Start your trip by flying to Anchorage and stay overnight at a downtown hotel. Consider spending an extra day to get acclimated to the time zone. Ease your way into your Alaskan adventure by hiking the Coastal Trail out to Westchester Lagoon or driving up to the trails leading to and around Flattop Mountain in the Chugach.
On day 2 or 3, drive to Homer, which is on the Kenai Peninsula’s Kachemak Bay. Spend the night at the Land’s End Resort at the tip of the Homer Spit, which is a sand and gravel bar that sticks out several miles into the Bay. However, don’t have dinner there.
Instead, take the “Danny J” across Kachemak Bay to Halibut Cove and have dinner at The Saltry. Halibut Cove is a community built on boardwalks high above the rising and falling tides of the Bay. It is one of the most charming communities in the United States, not just in Alaska, and many visitors wish they never had to leave. The Saltry has just about the freshest and best-prepared seafood anywhere, including local oysters that grow plump and juicy in the cold waters of Kachemak Bay. The Danny J will bring you back to the Spit after dinner. Click here for more about the Saltry and Danny J.
The next morning, get picked up on the Homer Spit by a water taxi and transported across the Bay to one of the lodges in the various coves on the far shore. My personal favorite is Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge, run by multiple generations of the McBride family. Michael McBride recently wrote a book, The Last Wilderness, about his family’s adventures in carving out this special place on Kachemak Bay. Stays at the lodge are for either 3 or 5 nights -- I strongly urge you to take the 5-night option, both because there is so much to see and do and also as a hedge against a day or two of inclement weather, which is always a possibility in Alaska. Click here for KBWL's website.
This is a recreational lodge, by which I mean that it is not focused on any one activity – you can hike, kayak, fish, go tide-pooling or just relax on the deck overlooking the Bay. When my wife and I were there with friends, one of the best options was harvesting mussels on the beach at low tide before breakfast. The chef cooked them up later in the day with lots of butter and garlic and they made a wonderful al fresco appetizer, accompanied by a cold bottle of sauvignon blanc, out on the deck before dinner.
Capacity is only about 12 guests and it would be perfect for a large family group. The lodge is run by passionate conservationists and you will receive an easy-to-digest education about nature in all its local forms, ranging from jellies and sea stars in the tide pools, to salmon, eagles, bears and whales. Your hosts can also make arrangements with one of the halibut and salmon charter boats in Homer to pick you up at the lodge for a day of saltwater fishing, and the chef will be happy to cook your catch for dinner that evening.
When you leave Kachemak Bay, drive back to Anchorage. If your schedule permits, you might want to spend a night at the Alyeska ski resort in Girdwood, about 45 minutes before you get to the city. In the summer, the ski gondola takes visitors to the top of the mountain behind the resort, where there are alpine hiking trails and restaurants.