The Perfect Five Day Itinerary for Your Trip to Homer
For many visitors, a visit to Alaska marks the trip of a lifetime. Covering 663,000 square miles of expansive wilderness, endless mountains, and a divine coastline, the opportunities to explore are abundant. While the competition across the state is stiff, we agree; there’s just something special about visiting Homer on the tip of the Kenai Peninsula.
A trip to Homer always begins in Anchorage. From there, take a 30-minute flight or do the stunning 4.5-hour drive to reach us at the End of the Road. (Yes, we are as far south as the Alaska road system allows!) While some might consider us a little out of the way, the trip is always worth it. With beaches, mountains, fishing, (and of course) bear viewing, this small town of 6,000 really does have it all.
One could easily indulge on endless days taking in Homer’s scenery and activities. Of course, most visitors don’t have an unlimited amount of time within their Alaska itinerary. To scratch the surface, we’d recommend allowing for a minimum of three days. Optimally, allow five days and enjoy other highlights to pair with your once-in-a-lifetime brown bear adventure.
Our customers ask us all the time how they should plan their visit. For that reason, here’s what we think is the perfect five-day itinerary for your trip to Homer.
Day 1: Pre-flight Orientation & Prepping for Your Flight
Whether you arrive the night prior or early this morning, we recommend planning for a full day in Homer before embarking on your bear adventure. Whether you are flying into Homer or taking the road trip here, delays can happen, and it’s wise to give yourself a buffer. Unfortunately, if you can’t make your scheduled brown bear adventure departure date, you might be out of luck. We often book up entirely in the summer months.
Now that you’ve planned appropriately and arrived on time, today should be used to get a lay of the land and prepare for the big day ahead. First, you’ll want to come to our office on the Homer Spit for your Preflight Orientation anytime between 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Here we’ll go over everything you need to know for a successful day of bear viewing. Luckily, doing your Preflight Orientation means you’ll already be on the Homer Spit! Afterward, make sure to reserve a few hours to enjoy the views, shop, and grab a bite to eat.
You’ll need to bring your food with you on your brown bear adventure. Head to our local Safeway on the Sterling Highway and grab food for the following day, including water, snacks, and anything else you might desire. If you find that you’ve forgotten some critical item at home, stop by Ulmer’s, our town’s one-stop shop for all things gear and drugstore items.
Day 2: Your Brown Bear Adventure Day!
Today is the big day! You’ll check-in at our Homer Beluga Lake Office (not the one on the Spit!) around 8:30 a.m. for a planned 9:00 a.m. departure. You’ll then spend the entire day with us and return to Homer around 5:00 p.m.
The area of Katmai National Park and Preserve that you visit will be determined by the month you are traveling with us. Follow these links to see what brown bear viewing in June, July, August, and September entail.
Wondering why we recommend scheduling your flight earlier in your visit? If for some reason we are forced to cancel your trip due to bad weather, we will offer you the opportunity to fly with us on a different day. Unfortunately, this can only be provided if the space is available. If you have a few days to choose from, the chances of rescheduling are greater!
Day 3: Grewingk Glacier
Now that you’ve had the trip of a lifetime, everything else is icing on the cake! Still, there are many other must-see and must-do activities we’d recommend while you’re here.
Just a short 25-minute water taxi will take you to Alaska’s first state park, Kachemak Bay State Park. Completely removed from the road system, this is a place of pristine wilderness and scenery.
There are many beautiful areas to visit and various trails to choose from here, but the most popular includes a hike to see Grewingk Glacier. Here you’ll enjoy a 4-5 mile hike over a primarily flat trail to reach the lake in front of the glacier. Bring lunch, have a picnic, and enjoy the serene area while watching icebergs float in the lake in front of you.
Reserve your water taxi trip in advance by calling Mako’s Water Taxi or Coldwater Alaska. We recommend scheduling 4-5 hours to enjoy the trail and lake before being picked up again. Just like your brown bear adventure, you’ll want to bring food, drinks, appropriate clothes, and rain gear. There are no services in Kachemak Bay State Park.
Day 4: Fishing Charter
We’re not called the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World for no reason! Directly off the shore from Homer, Kachemak Bay and the nearby Cook Inlet offer phenomenal fishing opportunities. Whether you’re a lifetime fishing fan or just want the opportunity to catch your own fish to send home, make sure to reserve a full-day fishing charter. Not only are you almost guaranteed to come back with some fresh fish, but with clear weather you’ll be blessed with beautiful views, too.
Besides halibut, our waters are teeming with rockfish, lingcod, and salmon in the summertime. While some charter companies will target one type of fish per tour, others can offer a combination. Tours can book up months in advance, so make sure to book early. There are so many incredible charter operations out of Homer, Inlet Charters, North Country Charters are just a couple to get you started!
Not so keen on a full day out on the water? If you brought your own gear, stay landlocked and fish from the end of the Homer Spit. Alternatively, head to the Nick Dudiak Lagoon where you can target both Silver and King Salmon depending on the month. This popular fishing hole (also located on the spit) is well-known by locals and nearby campers, with bathrooms, a bait shop, and fish processing tables nearby.
Not into fishing at all? Head out for a wildlife cruise to see otters, puffins, sea lions, bald eagles, and more. While Homer doesn’t offer super consistent whale watching, it is still very possible in July and August. Check out Coldwater and join a tour to look for Orcas or Humpback Whales.
After a long day fishing or out on the water, there’s no more appropriate place to end up than the Salty Dawg. A true Homer treasure, this lighthouse-shaped saloon has had a long history in our town and is recognizable across the state. Stop in for a cold one (cash only!), watch the revolving door of fisherman and tourists, and leave your mark by hanging a personalized dollar bill somewhere on the already-covered walls.
Day 5: Beaches, Museums & Dining
Not all of your days in Homer need to be packed with activities and adventures. Make sure to save some time to take it slow, appreciate the views, and dine on some of our fantastic food, too.
In the morning, head to Two Sisters Bakery for a pastry and a coffee and then walk down to Bishop’s Beach. Enjoy the phenomenal views, do some tide-pooling at low tide, or just walk along the shore. If even more views are what you crave, head out on a scenic drive. Navigate along East End Road or up to Skyline Drive to get some of the best mountain panoramas in Alaska.
Alternatively, you might want to learn about our local area at the Pratt Museum or the Islands & Oceans Visitor Center. For more shopping opportunities, head to our local downtown on Pioneer Avenue. Here you’ll find a few restaurants, a couple of bars, and various art boutiques that include handcrafted items from our community’s fine artists.
Lastly, make sure to grab a reservation for a special dinner at one of our top-notch restaurants in town. AJ’s Steakhouse, The Little Mermaid, and Fresh Catch are longtime favorites for something a little nicer. For somewhere more casual, you can never go wrong by grabbing some pizza at Finn’s and then some ice cream at Carmen’s Gelato. For something extra special, make a reservation in advance for The Saltry. To eat here, you’ll board the Danny J for a trip across the bay and dine in exclusive Halibut Cove. Nothing says ‘Alaskan dining’ better than taking a fishing boat to an island to feast on halibut and salmon!