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Best Places to Live + Play: Homer, Alaska
National Geographic Adventure announces this year's top 50 adventure towns, state-by-state.   Text by Dan Koeppel

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The Adventure Radius

In town: Sea kayak Kachemak Bay.

Within 50 miles (80 kilometers): The 16-mile (26-kilometer) Grace Ridge Trail, in Kachemak Bay State Park, gains 4,890 feet (1,490 meters) en route to nirvana views of the Cook Inlet volcanoes.

Within 100 miles (161 kilometers): Katmai National Park's primitive Brooks Campground
is set on Naknek Lake, with views of 4,730-foot (1,442-meter) Mount Katolinat.

Where to stay: Two Sisters Bakery B&B ($143;

Where to eat: Homestead Restaurant spices its fresh-caught halibut with chipotle or cilantro.

Homer, Alaska

Find Backcountry Paradise in Homer
- Population: 5,438
- Median home price: $222,300

Big mountains, big glaciers, and even bigger tracts of undeveloped land will always be Alaska's main draws, but that doesn't mean you need to sacrifice your cultural side to move there. Slow-paced Homer, a funky enclave at the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula, is living proof. The town began as a fishing and mining outpost, but more recently, creative types have staked claims here as well. Homer's streets are packed with studios and galleries; its Pratt Museum showcases locally made wares and a rotating roster of marquee-name exhibits; and Pier One Theater, now in its 34th season, features community plays year-round. The most coveted address? Halibut Cove: an artists' Shangri-la eight miles from Homer across Kachemak Bay. Accessible only by boat or floatplane, the cove has no roads or parking lots—just boardwalks and trails leading into a Sitka spruce forest.

Your first introduction should be by sea kayak—there's no better way to take in the sandy beaches, sparkling glaciers, and snowcapped Kenai Mountains looming out of the Pacific. (Watch for porpoises and whales.) Launch from the Spit, a wisp of a shore where commercial fishermen rub elbows with transient fun-seekers. Every summer both compete in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby; last year's winner banked $43,612 for a 341-pound (155-kilogram) whopper.

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