Have Fun, Be Safe, Avoid Crowds - July 4th Boating Ideas

By Ken Schultz

Jun 28, 2023

No matter where or how you boat, these July 4th boating ideas will help you enjoy our national holiday on the water

Boating is one of the most popular activities on national holidays, especially when there’s good weather and warm water. Here are some thoughts on how to make the most of July 4th boating trips.


Get to the public access site early.

Popular launch sites get crowded on July 4th. Tempers and patience can be frayed when there are long backups. From my perspective, getting ahead of, and away from, the powerboat crowd ranks first, second, and third among good July 4th Boating Ideas. An early start also means that you get preferred anchorage at a meet-up beach or swimming cove or other place where people will later gather.


Do something different

How about taking a river float trip, a backwater birding-kayaking trek, a parasailing adventure, enjoying some tube-towing excitement, or another family-friendly undertaking that isn’t your normal boating excursion? Something along these lines ranks fourth among my July 4th Boating Ideas.


Take a scenic and/or wildlife-watching family cruise on your boat or a rented one

This may mean heading a good distance from you where you live or normally boat. When my kids were young I took them on a weeklong rented houseboat cruise for a week that encompassed July 4th and it was a great boating vacation. There are many places in all corners of America that qualify to be among the best boating spots for July 4th, so get thinking but realize that you probably have to plan this fun escapade well ahead.


Remember PFDs for all onboard

You’re likely to have more passengers than usual on July 4th boating trips so plan ahead for the appropriate-size PFDs. Have guests bring their personal PFDs if they have them.


Bring your flag, not your sparklers and fireworks

Save incendiary devices for onshore festivities, if safe and legal where you are. Keep them off the boat for the obvious closeness-to-gas reason. On the other hand, if you’re comfortable with after-dark boating, you might have an opportunity to observe a fireworks display from your anchored boat.


Plan around the weather

Are high winds or rain in the forecast for some part of the day? Use the best available intel to decide where to go, when to be back, and how to comfortably enjoy the day as best as possible.


Do some parade/event boat-congestion planning

If you expect to be part of July 4th boating events, realize that you may be close to many others in varying shapes and sizes of watercraft. It would be wise to have ample bumpers available for deployment, as well as boat hooks or other long poles for fending off wayward boats.


Do some patriotic decoration

Besides a flag, you might consider July 4th-themed embellishments to your boat, especially if you’re just cruising in the local harbor. I’m thinking things with a red-white-blue theme as opposed to offensive or partisan messaging.


Going fishing on the Fourth? Think sunrise and brief

This applies to large bodies of water, which get a lot of energetic traffic on weekends and holidays, making for lots of boat wakes. If you get out at sunrise and fish till mid-morning at the latest, you’ll have a more enjoyable time.


Lastly, make sure your boat registration is current, you have the required safety gear onboard, and your gas tank is topped off.


Ken Schultz
Ken Schultz
Ken Schultz was a longtime staff writer for Field & Stream magazine and is the former Fishing Editor of ESPNoutdoors.com. He’s written and photographed nineteen books on sportfishing topics, plus an annual fishing tips calendar, and his writing has appeared on various websites for more than two decades. His author website is kenschultz.com