Everything You Need to Know About Florida Boat Shows

    By Terry Tomalin

    You don’t have to be a boater to dream like one. Check out our round-up of the biggest and best Florida boat shows.

    With more registered boats than any other state, endless places to boat and year-round good weather, Florida is the pleasure boating capital of the world.

    That is why each year the world’s top boat builders come to Florida boat shows to unveil their latest models.

    Manufacturers know that when it comes to boating, if they make it here, they can make it anywhere. And that is why Florida not only has the most, but also the best boat shows in the nation.

    Boat Show Tips

    But you don’t have to be ready to buy, or even be in the market for a new boat to enjoy one of these events. Most shows have a variety of other merchandise, everything from cedar deck chairs to island-style jewelry, on display and ready to sell. There is also great food and sometimes live entertainment.

    Some of the larger shows, such as Fort Lauderdale and Miami, are almost impossible to see in one day. Many veteran boat show visitors take two or three days to see the sights, some even making it the center point of their vacation plans.

    The trick is to have a plan. Get a map and a brochure when buy your tickets, and then take a few minutes to see what’s on display before you set out walking. This will maximize your time and make your boat show experience all the more enjoyable.

    Fall Boat Shows in Florida

    Florida’s fall boat show season doesn’t really kick into high gear until around Halloween with the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. This show, which is held at the Bahia Mar Beach Resort & Yachting Center and five other locations, is where you may get a sneak preview of some of the 2013 models.

    The Fort Lauderdale show is famous for its big boats. You will see your share of mega-yachts, some 100 feet or more in length. But there are also plenty of other vessels, including everything from runabout ski boats to flats fishing skiffs. This year’s show is scheduled for Oct. 25 - 29, 2012. 

    Winter Boat Shows in Florida

    December brings an influx of visitors from the north as many diehard boaters look for a chance to keep the dream alive until the waters thaw in their home states.

    Many of these dry-docked boaters head straight to Miami for the granddaddy of all Florida boat shows, the Miami International Boat Show. The Miami show is actual several shows rolled into one weekend.

    The main show, a “must see” for all boating industry executives, is at the Miami Beach Convention Center, while the Yacht and Brokerage Show is held on Collins Avenue (S.R. A1A) and the Indian Creek Waterway, Miami Beach. When you’re finished seeing the powerboats, head over to the Strictly Sail Miami Boat Show at the Sea Isle Marina, Bayside.

    The action runs from Feb. 16 - 20, 2012, and Feb. 14 - 18, 2013. For information, go to www.miamiboatshow.com.

    Spring Boat Shows in Florida

    The on-the-water boating action picks up in the spring, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop looking or dreaming about a new boat.

    The Sarasota area has long been a destination for performance boaters from all over North America. This Gulf Coast city hosts several poker runs and the longest running offshore powerboat race in the sport’s history.

    Stop by the Suncoast Boat Show, Ken Thompson Park on City Island, and you will see the latest in go-fast boats, including everything from deep-vee, ocean-going racers to high speed catamarans. The fun runs from April 20 - 22, 2011. 

    With so many makes and models to choose from, looking for a new boat can be a real challenge. But a boat show can make the search a little easier by putting all of your choices under one roof.


    Fall Schedule

    Florida Sportsman Fishing and Boat Show at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Expo Hall, Tampa
    Sept. 22 - 23, 2012

    Florida Sportsman Fishing and Boat Show at the South Florida Fairgrounds, West Palm Beach
    Oct. 13 - 14, 2012

    Winter Schedule

    St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show at the Mahaffey Theater Yacht Basin & Albert Whitted Park
    Nov. 29 - Dec. 2, 2012

    Stuart Boat Show at the Waterway, Stuart Harbor and Allied Richard Bertram marinas
    Jan. 11 - 13, 2013

    Charlotte County Boat Show at the Charlotte County Fairgrounds, Port Charlotte
    Jan. 17 - 20, 2013
    Bayfront Boat Show at Marina Jack, Sarasota
    Late January 2013
    Trawler Fest Fort Lauderdale at the Bahia Mar Beach Resort & Yachting Center
    Early February 2013
    Naples Boat Show at 100 Goodlette Rd. S.
    Jan. 24 - 27, 2013
    First Coast Boat Show at the Prime Osborne Convention Center, Jacksonville
    Late January 2013
    Tampa Bay Boat Show at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg
    March 9 - 11, 2012


    Spring Schedule

    Fort Myers Spring Boat Show at the Lee Civic Center, North Fort Myers
    March 8 - 11, 2012
    Palm Beach International, Flagler Drive and the Intracoastal Waterway, West Palm Beach
    March 22 - 25, 2012
    Sunnyland Antique & Classic Wood Boat Show, Lake Dora, Tavares
    March 22 - 25, 2012

    Daytona Beach Boat Show at the Daytona Beach Ocean Center, Daytona Beach
    March 2 - 4, 2012

    Southeast US Boat Show at Metropolitan Park & Marina, Jacksonville
    April 20 - 22, 2012