The 12 Best Lakes In The U.S. For Houseboating

Vacations and weekends are a beautiful part of our busy lives. Everyone will always  try to take advantage of every single second of their vacation. That is the reason many people look to find the best possible place to go and visit. 

Combining a vacation with a houseboat is a great way to make sure that you have the most fun while never having to leave the boat. But figuring out where to go is always an issue. 

No matter what you’re looking for — a romantic getaway or a rugged adventure — there is probably a lake out there that will work just right for you. When it comes to finding the perfect lake for floating around on your houseboat, sometimes location really does make a difference. 

For example, if you live near Chicago you might want to take your houseboat on one of the Great Lakes. On the other hand, if you’re more of a sun-worshiper, try heading south to one of these great lakeside vacation spots in Florida. 

What are the best places in the U.S. for houseboating? Some of the best places to go houseboating are:

  1. Lake Ouachita in Arkansas
  2. Shasta Lake in California
  3. Lake Powell in Arizona/Utah
  4. Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia
  5. Table Rock Lake in Missouri
  6. Lake Tahoe
  7. Winding River Reservoir (Arkansas)
  8. Blue Hole Lake, Sanibel Island, Florida
  9. Sand Island Park, Tennessee
  10. Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida
  11. Big Pine Key, Florida
  12. Lake Okeechobee, Florida

There are of course countless places that you could visit where you could rent a houseboat but these are 12 great options that are in various places in the USA. Each one will leave you with memories to last a lifetime and can be enjoyed with all of your family and friends. 

In the USA,  lakes, marinas and rivers are always a major attraction for everyone who visits. Because of the variety of these bodies of water in the U.S., all of them provide a unique visual experience to the visitors. Just visiting these places is not enough for most people. You can rent a houseboat at these lakes and rivers to get a complete experience while also being able to enjoy all of the water activities just steps from where you sleep. Vacationing on a houseboat is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. 

As I mentioned earlier, the U.S. has a variety of lakes and rivers. Below is a list of some of the most scenic places which you should try and visit when planning your next trip. 

1. Lake Ouachita

Lake Ouachita is a beautiful artificial lake constructed by damming off the Ouachita river by Blakely Mountain Dam. Since its construction in 1953, it has been serving the visitors with its beautiful scenery and houseboating experience. Ouachita National Forest also surrounds it. 

Lake Ouachita  is located near two other lakes, Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine. Also the hot springs of Hot Springs National Park add some other places you can go while on your vacation. There is plenty of scenery along the lake as well as in nearby areas. 

There are a variety of places to rent houseboats along the lake including:

And of course many more. Houseboating on Lake Ouachita is great fun for the entire family. 

2. Shasta Lake

Shasta Lake is another place which needs to be visited at least once in your lifetime. Located in California, Shasta Lake is a popular tourist destination. This lake is large enough to allow you to have plenty of room for your houseboat trip. 

Here the houseboats are available in all kinds of different sizes and with a variety of amenities. You can choose your favorite one which best suits your taste and needs.

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Forget about your regular life and spend a few days here to get the complete benefit of your houseboat experience. The luxurious views of the Shasta lake will allow you to enjoy the views from sun up to sun down. Even once it gets dark, you can enjoy the massive amount of stars that can be seen from your houseboat’s deck.  Shasta Lake will give you all those things which you will want to experience while on board . 

Some places to rent houseboats on Shasta Lake are:

There are of course many other places where you can rent a houseboat so be sure and call around and get rates from every place on the lake that rents them. 

3. Lake Powell

Lake Powell is another beautiful and giant lake, large enough for renting a houseboat. It is the second-largest human-made reservoir in the United States. Millions of tourists visit it every year. 

Houseboating is a major attraction at Lake Powell. The thing which makes Lake Powell unique is the variety that it offers. Here you can see the Kayenta sandstone, which is the formation from the Jurassic period. Another thing for the visitors to see is Tower Butte. The famous landmarks include Rainbow bridge, Glen Canyon Dam and Hire Crossing Bridge. 

All of these places are amazing to visit, especially if it is the first time that you have been to the area. The best thing which will add to your houseboating experience is the variety of fish species that you can see or catch.  You can have a glimpse of different species of fish while you are on board or even when you are fishing. 

If you need to rent a houseboat on Lake Powell you can rent one at the following places:

The last one has a variety of different marinas listed on it so you can choose which boat you prefer and even make reservations for that boat directly on the site. 

4. Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake is a beautiful lake located in the Roanoke Region of Virginia. Smith Mountain Lake is quite famous for its recreation opportunities which makes it quite popular with visitors.  Also located along the lakeshore at Wirtz, Virginia is the Gwin Dudley Home Site, listed on the National Register of historic places in 2008. 

You will easily find a houseboat at the variety of rental places that should be able to fit your needs. Other sources of recreation include boating, water skiing, fishing and sightseeing. This lake is sure to amaze you with its gorgeous views and other fun opportunities while you vacation there. Considering the fact that more than a million visitors visit this place every year, it is undoubtedly one of the best places for houseboat rentals in the U.S.

There are many other places that rent boats but Parrot Cove is one of the only ones that have houseboats for rent. If you are only going to stay a day or two it might be worthwhile to rent a pontoon boat and sleep on shore instead of renting a houseboat. You will ultimately have to decide what is best for you. 

5. Table Rock Lake

Table Rock Lake  is another scenic place located in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas. There are several commercial marinas along the lake, which makes it a great place for tourists to find a variety of vessels. 

All kinds of houseboats are available here. The visitors can choose the best one that will fit their needs. Table Rock State Park is another tourist attraction here. All the different kinds of commercial marinas serves houseboat lovers in every possible way. 

This lake can surely make your houseboating experience an amazing one. If you are going houseboating for the first time, this is a great place to start. If you have experienced houseboating in the past, this lake will give you an all-new experience. Because of its centralized local this is probably the most accessible lake on the list. 

If you are going to rent a houseboat on the lake you can do so at the following place

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There isn’t a lot of variety at this lake either for houseboats but there are other places to choose from for normal boat rentals or you can rent a houseboat from the above place. 

6. Lake Tahoe


Southwestern California

Why It’s Awesome: 

The largest freshwater lake in the country, Lake Tahoe has been drawing tourists here since the 1800s. It was even named “The World’s Most Beautiful Place” by Reader’s Digest magazine back in 1991. 

Today, this lake offers some of the most dramatic scenery in all of North America as well as access to incredible hiking trails, golf courses, casinos, beaches, and water sports like jet skiing and windsurfing. If boating isn’t your thing, there are also plenty of opportunities to stay put on shore. 

There are numerous campgrounds, RV parks, hotels, restaurants, bars, and many other activities waiting for you at any given time. You can rent a houseboat from the marina or even have a private captain pick you up and drop you off when you wish. 

Windy Point State Park, located along the north side of the lake, provides visitors with breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the blue waters of Lake Tahoe. Take a hike across miles of open meadows and pine trees, or head over to Incline Village, which features a casino, shops, restaurants, and a marina. 

For those who prefer to be outside, mountain biking trails, horseback riding trails, tennis courts, and volleyball courts await you. And don’t forget about skiing and snowboarding — both Heavenly Valley and Kirkwood offer world-class slopes nearby. 

Houseboat rentals start at $4,000 per week.

7. Winding River Reservoir (Arkansas)



Why It’s Awesome: 

This reservoir is actually made up of several different smaller ones, including McCurtain County Pond, White Rock Lake, and Bald Cypress Lake. However, its main namesake is Winding River itself, a tributary of the Mississippi River. With so many rivers meeting at only one spot, this place definitely draws a lot of attention. 

There are plenty of places to land on the shores of the reservoir. But if you’d rather stay dry, there are a number of small islands dotting the river and offering seclusion. Some of them include Cat Island, Long Island, Little Island, and Stony Island. 

Or maybe you’ll opt to spend your days kayaking through the calm waters of the winding river instead. Rent a kayak or canoe from the local rental shop and paddle yourself across these beautiful waters. 

It will save you tons on fuel instead of paying to take your houseboat out instead. 

8. Blue Hole Lake, Sanibel Island, Florida


Southwest Florida

Why It’s Awesome: 

Located on the Gulf Coast, Blue Hole Lake is surrounded by pristine white sand dunes and palm trees. Surrounded by nature makes this area especially popular among bird watchers during springtime. If you’re looking for something less adventurous, there are still lots of things to do here. 

Check out the beach, visit the Sanibel Historical Museum & Gardens, or relax in one of the many waterfront lounges. 

If you’ve got a houseboat, you can dock it at one of the many docks around the lake. Just remember that they’re not always included with the price of admission. Many of them charge extra fees to use. 

A good option would be renting a pontoon boat from one of the locals or chartering a yacht for the day. Charter boats usually run anywhere between $75-$300+ per hour depending on size, how far into the lake you go, and how big of a party you bring along.

9. Sand Island Park, Tennessee


 East Side of Memphis

Why It’s Awesome: 

Nestled within the boundaries of downtown Memphis, this park sits across the street from Mud Island Park. Although neither of these areas are technically lakes, they’re still perfect for spending time outdoors and exploring the city together. Not only is this a fun family activity, but it’s also a great way to enjoy the outdoors in the middle of a bustling metropolis. 

This park stretches over 32 acres and includes playgrounds, baseball fields, basketball courts, soccer fields, picnic areas, a skateboard park, and more. During warmer months, there are tons of outdoor events happening here like concerts, festivals, and fireworks shows. Plus, there are plenty of fun activities to partake in while visiting. 

For instance, you can play tennis, catch a game of miniature golf, practice yoga, or join a guided tour led by professional guides. 

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10. Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida


Southeast Florida

Why It’s Awesome: 

Ever heard of Miami Vice? Well, this movie took inspiration from real life. Back in the ’70s, Miami had a drug smuggling problem and the government decided to solve it by building a massive canal that stretched all the way down to the ocean. Nowadays, this bay houses hundreds of species of fish, birds, and plants. 

It’s also home to dozens of manatee, dolphins, sea turtles, and sharks. While you might not see any wildlife while swimming in the bay, you certainly won’t go unnoticed once you step onshore. 

While on land, explore the various neighborhoods surrounding Biscayne Bay. They each have their own unique vibe. From trendy to historic, this place has it all. 

Whether you’re looking for a quiet night alone, a relaxing weekend away with friends, or a wild rager with strangers, this area has everything you need. 

11. Big Pine Key, Florida


Northeast Florida

Why It’s Awesome: 

Located on the Atlantic Ocean, Big Pine Key attracts thousands of visitors every year. Once you arrive, check out the town’s famous lighthouse, stroll along the boardwalk, or take a dip in the ocean. 

Aquatic enthusiasts should know that this key doesn’t have its own marina. Instead, you’re encouraged to moor your boat wherever you please. That said, there are plenty of options for folks who want to stay on shore. Check out the island’s many inns and resorts to find a nice place to sleep. 

For people who want to cook their own meals, there are two grocery stores, a bakery, and a handful of restaurants to choose from. 

12. Lake Okeechobee, Florida


Central Florida

Why It’s Awesome: 

As the name suggests, Lake Okeechobee is part of a large body of water called the “Great Floridian Basin.” Created by glaciers millions of years ago, this lake covers nearly 1,200 square miles. The climate here is tropical, making summer temperatures high and winter lows low. 

You’ll find plenty of attractions here. Spend some time shopping at one of the many outlet malls, go on a boat cruise, or simply lay on the beach. One word of warning though — be careful when swimming because the waters are full of crocodiles. 


All the lakes and rivers discussed above each have their own unique characteristics. Some have more beautiful scenery while others have more things to do in the area , Each lake is a great place to visit and would be tons of fun on a houseboat. Each place I mentioned would be great to visit but it is far from an exhaustive list. There are tons of different lakes that would be great to houseboat on so find one that is near you and is a place you would love to visit. 

The houseboating experience at each of these discussed places can be a lot of fun so deciding the best place to go can certainly be difficult. Nature is full of a variety of wonderful views and lakes and rivers can often boast some of the best views around. 

Your experience on board a houseboat in all of these rivers and lakes is enhanced by the beauty of each location. Another thing that makes houseboating even better is it can make you feel as one with nature. You can go to sleep while listening to the water lapping against the boat and wake up to the exact same sounds. 

Being one with nature can help you forget your problems and leave you feeling refreshed. Each place on this list is definitely different  from the others but each one would be an enjoyable trip for you and your family and friends.  

Taking the time to build lasting memories with your family is something that they will remember for years to come! There are many times when my family and I get together that we reminisce about the great times we had on the water. That is something that you should try to create with your family too!

Matthew Robbs

I love the outdoors and especially spending time with my family. Whether on a boat or at the beach, my happy place is near the water.

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