5 Must-See U.S. Cities for Boating Enthusiasts

Singer-songwriter James Taylor described boating as an experience that puts everything important in a person's life into perspective. Part of that boating experience is the thrill of traveling to new places. A captain has plenty of destination options when he sets sail, but these five cities are the best America has to offer.

1. Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Described as the "Venice of America," Fort Lauderdale is home to more than 300 miles of inland waterways and is considered the capital of the yachting world. With 40,000 yachts residing in this area, you have to figure Fort Lauderdale is doing something right to attract so many loyal boaters. Boating season is year-around in this area, and there are plenty of nearby destinations, such as historic St. Augustine.

This boating destination offers many unique experiences, including fishing in both freshwater and saltwater, all within 20 minutes of one another. The nearby coral reefs also offers great scuba diving adventures, and Fort Lauderdale is the best launching point to the Bahamas—just 25 miles due south.

2. Traverse City, Michigan

Nestled in the northwestern nook of Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse City offers wonderful Midwestern comfort and great boating in the Great Lakes. It rivals any place in the U.S. for best boat-to-shore amenities and scenic views, and all sorts of recreation activities in the downtown area are within walking distance.

Fishing is abundant in the Traverse Bay area, with salmon, trout, walleye, steelhead and yellow perch among the more popular catches. The area is also a great destination for skiers (both downhill and cross-country) and fishermen looking to ice fish in the winter time.

3. Port Townsend, Washington

Port Townsend is on the Puget Sound, and this should be enough to convince any boater to head to this historic seaport. It is home to the largest wooden boat festival in the U.S. and provides great hiking destinations right near the harbor, including Olympic National Park. One unique feature to this boating destination is whale watching. Take a break from the helm and enjoy a four-hour trip that includes the San Juan Islands and sights of orcas, humpbacks, grays and minke whales.

Nearby boating destinations in the Puget Sound area include Sucia Island, Roche Harbor, Poulsbo, Port Orchard, and Gig Harbor. Poulsbo is a small town that is entirely walkable, while Gig Harbor is known for its waterside dining and shopping, and was rated among the best small towns in America. Sucia Island, by itself, is worth the entire trip to Puget Sound, as it is secluded from the modern-day grind. It is a great place to bike, and is a camper's dream as it offers 60 great camping sites.

4. Annapolis, Maryland

Annapolis provides one of the best maritime history sites in the U.S. The city is the heart of the U.S. Navy, but also provides fun activities such as sailing through Chesapeake Bay. Enjoy an old-time ride on the historic Harbor Queen boat, which provides stories of naval history for the entire family. There are also several pre-Revolution and 18th-century buildings that are part of the boating experience.

Annapolis is also a great fishing destination, providing access to yellow perch, striped bass, bluefish, flounder, croakers and blue crab. With 18 marinas in the area, you'll have plenty of fishing spots from which to choose.

5. San Diego, California

For fishermen, San Diego is the ultimate saltwater fishing experience, with barracuda, barred sand bass, bat ray, bonefish, and halibut. Offering great boating weather year-around, you can book this destination anytime of the year.

San Diego has 30 marinas that range from eight slips to 634 slips, so parking shouldn't be a problem. With the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, and Legoland nearby, there are plenty of things to occupy your family's time onshore.

Don't Forget

Before you head out to these popular destinations, be sure your boating registration and license are in order. Boating in another state usually only means having your home state safety ID card. If you don't have that, you can apply for a temporary certificate.



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