Imagine waking to the sound of waves lapping at the side of a boat. As the birds sing a morning song, a breeze parts the curtains. What do you see? It could be a major port city with skyscrapers on the horizon, or maybe a verdant forest perched on the edge of coastal bluffs. The great news about houseboat living is that it's extremely adaptable. Whether you prefer quiet natural surroundings or a modern urban lifestyle, there's a houseboat community waiting for you.
For 100 miles along Florida's panhandle, sugar-white sand beaches glisten alongside the jewel green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This glorious stretch of shoreline is the Emerald Coast, and it's where you'll find Destin, a vacationer's paradise. Liveaboard-friendly marinas dot the coastline here, allowing you to safely moor while you shop, play golf, or dig into the local cuisines. Destin is also the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village," so if you're into deep-sea bottom-fishing, this is your spot.
On Oregon's central coast, the iconic Yaquina Bridge welcomes visitors to the bay city of Newport. The elegant, art deco structure provides a stunning view for liveaboards who choose this working waterfront as their backyard. Residents can enjoy a local brew while watching the orcas and charter boats navigating the bay. Aside from being "The Dungeness Crab Capital of the World," Newport is also home to seasonal festivals, two restored lighthouses, and a friendly coastal arts community.
Amid the deep, red gorges of Glen Canyon National Park resides Lake Powell, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and houseboat dwellers. The manmade lake features nearly 2,000 miles of gorgeous shoreline and a variety of marinas with long-term slips. Stay out on the blue-green waters fishing, waterskiing, or wakeboarding — all watersports are game. Then, head to town to hike the slot canyons and visit the Navajo reservation.
Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans hosts transients and liveaboards alike— all are welcome to this spicy city on the Gulf of Mexico. There's a lot to love about living in The Big Easy, from the delicious cuisines and stunning scenery to the unmistakable Southern hospitality of the locals. Lakeview, a picturesque neighborhood next to City Park, is where you'll find liveaboard-friendly facilities with access to shopping, dining, and culture. South Shore marinas are quieter, located in isolated, more industrial neighborhoods.
The only trait more famous than California's near-perfect year-round weather is its pricey real estate. It's a good thing that the marinas in San Diego are both affordable and accessible to all the modern conveniences and luxuries you'd need to be comfortable. Living at a marina in Chula Vista or National City is much cheaper than the average rent or mortgage downtown, and you'd still have access to the museums, nature trails, and waterfront shopping and dining.
Forget Lake of the Ozarks. Table Rock Lake in Southern Missouri is the perfect houseboat location to experience the majestic scenery without the rowdy crowds. While this under-the-radar lake is ideal for cruising, fishing, and watersports, Table Rock's fewer docks and amenities make it less popular with the party crowd. You'll find plenty of marinas on the shoreline, but the largest houseboat marina on the lake is in Kimberling City, the heart of Table Rock Lake.
Striking coastal landscapes and a historic downtown district greet visitors and liveaboards to the flourishing waterfront community of Brunswick, Georgia. Not far from the Intracoastal Waterway, the charming port city is steadily becoming a leisure and retirement destination of note, especially for houseboat dwellers. Full-service marinas and convenient access to nearby waterways and towns sweeten the deal. Watch the shrimp boats come into port, bringing with them the freshest catch of the day.
A mecca for houseboat dwellers, Seattle is a modern metropolis juxtaposed against the lush woodlands of the Olympic peninsula. Living aboard in the Emerald City brings modern and natural beauty to your doorstep. The city life is more affordable, but you still have the option of disappearing into Puget Sound. Slips at Lake Union and Lake Washington are in demand, but new home listings and rentals post every day.
Set along the Tennessee River at the base of the Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga is a breathtaking historical city. One of the best ways to see it is from the water, and with 810 miles of shoreline, Chickamauga Lake is perfect. A revitalized riverfront and recreation area provides a scenic layover for exploring downtown. The Tennessee River Blueway is ideal for kayaking or canoeing, and bass fishing enthusiasts will find their dream angling spot here.
Otis Redding once sang about "Sitting On the Dock of the Bay." He was referring to Sausalito, the first town north of San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge. This picturesque Bay Area town is home to one of the most famous houseboat communities in the world. Christened by residents as "floating homes," the impressive houseboats range in styles from classic nautical to modern mansions on the water. Check out the local marinas for long-term slips.
Greenport is just one of Long Island's incredible port towns, and, according to Forbes magazine, it's also one of America's prettiest. Located at the East end of the North Fork, the relaxing fishing village is a mix of historic buildings, local businesses, and lush natural open spaces. With marinas in touristy and secluded neighborhoods, liveaboards can join the party or detox on the quieter side of town. Either way, a tasting of Long Island wines should round out the experience.
Kentucky may be a landlocked state, but it's home to the largest fleet of rental houseboats in America at Lake Cumberland. Also known as "The Houseboat Capital of the World," the manmade lake is a mecca for watersports and sailing enthusiasts. The fishing doesn't disappoint, either, with trophy-sized stripers, trout, and some of the best fly fishing in the country. Explore the lush surrounding forests in Safe Harbor Jamestown, a picturesque rural community on the northern shore.
Some marine enthusiasts will argue that the only place for houseboat living is The Sunshine State. Wintertime temperatures in Fort Myers, a modern city on the Caloosahatchee River, average in the mid-50s. The cobalt blue waters and bustling marinas are vibrant against the backdrop of nature preserves and a diversity of wildlife. Long-term slips provide quick access to downtown, where exceptional dining, shopping, and entertainment await.
South Carolina's Lake Murray is a popular recreation destination, attracting hundreds of rafts and pontoon boats during warm weekends. Calm waters create the perfect environment for long-term slips, while endless watersports and plentiful fishing are sure to keep you busy. Dozens of marinas serve the lake, so you can conveniently moor your houseboat as you wander Columbia's museums, gardens, and historic lanes.
Houseboats on Lake Travis are commonplace during the warm weather weekends and holidays, but many liveaboards call this section of the Colorado River home year-round. It could be the tranquil, clear waters that attract them or the convenient access to watersports, such as scuba diving, fishing, and waterskiing. Lake Travis welcomes a diverse community, ranging from modest tugboats to modern floating mansions. Marinas in the area offer high-end services as well as no-frills slips.