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Top 5 Seaside Towns You'll Want to Call Home

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January 2014
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By
Brad
Kovach

Ever dream of moving to a seaside town where boating is a way of life? Look no further than these five charming home ports.

Oriental, North Carolina

This quiet, New England-y coastal village is known as the Sailing Capital of North Carolina for good reason there are more than twice as many registered boats as permanent residents here, and at one time its town fathers were pretty sure it boasted more circumnavigators per capita than anyplace else in the world.Oriental sits along the Intracoastal Waterway at the convergence of five navigable creeks and the beautiful Neuse River, not far from Pamlico Sound, which stretches 30 nautical miles to the famed Outer Banks and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. As a result, you can cruise, fish, paddle and play to your heart's content.But this is also a great place to simply kick back and relax. The downtown area is home to several marinas and commercial fishing outfits, plus a number of pubs and restaurants, where you can watch the boats come and go. Oriental has also developed into a thriving arts colony with a plentiful palette of galleries and boutiques and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.River Dunes (252-249-4908, riverdunes.com), a community just north of Oriental, offers new homes and a worldclass resort harbor with every convenience for year-round living and boating. Its marina features 400 slips, state-of-the- art floating docks, a 500-foot fuel dock with high-speed diesel, a pool, a fitness center, dining and more.

Beaufort and Port Royal, South Carolina

For what seems like eons, a racy afternoon in the Low Country has consisted of hanging a line off the end of a dock and seeing what happens. Not much has changed, and while golf has joined the roster as a popular pastime, the communities of Beaufort and Port Royal remain as grounded as they were hundreds of years ago.Southern hospitality flourishes here Coastal Living magazine named Beaufort America's Happiest Seaside Town as does a culture steeped in myriad customs and proclivities. You can't walk (or bike) too far without running into an old mansion or monument or a new art gallery or curio store. Surrounding it all are vibrant marshes nestled beneath the moss-draped limbs of massive live oaks.Life in Beaufort and Port Royal is defined by water with a respectable fishing fleet serving the many homegrown restaurants. Kayaking, sailing, angling and beachcombing are ample, as are festivals dedicated to the Low Country and its wonderful diversity.On the ICW, the Downtown Marina of Beaufort (843-524-4422, downtownmarinabeaufort.com) lies withinwalking distance of numerous eateries, bed and breakfasts, historic homes and parks. Port Royal Landing Marina (843-525-6664, portroyallandingmarina.com) also on the ICW to the south, can be accessed from the ocean through both Port Royal and St. Helena sound. It features an on-site restaurant, boaters' lounge, and multiple patios for basking in the cool breezes.

Golden Isles, Georgia

Just off the Atlantic Coast, midway between Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla., lie the Golden Isles, so named for their radiant beauty and gleaming stretches of sand. Native Americans, European explorers, pirates and tycoons have all left their footprints here, creating a setting rich in history and luxury.St. Simons Island, the largest of the grosup, is dotted with modern villages boasting seaside shops and restaurants, as well as attractions such as the Neptune Park and Fun Zone, the St. Simons Lighthouse Museum and the Maritime Center. Little St. Simons is accessible only by boat, a natural oasis for outdoor pursuits. Sea Island is dominated by the renowned Cloister on Sea Island resort and its world-class golf courses, while Jekyll Island is home to the majestic Jekyll Island Club Hotel, once the exclusive retreat of J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, Vincent Astor and William K. Vanderbilt.The Golden Isles are truly a multifaceted treasure, and the thriving city of Brunswick, hugging the adjacent shoreline of Georgia, provides the ideal spot from which to launch your island-hopping adventures. Morningstar Marinas (912-634-1128, morningstarmarinas.com) operates high-quality properties through out the mid-Atlantic and southeastern U.S., including one on St. Simons Island. Just a mile north of the ICW, it has 137 slips and amenities such as a swimming pool, a picnic deck with grill, a restaurant and a dive shop.

Punta Gorda, Florida

People don't come to Punta Gorda for the beaches, because there aren't any. They come for the Old Florida ambiance the brick lanes lined with palm trees, the tin-roof homes, the quaint fishing shacks and the vibrant murals painted on the buildings downtown.Local preservationists have tried hard to keep the nostalgic feel alive, and it's worked, but that doesn't mean the city is trapped in slow motion. Rather, it's a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with a scenic pedestrian promenade (Harborwalk), the state's second largest harbor (Charlotte Harbor) and a collection of nearby islands for boating escapades (the Gulf Islands).Happily, Punta Gorda's newer developments are doing their part not to upset the dock cart. Fishermen's Village, a tourist attraction that features specialty shops and seven restaurants, is built in the style of a salty seaside port. It also houses furnished luxury villas, and its marina has 111 slips and free daytime docking for visiting vessels.Burnt Store Village is a 600-acre gated community located minutes from its namesake marina, which has on-site resort and golfing facilities. Burnt Store Marina (941-637-0083, tburntstoremarina.com) is located on Charlotte Harbor, named one of Sail magazine's Top 10 Places to Sail.With all this to offer, it's no wonder Punta Gorda was also named one of the Top 10 Places to Retire Healthy by U.S. News & World Report.

Apalachicola, Florida

Once the third largest port on the Gulf of Mexico, Apalachicola resonates with the sights and sounds of a bygone era. The steamboats and schooners may have disappeared, but the town retains a working waterfront, bustling with weatherworn shrimp and oyster boats, now buttressed with an array of fine restaurants, museums and boutiques.Today, the maritime town features an eclectic mix of old and new, with more than 900 turn-of-the-century homes and buildings alongside luxury waterfront accommodations. One thing that hasn't changed is the area's bountiful natural resources. The Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay provide great fishing opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater species. Lovers of the outdoors can explore the endless bays and waterways by kayak, canoe, sailboat and powerboat.Scipio Creek Marina (850-653-8030, scipiocreekmarina.com) is Florida's largest marina facility and is located within walking distance of the historic district's shops and attractions. Family-owned, it offers a friendly atmosphere and prides itself on providing visitors with whatever they need to enjoy their stay.Water Street Hotel & Marina (850-653-3700, waterstreethotel.com) is a new destination in Apalachicolawith 30 suites designed in an Old Florida spirit. Conveniences include a 20-slip marina, a pool, meeting facilities and screened porches on the water. It's located four blocks from the Apalachicola waterfront.

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Camden, Maine
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True boaters say the real Maine coast doesn’t start until you reach Penobscot Bay. This is “Down East” from Kennebunkport and Portland. The dramatic stretch of coastline from Camden to Mount Desert Island sparkles with granite shores, dotted with archipelagos of pine-tree covered islands and mountains cascading into the sea. This region offers some of the best cruising ground in the world.

Camden is a magical little seaside town in the heart of Maine’s mid-coast. It’s historic but hip. “Where the Mountains Meet the Sea” is their moniker, as Camden Hills and 780-foot Mount Battie stretch down toward the bustling waterfront where this 1769 New England village sits, creating a postcard scene.

Camden is super foot-traffic friendly, starting at Harbor Park and the beautiful brick Public Library that graces the top of the bay by the Town Docks. Enjoy a picnic on the sprawling park lawn; there’s often a craft festival or free concert at the outdoor amphitheater. From the waterfront, stroll the quaint sidewalks leading to cafés, boutiques, craft stores and art galleries, pubs, and surprisingly trendy restaurants.

You can hike, bike or drive the toll road up Mount Battie in Camden Hill State Park, which encompasses 5,500 acres and 30 miles of trails. Your reward is spectacular panoramic views of the harbor and Penobscot Bay below.

Eaton Point, at the eastern entrance to the harbor, is home to a new Lyman-Morse yacht facility. Camden remains a working harbor with lobster fishermen, boat builders, ferries and tall-masted schooners taking folks out for scenic sails.

Camden hosts festivals throughout the summer season of jazz, film and its trademark Windjammers. In winter, the U.S. National Tobogganing Champion-ships are held at Camden’s namesake Snow Bowl – our country’s only ski area with views of the Atlantic.

Camden is an ideal boater’s gateway with all the services and shops you need in walking distance from the waterfront. Excursions from this protected harbor are countless and legendary. A quick cruise brings you to quiet Lasell Island for a sunset anchorage. Farther on you reach Maine’s Maritime Academy home in beautiful Castine, and the rustic islands of North Haven, Vinalhaven and Deer Isle. Ultimately you can cruise north and east through beautiful Merchants Row, or the more protected Eggemoggin Reach, to Mount Desert Island, home to famed Acadia National Park, Northeast, Southwest and Bar Harbors.

WHERE TO DOCK

Camden Public Landing
Town Docks
207-691-4314

Contact the harbormaster for overnight slips, limited but in town, and moorings throughout the harbor.

Lyman-Morse at
Wayfarer Marine
207-236-7108

Across the harbor on Camden’s east shores, this revamped marina is a half-mile walk to town, with new docks and a marina facility, home of Lyman-Morse Boatyard and 30 slips plus moorings.

WHERE TO DINE

40 Paper
207-230-0111

Relish artful cuisine locally sourced from farmers, fishermen and “foragers.” In an historic wool mill in downtown Camden, it’s comfy but chic. Savor octopus, lamb, mussels, salmon and more with fresh produce and creative sides. Save room for dessert made from scratch.

Peter Otts on the Water
207-236-4032

Get your chowder and Maine lobster fix from Chef Peter. This classic setting overlooking the harbor is a Camden staple you “ott” not miss. Open for lunch or dinner.

Franny’s Bistro
207-230-8199

With a neighborhood feel, Franny’s serves up lobster fritters, crab cakes, shrimp dumplings and land-lubber faves, too. A fun menu in a cozy setting.

Bagel Café
207-236–2661

For fresh-brewed morning coffee and daily “boiled then baked” bagels or breakfast sammies served all day.

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Jamestown, Rhode Island
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Located on Conanicut Island, Gould Island and Dutch Island, Jamestown welcomes boaters to Narragansett Bay.  Its southernmost point is on Gould Island and marked by Beavertail Lighthouse and State Park. The northernmost point is marked by Conanicut Island Lighthouse.  While Conanicut Island is the second largest island on Narragansett Bay, it is near the western mainland in Kingston, and Newport lies to the east on Aquidneck Island.  Hop on the Jamestown Newport Ferry to get the lay of the land and sea.

Jamestown was settled early in colonial history and was named for James, Duke of York, who became King James II in 1685.  By 1710, many of Jamestown’s current roads were already in place and a lot of its early architecture is well preserved. Soak up some local history at the Jamestown Fire Memorial Museum, Beavertail Lighthouse Museum and Park, Jamestown Windmill, Watson Farm, Conanicut Island Sanctuary, Fort Wetherill State Park, and the Jamestown Settlement museum.

The main town, shops and restaurants are located on the eastern shore of Conanicut Island.  But even from the western side, Dutch Harbor and other attractions are easily accessed with a one-mile walk.

WHERE TO DOCK

Conanicut Marina
401-423-5820

This full-service marina has a ships store/chandlery, gift shop, extensive dockage and a large mooring field.  It’s located in the heart of town overlooking Newport and the Pell Bridge, but bring your fishing poles for the kids.

Dutch Harbor Boat Yard
401-423-0630

Located on the west passage of Narragansett Bay, this small, local marina has good moorings, launch service and facilities.  At times, the harbor can be rolly from a SW wind up the West Passage.  The holding ground is excellent for anchoring, but the dinghy dock is by seasonal permit only.

Safe Harbor Jamestown Boatyard
401-423-0600

Jamestown Boatyard is renowned for excellent workmanship on all types of boats.  It also has a large mooring field and is in a beautiful location on the East Passage.

WHERE TO DINE

Slice of Heaven
401-423-9866

This family-owned café and bakery with an outdoor patio is an ideal spot for breakfast and lunch, especially if you’re looking for tasty gluten-free and vegetarian options.

J22 Tap & Table
401-423-3709

This lively, year-round restaurant specializes in classic American cuisine and local seafood dishes such as New England clam chowder, lobster tail and seared yellowfin tuna while accommodating meat eaters with wings, burgers and steak tacos.

Village Hearth Bakery & Café
401-423-9282

Take a seat inside this rustic eatery or outside on the patio to enjoy wood-fired bread, pizzas and pastries with a cool beer or wine.  To start your day with a smile, order a cup of the eco-friendly coffee.

Bay Voyage Restaurant
401-560-7979

Inside the Wyndham Bay Voyage Inn, this casual dining establishment presents a seasonal menu of American cuisine standards and seafood with fresh ingredients and a stellar view of Narragansett Bay.

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Explore the Spirited Lakefront of Burlington, VT
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A vibrant, compact city hugging the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain, Burlington abounds in scenic beauty, four-season recreation, a college town vibe, arts and culture, and a quirky character all its own.

Burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Church Street | Michelle Raponi on Pixabay

Eclectic shops named Anjou & the Little Pear or Common Deer, and restaurants called Zabby & Elf 's Stone Soup or The Skinny Pancake dot the urban landscape. A local artist's satirical comment on the bureaucracy of urban planning called File Under So. Co., Waiting for..., consists of 38 filing cabinets welded together to a 40-foot height. Birds frequently nest in the upper chambers.

History buffs stroll through the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum or the Fleming Museum of Art's multi-era artifact collection while hikers trek the 12.5-mile path at Burlington Waterfront Park, which offers bicycle, rollerblade and kayak rentals. In season, the path connects to the Lake Champlain Islands via bike ferry.

burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Bike Path | Michelle Raponi on Pixabay

Since the 1800s, the Old North End has been the city's melting pot, and global cuisine from Nepalese dumplings to the African Market can be found here today. Between munches, stroll over to historic Elmwood Cemetery, whose residents include Revolutionary War soldiers. Hear their stories and perhaps have a chance encounter with a local spirit on a Queen City Ghostwalk Tour. Liquid spirits rule when the internationally famous, regionally beloved and hidden gem breweries line up for the annual Vermont Brewers Festival. Year round, enjoy homemade bratwurst and drafts at Zero Gravity Craft Beer. At acclaimed Foam Brewers, the patio faces Lake Champlain waterfront and the Adirondack Mountains. Hop on the Sip of Burlington Brew Tour for a dozen tastings and the sights of this dynamic, energetic city.

Where to Dock

Burlington Community Boathouse Marina

802-865-3377

This full-service marina is the centerpiece of a growing waterfront. Amenities include 105 slips up to 65 feet, Splash Café and a fantastic sunset over the Adirondacks.

Burlington Harbor Marina

802-540-6869

With 160 slips (60 transient slips up to 80 feet), this new marina's tranquil harbor setting is convenient to downtown amenities and recreational activities.

Where to Dine

Honey Road

802-497-2145

Savor sophisticated Mediterranean small plates, cocktails and creative desserts in a comfy tavern setting.

burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Church Street | Needpix

The Farmhouse Tap & Grill

802-859-0888

This farm-to-table gastropub dishes up local burgers, charcuterie and innovative specials. Sip on local brews in the beer garden.

RíRá

802-860-9401

According to Irish playwright Brendan Behan, The most important things to do in the world are to get something to eat, something to drink and somebody to love you. RíRá fuses classic Irish with pub grub to satisfy the first two.

Leunig's Bistro & Café

802-863-3759

Step inside the lush garden courtyard to watch fresh local fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood transform into classic French dishes. Come enjoy a romantic evening meal.

Hen of the Wood

802-540-0534

Enjoy a true Vermont dining experience in a romantic, rustic atmosphere adjacent to the Hotel Vermont.

Read More

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