8 Top Boating Destinations for Fall & Winter
Published on November 22, 2021
Places to take your Sea Ray when you aren’t ready to end the season
Cooler weather doesn’t have to mean the end of your boating season. In fact, you can extend your time on the water lots of ways from camping and fishing, to checking out top fall and winter boating destinations from the deck of your Sea Ray.
1) St. Michaels
Chesapeake Bay and its 11,000 miles of shoreline is a boaters’ paradise that can be explored late into autumn. Quaint towns dot both shores, with one more postcard-perfect than the last. Even among the most picturesque, St. Michaels stands out. Just 25 nautical miles from Annapolis, this tourist destination doesn’t disappoint with its fantastic restaurants, romantic inns and one of the best boating museums in the world. You can crisscross the Bay several times on your Sea Ray, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more adorable town than St. Michaels.
2) Devils Fork State Park
Lake Jocassee is the highlight boating destination in Devils Fork State Park near Salem, South Carolina. The elevation here is just over 1,000 feet and it’s at a lower latitude too, so you can expect fall foliage colors late into the season. Best of all, this state park offers secluded boat-in campsites and waterfalls some of which can only be accessed via your Sea Ray, so you’re almost guaranteed to dodge the crowds.
Top winter boating destinations include places that don’t really experience winter and one of those is Bimini. Due east of Miami, the Bimini Islands are the westernmost district of the Bahamas and lure boaters with their tropical appeal and easy proximity. They’re only 50 miles off the U.S. coast so your Sea Ray can make that trip in under three hours, depending on sea state. This is an exotic island getaway where your sunscreen will come in handy year-round so check the weather and cross the Gulf Stream for fun in the sun any time.
4) Lake of the Ozarks
Halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis is the Lake of the Ozarks State Park system with miles of coastline that beckon to boaters. This reservoir has everything – marinas, boat ramps, shopping, hotels, restaurants and great hiking. It may not be ideal in January but at Lake of the Ozarks, you won’t run out of shoreline where to check out fall colors that set the place ablaze.
5) Lake Barkley
A few hours’ drive from both Louisville, KY and Nashville, TN, Lake Barkley sprawls over 58,000 acres. Spanning 134 miles and offering over 1,000 miles of shoreline, this area provides dozens of hiking trails, great anchorages and lots of photo opportunities with bright fall colors forming the backdrop. The weather is mild and fairly consistent in the fall so you can plan a multi-day getaway before even contemplating putting your Sea Ray away.
6) Lake Powell
There’s a surprising amount of boating in the near-desert scape of Utah. One great place is Lake Powell on the Utah/Arizona border. The stark scenery, amazing red rock formations and blue skies are spectacular just about any time of year so chart a course to the desert (a trailer will come in handy) and enjoy the best of the West.
7) Lake Tahoe
Fall boating is better with mountains and you can hardly ask for better high-altitude scenery than the peaks surrounding Lake Tahoe. From September to late October, blazing colors surround this freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Just 40 miles from Reno, Lake Tahoe is easy to access and welcomes everyone to enjoy the show.
Admittedly, California is a big state with hundreds of boating destinations. Whether you’re boating on Lake Havasu, exploring the Sacramento Delta, checking out the Golden Gate Bridge from below or cruising in San Diego harbor, there’s plenty to see and do. One not-to-be-missed offshore winter boating destination is Santa Catalina Island that is spectacular with golden hills and deep blue waters and best of all – no crowds.
There’s no shortage of places where to stretch your boating season so grab a sweater, a camera and your Sea Ray, and make more memories before the year’s out.
Read about winter boating here.