8 Top Boating Destinations for Fall

By October 5, 2023Dock, Explore

Autumn boating is some of the best of the year so whether you’re going fishing or cruising, there’s much to do in many parts of the country where the weather is perfect for late season fun. Let’s look at some getaways that will extend your season on the water.

Aerial view of the Annapolis Harbor | Credit Wirestock Creators on Shutterstock

Annapolis & Edgewater, Maryland

Chesapeake Bay and its 11,000 miles of shoreline is boating heaven with wonderful foliage, food and festivals in the autumn. Annapolis makes a great base from which to explore the Severn, South and Rhode rivers. Tuck into serene anchorages down by Edgewater or head across the Bay to visit St. Michaels with its phenomenal maritime museum. 

Where to dock: Eastport Yacht Center, Port Annapolis Marina or Rhode River Marina.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

The semi-protected waters of the Outer Banks beckon in the fall. Whether you’re fishing on the Banks or cruising the hundreds of bays and coves, you’ll have plenty to do in this part of North Carolina. Visit the charming town of Oriental where snowbirds flock after the summer busy season, or explore Pamlico Sound where the fish are always biting and the trees serve up the best of leaf peeping. 

Where to dock: Northwest Creek Marina, Oriental Harbor Marina or Dowry Creek Marina.

Savannah, Georgia

On the border between South Carolina and Georgia, you’ll find a boater’s playground near Savannah. Explore by boat up the Savannah and Wilmington rivers and check out the Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge and Little Tybee Island. You can take in the history at Fort Pulaski National Monument or go for the nightlife in Savannah itself. 

Where to dock: Bull River Marina, Thunderbolt Marina or Isle of Hope Marina.

Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida

When the weather turns chilly up north, Florida is a natural destination for boaters – just be sure to wait until November when hurricane season calms down and your insurance policy becomes valid in this part of the country. For easy boating with lots of urban cruising, the Tampa Bay area is a must-do. Check out swanky St. Petersburg or head to the outside and tuck in near Clearwater. The warm water is aquamarine, the sugary beaches are white, and you can’t beat the great fish dinners. 

Where to dock: Clearwater Beach Marina, Marriott Tampa Water Street or Twin Dolphin Marina in Bradenton.

Waterfront houses in Miami Florida | Credit PixieMe on Shutterstock

Fort Lauderdale/Miami, Florida

Hang with the superyachts in Fort Lauderdale, also known as the “Venice of America”. For inspiration, visit the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show that’s held each year at the end of October or hop down to Miami and the vast Biscayne Bay where you can gaze at skyscrapers or get away from it all and tuck into a marine campground. Glitzy or glamping, you can’t beat South Florida for sunrises, seafood and style. 

Where to dock: Williams Island Marina, Sunset Harbour Yacht Club or Venetian Marina and Yacht Club.

Florida Keys

The long string of islets below Biscayne Bay is out of this world for flats fisherman, snorkelers and anyone who enjoys picture-perfect beaches and coral reefs with lots of sea life and birds. Visit vibrant spots like Islamorada, Marathon, Key Largo and of course, Key West with its Hemmingway House and bottomless rum cocktails. For the adventurous, a trek to the 19th century Fort Jefferson of the Dry Tortugas National Park is a can’t-miss. 

Where to dock: Stock Island Yacht Club, The Perry Marina, or Garden Cove Marina.

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area | Piotr Kalinowski Photos on Shutterstock

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area

In case you’re not near the Eastern Seaboard, consider boating in the middle of the country. On the border between Kentucky and Tennessee lies the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area with Lake Barkley to the east and Kentucky Lake to the west. With thousands of miles of shoreline, this area offers many marinas, anchorages, hiking trails and fabulous fall colors. The weather is mild and the scenery is fantastic. 

Where to dock: Eddy Creek Marina Resort, Green Turtle Bay Resort or Kentucky Dam Marina.


For a jaunt out of the country, consider visiting the many islands of the Bahamas. Great jumping off points from Florida include Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. Just cross the Gulf Stream and head to the Bimini Islands, Treasure Cay in the Abacos or West End on Grand Bahama. Bimini is just 50 miles from the U.S. coast and the autumn offers calmer seas and smaller crowds on their glorious beaches. 

Where to dock: Bradford Marine Grand Bahama, Blue Marlin Marina in Treasure Cay or Bimini Cove Resort & Marina.

There are many parts of the country where you can boat in fall so why not chart a course to some of the inland lakes and seaside hotspots. Just watch the weather and bring your binoculars for the wonderful colors of autumn.

Share this Share on Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter

Author Zuzana Prochazka

Zuzana is a freelance writer and photographer with regular contributions to over a dozen sailing and power boating publications. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana is the founder of a flotilla charter company called Zescapes that takes guests adventure sailing at destinations around the world. Zuzana serves as an international presenter on charter destinations, safety issues and technical topics. She’s also the Chair of the NMMA Innovation Awards, a member of the American Society of Authors and Journalists, and the Executive Director of the Board of Boating Writers International.

More posts by Zuzana Prochazka