Houseboat vacations are a fun, relaxing, and affordable way to take time off. But which houseboat destinations are the best, and why?
The best houseboat vacation destinations are Lake Cumberland in Kentucky, Lake Havasu in Arizona, Lake Powell in Arizona and Utah, and scenic Shasta Lake in Northern California.
In this article, we’ll cover the factors that set some houseboat destinations apart from others, along with how to find the best houseboat vacation spots. Additionally, we’ll review four of the best and most popular houseboat destinations in the United States.
We sourced the information in this article from state recreation guides and from the online houseboat community.
What Makes a Great Houseboat Destination?
There isn’t a single ultimate house boating destination. People’s preferences vary, as do their budgets and expectations. However, there are a few factors that set some houseboat lakes and rivers apart from others.
What’s the point of taking a vacation if you’re stuck worrying about the cost? House boating is known to be an affordable way to get away from it all, but choosing the wrong destination can quickly negate that point.
Many of the best house boating lakes and rivers are surprisingly affordable, so it (literally) pays to know where to go ahead of time to get the best deals.
Location is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a houseboat vacation destination. Location isn’t just about what the area looks like—it’s about how long it takes to get there and how far the nearest store is.
Who wants to vacation around an ugly landscape? Probably not most people, which is why it’s essential to choose a destination that actually has something interesting to see.
Houseboat lakes in many states are surrounded by nothing, which is boring—however, some house boating destinations feature pristine mountain views, forests, or stunning desert scenery.
Some lakes are a great place to stay if you’re looking for solitude—but most people want to have a little fun while on vacation. Also, you’ll need to stock up on groceries and beverages, so proximity to a reasonably-sized town is a big plus.
It’s essential to be practical when choosing a houseboat vacation location. Some areas where house boating is common simply get much too busy—both in terms of traffic and competition for rentals.
High demand drives up prices, which can make an otherwise tenable vacation impossible. Additionally, high-traffic lakes make people prone to collisions, which is a great way to ruin a trip. The best houseboat destinations are large lakes, and local rental companies must have sufficient stock to meet demand.
Best Destinations for a Houseboat Vacation
Houseboat vacation rentals are available in almost every state, but some destinations are far more scenic, affordable, and fun than others. Here are the top four houseboat vacation locations and why they’re a great choice for your next floating getaway.
1. Lake Cumberland
Lake Cumberland is the best house boating destination in the country and possibly the world. There are probably more houseboats on this big Kentucky lake than anywhere else on the planet—and the number of houseboats isn’t the only record Lake Cumberland holds.
Lake Cumberland hosts the largest boat raft-up in the world, where hundreds of small recreational craft, sailboats, and houseboats tie up every year for a massive party. Additionally, the lake is crawling with boats during the rest of the year, and houseboats are almost always seen moving about on the water.
Lake Cumberland is a popular house boating destination due to its calm conditions, large size, active community, and affordable pricing. Houseboats are available from numerous locations, including Lake Cumberland State Dock and Safe Harbor Jamestown.
2. Lake Havasu
Lake Havasu is probably the top lake party destination in the world and certainly the most popular in Arizona. Lake Havasu has a well-developed shoreline with plenty of bars and restaurants to visit, along with music venues and many other attractions.
Lake Havasu has long been a destination for snowbirds and recreation of all kinds. Jet ski rentals, ski boat rentals, tubing, and other activities are widely available on Lake Havasu. Additionally, you can spend the day on the beach and retire on a clean and comfortable houseboat.
Houseboat rentals on Lake Havasu are available from services like Airbnb and dedicated boat rental companies. One of the most popular rental companies is Lake Havasu Houseboats, which offers several vessels to choose from at reasonable summer rates.
Lake Havasu houseboats range in size from the spacious 60-foot Deluxe model (sleeps 10, 1.5 bathrooms) and the enormous and luxurious 85-foot Odyssey (sleeps 12, 2 bathrooms). The largest houseboats feature everything from a massive master suite to a hot tub.
3. Lake Powell
Lake Powell is a large artificial reservoir located in Utah and Arizona. Lake Powell itself is a remarkable destination to visit due to its desert scenery and clear blue water—but there are also plenty of house boating opportunities to take advantage of while you’re there.
Lake Powell is one of the most popular house boating destinations in the country. This is due in part to its large size, but also thanks to the numerous coves and beaches that you can hang out at. The lake surface covers an astounding 254 square miles, which leaves plenty of room for a quiet floating vacation with friends and family.
Renting a houseboat on Lake Powell is easy and affordable, and there are rental locations on both the Utah and Arizona side. Additionally, you can rent virtually any size of houseboat on Lake Powell, thanks to its large area. Houseboats between 40 feet and 60+ feet are available.
The best places to rent a houseboat on Lake Powell are Bullfrog Marina in Utah, Antelope Point Marina and RV Park in Arizona, and Lake Powell Rentals in Arizona. Rates are competitive, and lots of options are available, but be sure to book a while ahead of time due to high demand.
4. Shasta Lake
Shasta Lake is located in the mountainous region of California and offers some of the best scenic house boating in the entire world. Shasta Lake is located at the base of Mount Shasta, which is a picturesque Pacific stratovolcano and California’s tallest mountain peak.
But don’t worry about the volcano—though technically active, it’s monitored heavily by the USGS and poses virtually no threat to houseboaters and the lake at this time. With that out of the way, let’s go over a few reasons why Lake Shasta is such a great vacation destination.
Shasta Lake is one of the most scenic destinations in the country for boaters of all kinds. Thanks to its remote location, the air is clear—and views of the mountain are impeccable. Additionally, the snow runoff that feeds the lake is crystal clear, which makes the lake a perfect mirror when the wind is calm.
Houseboat rentals are easily available on Shasta Lake from multiple locations, as this relatively large lake has a sizable boating community. During the summer, you can rent a houseboat from Holiday Harbor or Jones Valley Resort for competitive rates.
About THE AUTHOR
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.Read More About Brian Samson