It's not hard to figure out why boat manufacturers such as Sea Ray, Bayliner, MasterCraft and Skier's Choice, among others, set up shop in or near Knoxville. The Tennessee River, which runs right through downtown, is part of every aspect of life here. Upstream of the city, the river is a popular fishing and camping spot. Closer to the city, recreation is ever feeding from the river.
"The biggest pull for the downtown area is the [University of Tennessee] football season because of the massive tailgating parties on boats," says Joe Cornelius, manager of the Marinas on Lake Loudon.
As the river flows out of downtown, it forms Fort Loudon Lake where there's been a recent boom of lakefront housing development. But the centerpiece of the area is Tellico Lake, where most of the boatbuilders test their boats. It also became the place to live ever since nationally known Tellico Village opened in the 1990s.
Scorecard (scale of 1-5)
Waterfront Availability: 4
Ease for Boaters: 5
Strong Boat-Related Business: 5
Number of Good Boating Days: 4