BlogSeptember 2023

How to Maximize Your Time at Fall Boat Shows

How to Maximize Your Time at Fall Boat Shows

By Debbie Hanson

Sep 13, 2023

Summary of tips for attending fall boat shows. How to maximize your time at upcoming boat shows, comparison shop for boats, avoid big crowds, find seminars

Are you looking forward to attending a few fall boat shows this year? Boat shows are educational, can help you gain practical hands-on boating knowledge, and are a great place to do comparison shopping for boats.

Check out Discover Boating shows like the Metro Boat Show at Lake St. Clair Metropark on September 14-17, Norwalk Boat Show on September 21-24, and Ft Lauderdale International Boat Show on October 25-29. Since there are often many vendors to see within a short timeframe, check out these helpful tips on how to maximize your boat show experience.

1. Come Up with a Plan

Think about the boat models, brands, and dealers you’d like to see prior to attending any of the fall boat shows. Check the boat show website to find a convention center map or pier map that includes the booth or slip numbers of all the vendors. Once you have that information, you can prioritize your time. If you can’t check a boat show map before you arrive, grab a boat show guide at the show entrance and talk with your family or friends about what you want to see or accomplish.

2. Dress for Conditions and Comfort

Take the time to plan your attire based on the weather (and bring along an extra sweater for chilly air-conditioned convention centers) and wear comfortable walking shoes. The right shoes can make hours of walking much easier and will prevent you from having to take frequent breaks to rest your feet. In addition, make sure your shoes have non-marking soles that won’t leave scuff marks on the boat decks.

3. Go on a Preview Day

Take advantage of preview days or spend a little more to get VIP access on the first day of the show. While the admission price might be slightly higher, you’ll be able to experience the show with much smaller crowds, there will be shorter wait times to get aboard the boats, and parking will be much easier.

4. Inspect Every Detail

Carefully look through and inspect every detail of the boat models you are considering. Check things like hatches and doors to make sure they open fully without stress to the hinges, any canvas should be tight with no gaps, inspect the size/number/type of fire extinguishers. If the boat dealer or manufacturer is offering sea trials at the boat show, take the boat on a sea trial to get a feel for maneuverability. Ask questions and address any concerns with the dealer or manufacturer.

5. Look Into Boating and Fishing Seminars

Many fall boat shows offer educational opportunities for boaters and anglers. Check the boat show websites to see if there are boat handling seminars, fishing seminars, and electronics demonstrations on the schedule. For example, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show coming up in October will include a kid’s fishing clinic.


Now that you have a list of tips to help you maximize your time at upcoming fall boat shows, decide which Discover Boating shows you want to attend.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.