(Your ferry is late, you arrived in Homer early, a trip got cancelled, you need to fill a gap in your schedule. Now what is there to do in Homer with all these KIDS?)
Hike the Homestead Trail: (in non-snow months) To find the Homestead Trail, drive north from Homer on the Sterling Highway. Turn right on Roger’s Loop (now Sterling Loop) across from the Bay View Inn. Watch for the Trailhead sign about ½ mile ahead on your right. Or, drive up West Hill Road to Diamond Ridge Road. Turn left and look for the Trailhead at Rucksack Drive about two miles ahead on your left. This portion of the trail is 2.25 miles long, or 4.4 for an out-and-back.
Hike the Calvin Coyle Trail: This 1 mile loop trail starts in the Paul Banks Elementary School parking lot .5 miles out East End Road. The trail goes to a wooden lookout that looks over the back of Beluga Lake and its wetlands. Good spot to look for moose and waterfowl. Be prepared for puddles and downed spruce trees over the trail.
Beluga Slough Boardwalk: This is a short boardwalk trail that runs from the Islands and Oceans Visitor Center to Bishops Beach. It courses through a salt marsh esturary and provides a good wildlife viewing spot. Sandhill cranes, shorebirds and moose like the rich plantlife available here. Without interpretation along the way, it will only take school children 10-15 min. to hike this trail.
Bishop Beach Hike: Use the public access to Bishop’s Beach and hike the beach. Check out the Beach Etiquette and beach regulations first and then check the tide levels. You can also drop the kids off at Bishop’s Beach and pick them up at Mariner’s Park at the base of the spit. This hike is 1.5 miles and crosses a creek that requires rubber boots and should not be attempted with young elementary students.
Homer High School Pool: 235-7416. Did you bring your suits? Contact the pool for open swims and private pool rentals on Sundays.
Bowling: Kachemak Bowling can accommodate groups. 235-8666
Geocaching: Bring a couple of handheld GPS (global positioning system) units from home and go to www.geocaching.com. Type in Homer’s zip code: 99603, and you will be given directions and hints to a dozen hidden treasures on public land in and around Homer. If you are new to Geocaching print out the About Geocaching and Frequently Asked Questions to read to your class. Remember, for this activity you need to leave a small treasure for every treasure you take out of the cache, and leave a log entry in the cache journal. You may want to split up as groups of 10 or less usually work best for this activity.
Field activities: Pack a couple soccer balls or ask a local school for some, and have a pick-up game up at the fields at Hornaday Park, the grass field at Bishop's Beach or any school field with school permission.
Homer Harbor marine life: If you look closely under the floats by lying on your belly on the docks in the Harbor, you can see amazing anemones and barnacles and other marine life regardless of the tide. Bring clear jars or plastic trays to be able to show things to a group of students. It is local harbor etiquette not to step foot on any boat unless you are invited by the boat owner. Life jackets are available in cabinets at the top of the ramps for loan through the Kids Don’t Float Program if you are worried about the possibility of a child falling in the water.
Historic Harbor Tours: The Pratt Museum offers daily guided tours of the Homer Boat Harbor from Memorial Day through Labor Day. They interpret the history and importance of fishing in Homer, types of fishing vessels and thier catch, and craftsmanship of locally built wooden boats.
Museums and Centers: With a call in advance to let the centers know you are coming with a group, you can take advantage of unguided natural history opportunites in Homer at Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, The Pratt Museum and the Wynne Nature Center.
Wildlife Viewing Platform: Across the street from the Homer Airport ,on FAA Road, is a wildlife viewing platform built by local Boy Scouts. This is a great place to watch moose browse in the winter and also a good place to view waterfowl coming into Beluga Lake in the spring.