Houseboat Vacations: 6 Top Destinations to Explore
Warmer weather is spreading across the nation, which means more people want to hit the water. When it comes to boating holidays, your choices aren’t limited to traditional sailing yachts or motor yachts. In fact, houseboat vacations are a hit, too.
Houseboats can be permanently fixed to a dock or movable. Either way, they have all the amenities you want, from bedrooms to lounges and sometimes extras like barbecues. They’re in major metropolitan areas famous for floating homes as well as less-touristy coastal cities, too.
While houseboat rentals are available around the country, these six vacation destinations are among the top to explore:
- Lake Travis, Texas
- Chicago, Illinois
- Long Beach, California
- Naples, Florida
- Providence, Rhode Island
- Seattle, Washington
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1. Lake Travis, Texas
About 20 miles outside of Austin, Lake Travis is the go-to houseboat destination in the state. It’s actually a reservoir on the Colorado River. Some people claim it’s the best boating in Texas, too.
Regardless, Lake Travis offers an abundance of water activities, making it incredibly popular. Therefore, reserve in advance. When you get there, you can enjoy the longest zipline in the state, a plethora of restaurants, and fabulous sunsets.
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2. Chicago, Illinois
The Windy City is great for boating overall due to Lake Michigan. The Chicago River is a tourist favorite, too, especially due to the architecture tours by boat. Some houseboat vacations in Chicago put you near downtown, so you’re in proximity to the plethora of museums, shops, sports stadiums, and more.
If you decide to go, read up on “Houseboat City.” This area, on the north branch of the Chicago River, had more than 100 houseboats during the Great Depression.
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3. Long Beach, California
Visitors flock to Long Beach to stay onboard the Queen Mary, a 1930s-era cruise ship that’s now a hotel. Why share with strangers, though, when you can have a boat all to yourself? Some of the options aren’t typical houseboat vacations; rather, they’re aboard traditional motor yachts.
Regardless, you get the advantage of hearing the gentle sound of the water. You’re further a stone’s throw from dozens of restaurants, shops, the famous aquarium, and yes, even the Queen Mary.
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4. Naples, Florida
Ritzy real estate often comes to mind with Naples. However, it has houseboats as well. In fact, Port of the Islands Marina was one of the first properties to offer houseboat rentals.
Wherever you rent, be sure to visit Naples’ Tin City, an open-air shopping district perfect for antiquing and picking up local original creations. Fun fact: Some of the Tin City buildings used to house fishing businesses prior to the 1970s.
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5. Providence, Rhode Island
Historic Providence has homes from centuries past, plus a lively waterfront lifestyle. Choose from either typical houseboats or permanently docked motor yachts. To explore the city’s rivers and canals, rent a kayak.
When you go, don’t miss WaterFire Lightings, free events involving the river. Fires light nearly two-thirds of a mile of parks and public space along the water, while musicians and performers put on shows.
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6. Seattle, Washington
No story about houseboat vacations is complete without encouraging you to get Sleepless in Seattle. Options abound on Lake Union, putting you within walking distance to downtown. If you’d rather ride, many of the owners provide bicycles as part of the package.
Additionally, several come with kayaks, so you can explore the lovely lake.
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A journalist with more than 30 years’ experience, Diane M. Byrne is the owner
of MegayachtNews.com, a daily website educating American superyacht owners, buyers, and
their circles of influence about the leading builders, designers, cruising destinations, and more.
She founded the website in 2007 as the first, and still the only, American-focused online media
outlet exclusively covering this market. It features all-original content, for real stories of real
Diane is additionally one of the most-sought-after journalists for expert editorial coverage and
commentary about not only superyachts, but also general boating and yachting. Her byline
appears in Boatsetter.com, DiscoverBoating.com, and the magazines Luxury Guide, Ocean,
Yachting, and Yachts International.
Additionally, Diane is the Chair of the U.S. Superyacht Association, having been on the Board of
Directors since 2015. Outside of yachting, she’s a trustee of Sempre Avanti, a non-profit
resource supporting Italian and Italian-American individuals, businesses, and organizations in the
United States and Italy.