Best Houseboat Adventures | LakeWizard

House boating is a fun and affordable way to vacation, and some locations offer incredible scenery and weather.

You can have the best houseboat adventures in Lake Havasu, Arizona; Shasta, California; the Florida Keys; the Florida Everglades; and Lake Cumberland in Kentucky.

In this article, we’ll cover five of the best and most beautiful house boating adventure locations in the world. We’ll also go over the capabilities of houseboats and what to expect when renting one for your vacation.

We sourced the information used in this article from travel guides and from companies offering rental houseboats in scenic locations.

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Where Can Houseboats Go?

Houseboats are not like sailboats or powerboats, in a sense that they’re almost never designed to go out to sea. Houseboats are designed for space and comfort over seaworthiness, which is why they’re preferred for vacations and exploring inland areas.

Houseboats are capable of safely navigating lakes and rivers, along with some limited coastal areas and keys. Some houseboats are designed to better handle choppy water, and these are in the ‘adventurer’ hull design category.

But your average pontoon-style or flat-bottomed houseboat is best used in areas where the water is calm, and the currents aren’t too strong. The majority of houseboat adventures take place in parks and scenic areas with access to spacious waterways.

How Long Can You Stay on a Houseboat?

Are you curious about how long a houseboat adventure can last? The answer is simple—as long as you want it to. Houseboats are great for overnight vacations. But they have the facilities for you to stay for days, weeks, or months.

Plus, many people enjoy the experience so much that they end up purchasing a houseboat and living on it full-time or using it as a vacation home and an alternative to a condo. That said, the average length of a houseboat stay is 5 to 7 days.

Best Regions for Houseboat Adventures

The best parts of the country for house boating are in the desert southwest and the central-southern regions of the United States. Lakes and rivers in Kentucky, Missouri, Arizona, and Texas are particularly popular with houseboaters, as are some areas of the Northeast.

The desert is the most popular location for houseboat adventures. This is because the weather is warm, severe thunderstorms are more uncommon than in the south, and the natural beauty of deep desert lakes is unsurpassed.

It’s affordable to sail around the region in a houseboat, and the water conditions are ideal for long flat-bottomed boats. This is why Lake Havasu, Arizona, is one of the most popular house boating vacation destinations in the world.

Top Five Houseboat Adventure Spots

We found five of the best house boating spots in the country. These locations are affordable and accessible to houseboats. You can bring your own or rent one from a local rental agency, and there are numerous vessels available. Here are our top pics.

1. Lake Havasu, Arizona

Lake Havasu is simply one of the best house boating locations in the world. This immense desert lake is home to hundreds of boats, and it’s a popular destination for activities such as local parties and sailing regattas.

The desert scenery in the region is gorgeous, and the lake is surrounded by restaurants, bars, and clean beaches.

Lake Havasu isn’t occupied specifically by houseboats, but there’s a sizable community in the region that loves the location and lives there year-round. And though the lake gets crowded with boat traffic, it’s still large enough to find a secluded anchor-out location whenever necessary.

Lake Havasu is also an affordable travel destination for house boating. You can rent vessels of multiple kinds in the area, and Arizona’s cost of living is low in general. If you want to save money on vacation, you can—there’s no need to splurge, as the area is fundamentally just a normal community with some tourist attractions.

The locals are friendly, and the weather is warm year-round, making it a great winter getaway spot from the frigid northern regions of the country. But if you want to bake in the heat during the summer—as many people do—you can. Just make sure to find a houseboat with air conditioning.

2. Shasta Lake, California

Shasta Lake is one of the most beautiful and scenic house boating destinations around, and for a good reason—the lake sits at the base of the gorgeous and storybook-like Mount Shasta. At 14,000 feet, Mount Shasta is California’s largest stratovolcano and fifth tallest mountain.

And though Mount Shasta is considered an active volcano, it’s not an immediate threat and nothing to worry about during your vacation. The area makes for great hiking and skiing in the winter, so it’s worth considering as a permanent or semi-permanent home.

The untouched forests surrounding the area make for an unsurpassed quiet and picturesque houseboat vacation, and there are rental agencies around the lake. With a houseboat, you can enjoy the scenery and wildlife from a quiet anchorage away from other tourists.

Prices around Shasta Lake are affordable, and it allows you to explore a massive protected lake at your own leisure. If you’ve had some experience piloting houseboats, you can travel around in a stress-free and sparsely populated mountain lake and see the finest mountain sights in the west.

So, why consider Shasta? The lake is an excellent destination for anyone who lives far away from the western mountain ranges. These mountains are breathtaking, and there simply isn’t anything like it in the eastern part of the country. Most of America’s mountains look like hills in comparison, and what better way to experience these natural wonders than on a houseboat?

3. The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are home to some of the prettiest houseboat destinations in the east. Due to the shallow water and limitless isles and coves, some saltwater house boating goes on in the region. This is the ideal destination for anyone looking for a tropical experience with baby blue water, crisp white sand, and palm trees.

The kinds of houseboats found around Florida tend to be more robust and maneuverable, as they spend a lot of time in shallow saltwater with varied conditions. These smaller cruising houseboats are a great way to get to know the beauties of tropical marine life.

Houseboats in this area are smaller, but they can still accommodate a family or group of friends for a week or so in acceptable comfort. They often feature glass bottoms, which allow an unparalleled view of coral reefs and amazing marine life.

During the summer, houseboaters in the Florida Keys can enjoy hot temperatures, long days, and an occasional thunderstorm. Temperatures and humidity drop during the winter, which is a welcome respite from the summer heat (and the winter cold of northern states).

The Florida Keys are one of the most affordable tropical boating locations in the United States and also one of the safest. It’s a domestic adventure that offers the same perks as foreign travel (to island nations such as the Bahamas) without any of the hassle of foreign travel.

4. The Florida Everglades

The Florida Everglades are another southern adventure that’s perfect for house boating, although navigation can be tricky without a fan boat. The Everglades offer some of the best hunting and fishing in the country.

The Everglades offer a rare glimpse into a stunning natural habitat, along with a chance to see alligators and other incredible animals from a safe location on your boat. Additionally, the weather is warm year-round, and the area has beautiful scenery.

Taking it slow is the best way to navigate the Everglades in a houseboat. This is because the water is shallow and filled with reeds, and you clearly don’t want to get stuck. But this is an advantage too, as there isn’t really anywhere to be except with your friends and family enjoying a rare glimpse of an ancient environment.

The Everglades are an affordable destination to visit, as they’re vast and numerous companies compete for rental prices. If you want the best deal, you can shop around—but choosing the best location with the cleanest waterways is usually the best thing to prioritize. Food and fuel is also cheap in the area, making it an excellent budget boating vacation.

5. Lake Cumberland, Kentucky

Houseboats are surprisingly popular in Kentucky, and the state even hosts a company that produces them. Lake Cumberland is one of the most popular house boating destinations due to its beautiful scenery and favorable conditions.

Lake Cumberland is extremely popular with recreational boating of all kinds. What could be more perfect than starting the day on your houseboat, untying a ski boat from the stern, and heading out on the water for a day of tubing and water skiing?

Lake Cumberland is a ‘do it your way’ kind of houseboat adventure, and there’s plenty of opportunities to meet new people and have a good time. Lots of houseboats frequently travel the lake, and lots of people live aboard too.

Lake Cumberland also hosts the world’s largest boat raft-up annually. The event draws hundreds of mostly local houseboats, speed boats, sailboats, and other craft to a massive cove party rife with activities and fun. It’s the perfect college getaway and a great place to have fun with the family.


Brian Samson

Brian Samson

I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.

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