10 Best Party Coves in America

For many of us, there’s no place we’d rather be on a hot summer day than floating our boat in our favorite body of water. From lakes, bays, channels, and rivers to the vast open ocean, we’re always searching for the perfect place to drop anchor. Since many of you already know how to party on a boat, there’s only one question that remains: where to party? Hop onboard and set your navigation, these are the 10 best party coves in America (listed alphabetically by state).

At Chimney Rock on Lake Martin, you're just a 60-foot drop away from the party. Photo Courtesy: AL.com.
At Chimney Rock on Lake Martin, you’re just a 60-foot drop away from the party. Photo Courtesy: AL.com.

Chimney Rock, Lake Martin, AL

GPS Coordinates: 32.7148° N, 85.8985° W

First up on our list, we head down south to sweet home Alabama. Only accessible by water, Chimney Rock on Lake Martin is a popular hangout for adrenaline junkies of all ages. If you’re interested in doing a little cliff jumping, this is the place. With a 60-foot drop to the bottom, thrill seekers won’t be disappointed. If you’d rather stay on the boat and drink a cold one, don’t forget to check out the scenery. You can’t miss Chimney Rock’s array of graffiti—a full collection painted by Auburn-Alabama rivals and other local teens to show off their school spirit.

Pack your cooler, Bridgewater Channel on Lake Havasu provides stunning views and an authentic college spring break experience. Photo Courtesy: River Scene Magazine.
Pack your cooler, Bridgewater Channel on Lake Havasu provides stunning views and an authentic college spring break experience. Photo Courtesy: River Scene Magazine.

Bridgewater Channel, Lake Havasu, AZ

GPS Coordinates: 34.4839° N, 114.3225° W

If you really want to party, head to Lake Havasu to hava-some-fun. You won’t want to miss Bridgewater Channel, a half-mile stretch of waterway between London Bridge and Rotary Park. Famous for being featured on MTV’s spring break coverage not just once, but on multiple occasions, Lake Havasu isn’t for the faint of heart. For boaters who aren’t quite ready to get into the “spring break” mindset, we’d suggest avoiding Lake Havasu around the month of March. Otherwise, this 43-sq. mile long body of water is one of the State’s most popular recreational attractions with water temperatures ranging between 75-85 degrees.

Insert caption. Photo Courtesy: Key Largo Adventures. Crystal clear waters are just one of the many things to enjoy about this party cove at the sandbar in Islamorada, FL. Photo Courtesy: Key Largo Adventures.
Crystal clear waters are just one of the many things to enjoy about this party cove at the sandbar in Islamorada, FL. Photo Courtesy: Key Largo Adventures.

Holiday Isle sandbar, Islamorada, FL

GPS Coordinates: 24.9960° N, 80.5448° W

Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama,Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go… Just off Route 1 heading south through the Florida Keys, you’ll find our third party cove: the Holiday Isle sandbar in Islamorada. Also home to the famous “Kokomo” Resort, which is rumored to have served as inspiration for the Beach Boy’s hit song, Islamorada is about as close to paradise as you can find within the continental United States. So just how did this party cove makes its way on to our list? The answer is simple: Sandbar Sundays. Locals and tourists from across the Keys join in for this tradition as flocks of boats come together at the sandbar for a day filled with sun, sand and plenty of booze. 

Tie up to your neighbor to join the party at Harmon Creek Party Cove on Lake Cumberland. Photo Courtesy: Jay Nichols/Naples Image via LakeCumberlandPokerRun.net.
Tie up to your neighbor to join the party at Harmon Creek Party Cove on Lake Cumberland. Photo Courtesy: Jay Nichols/Naples Image via LakeCumberlandPokerRun.net.

Harmon Creek Party Cove, Lake Cumberland, KY

GPS Coordinates: 36.9159° N, 84.9591° W 

Winner of the Guinness Book of World Record’s “largest boat tie-up,” Harmon Creek Party Cove on Lake Cumberland has more to brag about than just tying 1,651 watercrafts together—it also happens to be host to one heck of a party scene. When Memorial Day, July Fourth, and Labor Day rolls around, there’s only one place to be in Kentucky. With over 100 miles in length, 1,200 miles of shoreline and an average depth of 90 feet, there’s plenty of room to party.

Big Muscamoot Bay, Lake Saint Clair, MI

GPS Coordinates: 42.5537° N, 82.6672° W 

To get a glimpse of the good life at a genuine Michigan party cove, take a look at the following footage captured by Michigan Drone Company:

What’s better than getting pizza delivered to you on your boat? Not much. Big Muscamoot Bay on Lake Saint Clair is the best place to be for parties and pizza (thanks to the S.S. Pizza Boat). If the smell of cheese and pepperoni filling the air while you’re relaxing on your sunpad isn’t enough to lure you in, it might also help that Lake Saint Clair is home to Joobie Nooner, an on-the-water Mardi Gras celebration that throws down twice a year.

Searching for the ultimate party cove? Look no further than Party Cove on Lake of the Ozarks. Photo Courtesy: Lake Ozark Pics.
Searching for the ultimate party cove? Look no further than Party Cove on Lake of the Ozarks. Photo Courtesy: Lake Ozark Pics.

Party Cove, Lake of the Ozarks, MO

GPS Coordinates: 38.1013° N, 92.6555° W

What used to be known as Anderson Hollow Cove in the Lake of the Ozarks is now commonly known as “Party Cove”—and with good reason. Out of all the party coves on our list, you won’t find a cove that parties harder than this. And did we mention that the Lake of the Ozarks just so happens to be the location of one of the hottest high-performance boating events in the country? The annual Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, held at the end of August, has been called the “mother of aquatic top-speed events” (find out more in the Top Go-Fast Boating Events for 2017).

Head to Big Island on Lake Minnetonka for a big party. Photo Courtesy: Drone Star Facebook.
Head to Big Island on Lake Minnetonka for a big party. Photo Courtesy: Drone Star Facebook.

Big Island, Lake Minnetonka, MN

GPS Coordinates: 44.9291° N, 93.5641° W

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Big Island on Lake Minnetonka is the place to party. In 1906, Big Island was home to its own amusement park with a roller coaster, carousel and a music pavilion. After some money issues, the amusement park closed its doors in 1911, making way for a private veteran’s camp to open years later. Years after that, Big Island was sold again and later named a public nature park. Long story short? While the names and faces have come and gone, Big Island has never lost its spirit to party. Each year on Independence Day, you’ll find no shortage of boaters looking to have a good time—and of course, no shortage of law enforcement doing their part to ensure that happens in a safe, law-abiding manner.

 Zephyr Cove, a small paradise tucked away on Lake Tahoe, is hands down the go-to party cove for those living on West Coast. Photo Courtesy: Zephyr Cove Tourism Media via Expedia.
Zephyr Cove, a small paradise tucked away on Lake Tahoe, is hands down the go-to party cove for those living on West Coast. Photo Courtesy: Zephyr Cove Tourism Media via Expedia.

Zephyr Cove, Lake Tahoe, NV

GPS Coordinates: 39.0068° N, 119.9484° W

After showing a lot of love to our East Coast and Midwestern boaters, it’s time we head out west to see how the Left Coast likes to party. One particular party cove draws in the crowds on this side of the country: Zephyr Cove on Lake Tahoe. This social oasis boasts luxury resorts, beachside bars, sand volleyball and much, much more—you might even find a waterside DJ booth. As summers come to an end on Lake Tahoe, the party never stops. Crowds move off the water and onto the ski slopes. 

It may not be Duval Street, but it's as close as you're going to get at the "Key West of Lake Erie" at Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island.
It may not be Duval Street, but it’s as close as you’re going to get at the “Key West of Lake Erie” at Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island.

Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island, OH

GPS Coordinates: 41.6542° N, 82.8207° W

The “Key West of Lake Erie” can be found at Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island. For this party cove, you won’t have to make the trip down Route 1 to Mile Marker 0 if you’re in search of tank tops, game fishing, and breathtaking sunsets. Much like its southern counterpart, the “Key West of Lake Erie” seems to be a slice of Ohio paradise that’s frozen in time. Laid-back vibes and strong-handed pours make Put-in-Bay an ideal spot for your next summer getaway. And don’t underestimate this relaxed crowd, when the sun goes down, they’ll be grooving.

 They say everything's bigger in Texas—and that includes the parties at Devil's Cove on Lake Travis. Photo Courtesy: DSkyMedia via Reddit.
They say everything’s bigger in Texas—and that includes the parties at Devil’s Cove on Lake Travis. Photo Courtesy: DSkyMedia via Reddit.

Devil’s Cove, Lake Travis, TX

GPS Coordinates: 30.4493° N, 97.9487° W

Last but not least, we round up our list at Devil’s Cove on Lake Travis. You know what they say; everything’s bigger in Texas, so we expect a lot out of this party cove. Luckily, Devil’s Cove doesn’t disappoint. Forget party boats, instead think party barge. Then, add waterslides, sound systems, barbecue pits, and margarita machines. Not to mention, even Brad Paisley has been known to make an appearance at Lake Travis’ Aquapalooza a few years back. While it may seem like just one big party, it’s also almost 30 sq. miles of warm waters and picturesque Hill Country scenery.

When you’re finally ready to pull up anchor, you can keep the party going by checking out boats.com’s Editor’s Choice: Best Waterfront Restaurants and Bars.


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on boats.com. Republished with permission.

Celebrating the Fourth of July by Boat

The Fourth of July holiday is the granddaddy of summer boating weekends in the United States, are if there’s one occasion an owner uses his boat during the year it’s going to be for the long July 4 weekend. There are some good reasons for that. Water temps are usually just about the warmest of the year—as are air temperatures—and the general weather pattern is about as docile as it gets, save for afternoon thunderstorms. But the real reason folks enjoy getting out on the water on July Fourth is to enjoy pyrotechnics in the form of a good old-fashioned fireworks display. And there’s no better place to view one than from a scenic spot on the water.

But before you load up your boat with food, beverages, family, friends, and a healthy supply of sunscreen, you should prepare yourself with some handy tips from our seasoned pros that will allow you to maximize the relaxation and fun factor… and reduce potentially stressful encounters with other boaters.

Throw out your anchor and enjoy the show this Fourth of July as the fireworks light up the sky above your favorite body of water.
Throw out your anchor and enjoy the show this Fourth of July as the fireworks light up the sky above your favorite body of water.
  • Pack and provision wisely. The likelihood is that at a minimum you’ll be out on the water for at least a few hours and possibly a full day. This means you’ll want to pack everything you’ll need, such as food, beverages, ice, towels, sunscreen, insect repellant, a change of clothes for each person, and, ahem, toilet paper and other personal items. You’ll never regret bringing along too much; you’ll always regret forgetting something critical that can ruin your enjoyment of the day.
  • Scope out the area ahead of time. Before you head out, take the time to glance at a nautical chart of the area (we’ve listed the ones you’ll need below, if available) to get an idea of where you’ll potentially anchor up or beach your boat. Look for an area that’s got good protection if storms are a possibility, and one that isn’t in the way of shipping or commercial vessels that may transit the area. You’ll also want to identify any charted security areas that are closed to vessel traffic.
  • Arrive early and claim your spot. Fireworks displays with a watery theme are notoriously popular, which means the best spots get swallowed up fairly early in the day. To guarantee a good position in the fleet, consider arriving before noon and making a full day of it. And also make sure you heed any security exclusion zones by keeping an eye out for U.S. Coast Guard or marine police patrol vessels. Another option is to scout out marinas near the fireworks venue and enjoy the show from a comfy, secure slip. Early reservations are generally a must, however.
  • Be prepared for potential anchoring and rafting drama. If you do decide to anchor out and enjoy a fireworks show make sure you keep a vigilant watch on other boaters who anchor around you. We’ve seen our fair share of dragging anchors and had to make plenty of gelcoat repairs, thanks to inexperienced boaters who carelessly anchor too close or don’t know how to safely and properly form a raft of boats. Being prepared to fend off or start the engine when someone pulls your anchor loose with theirs can prevent a lot of disasters.
  • If you opt for rafting up with friends, deploy plenty of fenders and tie the boats as tightly as possible. A loose-knit raft of boats tends to shift and bang much more than one that’s cinched down tightly, minimizing the space between the boats.
  • Pick a designated skipper. Lots of folks like to enjoy an adult beverage or two—especially on holidays—but you’ll want to ensure that your crew has at least one qualified person who agrees to abstain from consuming alcoholic beverages. If the potential for a hefty citation and possible jail time doesn’t deter you from operating under the influence, a collision or accident that could harm your friends or family should.

With those tips in mind, here’s our list of 10 top locations around the United States to view a July Fourth fireworks show from the water. And yes, there are plenty of smaller shows that can be equally excellent. Enjoy the show!

Boston, MA

When: July 4, 2016 at 10:30 p.m.

NOAA Chart Number: 13272

Where: Fireworks climb into the air from barges anchored in the Charles River. Vantage points by boat are available outside the barge exclusion zones in the Charles River, or outside shipping lanes in Boston Harbor. Slips are available on the north side of the Charles River in Charlestown, but definitely phone ahead for reservations and availability.

What better place to celebrate independence than from the Historic Boston Harbor? Photo courtesy Boston Chamber of Commerce.
What better place to celebrate independence than from the Historic Boston Harbor? Photo courtesy Boston Chamber of Commerce.

New York City, NY

When: July 4, 2016 at 9:20 p.m.

NOAA Chart Number: 12335

Where: The show launches from barges stationed in the East River, which has a healthy tidal current. That means the best places to anchor up and watch are in the harbor proper and from the Hudson River, where you can view the fireworks gracefully exploding above the iconic New York City skyline.

Providing some of the most scenic vistas for a fireworks show, the annual New York City July Fourth celebration on the East River is not to be missed. Photo courtesy of nycgo.com
Providing some of the most scenic vistas for a fireworks show, the annual New York City July Fourth celebration on the East River is not to be missed. Photo courtesy of nycgo.com

Washington D.C.

When: July 4, 2016 at 9:15 p.m.

NOAA Chart Number: 12289

Where: Fireworks are launched from the National Mall but are highly visible from the Potomac River between Gravely Point and Theodore Roosevelt Island. The best views are from the Potomac River between the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge and the Arlington Memorial Bridge. Security is tight here, so be sure to keep an eye out for patrol vessels and heed their warnings.

The Potomac River is an excellent spot to enjoy the Washington, D.C., July 4 fireworks from. Photo courtesy of National Park Service The Potomac River is an excellent spot to enjoy the Washington, D.C., July 4 fireworks from. Photo courtesy of National Park Service.
The Potomac River is an excellent spot to enjoy the Washington, D.C., July 4 fireworks from. Photo courtesy of National Park Service.

Charleston, SC

When: July 4, 2016 at approximately 9:15 p.m.

NOAA Chart Number: 11524

Where: Though Charleston has a number of fireworks displays that kick off all around the city on July Fourth; the Patriot’s Point display on the Cooper River is one of the largest and most stunning. It also offers the easiest access by water. Simply anchor off the USS Yorktown in the Cooper River or grab a slip at Charleston Harbor Marina (check for availability and reservations). Fireworks are launched just off the bow of the USS Yorktown, a historic Essex-class aircraft carrier.

Patriots Point and the USS Yorktown are where it’s at, when it comes to July 4 fireworks in Charleston, SC. Photo courtesy of Patriots Point Patriots Point and the USS Yorktown are where it’s at, when it comes to July 4 fireworks in Charleston, SC. Photo courtesy of Patriots Point
Patriots Point and the USS Yorktown are where it’s at, when it comes to July 4 fireworks in Charleston, SC. Photo courtesy of Patriots Point.

Miami, FL

When: July 4, 2016 at 9 p.m.

NOAA Chart Numbers: 11465, 11466, 11467, 11468

Where: You’ll face a lot of choices when deciding which fireworks display to view by boat this July Fourth in Miami. Definitely a town with a heartbeat driven by its vicinity to the water, Miami has a number of different displays every July Fourth. But our favorites are the ones at Bayfront Park (Downtown), Miami Beach, and Key Biscayne. And all are easily viewable from the water. Whether you anchor up in the ocean or closer in on the Intracoastal Waterway, each of these shows has a big wow factor.

There are a few fireworks displays to enjoy in Miami, FL, on July 4, but we like the one at Bayfront Park the best. Photo courtesy miamibeach.com.
There are a few fireworks displays to enjoy in Miami, FL, on July 4, but we like the one at Bayfront Park the best. Photo courtesy miamibeach.com.

Austin, TX

When: July 4, 2016 at 9:30 p.m.

Where: Hosted by the H-E-B Symphony Orchestra and launched from the shores of Lady Bird Lake (aka the Colorado River) at Vic Mathias Shores, this pyrotechnics show is a favorite of Austin boaters. While you’ll certainly find more folks ashore than afloat, the calm, protected waters of Lady Bird Lake and the surrounding scenery of the Austin hill country provide an incredible venue for this massive show.

Anchor up in Lady Bird Lake in Austin, TX for a spectacular show that’s launched from a nearby park. Photo courtesy of H-E-B Symphony Orchestra.
Anchor up in Lady Bird Lake in Austin, TX for a spectacular show that’s launched from a nearby park. Photo courtesy of H-E-B Symphony Orchestra.

Chicago, IL

When: July 4, 2016 at9:30 p.m.

NOAA Chart Number: 14927

Where: Chicago’s annual July Fourth fireworks show blasts off from Navy Pier in the beautiful blue waters of Lake Michigan. Its location makes it visible from many marinas in the area, as well as from Lake Michigan itself, a vantage point that provides the Chicago skyline as a backdrop.

The Chicago skyline is a backdrop for the July Fourth fireworks display at Navy Pier. Photo courtesy of Chicago Visitors Bureau The Chicago skyline is a backdrop for the July Fourth fireworks display at Navy Pier. Photo courtesy of Chicago Visitors Bureau.
The Chicago skyline is a backdrop for the July Fourth fireworks display at Navy Pier. Photo courtesy of Chicago Visitors Bureau.

San Francisco, CA

When: July 4, 2016 at 9:30 p.m.

NOAA Chart Number: 18650

Where: Like many big cities San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area provide many opportunities for fireworks watching. But it’s the downtown Pier 39 location that has some of the best views form the water. Get a reservation early from one of the Pier 39 marinas, or drift around in San Francisco Bay for the best views. Also consider some of the other area shows, such as those in Oakland, Marin, and Berkeley.

Pier 39 is a great place to visit by land in San Francisco, but it also provides a great backdrop for a July 4 waterside fireworks show. Photo courtesy of Visit San Francisco.
Pier 39 is a great place to visit by land in San Francisco, but it also provides a great backdrop for a July 4 waterside fireworks show. Photo courtesy of Visit San Francisco.

Portland, OR

When: July 4, 2016 at 10:05 p.m.

NOAA Chart Number: 18526

Where: The capping event for Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival, fireworks kick off on the Willamette River from Tom McCall Waterfront Park, which is just to the north and south of the Hawthorne Bridge on the west bank of the Willamette River. The good news is there’s plenty of river real estate for hundreds of boats to pack in and enjoy the show.

Listen to some blues and then watch the pyrotechnics fly at the annual Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, OR, July 4. Photo courtesy of Portland Blues Festival Listen to some blues and then watch the pyrotechnics fly at the annual Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, OR, July 4. Photo courtesy of Portland Blues Festival
Listen to some blues and then watch the pyrotechnics fly at the annual Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, OR, July 4. Photo courtesy of Portland Blues Festival.

Seattle, WA

When: July 4, 2016 at 10:20 p.m.

NOAA Chart Number: 18447

Where: Though the Seattle area is peppered with numerous waterways and waterside towns with all sorts of different fireworks displays, the one at Lake Union Park, as part of the wider Seafair Summer Fourth event, is by far the best. Pull up a piece of water in Lake Union, sit back, relax and enjoy the fire on high.

Lake Union is the place to be on July 4 in Seattle. Photo courtesy of City of Seattle.
Lake Union is the place to be on July 4 in Seattle. Photo courtesy of City of Seattle.

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on boats.com on June 2, 2016. Republished by permission.