We met a nice lady at Homer Spit who was vacationing with her husband who was a Family Doctor. We told her we were on our way up to Kenai, and she told us that we should not miss passing by the Russian Orthodox Church at Ninilchik which is one of the most photographed places in Alaska.
Ninilchik is small and you won't miss the sign that leads to the Church which is actually beside a graveyard with Russian names. Apparently, a Russian missionary family moved to Ninilchik in 1847 and there are still descendants of this family in the area. There are still services being held at the Church which was designed by a local architect and the building itself was dedicated in 1901.
Beside the Church is a great view of the river and also a nice photo area. A must-stop when driving from Homer to Kenai!
The historical Pratt House is just off the Sterling Highway (Homer Bypass) on Pioneer Avenue near the Pratt Museum. It is now the Homer Hostel. It was the home of Sam and Vega Pratt, who were married in 1936. Construction on the house started in 1939. Both worked in the commercial fishing industry but they were also both artists. They opened a small retail craft and gift shop next door in 1947. It was known as "Vega's House." They sold art supplies and other merchandise, so it was like a small department store. Today it is the Expresso Express and sits between the big house and the museum that Sam and Vega were instrumental in founding.
Just before you drive out onto the Homer Spit there is a commercial area called Lighthouse Village. There are cabins, which I think are pretty popular (I did not stay there). There is also a pizza place called "Starrvin Marvin's." One thing for sure, the view of Kachemak Bay is great from there. BTW, the road to Smokey Bay Air, Kachemak Drive, is across the street.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle along the Homer Spit Road, just park (sometimes easier said than done) and take a short walk down to the beach. Don't expect soft sand and warm water; however, the views are spectacular. Compared to up by the road, it is a totally different world.
The Homer post office is located at the intersection of Heath Street and the Homer Bypass Road (Sterling Highway) near Bishop's Beach. This is kind of a strange coincidence. My grandfathers would have liked that. Both were postmen and one was a Heath and the other a Bishop! My paternal grandfather eventually became the assistant postmaster in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My maternal grandfather was a rural route carrier in Kansas. I have not been able to find much about the history of Heath Street in Homer. It is probably named after Hazel Heath, who was one of the pioneers who settled the area and a long time mayor of Homer. She wrote a book containing first-person accounts of those early times called "In Those Days."
There is a fun Homer Tribune article about Hazel Heath: “Evidently, some of the things Hazel made out of rhubarb was not, you know, jams, marmalades and stuff,” Clayton revealed. After further discussion with Walters, Clayton said she learned of a liquid called, “Homer Spit.” Daisy Lee Bitter corroborated Clayton’s claims. “We would buy the Homer Spit, too,” Bitter said, recalling a time when her son told a woman at the store he had “Spit” for breakfast. “Finally I had to explain to her Spit was.” And just what was Homer Spit? “It was mostly rhubarb,” Bitter recalled, “spiked with berries.”
Beluga Lake with its associated slough and wetlands is located on the road from Old Town Homer on the way to the Spit. It is a beautiful place but pretty far from anything. There are many float planes parked around the lake. Evidently, during tough winters with deep snows, Homer-area moose congregate in the Beluga Lake wetlands near the airport to feed and rest. The Beluga Lake Lodge is on the hill overlooking the lake and has nice views; however, it is looking a little old. I would check the online reviews before staying there.
As you drive toward the end of the Spit Road, there are three boardwalks on the southwest side of the road by the boat harbor. The first, and smallest, one is the Fishing Village Boardwalk. The Frosty Bear Ice Cream Parlor and the Hole in the Wall BBQ are there. I also noticed that people like to tent camp next to it.
About halfway out the Spit there is a boat graveyard. The Spit Trail runs right by it. It looks like the owners live in an old ship right on site. They must have great views from the upstairs cabin. Also, they may be prepared the best if a 100-year storm hits. Homer Spit is only 19 feet above sea level and 100-year storm waves are estimated to be 30 feet high.
If you can charter a boat for a few days, it may be worth to explore the coastline of the Kenai Peninsula and perhaps go as far as the famous Kenai Fjord with its beautiful landscape, glaciers and sea wildlife. More photos and tips are at my VT Kenai Fjords National Park page.
That is Mt. Illiamna in the background across Kachemak Bay where the halibut are plentiful. This was a beautiful spot to stop and take in the magnificent view. I got a nice tourist to take a picture of me and my daughter that day... they say when the tops of the fireweed bloom, it's an indication that summer is over in Alaska.... ;( But viewing from today August 14, it's 73degrees outside, blue skies.
This is either Mt. Redoubt or Mt. Illiamna on the Kenai Penninsula. My favorite drive in the world. Here it is August 8th, and it must be in the mid 70's today, we decided to stop and play tourists in our own state... and we had a lot of fun, actually we got a nice tourist to take our photo of the mtn in the background along with the fireweed, which in alaska, they say when the bloom reaches the top, it's the end of summer :( We went to Homer which is a 4hr drive south of Anchorage and camped along a bluff, Stariski campground, there are 17 campspots and first come first serve, each has a bench to eat on and a firepit, bring your own wood. And a potty facility and a well pump to wash up at. This is very scenic and beautiful drive and plenty to do and see.
Other than Homer, there are many small and interesting towns in Kenai Peninsula such as Seward, Alyeska etc. Do take time to explore these towns and their surroundings to experience the true beauty of the Kenai Peninsula.
So many visitors focus on Homer's Spit, and the town itself if full of charm. If you enjoy coffee. Try "Cafe Cups" in the town of Homer.
I feel kind of funny building an Off the Beaten Path about the main drag of Homer, but so many travellers miss it, and I didn't have an OTBP tip yet.
162 W Pioneer Ave
Homer, AK 99603
Take a local water taxi accross Kachemak Bay and be dropped of at one of many trailheads on the beach. Choose a trail appropriate for your ability- there is a variety. Hike to the Glacier and walk carefully on ice thousands of years old. Don't forget your camera. Plan your trip for the tides. Be prepared for any weather and ALWAYS carry mosquito repellant! Be aware there may be bears and prepare accordingly. Be sure someone knows where you are going- your route and return time.
You can do some simple trekking around Homer and the cool weather will make it a relaxing experience. Just need to beware of wild animals.