Top Boating States & Destinations

Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 12:00AM


It’s almost summer vacation time and with a successful boat show season winding down, we anticipate 2012 to be one of the busiest for boating vacations, as more and more people look to spend quality time with family and friends while staying closer to home.

Discover Boating has again named the Top U.S. Boating States based on total annual expenditures for new powerboats, motors, trailers and accessories in 2010, and Florida is still number one, followed by Texas, New York, North Carolina, Louisiana, Michigan, Delaware, California, Washington and Wisconsin.

Another report, released by the National Marine Manufacturers Association just a few months ago, ranks each state based on total boat registrations, which we think is a more accurate reflection of boating activity. Here are the states that made that Top Ten list:

1. Florida: 914,535 registered boats in 2010, even with a decrease of 3.6% from the previous year;  2. Minnesota: 813,976 registered boats in 2010, increasing 0.3% from 2009; 3. Michigan: Moved from 4th to 3rd place with 812,066 registered boats in 2010; 4. California: 810,008 registered boats in 2010, which dropped the state from 2nd to 4th, following a whopping 10.7% decrease since 2009; 5. Wisconsin: Remains in 5th place with 615,335 registered boats; 6. Texas: 596,830 registered boats in 2010, 4.1% less than in 2009; 7. New York: 475,689 registered boats in 2010, decreasing just 0.7% from 2009; 8. South Carolina: 435,491 registered boats in 2010, just 37 less than the previous year; 9. Ohio: 430,710 registered boats in 2010, an increase of 1.4%; and 10. North Carolina: 400,846 registered boats in 2010, a 1.2% drop.

Discover Boating has also identified hot spots where boating and water activities are a vital part of the local lifestyle and it’s relatively easy to find ways to get your Monterey out on the water.

Away from the commercial marine traffic and urban bustle of Florida’s Tampa Bay is easygoing Sarasota, just a few nautical miles south. Another popular spot for Sunshine State boaters is Cedar Key, a Gulf of Mexico village known for its bird and wildlife refuge, and of course the fish-friendly Florida Keys.

The marina at Corpus Christi, a coastal city in South Texas, makes an excellent base for visiting boaters, and is also the place to buy Gulf shrimp right off the boat when the fleet returns.

Located just three hours from New York City in the Adirondack Mountains, Lake George is especially convenient for dock-and-dine options, with many lakeside restaurants providing boat slips.

Off the North Carolina coast is the Outer Banks’ Crystal Coast region (Morehead City, Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle and Beaufort) offers pirate history and a treasure trove of fishing and diving opportunities.

Caddo Lake is Louisiana’s largest natural freshwater lake on more than 26,000 acres on its Texas border, with 70+ species of fish, several recreation parks and extraordinary wildlife viewing.

Harbor Springs, located in a sheltered portion of Lake Michigan on the northern shore of Little Traverse Bay, is a scenic setting for cruising, fishing and watersports.

The “back bays” of the 15-mile-long Indian River in Delaware are popular with families, and the Burtons Island nature preserve is just a few minutes by boat from Indian River Inlet Marina.

Carlsbad, a waterfront town just 35 miles north of San Diego, California, has Agua Hedionda, a large lagoon filled with watersports enthusiasts. Gear can be rented at one of the marinas if you need it.

Located 150 miles outside of Seattle in the Olympic National Forest, Washington’s Wynoochee Lake supplies a scenic backdrop for fishing, swimming and cruising.

Thumb-shaped Door County in Wisconsin has 250 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan, and Fish Creek (close to offshore islands and Peninsula State Park) makes an ideal hub.

What are some of you and your Monterey’s favorite U.S. boating destinations?


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