Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia’s Southern charms make it a great setting for relaxing and civility. Nearby Lake Murray provides a place to bust loose.
Lake Murray was formed in 1930 by the distinctive five-tower Dreher Shoals Dam on the Saluda River. The 48,000-acre reservoir — 41 miles long and as wide as 14 miles — produces electrical energy and is the main source of Columbia’s drinking water. It has also become “the water playground for the (South Carolina) Midlands.”
Although the lake is a power-producing reservoir, water level changes are not massive — four feet between normal summer high and normal winter low.
Water skiing, wakeboarding, cruising and swimming are all popular. Murray is famous too for its rafts of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of boats, plus numerous poker runs on this enormous inland waterway.
Dozens of marinas serve the lake, with abundant landings and ramps.
Columbia, 18 miles away, claims one of the lowest costs of living in the United States. Still, upscale home communities ring the lake, so pick your lifestyle. The city overflows with options such as concerts, ice shows, Broadway shows, dancing, historic homes, museums, theaters, and a zoo and botanical garden. Columbia’s Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 10.
Need to Know
Dream Boat: Stingray 225SX — Wakeboard, ski and be first to the cove with this speedy runabout.
Fun Fact: A B-25 bomber on a training run ditched and sank in 150 feet of water in Lake Murray in 1943. It was located 59 years later and, in 2005, raised from the lake’s depths.
Green Bay, Lake Michigan
Green Bay, Wisconsin
This city grew from trading posts, where furs and other goods ferried there by river and lake were swapped. Boating is still big in the city, where residents brag of “small town hospitality, big city amenities.”
Located at the innermost point of the Lake Michigan bay whose name it bears, the town of Green Bay offers dining, shopping, wineries — and the tough legacy of those Packers, the only fan-owned National Football League team, celebrated in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame adjacent to legendary Lambeau Field.
Bay Beach Amusement Park draws more than a million folks a year, with 18 rides and ride tickets just two bits (yeah, 25 cents!) each. Paintball, minigolf, go-carts and bumper boats are right next door. In June, check out Bayfest Live.
Ready to go afloat? The road to Bayshore Park’s launch ramp is cut through the rock of the Niagara Escarpment. Eye the geology on your way to the ramp, but don’t lollygag. The bay offers splendid fishing but is even better known among adventuring boaters for being a safe harbor from which to disembark for the famous Door County Peninsula and destinations beyond, as far across the Great Lakes as quaint Mackinac Island or Killarney, Ontario.
Need to Know
Dream Boat: Cruisers Yachts 48 Cantius — Head for Chicago or the Upper Peninsula with this palatial cruiser.
Fun Fact: You have to appreciate a place where the 2011 visitor guide lists among its claims to fame “the invention of the first splinter-free toilet paper in the early 1900s.”