Grand-scale gatherings are putting smiles on faces all over the country. Here are some of our favorite summer and fall festivals that you can reach by boat.
(Last Week in July, First Week in August)
History and music and boats, oh my! To say there's a lot going on at this weeklong community celebration is a vast under- statement. There are wine tastings, dance parties, luncheons, boat rides, craft fairs, golf and fishing tournaments, heritage tours, talent shows, kids' activities, parades, fireworks ... and that's only a partial list. Concerts on the waterfront each night mix hometown folks and thousands of visitors. Yankee Homecoming is a beautiful time to be in a beautiful place, with vendors on the street, wonderful family activities and a shop or restaurant for every taste. yankeehomecoming.com.
Suggested marina:Newburyport Harbor Marina
Yes, this coastal village is well known as the setting of Julia Roberts's 1988 movie, Mystic Pizza, but New Englanders know it to be so much more. In fact, the historic downtown district makes an ideal backdrop for one of the region's premier outdoor art shows. The Mystic Outdoors Arts Festival attracts more than 250 artists who exhibit oils, watercolors, photography, pastels, sculpture and acrylics. Plus, there are fun kids' art activities and an array of food and beverages from vendors and the many fine restaurants lining Main Street. And when you're done with all that, the captivating Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium await. mysticchamber.org
From majestic purple to deep pink, bright orange to soft yellow, a rainbow of colors lights up the sky each sunset along Little Traverse Bay. So, it's only natural that Festival on the Bay includes a celebration of these spectacular displays with nightly viewing parties and sundown cruises. The waterfront staging area is also home to daytime activities such as the Petoskey Croquet Open and the Chalk & Chocolate Festival, and 12 bands will rock the entertainment tent this year. Nearby Bayfront Park has a children's area with entertainers, face painting, kite flying, arts and crafts and a bounce house. www.petoskeyfestival.com
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
(Labor Day Weekend)
Grillin' and chillin' go hand in hand, and both dovetail brilliantly with boating. You can enjoy all of the above at this seventh annual affair organized by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. The family-friendly festival features live entertainment, boat rides, wakeboard demonstrations and a fun KidsZone. But, of course, the main attraction is the finger-licking food. Three cooking events --- the Anything Goes Contest, the official South Carolina Barbeque Championship and the Kansas City Barbeque Society Cook-Off --- promise to attract the nation's finest competitors. grandstrandevents.com
Suggested marina:Barefoot Marina
No need for an introduction here. Now in its 55th year, this world-renowned fest will feature 500 artists performing on eight stages for three nights and two days. The lineup features a who's who of the genre including Tony Bennett, Pat Metheny, Melody Gardot, Trombone Shorty, Robert Randolph, Bill Frisell, Eddie Palmieri, Gordon Goodwin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Christian McBride and the latest it girl, Esperanza Spalding. Seriously, if you're into jazz, this is the place to be in September. Other attractions include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, worth the trip on its own, plus plenty of Old California style to see and soak in. montereyjazzfestival.org
You might call this the festival that saved Fells Point. When highway construction threatened to demolish the waterfront community 45 years ago, the event was created as a way to raise funds and draw attention to its plight. Today, the super- sized street party draws an estimated 700,000 to the national historic district of Baltimore for flea markets, food vendors, parades, carnival rides and entertainment. Five stages feature rock n' roll, bluegrass, jazz, blues, folk, country, gospel, barber- shop and more. Meanwhile, the family and children's area spotlights a variety of fun and creative activities to delight children of all ages. preservation society.com