Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming of catching rays on a boat all summer long (especially now that we’re in the middle of winter)? Well, we’re here to make that dream a reality. In fact, there are cities across the U.S. that are quite literally made for those who love spending time near the water.
Don’t let your dreams of buying a boat and heading to a waterfront boating community slip by. Plus, doesn’t the idea of being near the water, whether it’s a lake, river or ocean, sound extremely relaxing? We think so.
When searching for a spot like this, however, it’s important to take into account a few factors – places that have a long boating season, big boating communities, affordability, and accessibility. Luckily, we’ve done all that extra research for you.
Without further ado, here are the best cities for boat owners in 2021.
1. Saint Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida
St. Pete is set on the Gulf of Mexico, where the shoreline is extensive, and the weather rarely drops below 50 degrees. It provides the perfect combination of calming sunsets and adventurous deep sea fishing expeditions.
Essentially, it’s a one-stop-shop for all types of boaters, with opportunities to go power cruising, sailing, offshore fishing, inshore fishing, scuba diving, water skiing, wakeboarding, or really any sort of recreational boating.
There are also several protected bays to the south and east, including Boca Ciega Bay, Tampa Bay, Riviera Bay, Coffee Pot Bayou, and Big Bayou. With many passes to and from the open water, with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, it’s very convenient to move between the mainland and the Gulf barrier islands. Once in open water, there are roughly 200 miles of deep-water residential canals for both sightseeing and fishing.
» RELATED: A Guide to Deep Sea Fishing
2. Naples, Florida
South Florida has what seems like never-ending canals and lakes, not to mention fantastic weather year-round. It’s filled with quaint shops, restaurants, gulf courses, white sand beaches, and galleries. With the entire community coming together around this charming waterfront city, do you need any more convincing?
Naples is located on the shores of the Gulf, along Southwest Florida’s Paradise Coast. Boaters take advantage of the fishing, boating, water skiing and wakeboarding, and the spectacular sunsets. Naples is long known as a hideaway for retirees, but more recently younger couples and families are flocking there. The vibrant downtown and excellent recreational boating opportunities are enjoyable for all ages.
3. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Heading out of Florida and into Louisiana. Baton Rouge may seem like an unsuspected contender, but the Mississippi River and False River Lake make for some fantastic boating. Plus, it’s more affordable compared to the Florida cities listed above.
Back to False River Lake – it’s around 3,000 acres and 10.5 miles long. It’s a popular spot among boaters and water sport enthusiasts. The water is typically calm and glassy, making for great water skiing, wakeboarding, and jet skiing opportunities.
Looking at Louisiana boating more broadly, the water is quite abundant. You can explore the Cajun swamp, go deep sea fishing, or for a more historical experience, head up the Mississippi River. The lakes and rivers are easily accessible, with several boat ramps located throughout.
4. Seattle, Washington
Seattle gives boaters access to both saltwater and freshwater bodies of water. It’s located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean’s Puget Sound (saltwater) and Lake Washington (freshwater).
Seattle is known as one of the largest cities in the Pacific Northwest where boating is a big part of the local tradition. The city even comes together to celebrate the official start of boating season. They’ve been doing so since 1895, complete with a boat parade and regatta.
Elliot Bay is the main harbor into the Pacific Ocean’s Puget Sound. It’s known as a sendoff point for those sailing to the San Juan Islands or Alaska - quite the expedition. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s a magnet for avid salmon anglers and recreational boaters alike.
5. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Lake of the Ozarks is a prime inland boating capital. And for all the late-night Netflix bingers, yes, it is a real place, but without all the drama (shoutout to Ozark on Netflix).
Anyway, this lake covers a whopping 55,000 acres and measures 90 miles in length (woah). It’s the largest manmade lake that wasn’t built for flood control purposes. When boating, you can be sure the water levels will remain stable, making for some great water skiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, or really any kind of water sport.
Other than the standard water sport activities, you can find a lot of residents living on houseboats or on a waterfront property. There is also a 10-mile-long aquatic trail that explores several natural communities habituating along the lake.
» RELATED: The Water Ski Community