Once you have chosen your favorite, cast your vote here!
With more than three times the nominations of any other place, the residents of this small nautical town have a lot of passion. This 4.5-square-mile peninsula separates Salem Harbor from Massachusetts Bay. Located just 12 miles north of Boston, it feels a world away with a slower pace and a much lower volume.
Marblehead is considered by local historians to be the birthplace of the United States Navy, and it played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War. The residents’ pride for their town’s service in the Revolution is still strong and hard not to notice. Walk a hundred yards from one of Marblehead’s many marinas and you will immediately spot signs of the town’s Colonial past. From narrow and winding roads that form a web throughout the town, to the red brick storefronts built to fit the roads, Marblehead still has the authentic feel of Colonial America.
Making a living from the sea is another tradition that Marblehead has yet to surrender. With some of New England’s best fishing available right in its backyard, there are many local fishermen, which benefits Driftwood, The Landing, The Barnacle and other seafood restaurants.
Youth sailing programs have a serious tradition here as well. “We start our sailors young with formal lessons at 6 years old and races (in the summer) on Wednesdays and Saturdays,” wrote Sandy Maio in her nomination letter.
“There are probably more moorings in the Marblehead Harbor than parking spaces downtown,” Maio pointed out. “That tells you our priority.” If you haven’t figured it out by now, these guys really love boating.
Steeped in yachting tradition as solid as the granite boulders that encase this peninsula, all it takes is one visit and you too may want to settle in Marblehead.
Boothbay Harbor bills itself as “The Boating Capital of New England.” This deep-water harbor in Maine’s midcoast region is home to countless sailboats, fishing boats and several dozen excursion vessels for exploring the region, which may be most famous as home of the Friendship Sloop, Maine’s original lobster boat and an enduring design.
Balmy Days Cruises on Pier 8 can take you on a harbor tour or an hour and a half trip that takes in Southport Island, Capitol Island, Mouse Island, Ram Island Light and Burnt Island Light. It also offers outings to Monhegan Island, famous as an artist’s colony, about a dozen miles offshore. (If you can stay a night and want to splurge, the grand, old Island Inn on Monhegan is well worth the trip.)
Whale-watching and seal-watching cruises, Atlantic puffin excursions and fishing charters are available through Cap’n Fish and Capt. Ron’s cruises in Boothbay Harbor, and you can also rent kayaks and explore the shore more personally. But if you came by boat you may be ready to simply wander the streets full of weathered charm and explore some dining, shopping and land-based day trips.
Get a seat on the roof terrace at Boat House Bistro Tapas Lounge & Restaurant. Its name is too long, but the view is fantastic and the food, as the name suggests, is locally influenced international cuisine that’s top-notch. The Lobster Dock is good for the region’s specialty, and if you want something different, try the Tugboat Inn Restaurant, which serves great, basic food in — yes — a setting that’s part tugboat. (Try the blueberry pie.)
Historic Bath and the Maine Maritime Museum make a great side trip; the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is a dramatic beauty; Damariscotta is an incredibly charming town; and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland has an impressive collection of Homers, Wyeths and other Maine-inspired artists.
If you drop in to Boothbay Harbor, you’re likely to find more than enough here to fill a vacation — or a lifetime.
Welcome signs announce that you are entering Sidney-by-the-Sea, a charming little city on the Saanich Peninsula at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Guarded by the Gulf Islands on the Canadian side of the Salish Sea and the San Juan Islands on the American side, Sidney treats its residents to stunning views of the Cascade Mountains in British Columbia and the Olympic Mountains on the eponymous peninsula in Washington State. Modern, friendly marinas and a nearly endless variety of destinations among the islands, as well as the mainland, make this place an irresistible home port.
Boating here can be tricky, especially for sailboats that don’t have auxiliary power. The islands play games with tidal currents, which often run at more than 5 knots, so the helmsman has to pay close attention. Swirls and eddies are common. On the other hand, if you know what you’re doing, the challenge can be electrifying and the scenic rewards beyond comparison.
Although residents may catch a ride aboard one of the whale-watching boats, they can also take their own boats to the Gulf Islands north of Sidney in the Georgia Strait and watch for themselves. The city is a hub of fishing for salmon, cod, snapper, halibut, sole, crab and shrimp.
Of course, you don’t have to venture into the big waters, because boaters can depart Sidney to easily explore a wide variety of coves, inlets, marine parks and other sheltered waters. Paddling a kayak is a popular and exciting way to get close to the spectacular wooded islands.
No wonder folks who live in Sidney don’t want to leave.
At the literal and metaphorical center of Chesapeake Bay lies Annapolis. It’s home to nearly a dozen marinas that all put you in the center of the city, but the Annapolis Yacht Basin places you directly in the aorta. Depending on which slip you get, you may be only feet away from bustling Main Street. High-speed fuel pumps,
Wi-Fi access and immaculate amenities make for a comfortable extended stay.
There are plenty of dining options within walking distance too. Café Normandie and Luna Blu Ristorante Italiano have both received high praise for their ability to deliver both European ambience and flavor. If a bucket of blue crab claws and cold beer is more your speed, you’ve come to the right place. Cantler’s Riverside Inn and Mike’s Crab House are popular local spots.
For those who arrive in this port under power, the schooner Woodwind cruises provide a breath of fresh air while you pass a backdrop of lighthouses and the setting sun. There are always cultural offerings and, of course, the U.S. Naval Academy.
Annapolis has managed to blend 21st century amenities with 17th century charm.
When cruising the East Coast by way of either the Atlantic Ocean or the Intracoastal Waterway, the first impression of any destination is formed as the horizon melts away and the silhouette of the port appears.
Your first impression of Charleston will be that you have traveled back in time 300 years. The large, colorful mansions circa 1700s that line the city’s coast will have you scrambling for your camera. And you haven’t even been ashore yet!
Charleston welcomes every mariner but it specializes in accommodating large yachts. From wide channels and spacious marinas to 100-amp shore power and dockside concierge service, you will receive five-star service here.
When venturing in to town, travel by foot because there is so much to see that might be missed from a car. Antique shops, restaurants, taverns and museums inside shells of buildings a century old or more dot the street. While never a smart fashion statement, stretchy pants may be the best option when dining here. French, Creole and African traditions have blended together to form a unique gastronomic culture. Whether your preferred setting involves a dozen utensils or a waterside tavern, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any restaurant in the Low Country that doesn’t serve fresh seafood.
A town rich in flavor, beauty and history, Charleston transports you back in time. The question is will you ever want to rejoin 2012?