The 5 Best Boating States in the U.S.

Best Boating States

Nearly 40 percent of the adults in the U.S. participated in boating activities in 2012, reports the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Even with that many people on the water, there are more than enough great boating opportunities across the U.S. Almost every state can claim a best boating spot and here are a few of your choices the next time you get the boating vacation bug.


Boating Magazine recommends this state for any boating activity. With parts of the state on the Pacific coast and boasting crystal clear lakes, you’ll have your choice of salt or fresh water boating. The city of Seattle is a good start for your boating fun.

Photo by Paul Schultz via Flickr

Start at Lake Washington and work your way through the Montlake area by the University of Washington into Lake Union. Go through the locks out to the Puget Sound. Head north and you’ll find yourself in the San Juan Islands region. On the way you’ll see cruise ships headed to Alaska, ferry boats, floating homes and many liveaboards at the larger marinas.



Located in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, Beaver Lake is a popular freshwater spot for boaters, skiers and divers. This is a 28,000-acre lake with 487 miles of shoreline to explore. Limestone bluffs line one end of the lake. The lake sponsors many fishing tournaments each year, notes MSN Real Estate. North end cruises take you to see the annual gathering of bald eagles.

Photo by doug_wertman via Flickr

Eureka Springs is the closest major city and consists of Victorian style manors and cottages. The commercial section of the city has an alpine feel due to the steep winding streets and surrounding mountains. The downtown has many quaint shops with handcrafted items for sale. The name Little Switzerland of America has been given to Eureka Springs because of the architecture and terrain.



This state sports many lakes, the most famous being Lake Amistad. Almost a two-hour drive from San Antonio, this lake is one of the most remote in Texas. This is a great lake to get away from it all, located a few minutes from Del Rio and the Mexican border. Because of its remote setting, it is a favorite of houseboaters. It’s also a destination for canoeing, snorkeling, jet skiing and bass fishing, one of the most popular activities on the lake.

Photo by Charles & Clint via Flickr

Ancient rock paintings can be found in caves dotting the shoreline of Lake Amistad. Panther Cave contains an 80-foot wall covered with rock paintings. Boaters can easily get to this and tie up at the dock below the cave. Marked trails guide your way to the cave and its art.

As in any of these states, review the rules and regulations associated with a Texas boating license so you can boat safely. When traveling to a new state, familiarize yourself with speed limits, docking procedures and laws governing staying overnight on your boat.



Lake Lanier is located just 55 miles north of Atlanta. It is a 38,000-acre lake with Gainesville being the largest nearby city. The lake is 42 miles long but only 4 miles wide so it’s easy to plan day trips within the lake and stay on the shore at night. There are waterfront properties all around the lake so there is no lack of amenities.

Photo by downeym via Flickr

This lake is known for power boating and skiing. Fishing brings anglers here from all over the state. There are many islands and little coves to investigate. Large marinas around the lake also rent boats and supplies so you won’t have to take a car-full of equipment with you.



With the Gulf of Mexico to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and more than 600 lakes, Florida provides people with various ways to enjoy their boats. Boat US recommends Tarpon Springs as a jumping-off point for boating in the Gulf. This small, historic town is home to commercial fishing companies and many professional guides.

Photo by kthypryn via Flickr

Travel down the Florida coast and visit the many bayous that jut inland. There are various harbors and coves in which to spend the night. Go for a leisurely cruise up and down the coast and catch grouper, tarpon and redfish for your evening meals.


About the Author: Elaine Robertson Elaine is an extreme sports and auto fanatic, who has a need for speed and a sweet spot for poodles. Her car is rainbow-colored.