Rising temperatures and a break from school make this time of year ideal for family vacations, and the nation’s parks and waterways provide a naturally refreshing escape with recreation and activities the whole family can enjoy.
From boating and fishing to swimming and camping, vacations by the water provide ample opportunities to experience a wide range of pastimes against the backdrop of spectacular natural scenery.
Choosing your destination is a little easier this year thanks to Take Me Fishing.org, which recently conducted a nationwide survey to identify the Top 100 Family Friendly Places to Boat and Fish across America.
Each of these top 10 locations has a public body of water within an hour of a major city and is known to have good fishing opportunities:
1. Lake Berryessa, Napa Valley, Calif.
2. Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key, Fla.
3. Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, St. Petersburg, Fla.
4. Everglades National Park, Homestead, Fla.
5. Kissimmee State Park, Lake Wales, Fla.
6. Galveston Island State Park, Galveston, Texas
7. Lake Chabot Regional Park, Castro Valley, Calif.
8. Blue Springs State Park, Orange City, Fla.
9. Table Rock State Park, Branson, Mo.
10. Presque Isle State Park, Erie, Pa.
Whether your travels take you to one of these destinations or one of thousands of other lakes, rivers, streams or coastlines across the country, prepare for a memorable getaway by planning ahead.
Put water safety first. Sign youngsters up for swimming lessons before your trip, and remember even kids with experience in the water can benefit from a refresher. If you’ll be boating, be sure to check that life jackets are in good condition and rated appropriately for the sizes and ages of intended users.
Pack smart. Days spent in or near reflective water can make skin especially susceptible to burns, so be sure your suitcase includes appropriate attire and plenty of sunscreen. Water shoes can also make navigating rocky shorelines more safe and comfortable. If you’ll be indulging in activities such as fishing, bring along the basics (rod and reel, tackle box, etc.) to save time and expense once you arrive.
Comply and conserve. Not only does buying a fishing license and registering your boat ensure you’re in compliance with regulations, doing so helps fund efforts to conserve natural waterways, as well as improve boating access facilities such as docks and boat ramps.
To get started planning your family getaway, visit www.TakeMeFishing.org, which provides tools such as fishing reports, boat ramps and hotspots, how-to information and a community for those who are interested in everything from fly fishing to boat maintenance.