Northeast: Maine to Pennsylvania
Block Island, RI
“The Bermuda of the North” looks and feels the part, with rolling green contours, crescent beaches, dramatic bluffs, and a collection of quaint shops and restaurants in New Shoreham, the smallest town on the smallest state in the United States.
Dock at Champlins Marina, 401-466-7777
Another former whaling town, Mystic is now part artists’ colony, part relic, showcasing several boutique shops downtown and a seaport museum that is home to four National Historic Landmark vessels and a recreated 19th century coastal village.
Dock at Mystic Seaport & The Museum of America and the Sea, 860-572-5391
No tour of Long Island is complete without a stop at Greenport on the North Fork, where you can visit the carousel, wineries and shops such as Preston’s Marine Supplies, a well-known chandlery celebrating 139 years in business.
Dock at Mitchell Park Marina, 631-477-1133
Charmingly simple, but also warm and engaging, Belfast embodies Maine’s authenticity from its historic seaport and downtown district with 19th century storefronts to its nearby lighthouses dotting the coast of Penobscot Bay.
Dock at Front Street Shipyard, 207-930-3740
Another quintessentially Maine town, Camden beckons with magnificent scenery — the fleet of windjammer schooners is stunning — as well as outdoor adventures at Camden Hill State Park and tourist-friendly shops, dining and lodging.
Dock at Lyman-Morse at Wayfarer Marine, 207-236-4378
A short ride from Boston, Newburyport embodies wonder and depth in its small revitalized downtown and scenic back- drops, which include Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and neighboring beach escape Plum Island.
Dock at Newburyport Harbor Marina, 978-265-2508
Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod features sprawling beaches and dunes, beautiful coastal architecture, and a bevy of bars and coffee shops — plus a LGBT-friendly spirit that affords a
feeling of freedom, fun and acceptance for all.
Dock at Provincetown Marina, 508-487-0571
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
It’s been a vacation playground of presidents for centuries, literally, on the strength of its laid-back character, luxury trimmings and postcard surroundings, among them the spotless beach and colorful cliffs outside the town of Aquinnah.
Dock at Vineyard Haven Marina, 508-693-0720
Once the world’s homeport for whaling, this tiny island located 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod now plays host to posh retailers and restaurants, miles of windswept beaches, protected wildlife and nature areas.
Dock at Nantucket Boat Basin, 508-325-1350
A hotbed for the yachtie set today as in year’s past, Newport and its lavish mansions lining Bellevue Avenue are a must-see prior to a spectacular seafood dinner at one of the many A-list eateries along the storied waterfront.
Dock at Newport Yachting Center, 401-847-9047
Mid-Atlantic: New Jersey to Virginia
Cape May, NJ
The entire city of Cape May on New Jersey’s southern shore is a National Historic District, with 600 well-kept Victorian buildings and amazing beaches that have made it one of the oldest seaside resorts in the country.
Dock at South Jersey Marina, 609-884-2400
Rehoboth Beach, DE
What began in the late 1800s as a Methodist revival camp has evolved into a year-round beach community with chic boutiques, gorgeous homes, first-rate restaurants and a fabulous night life. The mile- long boardwalk, named one of the Top 10 in the America by National Geographic, features carnival rides, live bands and a family-friendly seaside setting.
Dock at Indian River Marina, 302-227-3071
Chesapeake City, MD
Picturesque Chesapeake City, situated along the historic C&D Canal, allows visitors to witness maritime at work while lounging in idyllic 19th-century buildings and houses that have been converted into inns and restaurants.
Dock at Chesapeake Inn & Marina, 410-885-2040
Rock Hall, MD
A bay town through and through, the “Pearl of the Chesapeake” offers family fishing charters, a public beach, old-timey inns and waterfront restaurants serving fresh seafood on outdoor decks with a view of the town’s celebrated sunset.
Dock at Haven Harbour Marina, 410-778-6697
Maryland’s capital abounds with nautical discoveries from the Annapolis Sailing School and U.S. Naval Academy to fabulous food, history and shopping at the City Dock, affectionately called Ego Alley for the extravagant yachts berthed here.
Dock at Annapolis Town Dock, 410-216-0347
St. Michaels, MD
Its Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum rests on 18 acres of prime waterfront and features numerous indoor and outdoor exhibits and dockage, all in the heart of a vintage downtown with bed and breakfasts and buzzing brewpubs and distilleries.
Dock at St. Michaels Marina, 410-745-2400
Visitors come for the small-town warmth of this former fishing village and for the famed Chincoteague Island Pony Swim, during which 50 wild horses and their foals are herded across the channel between Chincoteague and Assateague islands.
Dock at Snug Harbor Marina, 757-336-6176.
Tangier Island, VA
An unvarnished waterman’s town, Tangier Island is home to a slender population of commercial crabbers and fisherman who work amid unspoiled scenery and lodging and restaurant options — but, oh, what ambiance and fresh seafood!
Dock at Parks Marina, 757-891-2581
Cape Charles, VA
On top of its bucolic beach, charming downtown and bayside beauty, Cape Charles lures travelers to two signature golf courses, designed by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, and to nearby state parks and wildlife refuges.
Dock at Cape Charles Yacht Center, 757-331-3100
It’s hard to beat Yorktown, part of Virginia’s “Historic Triangle” with Jamestown and Williamsburg, as a uniquely patriotic port thanks to its Riverwalk Landing, Colonial National Historical Park and American Revolutionary Museum.
Dock at York River Yacht Haven, 804-642-2156
South: North Carolina to Texas
Captiva Island, FL
It’s like venturing to the Bahamas and experiencing sugar-white beaches, turquoise water, nature tours, great fishing and shelling, golf and tennis, resort hotels and private cabins — but without having to bring your passport.
Dock at Tween Waters Inn & Marina, 239-472-5161
Key West, FL
With a colorful and independent disposition, Key West is where you go for green-flash sunsets, raucous bars and lively times on Duval Street after a day spent lounging on the sand or investigating unique sites such as the Hemingway House.
Dock at Conch Harbor Marina, 305-294-2933
Hurricane Harvey altered the face of this gulf coast town, but that doesn’t change the clear, clean water of Rockport Beach, the fantastic fishing for speckled trout and redfish, and the appealing Texas Maritime Museum & Aquarium at Rockport Harbor.
Dock at Rockport Yacht Club, 361-729-3115
Sheltered by the southern Outer Banks, Beaufort provides carefree cruising where you can spy wild horses, frolicking dolphin and fleets of shrimp boats before enjoying award-winning seafood and family attractions ashore.
Dock at Beaufort Docks, 252-728-2503
Halfway between lively Myrtle Beach and Charleston lies the off-the-beaten path community of Georgetown, a haven for antique stores and artists’ studios and a great place to go shelling while visiting the eponymous lighthouse.
Dock at Harborwalk Marina, 843-546-4250
Look up Lowcountry in the dictionary and you might find a picture of the antebellum mansions of this South Carolina gem, enlivened by gauzy live oak trees and a rich multicultural heritage unlike anywhere else.
Dock at Downtown Marina of Beaufort, 843-524-4422
St. Simons Island, GA
Consisting of four barrier islands on the Georgia coast — St. Simons, Jekyll, Little St. Simons and Sea Island — Golden Isles offers world-class golf and five-star lodging surrounded by wistful and diverse marshlands.
Dock at Morningstar Marina Golden Isles, 912-509-0969
Fernandina Beach, FL
The City of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island is where upscale Florida resort living meets immaculate beaches, historic sites and captivating celebrations like the popular Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival every May.
Dock at Fernandina Harbor, 904-310-3300 (re-opening this summer)
A true “Old Florida” sort of place, Apalachicola, located east of Panama City on the Gulf of Mexico, has a forgotten- by-time feel epitomized by its 19th century downtown and seafood and oysters served up right off the boat.
Dock at Water Street Hotel & Marina, 850-653-3700
Boca Grande, FL
Boca Grande is known primarily for excellent tarpon fishing and the pirate José Gaspar, who may or may not have haunted the island prior to it becoming a destination where regular folks can rediscover a quaint Florida of yesteryear.
Dock at Boca Grande Marina, 941-964-2100
Great Lake Region: Michigan to New York
Mackinac Island, MI
Mackinac is timeless, with a Revolutionary War fort that offers historic re-enactments and the Grand Hotel, a magnificent 1880s resort with the world’s longest porch. And don’t forget the island’s golf, spas, art galleries and state park.
Dock at Mackinac Island State Dock, 906-847-3561
Learn the story of the rise and fall of Fayette, an iron-smelting ghost town on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, as you tour the 20 preserved buildings and weathered stone furnaces on 711 acres that wrap around secluded Snail Shell Harbor.
Dock at Fayette State Park Dock, 906-644-2603
Beaver Island, MI
“America’s Emerald Isle” takes its name from the large percentage of residents of Irish descent, who love sharing their naturally beautiful land and trails, relaxed air, and historic lighthouses and museums with visitors.
Dock at Beaver Island Marina, 231-448-2300
A bucket list-worthy destination any time of year, Charlevoix is especially spellbinding in fall when the trees turn dazzling shades of gold and Auburn, the farmer’s market sells locally sourced maple syrup and the annual Apple Fest returns.
Dock at Charlevoix City Marina, 231-547-3272
Alpena has exceptional attractions, starting with three dark sky preserves for epic stargazing, numerous shipwreck dives (it’s home to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary) and Dinosaur Gardens, an outdoor park with life-size replicas and displays.
Dock at Alpena Municipal Dock, 989-356-0551
Grand Haven, MI
Gorgeous sandy beaches and towering dunes encourage relaxing and exploring, or you can stroll along the 2.5-mile boardwalk that spans downtown and ends at the south pier and its two lighthouses, established in 1839.
Dock at Grand Haven Municipal Marina, 616-847-3478
St. Joseph, MI
With a history going back to the 17th century, a sprawling beach and numerous restaurants, boutique shops, ice cream parlors, paddleboard rentals and walking paths for exercise enthusiasts, the “Riviera of the Midwest” is a must-visit.
Dock at West Basin Marina, 616-983-5432
Located on the shore of Lake Superior, Bayfield acts as the gateway to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, home to some of the best kayaking the world inside sculpted sea caves, with upscale amenities waiting on shore.
Dock at The Village of Bayfield Marina, 519-565-2233
Sturgeon Bay, WI
Wisconsin’s Door County contains 300 miles of shoreline featuring dramatic lighthouses, five state parks, enticing wineries and breweries, a vibrant music and arts scene, and 19 distinct communities, and it all starts with Sturgeon Bay.
Dock at SkipperBud’s Harbor Club Marina, 920-743-6900
Alexandria Bay, NY
Alexandria Bay and the 1,000 Islands region may be as close as we get to fantasyland in the United States, with 1,864 far-flung islands, some wild and uninhabited and others adorned with stately Victorian homes and colossal stone castles.
Dock at Riveredge Resort Hotel, 315-482-9917
West Coast: California to Hawaii
Orcas Island, WA
As the largest of the San Juans, horseshoe-shaped Orcas Island makes an ideal home base for a languid adventure amid whales, eagles, artists and foodies, starring jaw-dropping Northwest scenery and a world-class resort in Roche Harbor.
Dock at Deer Harbor Marina, 360-376-3037
La Conner, WA
Spring brings the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival and La Conner Daffodil Festival, but any time of year is spectacular in this small town on the Swinomish Channel, which has a warm seaside characterand a colorful array of restaurants, inns, galleries and museums.
Dock at La Conner Marina, 360-466-3118
Port Townsend, WA
It was once a thriving seaport — the largest north of San Francisco — but now the historic dockside buildings house chic residential homes and businesses, from brewpubs to boutiques, with access to the Olympic Peninsula and its snow-capped mountains.
Dock at Point Hudson Marina, 206-385-2828
Gig Harbor, WA
Best known for its stunning maritime village appearance and culture (it’s home to the Harbor History Museum, Waterfront History Walk and Narrows Park), Gig Harbor has that “getaway” feel while still being close to Seattle and Puget Sound.
Dock at Gig Harbor Yacht Club, 253-851-1807
Peopled with artists and other creative types, some of whom live on vibrant houseboats, sunny Sausalito hugs the hillside across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, making it a great opportunity to experience two different sides of this gorgeous locale.
Dock at Schoonmaker Point Marina, 415-331-5550
Morro Bay, CA
Morro Bay has one massive thing going for it that no other California seaside town can claim: at the end of the beach, just off the shore, an ancient volcanic mound rises from state park and creates the perfect environment for Lost World- style exploration.
Dock at Morro Bay State Park, 805-772-2560
Santa Barbara, CA
If the Mediterranean materialized in the United States, it would look a lot like Santa Barbara with its dreamy stucco and redbrick structures offering upscale shopping districts and restaurants serving local wine, backed by the dramatic Ynez Mountains.
Dock at Santa Barbara Harbor, 805-564-5531
Newport Beach, CA
Be sure to hit Balboa Island and its two piers for old-school family fun before (or after) digging into the myriad discoveries this beautiful and sophisticated city offers: extraordinary surfing, fishing, shopping, wine tasting, arts and entertainment, and more.
Dock at Balboa Yacht Basin, 949-533-7200
Yes, this big wave mecca on the North Shore of Oahu has numerous world-class breaks and hip surf-town vibe, but it’s more old-fashioned than Waikiki and offers visitors authentic art galleries and restaurants that tourists might otherwise miss.
Dock at Haleiwa Small Boat Harbor, 808-637-6090