Best Fall Boating Destinations

Trying to decide just where to point your bow in Fall 2023? We review the top U.S. locations trending for this Fall.

As the summer months come to an end, it doesn’t mean your boating adventures have to. Late September through early November offer some of the best times to marvel at nature’s stunning fall foliage while experiencing some of the top boating destinations in the U.S. Get your boating fix in before winter and encounter less crowded waterways, incredible scenery, and crisp weather — perfect for outdoor activities. Here are the top boating destinations to add to your bucket list this season.

Annapolis, Maryland

Stretching over 533 miles and nestled in the heart of Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis is one of the most popular boating destinations in the world. From St. Michael and Rockhall to Chestertown, Annapolis is the ultimate playground for boaters. The fall season is one of the best times to visit as the city provides many fall foliage viewpoints including, the C&O Canal National Historical Park, the U.S. National Arboretum, Sugarloaf Mountain, and many more. The town also participates in several activities including, boat shows, festivals, ghost tours, and much more. On-land, the quaint city promotes plenty of shopping, entertainment, and dining selections.

Newport, Rhode Island

Boating and Newport have always been, and probably always will be, synonymous. From every vantage point you can glimpse water and boats, and hear the familiar sound of seagulls flying overhead. And, the historic Newport Harbor is like a trip back in time, to a village filled with artisan shops, friendly faces and outstanding seafood restaurants. Needless to say, boaters are treated like royalty and welcomed with open arms. While there, be sure to explore the beauty of New England’s coastline and even join in one of the many waterfront festivals. While in Newport, you can add some adventure with a day trip to celebrate Martha’s Vineyard. From New England’s iconic coastline to Newport’s Historic District with its colonial architecture, it’s clear to see why this is one of the country’s top boating destinations.

The Florida Keys

Without a doubt, a more boat-centric destination than the Florida Keys does not exist. And no introduction is needed for these islands stretching elegantly 100 miles from the southern tip of Florida down through the crystal-clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Most boaters consider the Keys the foremost boating spot on the entire east coast. This tropical wonderland of 800 barely-above-water islands and 6,000 reefs is really Disney World for boaters. And, of course, there is no better way to appreciate the Keys than by boat. Sunshine-filled days can be enjoyed while fishing, snorkeling, sailing, wakeboarding, and water skiing. Or dig your toes in the sand as you sip a frozen beverage. We can only describe the Keys as inspirational. After all, Hemingway spent many years in Key West taking his inspiration from nature, people and culture.

Lake Tahoe, California / Nevada

Located at 6,225 feet above sea level in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the border of Nevada and California, Lake Tahoe is a boating paradise. Fall colors, food festivals, and wildlife are all on display in Lake Tahoe in October. Fall foliage along the shoreline is filled with varied hues of yellow as the aspen trees change color. Those looking to take in the sights aboard a boat have an abundance of options with numerous marina, rental and charter options at their fingertips.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

With an impressive 300 miles of waterways, hundreds of marinas and over 40,000 yachts, Fort Lauderdale is undeniably a boater’s wonderland. It’s a city literally designed for boats and boaters. It’s not surprising that it’s one of the most popular places in the United States for living on a boat year-round. More reasons for its popularity include the sun that shines year-round, the beautiful beaches, world-class fishing, and coral reefs perfect for exploring – not to mention glamorous resorts. It has it all. While there, you can cruise the endless waterways or simply put your feet up and enjoy an ice-cold drink. Or if you want to do some spectacular sightseeing, head to the Everglades. And if you happen to be there in November, that’s when they usually hold the renowned Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Any boater worth their salt will be there!

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is the largest city in Louisiana and one of the biggest ports in the United States. It’s famous worldwide for its unique and distinct everything! And boaters have made it one of their favorite stops. No matter when you visit, you are sure to be welcomed into a festival, parade, or musical event – you name it and they celebrate it. New Orleans takes great pride in its distinctive music, food, theater, literature, and even colorful history. When you step onshore, the contagious hospitality makes you feel like part of the family, especially when they present you with a great drink and a hot plate of food. There’s never a bad time to be in New Orleans. But many believe the best time to visit is from February to May when the weather is comfortable and most celebrations are taking place. Of course, if you’re not interested in the revelry of Mardi Gras, and want a quieter experience, plan to visit in December or January, when the city is quieter.