The Best Boating Destinations in America

Summers spent lakeside are a quintessentially American pastime. You can spend mornings lolling about in Adirondack chairs, wakeboard till your arms ache, and grill damn near every meal. If you grew up with a lake house, you know how sacred days on the water are. But if you’ve never done it, it’s time to get your feet wet.

With thousands of lakes and more than 95,000 miles of shoreline to explore around the country, this summer is the ideal time to finally take that boating vacation you’ve been dreaming about.

If you’re new to the nautical game, you surely have a lot of questions. Luckily the folks at Discover Boating are lending their expertise to help you get in shipshape.

“In general, first-time boaters are likely to have a smoother experience boating in a lake with calm waters, rather than an ocean, which can be choppy and have more complex nautical rules and restrictions,” says Carl Blackwell, president of Discover Boating. “You’ll want to test the waters at a location that’s not swarming with crowds, has reliable conditions, warm climate, and beautiful scenery.”

Regardless of your skill level, Blackwell notes its key to do your homework before heading off on a boat.

“First, identify the best locations for the type of boating experience you’re seeking, be it freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, sailing, cruising, watersports, or personal watercraft,” he says.

Next, plan out where you’ll rent your boat from and if you need a captain for your vessel. (Discover Boating happens to have a Go Boating Today tool to help you do just that.)

Finally, it’s time to pick your boating destination. If you’re a true novice, Blackwell suggests hiring a captain and visiting a spot like Carlsbad Lagoon in California, Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, Indian River in Delaware, or Lake Monroe in Indiana as an introduction. If you’re a waterman, consider these 10 destinations. They make for the perfect summer getaway.

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