Three days of leisure and good weather to get sun-drenched and explore our waterways— Memorial Day weekend is one of the greatest holidays to go on a boat trip. Most, if not all, of your favorite or highly talked about Memorial Day Weekend destinations border the water. What better way to kick off summertime activities than making a splash?
Here are seven of the best boating cities for Memorial Day weekend getaways:
- Newport, RI
- Fort. Lauderdale, FL
- San Francisco, CA
- New York City, NY
- Boston, MA
- Portland, ME
- Seattle, WA
Read all the way through pro trip planning tips for your Memorial Day getaway.
1. Newport, Rhode Island
Newport’s nickname is “The Sailing Capital of the World.” It has long been a fantastic city to get the party started aboard any kind of boat. Skippers here routinely ply the local waters aboard everything from custom runabouts to America’s Cup race boats—making the city a feast for the eyes of anyone who loves boating, especially traditionally styled boats.
This is the place to be if you want to be surrounded by actual classics and “modern classics” that blend the best of traditional styling with the newest technology and propulsion. A lot of beautiful woodwork, mirror-finish varnish, and sparkling stainless steel will be all around for snapping keepsake photos.
2. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Not to be outdone by Newport, Fort Lauderdale’s nickname is “The Yachting Capital of the World.” The city makes no bones about the fact that powerboats and superyachts are the heart of the modern-day waterfront.
If you’re looking to go all out this Memorial Day Weekend, consider renting a yacht and exploring the Venice of the United States (another nickname for Fort Lauderdale).
This is where to spend Memorial Day if you want to see the newest, sleekest builds from shipyards in Europe and beyond, as well as some of the finest superyachts ever constructed anywhere in the world.
On any given day, you can see a 125-foot yacht cross paths with a 180-footer, possibly a 200-plus-footer coming up in the distance. For yacht spotters in the United States, the eye candy in this South Florida mecca simply cannot be beaten.
Pro Tip: On a full-day rental, you may be able to cruise further down south and experience another Memorial Day getaway hot spot: Miami Beach!
3. San Francisco, California
It’s tough to top the views of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge if you’re looking for a slice-of-Americana backdrop on Memorial Day weekend. And, the city is in a festive mood, with the annual Carnaval Celebration bringing a parade and live music to the scene throughout the weekend.
You can enjoy the party on shore with the crowds before heading out in the boat with your closest family and friends. Yes, the tour boats will be around as everyone on vacation looks to get out on the water, but if you time things right, you can avoid most of them.
That’s the beauty of having a boat: Everything happens on your time, just as you want it.
4. New York City, New York
Memorial Day weekend overlaps with Fleet Week in New York City this year, with the latter running from May 24-30. If you can spend time in the city for the whole week instead of just the weekend, then you can see the New York Harbor parade of truly impressive ships—monster-size ones from the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Pro Tip: Before or after you book your Memorial Day getaway on the water, make sure to download the Boatsetter App using your preferred app store. You can instant message the Owner through the app, keep trip details handy, and much more.
After that, the Memorial Day parades will start around the city’s boroughs, setting up the holiday weekend for everyone. Watch for jam-packed ferries and tour boats in areas around the Statue of Liberty, where a lot of people want to get photos during this holiday weekend.
5. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston is one of America’s iconic cities, which makes it a fantastic place to spend the Memorial Day weekend. Ashore, the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund works with volunteers yearly to create a Memorial Day flag garden on Boston Common.
Thousands and thousands of flags are used, each representing a Massachusetts resident who died in the line of duty since the Revolutionary War. The flag garden is a powerful reminder of why Memorial Day is on the calendar each year, and it’s a good way to work some conversations about U.S. history into your time out on the boat later in the weekend.
6. Portland, Maine
The Old Port section of Portland, Maine, is where you go to get your groove on during the Memorial Day weekend. This city on Casco Bay reeks of maritime history, with wharves and piers that used to be abuzz with working-waterfront activity and that today are filled with restaurants, shops, and nightlife.
Rock ’n’ roll, blues, rockabilly, throwback cover bands—you can find all kinds of tunes in this city, along with many tasty eateries. Waterfront dining is an option, and much of the action is within walking distance or a quick cab ride from the boat at the local marina.
Pro Tip: After booking your boat rental for Memorial Day weekend, make sure to use the Share Booking Details feature to bring your favorite crewmates on board.
7. Seattle, Washington
One of the best trips for Memorial Day weekend is to Seattle, where the holiday will coincide with Northwest Folklife. It’s a festival that a nonprofit puts on to celebrate the art, culture, and traditions of the Pacific Northwest.
After some time relaxing on the boat in the morning, you can spend the afternoon checking out the music, dancing, arts, food, and other festival offerings. There’s no entry fee—everyone is welcome—but donations are encouraged.
A weekend of boating and exploring the festival is a terrific blend of fun in the sun and unlimited learning.
Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone — whether you own a boat or you’re just renting — the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat, book a boat, or make money as a captain.