BlogSeptember 2023

5 Off-the-Beaten-Path Boating Spots

5 Off-the-Beaten-Path Boating Spots

By Jeff Bogle

Sep 08, 2023

Check out these 5 hidden gem boating destinations that offer boaters the chance to connect with nature, go fishing, and relax on the water.

There are countless hidden gem boating destinations from Alaska to Alabama, each offering boaters just like you the chance to reconnect with nature, go fishing with kids and relax while unplugged from the daily grind of everyday life. From beautiful secluded boating spots for nature lovers to hidden boating gems for adventurous souls, check out these 5 off-the-beaten-path boating spots that you can make a part of your next vacation, either with your own boat in tow or simply by renting a pontoon boat or another vessel that’s perfect for your kind of fun.

Orange Beach, Alabama

Whether you want to rent paddleboats and jetskis with kids or enjoy a sunset cruise as a couple, Orange Beach is one of the best hidden gem boating destinations in America. For off-the-grid boating experiences in your own vessel, this area where sandy Alabama beaches meet the Gulf of Mexico has three put-in locations, at Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan, and 15 marines for refueling. You can see birds, dolphins, a decommissioned lighthouse, and so much more in your own boat, or rent a fishing boat or a double-decker pontoon boat with a slide, and have offbeat boating adventures you’ll remember forever.

Tempe, Arizona

Off-the-beaten-path boating spots are like a private oasis where you can launch your own boat or rent a pontoon and go fishing with nothing but blue skies and stillness all around. Just south of Scottsdale in Tempe is a literal oasis in the desert and one of the most underrated boating destinations! Created by damming the Salt River, Tempe Town Lake is great for a relaxing day on the water with family and friends, and because trout, bass, catfish, and sunfish love it here you will too if you decide to bring your fishing gear on board the boat!


Lake Cumberland, Kentucky

With 52 ramps on the main body of the lake considered to be the houseboat capital of the world and its tributaries, it's easy to see why Lake Cumberland is one of the laid-back hidden gem boating destinations you need to visit. Even though millions flock to rural Kentucky to boat on the lake, it's still one of the secret boating spots to explore because there are countless secluded anchorages. And because development on the reservoir's shores is heavily protected, you could spend days on the lake without ever seeing a structure other than the marinas where you'll refuel before disappearing again into your new favorite hidden gem boating destination.

Scituate Harbor, Massachusetts

Hidden gem boating destinations aren't usually so close to major metropolitan areas, but about 13 miles south of Boston is a recreational boating paradise, with slips for your own boat along with many charter cruises available. There's open ocean access and Scituate Harbor also has a magnificent downtown to please land lovers, plus it is so close to the beauty of Cape Cod. Discovering hidden boating treasures while on a trip full of American history has never been more fun or possible!


Lake McConaughy, Nebraska

For a dry boating experience in one of the country's underrated boating destinations, head to Nebraska’s largest reservoir. The dam is responsible for one of the coolest off-the-beaten-path boating spots and is among the largest of its type in the world. The lake is nicknamed Big Mac not because of fast food burgers but because the fish here grow to trophy-winning size, making fishing in Nebraska a memorable experience from a boat on Lake McConaughy! There are white sand beaches and clear waters, making this place perfect for camping while road-tripping through Badlands or Cheyenne, boating, windsurfing, swimming, and even water skiing. And with no alcohol allowed, it's a safe and pleasant place for families to spend a day on the water.


Brush up on your boating skills and boating safety before heading out to these or other hidden gem boating destinations this year!

Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle
Jeff is a dad of teen daughters, avid traveler, photographer, and freelance writer. He’s penned stories on family travel, outdoor recreation, the environment, parenting, and more for Fodor’s, Reader’s Digest, Parents Magazine, Good Housekeeping, PBS, and Esquire, among other publications. Find him on his blog, and on Instagram @OWTK. Jeff is also the publisher of the quarterly literary zine, Stanchion