5 Fantastic Boating Destinations

This is the time of year when we wonder if Winter will ever end. It helps to daydream, and to remember that every day brings us closer to Spring, and then Summer! While we're dreaming of beautiful beaches and fun on the boat, we put together a list of five places we'd love to be this summer (and a couple we'd love to be right now!).  
Destin, Florida
  The crown jewel of Florida's Emerald Coast, Destin boasts soft, sandy beaches and beautiful clear water waiting to welcome boaters and swimmers. Don't have your own boat? There are boat rentals, fishing charters, and dolphin-watching cruises to enjoy. Speaking of enjoyment, check out those beaches! Destin's Crab Island Waterpark, a floating playground. You might even catch a local band performing on a floating stage.  
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
  The "Magic Dragon" winds over 92 miles in Missouri's northern Ozarks. This curving reservoir welcomes more than five million visitors every year. The surrounding state park is a popular destination for hikers, mountain bikers, fishermen, and boaters, of course. Rent a boat, enjoy a charter cruise, or launch your own vessel for a few dollars. If you're going fishing, check the state Department of Conservation's fishing report to maximize your catch. There is lots of family fun to be had, but Anderson Hollow Cove, aka "Party Cove," is strictly for the grownups.  
Door County, Wisconsin Photo: Shipyard Marine
  Wisconsin's not always snowbound! The Badger State's most famous vacation destination is the peninsula forming Green Bay's eastern shore. Explore the calm waters of Green Bay by boat (your own or chartered), or brave the bigger waves of Lake Michigan to visit Washington Island. Green Bay's inlets teem with fish of all kinds, so you can catch your own dinner, or visit one of the restaurants that specialize in the traditional fish boil. With 30 boat launches and almost as many beaches, Door County is a boater's summer paradise.  
Traverse City, Michigan Photo: mynorth.com
  Across Lake Michigan from Door County is Traverse City, in the "pinky finger" of Michigan's mitten shape. Famous for its cherries and home to the only windjammer cruise ship on the Great Lakes, Traverse City makes a great base of operations for all kinds of aquatic adventures. Sailing, swimming, fishing, skiing – it's all here! Enjoy exploring Grand Traverse Bay by boat, visit the bay's lighthouses, and stroll the beach looking for Michigan's famous fossils, Petoskey stones.  
Chain of Lakes, Winter Park, Florida
  Rent a pontoon boat in Winter Haven and cruise these interconnected lakes in comfort. The Northern Chain is made up of eight lakes, and a canal joins them to the Southern Chain, which is 16 connected lakes! With 21 boat launches, great fishing, and the LEGOLAND waterpark and waterski show, the Chain of Lakes promises aquatic adventures for all ages. Enjoy fresh seafood and cold beer at one of the lakeside restaurants. Consider timing your visit to enjoy the Flotilla, an in-water party and concert with hundreds of vessels lashed together. Truly, there's something for everyone here! So, what's your favorite boating vacation destination? Which places are you dreaming of?