Best Boating in Tennessee

Boat crossing a lake in Tennessee.
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When it comes to the best boating experiences in Tennessee, the state offers a wealth of options for water enthusiasts to explore. Tennessee’s diverse landscape, characterized by its abundant lakes, meandering rivers, and expansive reservoirs, provides a rich tapestry of boating opportunities that can satisfy a wide range of preferences and interests. For those seeking a serene escape, Tennessee’s numerous lakes, such as Norris Lake, Watts Bar Lake, or Kentucky Lake, offer picturesque settings for leisurely boating, fishing, and water sports. These bodies of water are surrounded by lush woodlands and rolling hills, making them ideal for those who desire a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.



Norris Lake

Situated in the heart of Tennessee, Norris Lake beckons with its breathtaking natural beauty and tranquil waters. This expansive reservoir, with its sprawling clear waters, is an idyllic setting for boating enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. From water sports to angling and peaceful lakeside explorations, Norris Lake offers a wide array of activities to suit all preferences. Its well-equipped marinas and convenient amenities make for a hassle-free boating experience. What truly sets Norris Lake apart is its immersive natural charm, inviting visitors to witness wildlife in their element as they cruise along its lush, wooded shorelines.

Reasons to Boat in Norris Lake:

  • Breathtaking Scenic Beauty: Norris Lake offers breathtaking and unspoiled natural beauty, with its picturesque views, clear waters, and rolling hills, creating a perfect setting for a serene boating experience.
  • Versatile Water Sports: Boaters can enjoy a wide range of water sports on Norris Lake, including wakeboarding, tubing, jet skiing, and even paddleboarding, ensuring non-stop excitement for water sports enthusiasts.
  • Abundant Fishing Opportunities: Anglers are drawn to Norris Lake for its abundance of fish species, providing an excellent opportunity for fishing, with bass, crappie, and catfish among the catch.
  • Convenient Marinas and Amenities: The lake boasts numerous well-equipped marinas, which offer boat rentals, lakeside restaurants, and various amenities, making it convenient and comfortable for boaters.
  • Immersive Wildlife and Nature: Exploring the lush, wooded shorelines and tranquil coves allows boaters to immerse themselves in the rich local wildlife and natural beauty, offering chances to spot deer, birds, and other fauna.

Recommended Gear: Life Jackets, Compass, Anchor, Tarps, Marine Radio, Cooler, Swim Bag


Center Hill Lake

Tucked away in the rolling hills of Tennessee, Center Hill Lake offers a serene escape for those seeking a tranquil oasis on the water. With its crystal-clear waters and picturesque surroundings, this lake is a haven for relaxation and outdoor adventures. Boaters can revel in a diverse range of activities, from swimming and kayaking to scuba diving, ensuring an exciting and refreshing getaway. Center Hill Lake is particularly renowned for its houseboat rentals, providing a unique opportunity to explore the lake’s beauty while enjoying the comforts of home on the water. Whether you’re an angler or simply a lover of lakeside camping, Center Hill Lake promises a peaceful retreat amidst nature’s finest offerings.

Reasons to Boat in Center Hill Lake:

  • Tranquil Oasis: Center Hill Lake provides a tranquil oasis with its crystal-clear waters and serene environment, making it an ideal getaway for those seeking peace and relaxation.
  • Diverse Water Activities: The lake accommodates a variety of water activities, from leisurely swimming to kayaking, paddleboarding, and even scuba diving, ensuring a diverse range of experiences.
  • Houseboat Adventures: Center Hill Lake is renowned for its houseboat rentals, offering a unique way to explore the lake and enjoy an extended stay on the water with all the comforts of home.
  • Fishing Paradise: Anglers appreciate the lake’s thriving fish population, including bass, walleye, and trout, making it a fishing paradise.
  • Lakeside Camping: Boaters can also find lakeside campgrounds and picnic spots, allowing for extended adventures and overnight stays amid nature’s beauty.

Recommended Gear: Sunscreen, Cooler, Paddle, Sunglasses, Marine Radio, Waterproof Phone Case, Dry Box


Percy Priest Lake

Just a stone’s throw from the vibrant city of Nashville, Percy Priest Lake offers a delightful aquatic escape with a mix of urban and natural attractions. This reservoir boasts not only proximity to the bustling city but also a serene natural setting, featuring islands, sandy beaches, and picturesque coves perfect for exploration and relaxation. For those seeking a more social experience, Percy Priest Lake is known for its lively “party coves,” where boaters can join in water-based festivities and socialize with fellow enthusiasts. Waterfront dining options add to the charm, providing a chance to savor delicious meals with scenic lake views. With year-round boating opportunities, Percy Priest Lake caters to water sports enthusiasts, anglers, and nature lovers alike.

Reasons to Boat in Percy Priest Lake:

  • Proximity to Nashville: Percy Priest Lake is conveniently located near Nashville, making it an accessible boating destination for both locals and tourists.
  • Islands and Beaches: The lake boasts several islands and sandy beaches, providing opportunities for exploration and relaxation.
  • Party Coves: Boaters can find lively “party coves” where they can join others for socializing and water-based festivities.
  • Waterfront Dining: The lake features waterfront restaurants, allowing boaters to enjoy dining experiences with scenic views.
  • Year Round Activities: Percy Priest Lake offers year-round boating and recreational activities, from summer water sports to winter fishing.

Recommended Gear: Anchor, Dry Box, Sunscreen, Marine Radio, Paddle , Compass, Rope


Chickamauga Lake

Steeped in history and natural beauty, Chickamauga Lake offers an intriguing mix of historical attractions and outdoor recreation. This lake’s proximity to Civil War sites and museums provides a unique opportunity for history enthusiasts to explore the area’s rich past. On the recreational front, the lake offers everything from boating to water-based camping along its shores, creating an immersive experience for nature lovers. Anglers are drawn to Chickamauga Lake due to its reputation as a top-notch fishing destination, hosting numerous tournaments that attract fishing enthusiasts from across the country. With a diverse range of wildlife and various fish species, including bass and catfish, Chickamauga Lake promises an engaging adventure for all who visit.

Reasons to Boat in Chickamauga Lake:

  • Historical Attractions: The lake’s vicinity is rich in history, with nearby Civil War sites and museums for those interested in a historical aspect to their boating experience.
  • Waterfront Camping: Boaters can find campsites along the shoreline, providing opportunities for a unique camping experience.
  • Fishing Tournaments: Chickamauga Lake hosts various fishing tournaments, drawing avid anglers from across the country.
  • Diverse Wildlife: The lake’s diverse ecosystems support various wildlife, including bald eagles, making it a fantastic spot for nature enthusiasts.
  • Diverse Fishing: The lake is known for its diverse fish population, including bass, catfish, and crappie, offering great fishing opportunities.

Recommended Gear: Rope, Compass, Paddle, Cooler, Sunglasses, Snacks, Anchor


Douglas Lake

Against the backdrop of the majestic Great Smoky Mountains, Douglas Lake presents a picture-perfect setting for a boating adventure. Its serene waters and family-friendly atmosphere make it an inviting destination for a day of leisure on the lake. Anglers are drawn to Douglas Lake for its excellent bass fishing opportunities, featuring various tournaments that add excitement to the angling experience. For those seeking a complete lakeside experience, waterfront lodging options such as resorts and cabins offer a cozy and immersive stay. Not to be missed are the annual events, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, which showcases the lake’s charm and draws professional anglers and fishing enthusiasts from near and far.

Reasons to Boat in Douglas Lake:

  • Scenic Mountain Backdrop: Douglas Lake is set against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains, providing a stunning visual experience for boaters.
  • Family Friendly: The lake is known for its family-friendly atmosphere, with calm waters and picnic areas for a relaxed day on the water.
  • Bass Fishing: It’s a prime location for bass fishing, with various tournaments held throughout the year.
  • Waterfront Lodging: Several resorts and cabins offer waterfront lodging, enhancing the overall experience.
  • Annual Events: Douglas Lake hosts annual events like the Bassmaster Elite Series, attracting professional anglers and fishing enthusiasts.

Recommended Gear: Life Jackets, Compass, Anchor, Tarps, Marine Radio, Cooler, Sunscreen


Watts Bar Lake

Nestled in the heart of Tennessee, Watts Bar Lake beckons with its serene and picturesque charm. This sprawling reservoir is a hidden gem, boasting crystal-clear waters, making it a haven for boating enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. With its rich history, vibrant wildlife, and a wide range of recreational activities, Watts Bar Lake has something to offer everyone who seeks a memorable boating experience. The stunning backdrop of the Smoky Mountains and the Tennessee River only enhances the beauty of this tranquil destination, creating an inviting paradise for exploration and relaxation.

Reasons to Boat in Watts Bar Lake:

  • Scenic Beauty: Watts Bar Lake is known for its picturesque surroundings, offering breathtaking views of the Tennessee River and the Smoky Mountains, making it a serene and visually appealing boating destination.
  • Diverse Fishing: The lake is a haven for anglers, boasting a diverse range of fish species, including catfish, crappie, and bass, providing ample opportunities for fishing enthusiasts.
  • Water Sports: With its spacious waters, Watts Bar Lake is perfect for a wide range of water sports, such as wakeboarding, waterskiing, and tubing, ensuring endless excitement for water sports enthusiasts.
  • Marinas and Amenities: The lake is dotted with marinas and resorts offering boat rentals, lakeside dining, and other amenities, making it convenient and comfortable for boaters.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Boating on Watts Bar Lake provides opportunities to spot local wildlife, including deer, eagles, and various waterfowl, enhancing the overall boating experience with a touch of nature.

Recommended Gear: Compass, Anchor, Cooler, Rope, Tarp, Snacks, Sunscreen


Old Hickory Lake

Just a stone’s throw from the vibrant city of Nashville, Old Hickory Lake provides a harmonious blend of urban excitement and natural beauty. With its islands, coves, and diverse ecosystems, it offers a unique escape for boaters and outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re a history buff, an angler, or someone seeking lakeside leisure, Old Hickory Lake caters to a range of interests. Its proximity to Nashville provides access to cultural events and dining, while the serene lake setting offers an opportunity to unwind amidst picturesque surroundings. Whether it’s water sports, fishing, or lakeside picnics, Old Hickory Lake offers a diverse and welcoming boating experience.

Reasons to Boat in Old Hickory Lake:

  • Proximity to Nashville: Old Hickory Lake is conveniently located near Nashville, providing easy access to the bustling city’s entertainment and attractions alongside the tranquil lake setting.
  • Diverse Water Activities: Boaters can enjoy a variety of activities on the lake, from water skiing and paddleboarding to swimming and kayaking, catering to a wide range of preferences.
  • Excellent Fishing: Old Hickory Lake is a fishing hotspot, known for its abundance of bass, catfish, and crappie, ensuring that anglers have a fantastic time on the water.
  • Lakeside Dining: The lake features several lakeside restaurants and bars, offering delicious meals with scenic views, creating an enjoyable dining experience.
  • Community Events: Old Hickory Lake hosts community events and regattas, adding a sense of community and festivity to the boating experience, and providing a chance to meet fellow boating enthusiasts.

Recommended Gear: Sunscreen, Cooler, Paddle, Sunglasses, Marine Radio, Waterproof Phone Case, Dry Box


Kentucky Lake

Straddling the borders of Kentucky and Tennessee, Kentucky Lake stands as one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States, promising a grand and diverse aquatic adventure. This vast waterway, surrounded by lush forests and captivating vistas, appeals to those who crave ample space for exploration and relaxation. Renowned for its exceptional fishing opportunities, Kentucky Lake draws anglers from near and far, seeking trophy catches in its abundant waters. For nature enthusiasts, the lake’s diverse wildlife and recreation areas add an extra layer of appeal to the boating experience. With plenty of amenities and waterfront resorts, Kentucky Lake combines comfort and adventure, making it a quintessential destination for boating enthusiasts.

Reasons to Boat in Kentucky Lake:

  • Vast Waterway: Kentucky Lake is one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States, offering ample room for boating and exploration, making it a paradise for boaters looking for space and variety.
  • Fishing Paradise: Renowned as a top fishing destination, the lake is home to a wide range of fish species, including bass, catfish, and crappie, attracting anglers from all over.
  • Camping and Recreation: Boaters can enjoy lakeside camping, hiking, and bird-watching, with numerous recreation areas and state parks lining the shoreline.
  • Scenic Beauty: Kentucky Lake’s stunning vistas and diverse wildlife make it an excellent choice for nature enthusiasts and photographers.
  • Waterfront Resorts: The lake boasts waterfront resorts and accommodations that provide comfort and convenience, enhancing the overall boating experience.

Recommended Gear: Sunglasses, Paddle, Sunscreen, Dry Box, Waterproof Phone Case, Anchor


Pickwick Lake

In the picturesque landscapes of Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, Pickwick Lake exudes Southern charm and natural beauty. It’s a region where the warm hospitality of the South meets the pleasures of boating, making it a unique and inviting destination. Known for its trophy-sized smallmouth bass, catfish, and crappie, Pickwick Lake is a paradise for anglers in search of a memorable catch. The lake’s stunning limestone bluffs, lush greenery, and abundant wildlife create a scenic backdrop for boating adventures and nature enthusiasts. Whether you’re seeking water sports, exploration, or a historical touch, Pickwick Lake offers a multifaceted boating experience in the heart of the South.

Reasons to Boat in Pickwick Lake:

  • Southern Charm: Pickwick Lake, situated in the South, offers a unique Southern charm and hospitality that extends to the boating experience, with friendly locals and welcoming communities.
  • Excellent Fishing: The lake is famous for its trophy-sized smallmouth bass, catfish, and crappie, making it a prime destination for anglers seeking a rewarding catch.
  • Scenic Shorelines: The lake is surrounded by stunning limestone bluffs and lush, green landscapes, providing a picturesque backdrop for boating adventures and wildlife watching.
  • Water Sports and Recreation: Pickwick Lake accommodates water sports like boating, water skiing, and paddleboarding, ensuring a range of activities for all water enthusiasts.
  • Historical Attractions: The lake’s region features historical sites and Civil War landmarks, offering an educational aspect to boating and exploration.

Recommended Gear: Rope, Water Shoes, Sunglasses, Sunscreen, Compass, Paddle


Tims Ford Lake

In the heart of Tennessee, Tims Ford Lake offers a peaceful and tranquil escape for boaters and nature lovers. With its calm waters, Tims Ford Lake sets the scene for a day of relaxation and enjoyment on the water. Whether it’s water sports, excellent fishing opportunities, or exploration of the beautiful state park surroundings, there’s something for everyone. The lake’s year-round appeal ensures that whether you visit in summer for water sports or in winter for a quiet fishing experience, Tims Ford Lake offers a versatile and inviting destination for boaters seeking serenity and recreation in a pristine natural setting.

Reasons to Boat in Tims Ford Lake:

  • Serene Atmosphere: Tims Ford Lake offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere, making it an ideal destination for a quiet and relaxing day on the water.
  • Water Sports: Boaters can enjoy a range of water sports, including wakeboarding and tubing, providing entertainment for those seeking a thrill on the lake.
  • Fantastic Fishing: The lake is known for its excellent fishing opportunities, with abundant populations of bass, catfish, and crappie, appealing to anglers of all skill levels.
  • State Park Amenities: Tims Ford State Park provides amenities like marinas, hiking trails, and picnic areas, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable boating experience.
  • Year Round Enjoyment: Whether it’s summer water sports or winter fishing, Tims Ford Lake offers year-round boating and recreational activities, making it a versatile and appealing destination.

Recommended Gear: Life Jackets, Compass, Anchor, Tarps, Marine Radio, Cooler, Water Shoes


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