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Concerts from Your Boat: Where to Catch the Best Shows This Summer Without Stepping Ashore

Post by Amanda Jones - Published on 7/11/18 11:05 AM

The best summers are filled with friends, adventures, and, of course, a killer soundtrack. Whether the sun's high in the sky or you raft up under the stars, when you're listening in from aboard you're in for a unique day or eve on the water. 

Summer is prime time for outdoor concerts – find one near you that you can listen in to by boat. Here's our list of 16 boat-friendly music venues from around the U.S. that we think are top notch!  


#1: AquaPalooza(s)

Various locations

Powerboaters, we gotta hand it to you: you know how to party. What's more, it takes true dedication to be so fun that boat builders start lining up to sponsor. Enter: AquaPalooza. A roaming boating festival sponsored by Sea Ray boats, Aquapalooza is considered the best of all the on-the-water concerts. However, there isn't a central AquaPalooza event schedule to follow – instead boating community in various cities take it upon themselves to get organized. Here are a handful of our favorites:


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#2: Fort Adams Music Festivals 

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport knows how to summer. One of the crown jewels of the season – one that brings boaters and non-boaters, locals and tourists alike year after year – are the twin music weekend at Fort Adams. A former U.S. Army post, this historical site known for hosting acts from Dylan to Aretha, is situated at the mouth of Newport Harbor, providing panoramic views of the quaint cityscape and Newport Bridge.  

Now that the Volvo Ocean Race hangover has subsided, locals' eyes are on the next big traffic jams: Newport Folk Fest and Newport Jazz Fest, taking place on July 27-29 and August 3-5, respectively. This city by the sea cools the Fort's nearly shae-free acres somewhat, but if you ask anyone who was landlocked for it in 2015, a seabreeze was far from enough. Boats win again! 


Need a quick "help-me-out" on how to prepare for one of the Festivals? Check out our blog post of How to do Newport Folk Fest by Boat

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#3: Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival

Annapolis, Maryland

The largest, and at one-time most productive, estuary in the United States, the Chesapeake Bay is an integral part of our natural and national history. It is also home to the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival held on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay just outside Annapolis, at Sandy Point State Park in Maryland. The 2018 festival was held on May 19-20 with a great lineup including: Brian Setzer’s Rockabilliy Riot, Delbert McClinton, Mike Zito, Heather Gillis Band, Brandon Taz Niederauer, Vanessa Collier, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, and so many others. The event happens each year in late May so, check out their website for further updates regarding next years Festival! 

Find a Slip in Annapolis

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#4: Pier 17

Lower Manhattan, New York

Pier 17's Concert Series isn't even open yet and already has music lovers chomping at the bit. This 3,400-seat rooftop riverside venue on the East River will offer 360-degree views of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn and a packed schedule once things get rolling. Below are some of our top picks, and here is the full Pier 17 Lineup. We're still asking around about the traffic in that section of the river at night to get a sense as to if you can raft up, so stay tuned. 

  • July 28: Jon Batiste with the Dap-Kings (free!) 

  • August 2 & 3: Kings of Leon

  • August 9: Bebe Rexha

  • August 19: All Time Low and Dashboard Confessional

  • August 21: Michael McDonald

  • August 24: Hunter Hayes with Maggie Rose


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#5: Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island

Chicago, Illinois

There's a reason this peninsula concert spot has been called the "venue with the views:" while you sing along to performances by artists like Jimmy Buffet, Brad Paisley, and Phish, you can also take in the Chicago skyline and soak up cool breezes drifting off of Lake Michigan. The once-airport is now home to a summer lineup that runs from May to September along with the Windy City LakeShake Festival, a three-day event, usually in late June, that features the biggest names in country music from Blake Shelton to Florida Georgia Line. 

Find Dockage at Northerly Island

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#6: Lollapalooza

Grand Park, Chicago, IL

Founded as a touring festival by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell in 1991, Lollapalooza has made Chicago its permanent home since 2005. The gargantuan event spans the entirety of Grant Park, subjecting more than 100,000 daily attendees to long walks between stages, porta-johns and beer tents. The reward for your sun-drenched slog? A veritable who’s-who of marquee festival acts, from pop divas to premiere EDM DJs and everything in-between.

This year's event takes place August 2–5, featuring: The Weeknd, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Bruno Mars, Travis Scott, Post Malone, Vampire Weekend, Odesza, Logic, Khalid, All Time Low, Blackbear, Walk The Moon, Hippie Sabotage and so many more. Check out the whole 2018 lineup to plan out your daily schedule while there. 

Reserve a Slip at Monroe Harbor 

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#7: Maine State Pier

Portland, Maine

Home to many lobster men, Portland is also home to beautiful waterways and beaches as well as being New England's largest tonnage seaport and second largest fishing port. Portland stands as one of the few working waterfronts left in the United States. So what better place to have a concert venue that overlooks the water? The Maine State Pier is located directly on Portland's historic waterfront. With dramatic views of Casco Bay and the city sky line, it is an ideal place to hold a concert, festival or gathering of any kind. The Maine State Pier is hosting a summer concert series that is running through the end of August. Here are a few of our favorites we found: 

  • July 27: Billy Currington 

  • August 3: The I Love The 90's Tour 

  • August 8: Lee Brice

  • August 24: Dashboard Confessional & All Time Low

  • August 25: Kip Moore

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#8: Humphrey's By the Bay

San Diego, California

As a favorite venue for West Coast boaters – and one of our favorite Dockwa partner marinas – Humphrey's at Half Moon Marina in San Diego is a 1,400-seat outdoor theater situated on Shelter Island on the San Diego Bay, with views of water from every seat. It's the perfect venue for boaters to drop anchor and enjoy a live summer concert from the water. Humphrey's concerts generally run from April through October and cover the full spectrum of entertainment, from rock to jazz to folk music. Some of upcoming events include: 

  • July 17: Chris Isaak

  • July 26-27: Joe Bonamassa - The Guitar Event of the Year

  • August 7: Toto - 40 Trips Around The Sun

  • August 8: Hippiefest 2018

  • August 22: Gavin DeGraw & Phillips Phillips 

  • August 24: The Fab Four: The Ultimate Tribute 

  • August 31: Lost 80's Live

  • September 22: The Beach Boys 

  • October 28: Oingo Boingo Dance Party 

Reserve at Half Moon Marina!

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#9: Movement

Detroit, MI

Detroit’s Movement is the antithesis of the sprawling, sense-assualting EDM mega-raves like Electric Daisy Carnival that come to mind when you hear the phrase “electronic music festival.” Launched in 2000 as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, and held in the downtown heart of the city that gave the world techno, the focus here is on music over spectacle, with a lineup that mixes pioneers with next-generation innovators.

The Movement Electronic Music festival is an annual three-day event held during Memorial Day weekend that takes place in downtown Detroit at Hart Plaza. Missed this years event? Be sure to check out the festival next Memorial Day weekend! 

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#10: The Wharf

Washington, D.C.

Washington's live music scene just keeps getting better and better. On D.C.'s Southwest Waterfront, a relatively new area known as The Wharf brings dazzling water views, great new restaurants & bars, and year-round entertainment in one prime location. With three premier state-of-the-art music clubs, The Wharf gives music lovers endless possibilities with music representing every genre. The Anthem, Union Stage and Pearl Street Warehouse hosts acts ranging from up-and-coming bands with modest fan followings to established chart-toppers who can sell upwards of 6,000 tickets in a single night. It will definitely be a tough choice of which concert to attend while visiting! 

Reserve a Slip in Washington, D.C. 


#11: Blue Hills Bank Pavilion

Boston, Massachusetts

The Blue Hills Bank Pavilion is one of Boston's most popular outdoor amphitheaters and has hosted some of the city's most memorable concerts. Situated at the water's edge of Boston Harbor and adjacent to Rowes Wharf, Blue Hills is the city's premiere outdoor summer concert. The Pavilion seats around 5,000 people with a spectacular view of the Boston skyline from your seat. Concerts typically run from May through September each year with a wide variety of entertainers ranging from LL Cool J, the Jonas Brothers, Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison and the Allman Brothers Band, just to name a few. The venue's top of the line sound system, spectacular lighting capabilities and cool harbor breezes make for a truly unforgettable experience. 

  • July 15: Beck 

  • July 18: Arcade Fire 

  • August 2: Jason Mraz

  • August 5: Yanni 

  • August 23: Miguel 

  • September 9: Jethro Tull 

  • September 23: Portugal the Man 

Find a Slip in Boston Harbor


#12: Huntington Lighthouse

Bay Lloyd Harbor, New York

Ever been to a music festival that's held on top of a lighthouse? Well, now is your chance! Drop anchor or raft up with friends in Lloyd Harbor at the entrance to Huntington Bay and listen to Long Island talent performing rock, country, Motown, reggae and more atop the lighthouse at the Huntington Lighthouse Music Fest. This is the only music festival in the world that is held on top of a working lighthouse in the middle of the water as well as the world's largest offshore music festival. The festival is a boat-only event with no land access, happening on September 1, 2018 from 11AM to dusk. The festival brings in more than 1,000 boats and 12,000 attendees who travel to the lighthouse by yacht, boat, kayak, etc. 

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#13: Jones Beach State Park

Long Island, New York

World famous Jones Beach State Park is home to 6.5 miles of beautiful white-sand beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. It is the most renowned of all Long Island State Parks, and has been open for the past 80 years with about 6 million visitors to the park each year. There are many events taking place at the park, from swimming to fishing, but one of the most known events are the great concerts at The Nikon. Jones Beach Theater or The Nikon, sits alongside Zach's Bay, giving concert attendees the chance to take in beautiful waterfront views while they watch performances from a range of artists. No matter who's headlining Jones Beach concerts this season, the open-air venue is sure to be one of the hottest places to catch live music as the weather is heating up. Check our the 2018 lineup that's chocked full of concerts for the summer: 

  • July 14: Foo Fighters 

  • July 17: Dave Matthews Band 

  • July 19: Little Big Town / Miranda Lambert / Turnpike Troubadours 

  • July 28: VANs Warped Tour 

  • July 30: Kesha & Macklemore

  • August 2: Jimmy Buffett & the Coral Reefer Band 

  • August 10: Brad Paisley

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#14: Marina Del Rey

Marina Del Rey, California

The City of Los Angeles is famed as the land of the nation's television and film industry. However, there is more to LA than its plethora of celebrities. In fact, there are more cars in LA than there are people - a perfect solution? Getting out on the water in your boat! The 75-mile LA coastline is home to some of the best beaches and waterfront venues. One in particular is the Marina Del Rey waterfront oasis that has it all. As Los Angeles' largest marina, it is a perfect spot to get out on the water and listen to live concerts that are held weekly. The concerts are all free and located at Burton Chance Park which is surrounded on three sides by views of the water. On alternating Thursdays, enjoy classical and opera performance and on alternating Saturdays, expect a mix of pop music groups, including rock, indie, and folk. Check out the 2018 Lineup

  • July 12: Opera by the Shore

  • July 21: Lalah Hathaway 

  • July 26: Leonard Bernstein at 100

  • August 4: Cat Power 

  • August 9: Katharine McPhee

  • August 18: X 

Reserve a Slip at Marina Del Rey Marina

#15: Tortuga Music Festival

Fort Lauderdale, Florida 

Sing along at Fort Lauderdale’s sixth annual Tortuga Music Festival, a three-day party featuring country, rock and roots favorites. Thousands poured onto Fort Lauderdale’s beachside to watch 2018 headliners Keith Urban, Snoop Dogg, Brothers Osborne and more. The festival benefits the Rock the Ocean Foundation, which works to increase public awareness about issues impacting the world’s oceans. The 2018 Tortuga Music Festival happened on April 6-8, so be sure to check the website for the 2019 festival dates and announcements.

  Find a Slip in Fort Lauderdale, Florida


#16: The Riverwalk

Stuart, Florida

The Riverwalk, Stuart's waterfront boardwalk along the St. Lucie River, is not only a destination for strolling and picnics, but it's also the home of Rock'n Riverwalk, a year-round weekly outdoor (and free) concert. There's something for everyone in this concert series: the acts range from a Florida-grown blues rock group to a Kenny Chesney tribute band. This summer check out the Rockn' Riverwalk concert series every Sunday from 1-4PM on the Riverwalk Stage! 


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Your favorite spot to listen to music from your boat didn't make our top list? Have any scheduled festivals your planning on going to for August? Tell us all about that great music spot or upcoming events on our Facebook Page

Post by Amanda Jones

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