They say things are better when experienced by boat. This is especially true when family and friends set out to experience culinary excellence on America’s waterways. Shore side dining is nothing new. Our ancestors gravitated to and along our shorelines for centuries, all for a meal and a view. Boaters today have their pick of waterfront dining options from gourmet to casual in numerous locations all around the US. After doing extensive research, I ferreted out Five Top Destinations to visit if you love dining by boat. Join us on this journey, as we take you to all four corners of America for aqueous dining at its best. And while you’re there, check out the wide variety of exciting attractions and points of interest that each destination has to offer.
Newport Beach, California
It’s all about boating at Newport Beach. With over 10,000 boats registered to the residents along its bay and interconnecting canal community, it is easy to see why dining by boat is so popular here. Newport Beach also has the distinction of being the home of the electric Duffy Boat. Hundreds of these eco-friendly boats zip about the harbor on any given day to visit the dozens of waterfront dining and sight seeing opportunities. Here are some of the best culinary dock and dine options…
Dock & Dine Ops:
One of Newport Beach most exclusive dock & dine experiences can be found at the
Balboa Bay Club & Resort’s First Cabin Restaurant, which offers stunning meals like fresh Dover sole that will melt in your mouth. The hotel offers a potential respite for those traveling boaters seeking an overnight stay at this AAA four-diamond resort. John Wayne was known to visit the resort’s bar, which is now named Duke’s Place in his honor.
Perhaps one of the most romantic dining experiences you could have in Newport Beach is to book a multi-course meal with Gondola Adventures. Enjoy a lavish meal prepared by the Chart House as an authentic gondolier whisks you away along the bay’s scenic canals.
Villa Nova, established in 1933 is your classic Italian eatery. The restaurant offers a large floating dock for arriving boaters and meals fit for a king. Be sure to try the Abalone sautéed in lemon butter sauce for a taste that is out of this world.
Located in the backwaters of Newport Bay, The Dunes Resort & Marina is a high-end RV resort where boaters can either launch their boat or arrive at their floating dock for a meal at Back Bay Bistro. Sunday’s Champagne Brunch is extremely popular with locals and not to be missed.
The Dock offers an alfresco dining experience featuring a Mediterranean-infused cuisine. The Signature Grilled Hearts of Romaine and the Crab Cakes were two of the standouts at this airy waterside eatery.
Featuring a unique Baja-Mexican menu prepared in an open kitchen, Sol Cocino offers an easy access dining option for boaters. The Grilled Sweet Corn and the Wood-Grilled Kobe Skirt Steak were simply amazing.
The most historical Dock & Dine restaurant in Newport Beach is clearly The Cannery. This now converted fish cannery offers a nostalgic yet eclectic atmosphere and features several succulent offerings. The Blackened Ahi Sandwich sets a gourmet standard for fish on a bun.
Docking at any of the above Newport Restaurants is easy via their floating docks. Even
though the entire inner bay is a no wake zone, it wouldn’t hurt to put out a fender or two. The only hazards to be aware of while navigating the harbor would be the profuse number of mooring buoys and pickup lines. Following extensive dredging this past summer, the entire inner bay offers an unobstructed waterway for smaller craft, making it southern California’s most popular boating haven. Tide ranges from 5-6 feet, and additional free docking is available at over ten public docks in the bay.
Stuff To Do:
A visit to Newport Beach by boat would not be complete without touring this harbor to view the homes of celebrities along with one of the past sets of Gilligan’s Island. Dozens of notable stars have lived here including: John Wayne, Jay Leno, Kobe Bryant, Nicholas Cage, Buddy Ebsen and Roy Disney. John Wayne’s past home is situated on Duke’s Point and his 136” motor yacht the Wild Goose is still docked nearby.
Other activities of interest include Whale Watching with Davey’s Locker, a visit to Crystal Cove where the movie Beaches with Bett Midler was filmed, a trip to Newport Harbor’s Nautical Museum, or a golf outing to the #1 Rated course, Pelican Hill.