Best Houseboat Destinations | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • Houseboat vacations offer a perfect blend of adventure and tranquility.
  • Each destination provides unique experiences for boating, fishing, and water recreation.
  • Renting a houseboat allows you to enjoy the beauty of nature with all the comforts.

Discover the world's best houseboat destinations where serene waters and stunning views promise unforgettable adventures.

The Best Houseboat Destinations are Lake Billy Chinook, Oregon; Lake Roosevelt, Washington; Shasta Lake, California; Lake Cumberland, Kentucky; Table Rock Lake, Missouri; Lake Ouachita, Arkansas; Crane Lake, Minnesota; Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania; and Erie Canal, New York State.

I've spent countless hours navigating serene waterways and discovering hidden gems. My journey has taught me the essence of a perfect houseboat vacation - it's not just about the destination but the experience. With my guidance, you'll unlock a world of pristine waters, breathtaking views, and moments of pure bliss.

Table of contents


Best Houseboat Destinations

Embarking on a houseboat vacation combines the thrill of exploration with the comforts of home, all set against the picturesque backdrop of America's stunning waterways. Whether you're seeking a tranquil retreat or an adventure teeming with activities, the vast array of lakes and rivers across the United States offers something for everyone.

A houseboat vacation grants you the freedom to chart your own course through serene lakes, peaceful rivers, and scenic reservoirs. You can discover hidden coves, enjoy water sports, or simply relax on the top deck soaking in the sun.

Here is a comparison table of key features of the best houseboating destinations:

Destination Key Features
Lake Billy Chinook Three rivers flow into the reservoir, creating arms and coves to explore. Known for excellent fishing and watersports.
Lake Roosevelt Massive reservoir with secluded bays and inlets. Popular for fishing and waterskiing.
Lake Shasta It is a large lake with hundreds of miles of shoreline and many arms. Offers excellent fishing, swimming, and sports.
Table Rock Lake Beautiful clear water lake surrounded by forested hills. Many marinas, restaurants, and attractions nearby.
Lake Ouachita Old mountains and forests surround crystal-clear lakes. Secluded spots for swimming and fishing.
Crane Lake Remote wilderness lake on the border of Canada. Excellent fishing, boating, and kayaking.
Raystown Lake Long, winding lake surrounded by forests. Known for swimming, watersports, and hiking trails.
Lake of the Woods Massive lake with over 14,000 islands. Excellent fishing and beautiful boreal forests.
Lake of the Ozarks Party atmosphere with lots of bars, restaurants, and music venues around the lake.
Lake Havasu Beautiful blue lake along the Colorado River. London Bridge and desert scenery. Watersports, bars, restaurants.
Lake Mead Largest reservoir in the US. Desert scenery and canyon walls surround the lake. Watersports, fishing, houseboat rentals.
Voyageurs NP Interconnected lakes and forests with excellent fishing, kayaking, and hiking. Remote wilderness.
Lake Powell Massive reservoir along the Colorado River surrounded by red rock canyons. Excellent fishing and watersports.
St. Johns River Lush vegetation, wetlands, and wildlife along the river. Calmer waters are good for new boaters.
Erie Canal Historic canal route with locks

1. Lake Billy Chinook, Oregon

Lake Billy Chinook
Lake Billy Chinook

Nestled in the heart of Central Oregon, Lake Billy Chinook offers an exceptional houseboating experience amidst stunning canyon scenery and clear waters. Here, you can indulge in recreational activities, embrace the breathtaking landscape, and enjoy the comforts of a floating home.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Fishing: The lake is renowned for its abundant fish species, including Kokanee, Bull Trout, and Bass.
  • Water Sports: From water skiing to jet skiing, the lake's expansive waterways provide the perfect playground.
  • Relaxation: With spacious decks and tranquil waters, relaxation is inevitable as the sun sets over the canyon walls.

2. Lake Roosevelt, Washington State

Lake Roosevelt
Lake Roosevelt

Steering your houseboat through the tranquil waters of Lake Roosevelt, you tap into a recreational haven shaped by the Columbia River. This reservoir offers rich fishing grounds and a myriad of water sports, with easy access to docks and rental facilities.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Fishing: The lake's clear waters are teeming with species like trout and sturgeon. Cast your line and feel the thrill of the catch.
  • Sightseeing: Navigate along 130 miles of varied shoreline, absorbing stunning vistas. Keep your camera at the ready for those memorable snaps.
  • Water Sports: From water skiing to kayaking, Lake Roosevelt is a playground for enthusiasts of all stripes.

3. Lake Shasta, California

Lake Shasta
Lake Shasta

Nestled in the verdant landscapes of Northern California, Lake Shasta stands as an emblem of pristine waterways and splendid recreational opportunities. With its expansive miles of shoreline and scenic mountain backdrop, Lake Shasta offers a diverse palette for both adventure seekers and those looking to unwind.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Fishing: Lake Shasta is teeming with bass, trout, and salmon, making it an angler's haven.
  • Water Sports: From water skiing to wakeboarding, the lake's vast expanse is perfect for an adrenaline rush.
  • Exploration: Discover hidden coves and simply soak in the stunning views of the surrounding forest scenery.

4. Table Rock Lake, Missouri

Table Rock Lake
Table Rock Lake

Table Rock Lake presents a prime houseboating venue amidst the scenic backdrop of the Ozark Mountains. With its pristine waters and panoramic vistas, this destination calls for a tranquil yet adventurous getaway in Missouri.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Fishing: Home to bass, bluegill, and catfish, casting a line here is fruitful year-round.
  • Watersports: Thrill-seekers can enjoy water skiing and wakeboarding along the calm waters.
  • Swimming and sunbathing: The lake's numerous coves provide the perfect spot for a leisurely swim or a day under the sun.
  • Exploring the shoreline: Miles of picturesque shores invite you to discover the hidden beauties of Table Rock Lake.

5. Lake Ouachita, Arkansas

Lake Ouachita
Lake Ouachita

Nestled in the heart of Arkansas, Lake Ouachita is renowned for its pristine wilderness and expansive, clear waters. As a premier houseboat destination, the lake provides a perfect blend of solitude and adventure.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Fishing: Lake Ouachita is a haven for anglers, boasting a diverse fish population.
  • Swimming: With miles of shoreline, find a secluded beach and enjoy the water.
  • Boating: Explore the lake's many islands and hidden coves by boat.
  • Wildlife Viewing: The surrounding forests offer opportunities for bird watching and encountering wildlife.

6. Crane Lake, Minnesota

Crane Lake
Crane Lake

Imagine immersing yourself in the serenity of northern Minnesota's waterways, where the echoes of nature are your soundtrack. Crane Lake, a seamless gateway to Voyageurs National Park, is a premier destination for those seeking a houseboat vacation rich with wilderness, wildlife, and adventure.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Fishing: Crane Lake is a haven for anglers. With miles of shoreline, it's home to a variety of fish species, making it an ideal spot for casting a line.
  • Wildlife Watching: Bring your binoculars for a chance to spot local birds and other wildlife as you navigate the forested shores of Minnesota.
  • Boating and Swimming: The clear waters of Crane Lake offer excellent opportunities for boating and refreshing swims along the picturesque beaches.

7. Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania

Nestled in the lush landscape of central Pennsylvania, Raystown Lake offers an array of houseboat vacation adventures across its 8,300-acre expanse. With over 118 miles of shoreline, this destination provides clear waters for boating, fishing, and a plethora of other water activities.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Enjoying the serenity of the clear water while fishing for species like bass and trout.
  • Take a dive into the refreshing waters for a swim or explore the many coves by kayak.
  • Entertaining friends and family with onboard amenities, from sunbathing on the upper deck to enjoying a BBQ on available gas grills.

8. Lake of the Woods (Minnesota, Ontario, and Manitoba)

Embark on a memorable houseboat vacation across the vast expanse of Lake of the Woods, which unites Minnesota, Ontario, and Manitoba. With its intricate lattice of over 14,552 islands and boasting nearly 65,000 miles of pristine shoreline, this destination invites you to a unique experience where nature and adventure seamlessly intertwine.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Fishing: Home to an abundance of fish species, including the sought-after muskie, walleye, and bass.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Keep your camera ready for eagles, moose, and the myriad of creatures that call this place home.
  • Exploring Hidden Coves: Navigate to secluded spots accessible only by boat for private picnics or sunbathing.
  • Water Sports: Ideal waters for wakeboarding, water skiing, or simply swimming off the houseboat's deck.

9. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

Nestled in the heart of Missouri, the Lake of the Ozarks is a premier destination for houseboat vacations that blend outdoor adventure with the comforts of home. As a reservoir with a serpentine shape, it offers a unique houseboating experience with over 1,150 miles of shoreline, featuring a mix of tranquil coves and bustling waterfronts.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Cruising and Exploring: With myriad inlets and coves, the lake is perfect for leisurely cruises where you can absorb the beauty of the Ozarks.
  • Fishing: Anglers will find a rich bounty of bass, crappie, and catfish, making fishing a popular pastime on the lake.
  • Watersports: Whether you’re into water skiing, jet skiing, or tubing, the lake provides the ideal playground for water enthusiasts.

10. Lake Havasu (Arizona and California)

Lake Havasu
Lake Havasu

Spanning the border between Arizona and California, Lake Havasu is a premium destination for houseboat vacations. With its inviting blue waters and bustling community, it boasts a unique blend of relaxation and adventure suitable for all ages.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Jet Skiing: Zip across the glass-like surface of Lake Havasu and feel the thrill of wind and water combined.
  • Fishing: Known for its abundance of fish, you can spend serene mornings trying to catch the big one.
  • Swimming: With numerous secret coves, the lake provides a refreshing escape from the desert heat.

11. Lake Mead (Arizona and Nevada)

Lake Mead
Lake Mead

Nestled on the borders of Arizona and Nevada, Lake Mead offers a blend of picturesque rock formations, clear waters from the Colorado River, and expansive miles of shoreline within a national forest setting. As the largest man-made lake in the United States, Lake Mead is a prime destination for houseboat vacations, where serenity meets adventure.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Imagine embarking on a fishing trip where the water teems with an abundance of species; your line tugs, and your heart races in anticipation.
  • Try scuba diving in crystal clear waters and uncover the hidden underwater scenery that few get to witness.
  • The rock formations and secluded beaches provide the perfect backdrop for an afternoon of exploring the many coves by kayak or canoe.

12. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park is an idyllic destination for houseboat vacations, situated amidst the tranquility of northern Minnesota's wilderness. With its pristine waters and forested shoreline, the park offers a unique experience that combines adventure with the comforts of a floating home.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Exploring Remote Islands: Maneuver through the park's intricate waterways to discover over 200 untouched islands.
  • Fishing: Cast a line into the abundant waters known for walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass.
  • Wildlife Watching: Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, loons, and maybe even a black bear along the shore.

13. Lake Powell (Utah and Arizona)

Lake Powell
Lake Powell

Lake Powell offers you a stunning backdrop of deep canyons and clear waters for your ultimate houseboat vacation. Nestled on the border of Utah and Arizona, Lake Powell's vast expanse of water is your playground for adventure and relaxation, with its miles of shoreline providing endless opportunities for exploration.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Wakeboarding: Glide across the glassy waters of Lake Powell, showcasing your skills or trying out wakeboarding for the first time.
  • Swimming: Dive into the refreshing embrace of the lake's clear waters to cool off from the desert heat.
  • Fishing: Enjoy a serene morning waiting for the catch of the day, with Lake Powell being home to a variety of fish species.
  • Canyon Exploration: Navigate your houseboat through the towering canyons that adorn the lake, offering a sense of adventure and stunning scenery.

14. St. Johns River, Florida

Flanked by verdant forests and brimming with opportunities for outdoor activities, St. Johns River boasts some of the most captivating houseboat experiences in Florida. Houseboat vacations here offer an intimate connection with the meandering waterways and a chance to immerse in the local biodiversity.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Fishing: Cast a line and reel in the satisfaction of freshwater fishing; expect to catch bass, crappie, and catfish.
  • Swimming: Take a refreshing dip in the clear waters of St. Johns River for an invigorating break from the midday heat.
  • Wildlife Observation: Keep binoculars handy to spot the array of bird species that call this habitat home.
  • Bird Watching: From the comfort of your houseboat, you may observe herons, ospreys, and maybe even a bald eagle.

15. Erie Canal, New York State

Erie Canal
Erie Canal

The Erie Canal, a historic waterway in New York State, offers a unique houseboating experience rich with Americana charm. Here, you'll navigate the same routes that ushered in economic prosperity during the canal's heyday.

Popular Houseboating Activities

  • Cruising the Canal: Enjoy the serene beauty of the Erie Canal at your own pace, passing through historic locks and lift bridges.
  • Visiting Museums: Dock at quaint towns and partake in a spot of history by exploring museums along the canal.
  • Engaging in Adventures: Whether you prefer a relaxed day of fishing or a bike ride along the canal trail, the Erie Canal caters to all interests.

Elevating Houseboat Experiences

This section offers a glimpse into how technology and gadgets are transforming the houseboat experience, making it safer, more convenient, and more enjoyable.

Modern Navigation

GPS systems and chartplotters revolutionize houseboat navigation, ensuring accuracy and safety. Marine radar furthers this with crucial weather and obstacle data.

Smart Features

Automation on houseboats controls everything from lighting to entertainment, while smart energy systems optimize power use, integrating eco-friendly solutions like solar panels.

Connectivity on the Water

Satellite internet and Wi-Fi keep you connected in remote areas. Marine radios and communication devices are essential for safety and communication.

Enhanced Safety and Security

Advanced gadgets like water leak detectors and fire suppression systems ensure safety onboard. Security systems with cameras and sensors provide peace of mind.

Entertainment and Comfort

Enjoy the water with waterproof sound systems and efficient, compact appliances, making life on a houseboat comfortable and entertaining.

The Future of Houseboating

Emerging technologies promises even more innovative and eco-friendly houseboat designs, potentially integrating smart home technologies for a seamless living experience.