On the eve of America’s birthday, there’s no better place to be moored than Boston Harbor when fireworks erupt all around you as part of the country’s biggest Fourth of July celebration. The experience captures the spirit of this region, which is replete with historic ports and charming towns. Spanning the Great Lakes of Erie and Ontario to where the St Lawrence River greets the Atlantic and down the US East Coast, this corner of the world has countless marinas that are just minutes away from city attractions and offer a step back in time.
Take, for instance, Port of Québec Marina, tucked next to Petit-Champlain, the neighbourhood encompassing North America’s first French settlement and one of its oldest commercial streets. Nantucket’s cobblestone Main Street will transport you to the pages of Moby Dick, just as the opulent mansions of Newport preserve an age befitting The Great Gatsby. Or recapture colonial times in the pretty town of Oxford on the Chesapeake’s eastern shore, once a thriving port of entry to the province of Maryland nearly a century before the American Revolution. Now these 18th-century shipping hubs and former whaling capitals have reinvented themselves as centres of leisure, welcoming boaters to a calmer relaxed 21st century of boutiques and waterfront restaurants, not to mention the more peaceful practice of watching whales as nature intended.
Nature lovers should pull into Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, home of the Acadia National Park and its 200 kilometres of hiking and biking trails. Don’t miss sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain, the first spot in the US that the sun touches in autumn and winter.
City aficionados will be in the thick of the nonstop action at New York City’s North Cove Marina, towered over by One World Trade Center, which at 541 metres stands tallest in the US. Or for a better vantage point, ONE˚15 Brooklyn Marina across the East River has the best views of Lower Manhattan’s packed skyline. In Washington, DC, those at The Wharf Marina are in sight of the Washington Monument and a walk away from the world famous Smithsonian Museums.
Just south, at the mouth of the Chesapeake, lies Mile Zero in Norfolk, marking the start of the Intracoastal Waterway. As it wiggles its way down the coast, it provides a protected path for yachts heading to the East Coast’s more southerly superports such as Charleston and Savannah, which, in keeping with the theme, are each the oldest cities in their states while brimming with southern charm.