view of boat steering wheel on the water

Best Places for a Boating Vacation in the US

Trying to figure out the best places to go boating in the US is like trying to whittle down your list of favorite movies – it’s a really hard thing to do.

However, in this post, we’re going to give it a go. We previously looked at some of the best places to go on a sailing vacation in NJ, but now let’s get you out of the Garden State!

Looking forward to getting out on the open water? Read on.

Northwest Florida

Thanks to its unique geography, Florida is one of the best boating locations in the country. The region is among the largest peninsulas in the world and, if it was in Europe, would probably be its own country.

The Sunshine State is a Mecca for center console fishing boats. It doesn’t matter whether you’re after krill or something a little bigger, there’s nothing better than starting out in Fort Lauderdale’s quayside area and then making your way down the coast, all the way to the Keys. You can then come up along the other side of the state, going past all the major cities, and even docking there for a while.

Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay is the US’s largest estuary, located in the mid-Atlantic, separated from the ocean by the Delmarva Peninsula. The region is nearly 200 miles long and 30 miles wide, giving you plenty of room to unfurl your sails.

The Chesapeake shoreline is enormous, with over 11,000 miles of coastline to explore. When sailing, you often come across little coves and outcrops that people haven’t been around for many years, simply because they are so remote.

Traveling north from the bay, you’ll eventually reach Baltimore, where you can dock your boat and explore the city and nearby D.C. This area is packed with rockfish fishing opportunities for those who want to drop a line.

Lake Chaplain, New York State

If you don’t want to head to far from New Jersey, then head north to the border of New York and Vermont where you’ll find Lake Chaplain. This impressive body of water, over 125 miles long, is a popular spot for both beginners and experts alike.

Boaters make their way around over 80 islands, enjoying watersports, fishing, cruising and whatever else they want to do in an area spanning over 450 square miles. Just be warned, Lake Chaplain can get busy during the summer peak season.

Lake Havasu

If you’re looking for a party destination for your boating vacation, you can’t go wrong with Lake Havasu. Located on the border between California and Arizona, the weather in this location is almost always nice. It’s great for speed junkies, with sports boats everywhere, and the whole place has an eternal spring break atmosphere.

Just make sure that you’re insured, while you’re feeling young again!

San Francisco, California

San Francisco on the north California coast is perhaps America’s most beautiful city. Sailing around its impressive yet quaint skyline is a memorable experience.

Thanks to its bay area, the city is popular among regular sailors. However, power boaters love it too, particularly those looking to travel a little further up the coast.

During the summer, there are opportunities for fishing and water sports around the Sacramento Delta. Calm waters closer to land are ideal for water skiing.

San Juan Islands

Fans of the Pacific Northwest might want to head on out to the San Juan islands. You won’t find palm trees and sunny beaches here. Instead, you will be greeted by pine forests, whales, and plenty of crustaceans. In many ways, it’s like sailing in the Cape Cod region. There’s a relaxed and calm atmosphere about the place, as all the coastal towns have their own charm.

For spectacular scenery, head out to Friday and Roche islands. You can also pay a visit to Orcas Island where you’ll find the Rosario Mansion, a great place to listen to old-time music. Note that if you’re traveling up from Oregon through Washington, you might need to buy insurance that covers both states.

Newport, Rhode Island

Rhode Island is perhaps the most popular sailing destination in the US. Thanks to its historic sites and impressive coastline, it’s a boater’s paradise.

The summer is the best time of the year to go. Temperatures are higher and more businesses are open. The month of September plays host to the Newport boat show, which is a chance to see both sailing ships and power boats doing their thing on the water. Afterwards, many attendees like to chow down on freshly-caught crab.

Lake Superior, Michigan

If you’re the sort of person who prefers northern climes, then you’ll love cruising across Lake Superior in Michigan, the largest freshwater lake in the Americas. What’s nice about this body of water is how quiet and serene it is, even during the summer months. The lake is some distance from the bustling metropolis of Chicago and very much out of the way, giving you an unbridled experience of nature.

To explore the backcountry, all you need to do is head to the shore and drop anchor. Here you’ll find many trails snaking their way through the wilderness.

Maui, Hawaii

Maui is perhaps Hawaii’s most impressive island, thanks to the giant volcano at its center. It is also legendarily beautiful, which is why so many sailors are attracted to the area. Boating around the periphery is perhaps the best way to see everything that the island offers, rather than taking its somewhat scary roads.

Mackinac Island

Lastly, if you’re sailing through the Great Lakes, you’ll want to check out Mackinac Island in Lake Huron. It’s a small place, just 4 square miles, but it is a popular location for kayaking, yachting or just having a spot of lunch. There’s a definite maritime culture here that any boating enthusiast will enjoy!