Do you have a special place that never fails to be the backdrop of a memorable time? Do you know the feeling of a “happy place” you can go back to again and again, knowing it will never get old? I have quite a few of those, and they’re on the Kenai Peninsula, aptly nicknamed Alaska’s Playground.
From Anchorage, getting out of town and into the wild is just a short drive south. At the edge of town, after you’ve passed Potter Marsh, you soon round a bend and start driving along curves tightly hugging the Chugach Mountains. To your right is the Turnagain Arm, and beyond that is the Kenai Peninsula. The drive southward is full of visual delights—photo opportunities abound. I never tire of any part of this drive.
Just before Moose Pass, the Seward Highway forms a Y and the Sterling Highway branches off toward the west (and then south). Continuing on south at the Y another hour brings us to Seward, one of the most restful places in Alaska for me. I love to spend time in this small harbor town, window shopping with a latte and filling up with delicious roadhouse food. I always take a stroll on the docks to read the creative boat names and marvel at how far some have traveled.
Sometimes we visit the Alaska SeaLife Center, which is a treat for young and old! Or we take a drive down a narrow dirt road to a favorite beach, Lowell Point, where the sand is black and the crowds are minimal. This town has charm, quietness (as long as you don’t come for the Fourth of July!), and Alaskan beauty that’s hard to match anywhere else. And I honestly can’t decide if it’s more gorgeous in the summer or winter!
Back at the Y, another of my happy places is a couple hours down the Sterling Highway. My aunt and uncle have had a beautiful cabin on the beach as long as I can remember (that's me below at the age of four or so, gathering "pretty rocks"!). Through their generous hospitality we have been able to enjoy it the last few summers. I expressed many of my feelings about the cabin at Happy Valley in this post, so I’ll just add that having family visiting from the Lower 48 only sweetens this special place.
Farther down the road, the highway ends at a town called Homer. This eclectic place captures my creativity, curiosity, and sense of adventure. The Homer world is a mixture of fishing and hippie innovation. It is everything you want in a coastal town but with the addition of being surrounded by incredible mountains. People come for fishing excursions, unbelievable scenery, and a stroll down the famous Homer Spit with all its shops and enticing restaurants. I prefer the less touristy parts of town, but it all captures my heart. I notice that other people I know can’t help but get a dreamy look in their eyes when they talk about Homer—so I guess I’m not the only one.
These places call me back year after year, season after season. They draw me in and invite me to experience the piece they offer to Alaska as a whole. I am so blessed to have these happy places within a half day’s drive.
I'm a mom of twins, published author, editor, amateur photographer, and nature enthusiast with an unlimited supply of curiosity. Come discover the little wonders I find during my everyday life in Alaska.
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