Here’s a fun fact: According to a recent survey of adults 18 and older, nearly 20 percent of Americans are now planning road trips with itineraries that are fully contained within 100 miles of home. People traveling really long distances for vacations—say, 1,000 or more miles from home—make up less than 7 percent of the US population.
The takeaway is that it sometimes pays big dividends to think small when it comes to planning an escape. With a boat, it’s entirely possible to spend an afternoon or a long weekend away from the grind, often right up the coast from home.
In fact, more and more marinas are adding waterfront dining and other amenities that make them great destinations unto themselves. Some marinas are also within walking distance or a quick cab ride of vibrant downtowns with all kinds of options for an afternoon escape or a long-weekend getaway.
One good example is Marina Jack in Sarasota, Florida. It’s part of the Suntex Marinas network, and its waterfront dining room is open daily for lunch and dinner. Specialties include steaks, seafood and pasta, along with gluten-free and vegetarian dishes. The marina is also within walking distance of downtown attractions, including off-site restaurants, for yachtsmen to explore.
Up the coast from there, for cruisers in the Chesapeake Bay region, is Little Creek Marina in Norfolk, Virginia. The Cutty Sark bar and restaurant is on-site at this Morningstar Marinas property, with another fun waterfront-dining option, Longboards, just a five-minute walk away (try the crab mac ’n’ cheese or the blackened yellowfin tuna tacos).
Another option for a quick escape is Safe Harbor Newport Shipyard in Rhode Island. It has on-site dining with Belle’s Cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch daily (don’t miss the lobster rolls), and the marina is within walking distance of historical downtown Newport. Visiting boaters can enjoy the views at the shipyard and then stroll over to the photography gallery owned by renowned yacht photographer Onne van der Wal at Bannister’s Wharf. Grab a keepsake souvenir that shows the city or that inspires future escapes to other boating locales.
Yet another example is Bahia Mar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which is part of the Suntex network and great for exploring the shops along Las Olas Boulevard. It’s also near the Riverwalk arts-and-entertainment district, which has galleries, dining and concerts.
The point is this: Yachtsmen who want to stay a bit closer to home often have fantastic options for a great escape. And sometimes a little change of pace can make a world of difference.
Notable Marinas for Waterfront Dining
- Dockside Marina in Milford, Connecticut, makes build-your-own pizzas, along with specialty versions such as the Mutha Shuka, which is topped with fresh clams and bacon.
- Chesapeake Inn Restaurant and Marina in Chesapeake City, Maryland, makes memorable sushi, along with a duet of crab and lobster ravioli.
- The Boca Raton on Florida’s East Coast is home to The Flamingo Grill for serious steaks and chops.