Go ahead and live that boat life--you deserve it.
Covid-19 Disclaimer: Make sure to check the status of the states, regions, and establishments in which you’re planning to visit prior to travel. Many regions continue to see high infection rates and deaths, while many states and counties remain under varying stay-at-home orders. Those traveling from areas with high rates of Covid-19 should consider avoiding travel for now in order to reduce spread.
Ah, boats–the cars of the lake. Nothing screams “SUMMER” like taking a boat out into a lake and hanging out on that boat, perhaps with friends, or maybe even by your lonesome self for some self-reflection. Going to a lake is, during a regular year, one of the quintessential summertime activities. And whether you’re going to fish or party, it’s always a nice time. With summer ending in a few short days, we’ve put together some of the best boat-centric towns in America.
Top Picks for You
Traverse City, Michigan
Traverse City is located on the shores of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, where you’ll find plenty of opportunities for boat tours and sailing and fishing (salmon, smallmouth bass, steelhead, and walleye are common fish here). The bay also has 100 miles of waterfront containing multiple coves and islands to explore. As an added bonus, Traverse City is well known for its wineries and locally produced sweet wines–it’s not called the Cherry Capital of the World for nothing, after all.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
With its 300 miles of waterways and 100 marinas, Fort Lauderdale is certainly a prime boating destination. Basically, this city is boat central, due to the fact that the weather’s usually great, the sun is usually shining, and the beaches are flanked by fancy hotels and resorts. In fact, Fort Lauderdale is one of the most popular places to live on a boat. It’s also home to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, a yearly event showcasing around 1,500 boats. It’s just boats on boats on boats in this city.
Maine is one of the lovelier places to spend a summer, and this lake town is no different than the rest–in the best possible way, that is. It’s quintessential New England here: The town is full of little antique shops and tiny bed and breakfasts. There are six lakes altogether, and boating, canoeing, and kayaking are all popular activities. Many of the inns and lodges are located right on the lakefronts so that you don’t even have to go very far to enjoy said activities.
South Lake Tahoe, California
The southern side of Lake Tahoe is the Californian side and it’s pretty much always a good place to visit, regardless of the season. Plenty of people love to enjoy parties on the lake while boating, but you can boat in peace here as well. Cruises are offered through the Emerald Bay area of the lake, which are usually without the party boats and much more serene. Pontoon boats and yachts are both available to rent.
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
Lake Winnipesaukee is the main draw of this lovely lake town (but not the only one–there are around 200 of them!), and draws in plenty of crowds–including many celebrities. This is one fancy lake town, and by fancy I do mean wealthy. That fact doesn’t make it completely inaccessible to the rest of us, however. The town is a boat-lover’s heaven, with big, open areas for sailing, as well as quieter coves to sit and enjoy the watery scenery.
The Chesapeake Bay is known for its sailing and is pretty much the Mid-Atlantic sailing capital. Here you will find plenty of rivers, inlets, and communities on the waterfront, and there are 12 full-service boatyards, as well as 18 different marinas. Boating, fishing, paddle-boarding, and water tours are extremely popular activities, and you can even visit some old war ships at the Naval Academy Museum. With over 533 miles of shoreline, this is quite an excellent boating destination indeed.
Santa Catalina Island, California
Located 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, Catalina Island has long been favored as a wonderful place to boat. In fact, it’s a wonderful place to get to by boat. In just an hour’s time, the Catalina Express takes you to the area (departing from Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point). Catalina has many protected coves for your boat to arrive at, and the Express isn’t the only way to get there–many charter their own yachts. No matter how you get there, however, your boating options only get better once you’re there. In the town of Avalon Bay (the only incorporated town on the island), for example, the boating and ocean expeditions include options such as sunset cruises, underwater tours, glass-bottom boat tours, and fly fishing expeditions.
This town is away from super heavy boating traffic and therefore a boater’s dream. The lake is still popular, however–the most popular attraction in town, actually. But, hey, that’s how you know it’s good. Camdenton is located among the hillsides of Missouri, and right on a 95-mile-long lake. There’s great fishing and plenty of coves to explore. Boating season runs from May through October.
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
This is the ultimate party lake. Everyone goes to this particular lake to be on boats and do a little party time–it’s essentially Spring Break the city, all year round. Something to remember is that it is Arizona, and therefore will be extremely, hellishly hot during the deep summer months, with temperatures well into the triple digits.
Lake Superior, Michigan
Lake Superior is a much more serene type of boating town. Wilderness lovers cross the lake to get to Isle Royale National Park, which is pretty much only accessible by boat and contains a ton of wildlife and areas to camp. Near the Wisconsin coast, boat-fans can sail to the Apostle Islands, as well as other nearby islets. Lake Superior is truly a sailor’s paradise.