The best activities are on the beaches, in the hilltop meadows, and on Kachemak Bay. The best man-made attractions all somehow relate to that setting. The art inspired by Homer's environment shows in more than a dozen galleries and studios in town, not including those across the bay in Halibut Cove . New shows open all over town on the first Friday of the month, when restaurants hold special evenings and the entire community comes out for an evening of gallery hopping.

A widely distributed brochure lists most of the galleries in town, with a map. (Find it online at www.fireweedgallery.com/cs4.pdf.) Most are close together on Pioneer Avenue. You'll generally find photography, prints, pottery, fabric, woodwork, and other crafts, since these are small businesses owned by local people trying to make a living. But there is some expensive fine art, too.

Among my favorite galleries are Ptarmigan Arts, 471 E. Pioneer Ave. (tel. 907/235-5345; www.ptarmiganarts.com), an artists' co-op showing a cross section of what the area offers; the Fireweed Gallery (tel. 907/235-3411; www.fireweedgallery.com), next door to Ptarmigan, with true fine art in an elegant, airy space; and the large and well-stocked Art Shop Gallery, 202 W. Pioneer Ave. (tel. 800/478-7076 or 907/235-7076; www.artshopgallery.com), in a two-story, octagonal building that hosts major shows in the summer.

advertisement

There are galleries on Homer Spit, too, among all the ticky-tacky gift shops, food stands, and fishing charters offices. My favorite there is Gary Lyon's Sea Lion Gallery, on the Central Charters Boardwalk at 4241 Homer Spit Rd. (tel. 907/235-3400; www.sealiongallery.com). Lyon's work captures Alaska wildlife in spectacular detail but also transforms his subjects with a distinctively dreamy vision. His gallery is a tiny jewel box of valuable works.

Late March Is Perfect -- On a spring break trip to Homer in late March, I enjoyed spectacular cross-country skiing over deep snow on lengthy trails leading to lofty Diamond Ridge. From there I could see a fleet of hundreds of small boats returning across the bay from a salmon-fishing tournament. We'd spent time viewing the galleries, eating in fantastic restaurants, and staying in a luxurious waterfront room for an amazing bargain price. A smart visitor touring Alaska could combine skiing and fishing in Homer with other March highlights, including the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage and the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.