The Top 10 Boat Museums to Check Out This Winter

Are you looking for a way to scratch that boating itch? But it’s too cold to hit the water? Visiting a boating museum might be the ideal solution!

Maritime museums offer an interactive, immersive dive into our nation’s waterways. And the best time to visit? You guessed it – during the off-season.

This blog post covers the ten best boating museums to check out this winter. From Florida to California (and everywhere in between), keep reading to find a boating museum near you.

10 Best Boating Museums

Has inclement weather sent your crew indoors? These top 10 boating museums to check out this winter will help you pass the time:

1. Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

The Chesapeake Bay is known for its annual oyster and crab fests. But that’s not all this boat museum has to offer! Located along the Miles River, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum comprises 12 buildings that showcase the Bay’s iconic traditions. This includes building workboats, carving duck decoys, processing crab meat, tonging for oysters, and so much more.

2. Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut

The Mystic Seaport Museum sprawls across 19 acres of the Mystic River shoreline, making it a truly iconic boat museum. It has an impressive collection of roughly 500 historic watercraft, a million photographs, and about two million artifacts. The best part? It houses the 1841 Charles W. Morgan, which is America’s oldest vessel that is still afloat.

3. Ships of The Sea Maritime Museum in Savannah, Georgia

This boat museum is housed in the historical mansion of William Scarbrough, a 19th-century shipping merchant. He also partly owned the Savannah, the first-ever steamboat to cross the Atlantic.

The Ships of The Sea Maritime Museum features model ships, antique maritime paintings, and artifacts you’ve got to see for yourself.

4. Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven, Michigan

If you hail from the Great Lakes region, you must check out the Michigan Maritime Museum this winter. It boasts five exhibition buildings demonstrating the Lakes’ importance in American maritime history. Outside, you can board an amazing fleet of watercraft ranging from rescue boats to merchant vessels and everything in between.

Read Next: Winter Boating Tips

5. Santa Barbara Maritime Museum in Santa Barbara, California

From boogie boards to battleships, it’s no secret that California’s coastline is full of watercraft. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum features this region’s maritime heritage through various interactive displays. With exhibits spanning underwater photography, female lighthouse keepers, commercial fishing, and more, you’re guaranteed to find something that will interest every boater.
6. Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon 

Columbia River Maritime Museum

You might already know that the intersection of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean is one of the most treacherous passages on the West Coast. And if you didn’t already know that? Well, the Columbia River Maritime Museum can tell you all about it. This museum has a horde of nautical exhibits – ranging in everything from pirates to Coast Guard rescue missions.

7. Maritime Museum of San Diego in San Diego, California

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is known for its propagation of maritime history and culture. It has the largest collection of historic sea vessels in the U.S., including the Star of India, which dates back to 1863. The best part? The museum and library are housed aboard the Berkeley, a 19th-century ferryboat.

8. The Mariners Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia

The Mariners Museum and Park are perfect for anyone that loves learning about history, as they host The U.S.S. Monitor Center & Foundation. For those who don’t know, this is the spot for learning about the historic ironclads. Of course, this boat museum features many additional exhibits, including a 3D theater and a 550-acre park.

9. Texas Seaport Museum in Galveston, Texas

Texas probably wasn’t the first state that came to mind when considering boating museums to check out this winter. However, the Texas Seaport Museum is a hidden gem. Tucked away on the Gulf of Mexico, this museum showcases the ships that defended America’s southern coastline and brought immigrants ashore.

10. St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum in St. Augustine, Florida

This historic lighthouse has arguably the best view of America’s oldest seaport. It features exhibits full of artifacts, model ships, archaeological dive treasures, and more. From an epic play area to moonlit ghost tours, you can find something intriguing for the whole family.

Final Thoughts

No matter where you’re located, there are plenty of boating museums to check out this winter. Just take a look around your local waterways, and you’re bound to find something that piques your interest.

Are you interested in more winter boating activities? Our boating blog has got you covered. Keep your eyes peeled for the latest boating gift guides, excursion ideas, insider tips, and helpful resources.