You don’t have to be a boater to dream like one. Check out this round-up of the biggest and best Florida boat shows.
By Lauren Tjaden
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With more registered boats than any other state, endless places to boat and year-round good weather, Florida holds bragging rights as the pleasure boating capital of the World. So, it makes perfect sense that the Sunshine State has the most and best boat shows in the nation. Read on to discover what’s happening in your neck of the sandbar as well as tips to help you get the most out of your boat show experience.
Boat Show Tips
Looking for a boat can be a real challenge, with so many makes and models to choose from. A boat show can make your search easier by putting all of your choices in one location.
If you’re not in the market you can still enjoy these events. Most shows offer accessories as well as temptations like cedar deck chairs or island-style jewelry, as well as delectable food, educational seminars, and even live entertainment.
Some of the larger shows, like Fort Lauderdale and Miami, are almost impossible to see in one day, so you may want to allow two or three days to explore them. It helps to get a map and a brochure when you 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 more enjoyable.
THE CHARLOTTE COUNTY BOAT SHOW — The Charlotte County Fairgrounds is home to this four-day event, which boasts the largest exhibition of boats and marine products in the county.
STUART BOAT SHOW AT THE WATERWAY — Discover hundreds of boats in-water and on land at the three-day Stuart Boat Show, the largest boat show on Florida’s Treasure Coast. Seminars, nautical accessories, music, food and drink round out the attractions.
NAPLES BOAT SHOW — The four-day Naples Boat Show floats into the Naples-Marco Island area with displays on land at the Naples Airport and in-water at the Naples City Dock, and a complimentary shuttle to get you around.
JACKSONVILLE BOAT SHOW — The Jacksonville Marine Association invites your gang to join them for three days packed with boat displays, kids’ activities and seminars.
MIAMI INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW — You’ll need a map to navigate this show, the granddaddy of all Florida boat shows. It features five action-packed days, including James Beard award-winning chefs, live entertainment and virtual reality boating, never mind the most and best drool-worthy boats on the planet.
THE MIAMI YACHT SHOW — This show, a five-day mega-festival studded with seminars, special events, and extraordinary yachts, runs at the same time as the Miami International Boat Show.
FLORIDA SPORTSMAN EXPO — Florida Sportsman Magazine hosts this annual event in Fort Myers. It features an enormous indoor tackle and fishing boat sale as well as seminars that offer instruction on topics like bait rigging, fly-casting and using a cast net.
THE BONITA SPRINGS BOAT SHOW — Welcome Florida’s premiere boating season with a visit to this four-day show, held at the Naples Ft. Myers Greyhound Track.
PALM BEACH INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW — With boats, yachts, accessories, seminars, demonstrations, elevated culinary experiences and more, if you’re a marine enthusiast, this four-day show is the place to be.
SUPERYACHT SHOW PALM BEACH — Running concurrently with the Palm Beach International Show, this show is invitation-only, offering high-end clients a chance to check out an assortment of the World's most luxurious superyachts while enjoying entertainment, luxury lounge experiences, superyacht seminars and private evening events.
SUNNYLAND ANTIQUE BOAT FESTIVAL — This long-running, three-day annual festival splashes into Lake Dora in Tavares, made even more lively with events like a captain’s party, seaplane rides, live music and a flea market.
SUNCOAST BOAT SHOW — Touted as the Gulf Coast's premier boat show, this three-day extravaganza is held at Marina Jack in Downtown Sarasota. Explore tents brimming with jewelry, art and clothing; enjoy food, drinks, and music; and soak up the sunshine while pricing and comparing hundreds of vessels, big and small.
THE FLORIDA OUTDOOR EXPO — South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach hosts this event; it strives to bring the community together to discover outdoor activities and sports, including boating.
JACKSONVILLE IN-WATER BOAT SHOW — The Jacksonville Boat Show drops anchor at Metropolitan Park and Marina, featuring three days of family fun and seminars in addition to a vast array of boats.
DAYTONA BEACH BOAT SHOW — Held at the Daytona Beach Ocean Center, this three-day event promises something for everyone, whether you’re new to boating or a seasoned sailor.
FORT LAUDERDALE INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW — Held in late Oct. through early Nov., this famed nautical extravaganza declares that it’s ‘the greatest boat show on the Seven Seas.’ It lives up to the hype, encompassing over three million square-feet of exhibits at seven waterfront locations. The boats include everything from 100-foot mega-yachts to flats fishing skiffs, but there’s more. Products, accessories, special events and seminars highlight the show, and over 100 food vendors promise a diverse, delicious way to refuel.
TAMPA BAY BOAT SHOW — Yachts! Cruisers! Kayaks! Paddle-boards! Boating and fishing supplies! The Tampa Bay Boat Show showcases them all and more. Held at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, this free admission event spans three days, pledging that ‘you could be on the water by the end of the weekend.’ Fishing and boating seminars round out the fun.
FORT MYERS BOAT SHOW — You’ll find this popular four-day event in downtown Ft. Myers on the Caloosahatchee River, with boats displayed in-water as well as on land, in addition to an indoor venue stuffed with accessories.
ST. PETERSBURG POWER AND SAILBOAT SHOW — With bragging rights as the largest power and sailboat show on the Gulf Coast, this four-day affair is enhanced with events like kids fishing clinics and sailing seminars.
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