Discover the Top Ports on the East Coast

Posted Aug 17 2021 in Destinations

Boating on the East Coast can be a breeze when you know where are the best places to dock, dine and unwind. Even if you adore sailing, taking a break from the water is always a great way to spice up a boat trip.

So before you head out on your next big voyage, let us help you pick the best boat stops for the journey. Learn more about the history, boat accessibility, and various on-land activities of the top ports on the Atlantic shore.

Top East Coast harbors and boat ports

Newport, Rhode Island

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the boating gem of Rhode Island - the amazing Newport! There is a viable reason this port has gained the title The Sailing Capital of the World. 

Established in 1639, Newport soon proved to be one of the most productive new world colonies at the time. Ever since, the port waters were always a go-to place for recreational boating, military watercraft, and commercial vessels.

There are numerous museums, spots for historic maritime sightseeing, and cultural sights to visit by land. And on the water, anglers can enjoy some quality fishing time. Coastal waters are full of yellowtail, white sea bass, tuna, striped marlin, and halibut.

If you plan to visit the city or just make a stop with your watercraft or boat rental, note that Newport has an operational Maritime Center. Located on Thames Street, in the Armory Building, it’s a hot spot for transient boaters, as it allows visitors to take a shower, do laundry and take a quick rest. 

Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston port is one of the best harbors on the Atlantic coast. This scenic boat haven has been a hot spot for sailing ever since the time of the first European settlers in Boston, in the 1600s. It is positioned near two peninsulas and a few local islands.

Don’t miss out on touring the scenic isles of the Boston Harbor Islands State and National Park. Roam around the island with your boat and stop by the cute villages onshore. The highlight of your trip will probably be the Graves or the Long Island lighthouses. 

If you like historical places, head over to the original port around Town Dock and the Great Cove. The old port was thriving for centuries and is worth the visit. Currently, you can find the Quincy Market and the Custom House Tower there. If you want a more marine-inspired experience, the New England Aquarium is located close by, south of the pier.

The area is quite renewed with a contemporary glass cityscape. However, you can still see the old shipbuilding facilities and buy local fresh fish and seafood at the Fish Pier. Some of the other harbor highlights include the Fort Point Channel and the Institute for Contemporary Art.

Charleston, South Carolina

With marine traditions and history dating back to 1670, Charleston is currently proven to be a top port on the East Coast. The locals will gladly take you back in time with stories about the harbor, its colonizers, pirates, and merchant trades. Even though the current cityscape is a bit industrial and modernized, the area still preserves its authentic charm. 

If you find yourself near Charleston, pay a visit to the two scenic historical forts - Fort Moultrie and Palmetto-log Fort. Learn more about America’s waterfront defense from 1776 to 1947 at Fort Moultrie. Catch a glimpse of history at the Palmetto-log Fort, which was attacked before its completion, but still served its purpose a century later. 

The Charleston Harbor has wonderful views in store for those who want to stroll along the Lowcountry shore. The long coastline is home to pristine beaches, barrier islands, lighthouses, historical ship displays, and fascinating tidal marshes. 

Norfolk, Virginia

If you love boating activities, this is a must-visit sailor spot, situated on the Northern East Coast. Norfolk is known as one of the few northern ports that do not freeze during the winter season. Making it a wonderful boating place to visit all year round.

Once you find yourself roaming around this Virginia port, you got to try the local food. There are many amazing restaurants in the area. But one stands out in particular. Freemason Abbey Restaurant and Tavern is a top historical place near the Nauticus Pier, where you can savor delicious award-winning seafood.

Another sightseeing gem in the coastal area is Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church. It is surrounded by history, and famous as one of the few buildings that survived the Norfolk town fire and siege in 1776. The building still stands tall, with an incredible story and cannonball marks on the wall. 

The largest naval complex in the world is also located in Norfolk, near Sewells Point. It is open for visitors with an interest in maritime chronicles. And if you want to dive deep into the history of the place, head over to the Mariner’s Museum and Park.

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