Travel and Leisure — June 25, 2014 at 5:00 am

6 U.S. Destinations Best for Boating

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathoov/5676152373/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathoov/5676152373/

The U.S. has its fair share of beautiful lakes and waterways perfect for a day out on a boat. And, you don’t need to be a boat owner to get out and about-many marinas offer rentals at affordable prices, perfect to split between friends. Ditch the beach and Get a jumpstart on finding the best places where boating is a way of life. Here are 6 of the most beautiful boating destinations in the country.

Seattle, Washington
Don’t let talk of Seattle’s dreary weather steer you away from this Northwest gem, because there is plenty of beautiful water to explore via boat. From the San Juans in the north to Olympia in the south, hundreds of miles of coastline is protected, giving water lovers not only pristine conditions but scenic views of the Cascade Mountains, forest islands and peninsulas that will steal your heart.

Knoxville, Tennessee
Check out the Tennessee River for some great fishing and camping, as this waterway cuts right through the heart of downtown flowing out to form Fort Lake Loudon and Tellico Lake. The boating community here is serious and big name boat manufacturers such as Sea Ray, Bayliner, MasterCraft and Skier’s Choice test out their latest vessels. During University of Tennessee football season, you will be sure experience tailgating on the water, done by boat, of course!

Palm Beach, Florida
A well-known local weekend hangout in West Palm Beach is Peanut Island—situated in the heart of the intercostal waterway outside of downtown. Once a fallout shelter for JFK during the Cold War in the 1960s, now the island has been revamped for grilling, camping and beach parties. Boats flock around the island’s shallows in the summer for long days of partying in the crystal clear waters.

Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah
You can’t beat this popular boating destination out west with plenty of beautiful natural sights to see and water sports to enjoy. The lake came to be in 1963 when Glen Canyon Dam was built to hold back the mighty Colorado River. Surrounded by gorgeous sandstone walls and copper colored canyons, Lake Powell is a popular destination for houseboats. Explore the massive lakes and waterways, try some cliff jumping from the towering cliffs and find your own secret beach to relax upon—the options for boating here are endless.

Otter Tail County, Minnesota
With a nickname “Land of 10,000 Lakes” it’s easy to pinpoint why this is the state to launch a boat. Otter Tail County boasts 1,084 lakes with rentals offered for every water sport under the sun, from fishing, wake boarding, kayaking to cruising the numerous waterways via powerboat to finding an epic spot to set up picnic and go for a leisurely dip.

Suwannee River, Florida
Florida offers tons of boating options whether you are looking for salt or fresh water excursions, but the Suwannee is a special waterway you just can’t overlook when in the Sunshine State. This historic black river is perfect for houseboat vacations or renting a small pontoon. Make your way down the river and stop off at numerous fresh water springs for diving and swimming. Fishing is prevalent here as well as the wildlife—keep your eyes peeled for huge alligators, turtles, and birds.

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