Best Boat Shows Guide

Best Boat Show Guide

Who doesn’t love gawking in awe at the newest, coolest boats on the market? The water enthusiasts at EZ Dock love going out to the country’s best boat shows to check out the latest and greatest vessels. If you love boating as much as we do, you’ll be thrilled about taking a trip to a U.S. boat show. From the cold waves of the capes in the Northeast to the sun and sand of the West Coast, annual boating expos take place in nearly every state between our oceans.

There are so many great boating shows around the country that it’s hard to keep count. All of them are worth going to, but if you’re on a tight schedule, you’ll want to attend only the best boat shows this year. EZ Dock is here to help you find the top boat shows in the U.S. Whether you’re looking for one close to home or are interested in traveling to a premier boating showcase, we’ve put together a list of the best events between both coasts.

Our U.S. boat show guide features some of the largest boat shows in America. For years, EZ Dock has had the privilege of attending many of these events as distributors. When we aren’t out showcasing our innovative waterfront solutions, we head to many of these shows as spectators to share in the fun and festivities. We hope you’ll come and join us at one of these great events.

Read the full guide or jump to a specific section: 

Best Boat Shows in the Northeast and on the East Coast

The Northeast contains some of the most historic cities in the country. From Boston to Baltimore to Buffalo, this region of the United States is also home to unbelievable open water experiences. Two Great Lakes, one massive ocean and numerous other rivers and waterways provide unique boating experiences throughout the year. The EZ Dock team has fond memories of sailing along the scenic waters of the Northeast, and can’t wait for these spectacular Northeast boat shows to come around. Join us and discover why boating is big up north.

Newport International Boat Show | September

America’s smallest state features one of the biggest boat shows in the U.S. The Newport International Boat Show takes over 13 acres of Newport’s waterfront to kick off the fall East Coast boat shows season. Many global manufacturers use NIBS to showcase their newest boats and products, giving attendants an exclusive first look at the best the industry has to offer. Attendees can participate in educational seminars, powerboat courses, sailboat courses and classes, both in and out of the water. They even have a pre-qualification financing program to help you responsibly begin the boat purchasing process.

New England Boat Show

New England Boat Show | February

If you’re shipping up to Boston in February, make sure you head to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center for the New England Boat Show. New England’s biggest and best boating event lasts for over a week, giving you more than enough time to get to know the vessel that’s perfect for your outdoor needs. Events like the Create-a-Boat activity for kids and the tour of a 40-foot inflatable humpback whale offers an educational experience for the next generation of boaters.

Cleveland Boat Show | January

Formerly known as the Mid-America Boat Show, the Cleveland Boat Show is a five-day tradition Great Lakes boating lovers have been coming to for over 60 years. Each day features a unique theme — like Date Night and Kids’ Day — which means there’s always something new to enjoy all week long. Aside from family fun, you’ll have plenty of time to view over 100 different exhibitor and distributor booths showcasing the latest and greatest boats and products. Who knows — Twiggy the Waterskiing Squirrel might make an appearance!

The Great Upstate Boat Show | March

You don’t have to go all the way to New York City to find one of the Empire State’s best boat shows. Head up to the Adirondack Sports Complex for the biggest boat show between Albany, Montreal and the Big Apple. Start boating season off the right way by shopping over 1,500 new and pre-owned boats for sale. Three informative seminars on boating training, maintenance and safety offer you the opportunity to learn more about boating with plenty of time left over to focus on boat browsing.

Richmond Boat Show | February

As one of the best boat shows in Central Virginia, the Richmond Boat Show has dozens of distributors ready to supply you with the boats and accessories you need. This three-day event is entirely indoors, which means winter weather won’t stop you from getting ready for a summer on the water. Five captains will deliver nearly 30 different seminars throughout the weekend. The Richmond Boat Show is now better than ever, with more space to feature boats over 40 feet long.

Best Boat Shows in the Southeast

There’s nothing like Southeast boating. You can hang out in the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico, sail around the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean or even cruise down to the Caribbean. We love the year-round warm weather that makes the coastlines of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi so desirable. Whether you’re lucky enough to live in these vacation destinations or are just spending some much-needed time away from the colder temperatures up north, be sure to check out these great boat shows in the region.

Miami International Boat Show

Miami International Boat Show | February

Grab your ticket to an event that’s earned a reputation as one of the best boat shows in the world. The Miami International Boat Show has it all — on-water training and instruction classes, a conservation village educating boaters about protection efforts for ocean and marine environments, seminars, hands-on lessons and more. See hundreds of the industry-leading boat models in style with a VIP Experience that includes complimentary food, drinks and entertainment on the VIP deck overlooking the Miami skyline. The Miami International Boat Show is a must-do for any boat enthusiast’s checklist.

Tampa Boat Show | September

As another of the best Florida boat shows, the Tampa Boat Show takes place conveniently in early autumn, giving you the perfect opportunity to purchase that new boat you’ve drooled over all summer long. Held at the Tampa Convention Center, this event will also feature educational seminars and demonstrations plus special events exclusively for ladies and children. There’s even a virtual reality boating experience that will make you feel like you’re on the water. Or, purchase one of the dozens of National Marine Manufacturers Association-certified boats for sale and head out into the bay yourself.

Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show | October

If you missed your chance to check out the Miami International Boat Show, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is a worthy substitution. This event is the largest boat show in the world and boasts everything from inflatables to super-yachts across its six locations. This South Florida staple features kids’ fishing clinics, live music, in-pool demonstrations of watercraft and tech, seminars, a culinary experience and more boats than you’ll believe. See this four-day boating extravaganza for yourself and find the perfect vessel that fits your lifestyle.

Biloxi Boat Show | February

Florida doesn’t have all the fun — the Biloxi Boat Show brings on-water festivities to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. For four days, the Mississippi Coast Coliseum showcases boats, kayaks and canoes that are available at unique show pricing rates. Special events at the show include live music, the Fetch-n-Fish Dog Show, a trout pond fishing experience, fishing lessons for children and much more!

Atlanta Boat Show

Atlanta Boat Show | January

Just because Atlanta isn’t as close to the coast as other major cities, that doesn’t mean it can’t be home to one of the best Southeast boat shows. Featuring daily special events like fishing seminars, live music, sailing seminars and more, the Atlanta Boat Show is an exciting event for the whole family. Bring the little ones to have fun in the Kid Zone, Touch-a-Boat activities and Nautical Storytime. Adults will love relaxing at the Boats & Brews event after spending the weekend viewing boats from over 70 brands.

Memphis Boat Expo | March

The Memphis Boat Expo combines two huge events under one venue. Partnering with The Good Life Expo, this annual event at the Cook Convention Center is one of the largest Southeast boat shows. As an indoor playground for outdoor lovers, not only will this event have the largest display of boats in the mid-South, but it will also provide tons of fun with a Thrill Zone featuring a zip line, rides, sailboat races and more. Two lucky winners may even take home a boat or an RV.

Best Boat Shows in the Midwest

Who says you need an ocean to have a sea full of fun on your boat? EZ Dock knows better than anyone that the lakes and rivers throughout the Midwest provide plenty of opportunities to enjoy life on the water. Boaters in the Midwest are just as passionate as we are, and it’s no surprise some of the best boat shows in America take place far from either coast. Mark your calendar and plan to join us at one of these fantastic Midwest boat shows.

Grand Rapids Boat Show | February

Boating and Michigan go hand in hand, which is why the Grand Rapids Boat Show has been a tradition in the Great Lakes State for nearly 75 years. DeVos Place hosts five acres of space on which they feature the newest, most powerful boats alongside antique and classic boats on display. Bring younger or newer boaters to complete the boating safety certification course, meet professional wakeboarders, suit up for a swim in the dive tank and view the best high-performance powerboat models on the market today.

Kansas City Boat & Sportshow | January

One of the best Midwest boat shows this side of the Missouri River, the Kansas City Boat & Sportshow is a fantastic event for boaters and their families. Browse the newest boats from the best brands during this four-day show in the H. Roe Bartle Hall. Be sure to view a Dock Dogs performance, which is the premier canine aquatics competition, or let your little ones fish at the Willow Creek Trout Pond. With delicious Kansas City food trucks on site, this event is a boatload of fun.

Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show | January

Sail over to the Windy City for the Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show during January. This four-day fest will have you wishing summer was just around the corner. Find your dream boat at the city’s biggest marine and outdoors sales event. The show also features special events like sailing seminars, paddle sports demos, remote control sailboat racing, oyster shucking demos and even a beach bar and cantina. The Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show has boats for every activity, lifestyle and budget ready for Lake Michigan.

Best Boat Shows on the West Coast

The Pacific Ocean is truly a sight to behold. Life moves at a different pace on the West Coast, and you can be sure the boating experience is just as unique. From the gorgeous coastline of the Pacific Northwest to the best beaches along the California coast, EZ Dock loves taking it easy on the West Coast. If you’re near the Pacific, make a memorable vacation out of a trip to one of these fantastic West Coast boat shows.

Portland Boat Show

Portland Boat Show | January

For over half a century, the Portland Boat Show has dropped anchor in Rose City for five days of topside fun. As the largest boat show in Oregon and one of the biggest West Cast boat shows, the PDX Boat Show fills over 250,000 square feet of the Portland Expo Center with the world’s largest display of welded aluminum boats. You’ll find everything from fiberglass boats, cruisers and pleasure boats to boat repair and design products and services. Be sure to take advantage of their two-for-one admission as well.

Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show & Boat/RV Sale | March

The Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show is the ideal even for outdoor lovers on land and sea. A show within a show, the boat sale lets you view dozens of boats side by side along with informative presentations like Geoff Wallaston’s Routine and Basic Boat Maintenance. If you happen to have a tight schedule that week, you’re in luck — there are three Sportsmen’s Shows around the area. They also host the Washington Sportsmen’s Show in Puyallup, Wash., in January, and the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show in Portland, Ore., during February.

Los Angeles Boat Show | January

Everything is larger than life in L.A., and you’d better believe the Los Angeles Boat Show is the ultimate boating show in California. The Fairplex in Pomona is the site of this four-day event where hundreds of distributors feature the best boats in the industry. Stop at the high-performance hall to get an up close and personal look at the latest tech, graphics and designs. Your admission ticket includes a chance to win amazing prizes during hourly drawings — who knows what new toys you’ll leave with?

Seattle Boat Show | January

Every year, Emerald City sailors get treated to a boatload of fun at the Seattle Boat Show. This annual event docks at the CenturyLink Field Event Center and South Lake Union. With over 150 different boat models on display and hundreds more distributors, there’s plenty to see. However, we believe one of the biggest draws to this event is their seminar showcase. Experts teach more than 200 lectures and classes on boating, fishing and the latest industry knowledge about technology, navigation, maintenance and more.

10 Tips for Attending a Boat Show

With so many boat shows taking place from coast to coast, you’ll have a tough time trying to squeeze all these events into your schedule. After you’ve narrowed down your list, you’re going to want to make the most of your time at each show. Though every U.S. boat show is different, we’ve gathered 10 tips we believe will help you have the best experience possible.

  1. Research the show you plan to attend: Before you even step foot into the show, you should already know what to expect. This tip is especially helpful for the largest boat shows in North America, as they will have so many things to see and do. Read about the featured events, exhibitors and activities at each show. You can also download or print out a map that will direct you to the distributors or sponsors you wish to visit.
  2. Purchase tickets online ahead of time: Don’t spend your valuable time waiting in line for tickets. Conveniently, most boat shows allow you to purchase tickets online so you can cruise right into the event.
  3. Dress comfortably: Whether you’re visiting all day or all weekend, prepare to be on your feet. Wear comfortable shoes and consider bringing a light jacket in case you get cold in the facility.
  4. Use your time responsibly: Despite your best efforts, you’ll likely not be able to see and do everything, but that’s OK. With your map in hand, you can make a list of the top products you want to see and get the most out of your experience without wasting time running from distributor to distributor for the sake of seeing it all.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Everyone at a boat show loves boating as much as you do. They’ll be happy to speak with you and answer all your questions about discounts, specials or pricing. Distributors like EZ Dock send their most knowledgeable representatives out to the event so they can provide you with the best service possible.
  6. Engage in product demonstrations: At the best U.S. boat shows, you can expect to get a hands-on experience. Feel free to engage in any available product demonstrations so you can get a good feel for the product.
  7. Enter the show with a firm financial plan: Though it will be tempting to scoop up all the cool and innovative products you see, you should always attend an event with a strict budget and a clear understanding of what you can afford.
  8. Know when to say no: Some distributors will see your excitement and naturally ask if you’d like to take a product home with you. If you stick to your financial plan, you’ll know when to respectfully and responsibly say no to these offers.
  9. Know when to say yes: If you’ve done your research before the show, you’ll know the best deals when you see them. If you’ve come prepared to purchase a product you need with the budget you can afford, say yes and take home a great deal.
  10. Enjoy yourself: Boat shows are supposed to be a blast. Rest easy and enjoy every minute exploring what these events have to offer.

Come Visit EZ Dock at Your Favorite Boat Show

EZ Dock proudly attends many incredible trade shows and conferences throughout the United States each year. We love meeting boaters from around the country and letting them get an up-close-and-personal look at our latest products. We invite you to join us at one of these great boat shows and let us know how EZ Dock custom docking solutions can enhance your on the water experience.

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