Republicans and some Democratic members of the chamber, but they have vastly different views on the needed solution. Some Republicans called for cutting state services until new sources of revenue — preferably from resource extraction — could be developed, while progressive members of the chamber said that state services were needed, alongside a broad new form of taxation.

Alaska is the only state that levies neither a statewide income tax nor a statewide sales tax while still paying its residents an annual check.

Rep. Zack Fields, D-Anchorage, called the House dividend “a fantasy” and said it was “completely unaffordable” during Wednesday’s floor session.

The House dividend is unlikely to survive negotiations with the Senate. Sitka Republican Sen. Bert Stedman, who manages the operating budget in the Senate, said Wednesday that the chamber was likely to support a dividend and energy relief check closer to $1,600 per person.

“Their spending plan has a significant deficit, which is concerning,” Stedman said Wednesday about the House budget, acknowledging that the Senate would also need to trim its version of the operating budget.

What’s in and out

The House added $175 million in extra school funding to the budget, on top of roughly $1.2 billion in school formula funding. That would be the equivalent of the $680 boost to the $5,960 Base Student Allocation that was included in the education bill vetoed by Dunleavy — but only for one year.

School administrators have said one-time funding has limited utility and doesn’t allow for long-term planning. The Legislature approved the same level of one-time school funding last year. Dunleavy then halved that funding increase with his veto pen.

Other top-line items in the budget include:

• $20 million for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which is intended to graduate more doctoral students. UAF is seeking to become a top-tier research school through attaining R1 status .

• $7.5 million in child care grant funding, which was added with the intention to boost child care workers’ salaries by $1 per hour.

• $20 million that would be set aside for the Alaska Marine Highway System in case the state misses out on federal grant funding. The Senate has said $38 million should be reserved for the state ferry system to ensure it has enough funds to operate.

• $3.7 million was included for the Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. An additional $3 million in funding for victims of domestic violence was rejected on the House floor. Rep. CJ McCormick, a Bethel Democrat, said that “it’s really hard to rationalize this.”

Dozens of amendments were proposed on the House floor by the Democrat-dominated minority. Some would have reduced the House dividend; others would have boosted extra school funding in the budget, along with funding increases for social services. Most minority amendments were rejected.

On the floor Thursday, minority members complained that the budget had no funding for energy projects as the state faces a looming shortfall of Cook Inlet gas . Rep. Maxine Dibert, D-Fairbanks, said she would vote against the budget because it does not address Fairbanks’ high fuel costs.

“I can’t in good conscience send a budget over to the other body without addressing energy,” she said.

Around $6 million in funding for renewable energy projects in remote Alaska communities was rejected by the House on Wednesday. House majority members said the energy-related funding items could be added to the budget bill that deals with infrastructure projects. The first draft of that bill was adopted by the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday and was set for debate in the chamber Friday.

“There’s a little thing called the capital budget coming our way,” said Rep. Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham.

Over two marathon days on the floor, 137 amendments were written and prepared, but not all were offered. Seven amendments were adopted:

• $9 million to fund the landmark Alaska Reads Act , and pay for reading programs for K-3 students, with additional funding going toward lower-income students.

• $1.27 million for snowplowing in Southcentral Alaska after winter storms crippled Anchorage roads.

• $5 million extra for tourism marketing, along with $5 million for seafood marketing.

• $479,500 to pay for school meals for all school students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals for the next school year.

• $300,000 to help Team Alaska participate in the Arctic Winter Games next year.

• A drug-free zone would be established around a proposed Anchorage homeless shelter. The House approved spending $4 million for that shelter , which would allow it to remain open through the summer.

• Six vacant positions were cut at the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development out of 174 vacancies.

While the budget that passed the House was largely similar to the governor’s December spending plan, House members made reductions or cuts to several programs proposed by Dunleavy:

• $5 million was cut from the Alyeska Reading Institute, a contentious reading facility that lawmakers say has an unclear mission.

• Almost $600,000 was cut in executive pay for the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. Legislators have expressed frustration that a long-sought gas pipeline from the North Slope has failed to advance despite the state’s investments of millions of dollars over the years in the unrealized project.

• $278,000 was cut at the Department of Law to help support investigative grand jury proceedings. A controversial grand jury’s perjury charge against a retired Homer judge was dismissed in February.

The operating budget advances now to the Senate for its consideration. The Senate is set to send the capital budget to the House by Friday, following an agreement made by leadership of the two legislative chambers earlier in the year.

How they voted:

Rep. Jamie Allard, R-Eagle River (Y)

Rep. Jennie Armstrong, D-Anchorage (N)

Rep. Thomas Baker, R-Kotzebue (Y)

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski (Y)

Rep. Ashley Carrick, D-Fairbanks (N)

Rep. Julie Coulombe, R-Anchorage (Y)

Rep. Mike Cronk, R-Tok (Y)

Rep. Maxine Dibert, D-Fairbanks (N)

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla (N)

Rep. Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham (Y)

Rep. Zack Fields, D-Anchorage (N)

Rep. Neal Foster, D-Nome (Y)

Rep. Alyse Galvin, I-Anchorage (N)

Rep. Andrew Gray, D-Anchorage (N)

Rep. Cliff Groh, D-Anchorage (N)

Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau (N)

Rep. Rebecca Himschoot, I-Sitka (N)

Rep. Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage (Y)

Rep. DeLena Johnson, R-Palmer (Y)

Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage (N)

Rep. Kevin McCabe, R-Big Lake (Y)

Rep. CJ McCormick, D-Bethel (Y)

Rep. Tom McKay, R-Anchorage (Y)

Rep. Donna Mears, D-Anchorage (N)

Rep. Genevieve Mina, D-Anchorage (N)

Rep. Dan Ortiz, I-Ketchikan (N)

Rep. Mike Prax, R-North Pole (Y)

Rep. George Rauscher, R-Sutton (Y)

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna (Y)

Rep. Dan Saddler, R-Eagle River (Y)

Rep. Calvin Schrage, I-Anchorage (N)

Rep. Laddie Shaw, R-Anchorage (Y)

Rep. Will Stapp, R-Fairbanks (Y)

Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau (N)

Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak (N)

Rep. Jesse Sumner, R-Wasilla (Y)

Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla (Y)

Rep. Frank Tomaszewski, R-Fairbanks (Y)

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer (Y)

Rep. Stanley Wright, R-Anchorage (Y)

Sean Maguire reported from Juneau and Iris Samuels reported from Anchorage.

Sean Maguire

Sean Maguire is a politics and general assignment reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Juneau. He previously reported from Juneau for Alaska's News Source. Contact him at [email protected].

Iris Samuels

Iris Samuels is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News focusing on state politics. She previously covered Montana for The AP and Report for America and wrote for the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact her at [email protected].

IMAGES

  1. Homer, Alaska

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  2. 20 Unique Things To Do In Homer Alaska

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  3. Top 15 Things To Do In Homer Alaska

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  4. Visit Homer on a trip to Alaska

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  5. 20 Unique Things To Do In Homer Alaska

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  6. Homer Alaska Activities and Attractions to Enjoy

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COMMENTS

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  3. The Best Things to Do in Homer, Alaska

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    10. Explore Bishop's Beach Park. Bishop's Beach in Homer, Alaska, is a 1.25-mile-long peninsula that juts into Kachemak Bay. This bay is the most popular beach destination for locals and visitors. The beach is tranquil and breathtaking. Walking on this beach is one of the best things to do in Homer for free.

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  24. Best time to Cruise Alaska

    1. Re: Best time to Cruise Alaska. Apr 10, 2024, 9:23 PM. Save. Yes, mid-August is a good time. When the ship is moving, it will likely be cold out on deck. Also when the ship is near a glacier, you'll need a warm jacket, a hat, and gloves or mitts. Think "ginormous freezer", lol. On land you'll likely be fine in a sweater or even short sleeves ...

  25. 21 Best Things To Do in Alaska You Can't Miss

    Some of the most popular things to do in Alaska include taking a tour, visiting a glacier, whale watching, exploring one of the national parks, and camping. Alaska is best known for its sourdough ...

  26. Alaska House passes operating budget with a $2,273 dividend, extra

    JUNEAU — The Alaska House advanced the operating budget to the Senate on Thursday with an almost $2,300 Permanent Fund dividend and $175 million in extra one-time school funding.