Popular U.S. Destinations

“A ship goes where you point it,” as the old sailors say and it’s still true today. As long as there is water and clear weather, you can sail your boat anyplace you like. US residents who want to stay close to home for their expeditions do enjoy knowing that they’ll know the local customs and be able to speak the language wherever they make port. There is no shortage of beautiful and exciting destinations in the U.S., though the most popular remain the Florida and California coasts.

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Florida offers the unique chance to watch an Atlantic sunrise off the state’s eastern coast and then a sunset while anchored in the tranquil waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Eastern Florida coastal waters feature barrier reef islands and unique snorkeling opportunities along coral reefs. Keep the Space Coast in mind as you travel south, as well as Daytona Beach and its popular Boardwalk.

In the south, Miami and the Florida Keys offer luxury, entertainment and tranqulity in almost equal measures. The Florida Everglades continue to be one of the nation’s most popular National Parks. Golfers could cruise the entire coast hopping from course to course and those in the mood for pampering could take almost the same route to go spa-hopping.

In the Gulf, the sailing is without equal. Be sure to visit Boca Grande, Sanibel and Captiva Islands off the southwest coast, and sail into Charlotte Harbor. Just north of there is Tampa Bay, with the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, while Florida’s panhandle region offers some of the most beautiful coastal wetlands in the country.


California offers the yachter over a thousand miles of breathtaking coastline, punctuated by majestic sea stacks and teeming with wildlife. The Catalina Islands off the southern coast remain a popular destination for day trips, though the region is protected so be sure to check local guidelines about permissable activities.

As you sail north, keep in mind that there is nothing comparable to sailing into San Francisco Bay beneath the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. While you’re there, take the opportunity to sail to the many small islands in the bay, including the infamous prison at Alcatraz, which is now part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area and hosts daily tours which include the prison. Farther north takes you into California’s Redwood Coast, where you can see some of the biggest and oldest living trees on the planet.

River Cruising

Those who’ve spent their lives on land tend to forget that rivers can also be both journey and destination for a boating vacation. America’s great rivers afford some spectacular sailing and scenic wonders. Some rivers will require a guide to navigate, such as the southern Mississippi River, but most offer the opportunity to cruise through America’s heartlands.

River yachting has its own peculiar risks. River currents change daily from rising and falling water levels and there is always the danger of large rocks and even tree limbs just under the surface. The major rivers all have barge traffic on them and in good weather, most will have other boaters out enjoying the chance to ski, swim, and cruise. Check the weather forecast, remain alert, and be sure to follow all water safety laws in the region to insure your safety and the safety of others sharing the water with you.