Top 5 Cities to Dock and Dine in the USA 🍽️

Posted Nov 04 2021 in Guides

One of the times you will be heading to the shore on your boating vacation will be to get fresh local food. It’s been like that for centuries - sailors, pirates, and merchants, all looking for a good place to dock, dine and unwind on land.

That’s why picking the ultimate dining spot should be a priority for your sailing group as well. No matter your eating habits and food preferences, will present you with new destinations to explore by boat that will fit your dining expectations.

Here are some of the best eat by boat stops in the US:

Newport Beach, California

Residents of the bay and the interconnecting canal praise the boating lifestyle. And since boating is an essential part of the local community culture, so it’s safe to say the ultimate sailing activities make Newport Beach one of the top places to dock and dine in California.

Where to dine in Newport Beach?

Here are the top picks in the area to dine by boat:

1. Gondola Adventures is the best spot to take your partner or date for a romantic dinner. You don’t need your boat because you will be strolling along the canals on a real gondola, with a private gondolier. Relax and enjoy delicious meals and picturesque views.

2. The Cannery is one of Newport Beach’s dock and dine gems. The most historical eat by boat destination in the area will take you back in time to the beginning of the commercial fishing boom in California, with a traditional industrial atmosphere.

3. Balboa Bay Club & Resort's Cabin Restaurant will win your heart over with exquisite fine meals. The delicious cuisine will make you want to stay more. So if you are looking at possibilities to spend the night, the resort also offers a respite for boaters. 

4. Sol Cocina is a go-to dining place for sailors passing through Newport Beach. If you are a fan of Mexican cuisine, this is an amazing place to dock and dine in the heart of the Balboa Marina.

Where to dock in Newport Beach?

Newport Beach is a haven for boating enthusiasts. The bay is great for both large boats and small vessels. The inner bay is known for its unobstructed waterway, allowing small boats to enter without obstructions. 

Even though Newport Beach is famous for its calm waters, advises you to put out a couple of fenders, just in case. When passing through the bay waters, be aware of the mooring buoys and the attendant lines, there are plenty of those in the area. Other hazards are rarely an issue.

As for docking, the Newport Beach restaurants are super accomodating to boaters. Most of the dining places have floating docks upfront, making docking is as easy as possible. You can also find free docking spaces in the public docks in the region.

What to do?

Done with dining and want to have a look around? Great! Because Newport Beach is more an just a dock-and-dine hotspot. Go whale watching, explore Crystal Cove, visit the Nautical Museum or go golfing at Pelican Hill. The area is also a celebrity residence hub, so if you want to tour the homes of the rich and famous - you are in the right place. 

Key West, Florida

When it comes to Florida, all watercraft enthusiasts know that the Florida Keys are the best place to be boating on the East Coast. With that in mind, Key West is one of the ultimate hotspots for boat activities, where you can savor the sailor life and eat exquisite Caribbean meals.

Where to dine in Key West?

Here are the hotspots for dock and dine tourism in Key West:

1. Schooner Wharf is an excellent open-air restaurant, with a traditional old Key West ambiance. Thanks to the fun and entertainment vibes and specialties to die for, the dining haven has been a favorite dine-by-boat spot for Florida boaters and tourists for years! 

2. SHOR Seafood Grill at Hyatt Resort is a well-known culinary gem among Key West boaters. The chic restaurant stuns with delicious seafood, exquisite atmosphere, and an outdoor porch ideal to watch the picturesque Key West sunset. 

Where to dock in Key West?

Since it is a boating hotspot, Key West might cause you some minor discomfort with docking. Of course, there will always be somewhere to dock, even if it’s not right in front of the dining places.

Try to find a space to tie your boat up at the Key West City Marina’s fixed docks at an hourly or daily rate. The port is not that busy and is quite close to the restaurants we suggested. If you prefer to dock at the restaurant, contact the Schooner Wharf via their website. They can arrange docking availability for a small charge.

What to do?

Key West is a hotspot for boating and on-the-water activities. So if you want to practice watersports, watch sea life, go fishing, enjoy scuba diving or snorkeling, just hop on a boat and enjoy yourself! On land, get on the Conch Train to tour the city or explore treasure artifacts at Mel Fisher's Maritime Museum. In the evening, you can join a local pub crawl. 

Miami, Florida

Miami is more than a touristy hotspot for parties, watersports, diving, and beach activities. The city is also the boating paradise of the sunshine state! Full of life and vibrance, the spectacular metropolitan region is home to some of the best spots to dock and dine on the East Coast. 

Where to dine in Miami?

Here are the top places to eat by boat in the area:

1. Lido Bayside Grill is a wonderful spot to grab bayside drinks and bites. Prepared with care, using local produce and ingredients, the coastal cuisine at this eatery is exquisite. The grilled and seafood delicacies are a must-try! Reservations are recommended due to the high interest of tourists and boaters. 

2. Kiki on the River is located on the pristine shore of the Miami River. The restaurant stands out with a romantic ambiance, delivering the ultimate Mykonos experience! With a Mediterranean-style riverfront and excellent Greek cuisine, this place will blow your mind. Kiki on the River is also a top Miami party place during the weekend, perfect for those who want to unwind off the boat.

Where to dock in Miami?

Both restaurants have docking areas available for their clients. Lido Bayside Grill has a few hundred feet of space for boats, however, there is a 4-hour fee of $50 (which is not that much for docking in the Miami area). Kiki on the river also has convenient spots to tie up, more precisely - a 150-foot dock. The docking fee is $3 or $5 per foot. The price varies during weekdays and weekends.

What to do?

Go by your own boat or join a private yacht tour to appreciate all the wonderful views of the cityscape and surrounding isles. A tour of the Miami River or Miami harbor, or a boat trip to the Florida Keys will definitely make your day! 

If you want to go on foot, pay a visit to Miami Beach and South Beach. Stop by the Bayside Marketplace, Art Deco Historic District, Little Havana and Calle Ocho, or the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Some other prime destinations in the area include the Everglades National Park, Jungle Island, and Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park.

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

Don’t miss the chance to see the Lake of the Ozarks and enjoy the fantastic dining options the region has in store for boaters. The scenic shoreline is home to dozens of restaurants and entertainment venues. During the summer, the getaway lake turns into a boating hotspot, promising a great time for every sailor’s taste and preferences.

Where to dine in Lake of the Ozarks?

Here are several of the must-visit dock and dine restaurants at Lake of the Ozarks:

1. Shorty Pants Lounge is all about the visitors who dock and dine. The restaurant serves amazing comfort food and offers both indoor and outdoor seating for boaters. The perfect place to take a break from sailing to enjoy a delicious burger.

2. H. Toad's Bar & Grill is a traditional American diner. Besides the fun casual vibe, the restaurant offers cruising patrons good bistro food and striking panoramic views of the sunset over the lake.

Where to dock in Lake of the Ozarks?

These diners have floating docks designated for their guests. Hence, in case you decide to visit the dock and dine restaurants in the area, feel free to dock your boat upfront. The boating traffic in the lake is high, so wakes are a common occurrence. So is wind. Therefore, upon securing the boat, remember to use several fenders and try to keep the boat a few feet off the dock.

What to do?

The Lake of the Ozarks is superb for trout fishing endeavors. There are also many tourist attractions. For wine lovers, the local Seven Springs Winery has something for every taste. Another way to spend the day is to pay a visit to the beautiful historic Willmore Lodge. And if you like scenic grottos and caverns, the area’s Bridal Cave should be on top of your list. 

Newport, Rhode Island

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the boating haven of Rhode Island - Newport. The harbor is always full of life, especially during the summer season when people just want to cruise on their boats and visit local dockable restaurants to sample quality meals.

Where to dine in Newport, Rhode Island?

Here are the top restaurant spots to dock and dine on Rhode Island’s Newport:

1. Pier 49 Seafood Restaurant is a great place to try excellent seafood dishes. The distinctive eatery is located in the Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina, on the former Navy pier. The pier is scenic and attracts lots of hungry and lots of curious transient visitors.

2. Newport Shipyard Belle's Cafe offers splendid cuisine and a wonderful sea view of the bay and the historic lightship moored beside the eatery. This cafe is the perfect place to enjoy a gourmet lunch or breakfast in Newport.

3. Forty 1° North Grill is a good choice for those who want to roam around the waterfront historic district before or after dinner. The grill offers fresh local seafood and fish to grant the ultimate boating vacation experience.

Where to dock in Newport, Rhode Island?

When you find yourself in Newport, on a boat, looking for quality food to eat, head straight over to the restaurants we recommended. Take advantage of the floating docks ashore, and leave your boat for a while to enjoy a tasty meal. 

Always follow channel markers. Also, pay attention to potential water hazards as the area has a lot of mooring buoys in place and seabird detractors near shore. Upon docking, do not forget to put the fenders out, as the area is known for quite the sea breeze. 

What to do?

Take a walk on the coastline to visit the International Yacht Restoration School and see how boats are being built and restored. Thames Street Glass is an on-land attraction that will let you watch the glassblowers work in person, and for a fee, you can attempt to blow a glass object on your own. Go on the Viking trolley tour to see all the historic waterfront mansions of Newport. Including the world-famous “The Great Gatsby” estate from the movie.

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