If you’re looking for a physically challenging and environmentally conscious vacation activity, perhaps you have already forayed into sailing. For some, it’s a nearly spiritual activity. While the coasts of Greece or the French Riviera sound like picture perfect sailing milieus, some of the greatest spots on earth are just a road trip away. Here’s a list of our favorite spots to sail within the U.S.!
Most Beautiful Places to Sail in the U.S.
Located closer to the mainland of Canada than that of the United States, the San Juan Islands are the peak of Washington sailing. The islands remain quite dry throughout the winter, despite sloppy snow on the mainland of Washington. National parks abound in the area around San Juan, creating quite a trail of anchor destinations. While the skies aren’t always sunny and blue in the Pacific Northwest, sailing is possible year-round. But veterans recommend avoiding the chilly waters from November to early April.
2. Maui, HI
Maui is widely considered one of the most exciting sailing spots in the US. Year-round sailing is enough of a draw, but if you need further convincing, consider the winds: Ancient Hawaiians had over 30 names for the wily winds on the island. It only reinforces the idea that if you can sail in Hawaii, you can sail anywhere. When the winter months come, you can keep your sailing muscles in top shape in Hawaii.
Even if it’s just for the sightseeing adventure, don’t miss the opportunity to sail through the Apostle Islands off the coast of Wisconsin in Lake Superior. Forests of spruce, fir and birch trees as well as impressive rock formations called “sea caves” surround you as you sail among the islands. The water can be very chilly, so sailing is really only possible from May to October. But if you visit the Apostle Islands when Lake Superior freezes, you can walk across the frozen waters to explore the caves!
Start your sailing adventure in Los Angeles and make your way to Catalina Island for the day. From the bays to the harbors to the wide-open sea, there are plenty of different types of terrains for sailors of all experience levels. Depending on where you begin – from the harbor of Los Angeles to Huntington Harbor to Dana Point – the trip can take anywhere between five to eight hours each way. But since California sailing is feasible year-round, you’ll have all the time in the world.
5. Newport, RI
When considering a sailing trip to the East Coast, Newport is one of the most obvious choices. It is, after all, the sailing capital of the world (a self-proclaimed title – despite claims from fellow sailing capital of the world Annapolis, MD). It’s a beautiful shoreline town with seaside boating charm, including a famous regatta and yacht tours. Sailing season begins in mid-April or early May and ends in late October.
6. Key West, FL
If you’ve never learned to sail (and have no interest in doing so), a tour upon a giant schooner might be up your alley. Book a sailing tour throughout Key West for an excursion through water, wildlife and sunsets – or be your own captain and sail the Keys without a guide. Whether you’re looking to rent a boat or you’d rather pay for the full experience, Key West is filled with year-round sailing opportunities for all levels of adventurers.
7. Hudson River Valley, NY
From New York City, through the mountains, all the way to upstate Troy, the Hudson River is a favorite sailing spot for many. The sights range from the upper west side of the city to the rocky Palisades and historical battle sights, all among the unpredictable waters. It’s a great family trip, with charming stops along the way that are sure to make memories for all members. Sailing season begins in late April and lasts through October.
Designated as the first official Coast Guard City in the US, Grand Haven has one of the greatest coastal communities in Michigan. Each summer, the town holds a very patriotic Coast Guard Festival to celebrate its recognition from the Coast Guard.
After anchoring in Grand Haven, sail to nearby Ludington or Saugatuck for more coastline charm – or sail into the lake until you can’t see the shore! Just be sure to wait out the winter. Lake Michigan is not a comfortable place to sail from November to April, but the remaining months are ideal for Michigan sailing.
The Chesapeake Bay is a sailor’s favorite place to explore, at least in the warmer months. Much like the rest of the New England region, the sailing is most comfortable from early April to late November. But some adventurers sail throughout the Chesapeake Bay year-round without complaint – certainly unattainable on the frigid Great Lakes.
This article was written by Caitlin Klask.