Monday, August 8, 2016

Homer, Alaska: Charm and Diversity

Alaska is the biggest state in the country, so it would take forever to list out all the spectacular places a visitor should see and experience. Whether you do a shoreline cruise, an RV trip inland, or a personalized itinerary of your own, you must put American's 49th state on your bucket list of adventure!

To get you started, I'm sharing all about Homer, my favorite small town in Alaska. This was our go-to spot for a weekend away from our home base of Anchorage, and it has all the makings of a perfect vacation. In the fall, my best friends took a yearly girls trip to celebrate birthdays, have some wine, and take a good long soak in a hot tub. In early winter, my family made the harrowing drive in the falling snow to cuddle up in a B&B and watch the moose from the big bay window as they foraged for the last bits of green. And of course, summer is best. That's when we pulled the boat out there and headed out on the water to explore little island coves, fish to our heart's content, and eat the best fresh seafood dinner as the sun set around us. I'm telling you, a Homer vacation is one for the books!

TRAVEL: Homer is just a short four hour drive down from Anchorage, practically a straight shot with only two turns the whole way. A large part of your drive will be along the Seward Highway with some of the most gorgeous views you've ever seen. In the winter, the weather may get iffy, so be sure to check the forecast in advance. STAY: Depending on the vibe you want for your Homer getaway, choose from a variety of lodging options. My favorite is Kenai Peninsula Suites where you can enjoy the rustic Alaskan wilderness with a little bit of extra comfort. The property leads right up to a cliff face offering unbelievable views of the water (plus sunsets!) and depending on which cabin you book, you could even glimpse the water from your own window. The cabins are modern and tastefully decorated, and the hot tub outside doesn't hurt either. This option is best for: large groups, privacy, modern conveniences.

Another place we've stayed is Halcyon Heights B&B, nestled up on the hill above the town. The owners are super sweet and the husband is a wealth of Alaskan knowledge. (Warning: he will make you watch a mini-documentary on one of his favorite Alaskan parks!) The house is ecclectic and a bit outdated in decor, but the warmth of the hosts and the views from the windows will make up for it. You'll be certain to enjoy your breakfast spread, and likely to see some wildlife outside as you eat it. This option is best for: couples only looking for one room, moose sightings, available hosts to give advice on local places/events. Finally, you can be really young and Alaskan and try camping on the Spit. You won't have much space and it could be noisy, but small seafood shacks, local bars, and plenty of fishing fun will be right on your doorstep. The Spit is the most famous part of Homer, a long skinny stretch of land that juts out into the water. Lined on either side with all kinds of local Alaskan shops and eateries, you will squeeze your camp site right in along the side. The option is best for: adventurous sorts, cheap digs, unobstructed views and quick access to the water.

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EAT: My husband and I like to say we travel for the food, so Alaska was a dream for these two seafood lovers. While we certainly haven't even scratched the surface of all restaurants in Alaska, we have to say we've tried a lot and Homer still wins as offering our favorites. If you're not into seafood, don't worry. There are plenty of options for you too! AJ's Oldtown Steakhouse and Tavern has an amazing burger. Giant size and tasty too. My favorite is the bacon one-- and I'm the type to order the same tried-and-true menu item each time-- but between all my family and friends, I think we've tried them all. Bonus: they have someone playing the piano every night. Whether romantic or comical... depends on the night! Cafe Cups is the best seafood place in town, in our humble opinion. In fact, this was the best meal we've had in Alaska, and that's saying something. The restaurant is known among our friends for having terrible service, but if you can get past the pretentious servers, you'll find yourself in foodie heaven.

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The Saltry is on an island off the coast of Homer. We put out from the Spit and sailed just across the water to explore Halibut Cove, and finished our day's adventure with dinner at this classy local joint. Normally, you need to make reservations in advance, but they took pity on our hungry party and let us stay since it was a slow night. Thank goodness, or we might have missed out on some of the freshest seafood around. I especially liked their unique take on some dishes, as Alaska can sometimes be a bit behind the times in cuisine and style. Other notables: Maura's for brunch, Two Sisters for lunch.
PLAY: In continuation of my last recommendation, I have to suggest Halibut Cove as the best activity for a trip to Homer. Sure, there is the eating, drinking, hiking, and fishing all in Homer itself. But you can find that in most Alaskan towns. Make your vacation special by adding on Halibut Cove, either by taking your own boat out or getting a ticket for the daily ferry. It's an island of grassy hills connected with miles of boardwalk so you can stretch your legs on a easy "hike" and enjoy the views without feeling like you need to keep your eyes down on the trail. There are about 20 year-round residents-- double in the summer-- which gives it such a peaceful, laid-back atmosphere.

Overall, I can't say enough good things about the wild Last Frontier and all the hidden gems it holds. Alaska should be on everyone's bucket list! And while you're at it, might as well add this cute seaside town to the list as well ;) Homer has enough charm and diversity for everyone, with any taste!


About the Author

Linda Murphy's life mission is to see the world, know humanity, and feel the reality of God. She and her husband are currently living their dream of traveling the world full-time, and The Wild Rumor is where she shares honest stories of their journey together.


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