Seashore, Seashells, Seascape: Homer Has it All

Clam digging is a popular family activity in Homer

Clam digging is a popular family activity in Homer

Of all the excursions we have taken since moving to Alaska, Homer ranks at the very tippy top for family fun.
Ocean breezes, lapping waves, screeching birds, and some of the best fishing the state has to offer.

Located at the end of the Sterling Highway about 225 miles south of Anchorage, on the Kenai Peninsula, Homer is a quintessential seaside town complete with characters that not only add to its charm, but define it.
Since our first visit three years ago, we have returned again and again to soak up some Homer-ism, be it for a weekend or a solid week. In fact, we had so much fun last summer that we are returning for two weeks this July, ready to clam, fish, bike, and lolligag along the shoreline that marks Homer’s territory.

Proudly touting bumper stickers on dusty cars that proclaim “Homer: We’re Here Because We’re Not All There”, Homer-ites are friendly and outdoorsey folks, perfect for the family who is looking for some incredible opportunities for outdoor recreating. Be it on the family-friendly Bishops Beach area, up at the Wynn Nature Center at the top of East End Road, or taking the kids fishing at Barge Basin, Homer strives to make everybody feel welcome and part of the natural flow of things.

The best way to get to know Homer and environs is through the Chamber of Commerce. Their Web site is detailed and staff are always available via phone or email to answer questions regarding a family vacation. While most folks visit Homer in the summer (indeed, the place is literally crawling with tourists May to September), consider a shoulder season visit; that is, late spring or early fall, when crowds are considerably fewer and the weather is still manageable.

A delightful way to spend time in Homer is at one of the many bed and breakfast, cabin, or home rentals available in the area. The Homer Bed and Breakfast Network posts a comprehensive listing of member accommodations, most of which love children, and some even love pets (a bonus for we Alaskans who take our dog everywhere). Some even arrange fishing tours, floatplane trips, or wildlife-watching adventures. It’s worth checking out.

On our last visit, we read the Tide Charts and discovered we were arriving during a prime clam tide; meaning that the tide was very, very low and perfect for digging up the tasty bivalves. Kids love digging for clams; it’s dirty, wet work with a reward at the end. What’s not to love about that? For our 2009 visit, we are timing two good clam tides with a dipnetting excursion (at which Alaska residents can secure many, many salmon with a net) and a halibut fishing trip. Visitors to Alaska can rest assured that for food from the sea, Homer rocks.

We also love Homer for the food. Eclectic, just like the town, Homer has everything from Asian fusion at Wasabi’s just east of town, to good old fish and chips at Captain Patty’s on the Homer Spit. Our favorite breakfast place to grab a muffin and a coffee is at the Sourdough Express Bakery and Cafe along Ocean Drive on the way to the Spit. Mostly we like it because it has been there so long that some friends of ours from Washington State visited 20-some years ago and recommended it to us. But they have great bakery samples they offer everyone who comes in the door, and a huge outdoor sandbox for kids to play in while waiting for a table. Got to love places that cater to kids.

It’s cosmic, it’s crazy, and it’s probably the most delightful place we’ve found in Alaska, so far. For a glimpse into the fishing world that sustains so many Alaska residents, a visit to Homer is worth a little extra drive time from Anchorage. You’ll be glad you did.

Posted in Big Kid, Little Kid, Miscellaneous.