The New England Boat Show opened this past weekend and this year was my first time attending. My husband grew up on boats and had taken the kids to the boat show before but somehow I never made it with them. This year, I was invited to check it out for myself. Henry and I got to the show first and took a tour of the floor, exploring all the different types of boats and gear. Dan and Isabelle joined us later to look more seriously at boats we may consider getting some day.
Not Just For Buyers
Some of us love to go to an art museum and take in the beauty of art. We go to museums as a family and see things that make us think about the world around us. In a way, the boat show can be seem as such an outing too. There are family friendly activities, gorgeous boats, there is all kinds of different equipment to see and learn about.
When I first heard about the boat show, I thought of it as a huge car lot with different vendors and they only reason to be there was to shop for a boat. That isn’t really what it was like at all though. It is a bit more like New York Fashion Week is for clothes and designers. It is an opportunity to see what is out there, get to know different brands better and an opportunity to dream big. Then you go home and think about what you really want in a boat. Having been to the show, you have all the resources about local marinas, boat brands, used boats and new boats, boat insurance, boat gear and such to start building your boating life off of.
Even if you don’t plan to ever but a boat, there are boat memberships and boat clubs, or just having a chance to see these boats up close makes for a fun family outing.
I definitely didn’t think that the boat show would be a great place for the family. For my husband, he’s like a kid in the candy store. I saw plenty of young children and I can see why now. Not only does the show incorporate some family-friendly activities such as building your own boat, and a passport system that takes kids to different show checkpoints for a stamp in their passport. The best part, for kids and parents though is being invited to climb aboard all the boats.
You can go down into the sleeping quarters. You can climb high up top and look over the whole show. You can sit at the helm of the boat and pretend you are driving into Nantucket sound. Henry took over the grill for our imagined bbq on the water of this party boat.
I almost wore my boat shoes, but I was already wearing my nautical scarf and it was still slushy out so I wore my boots. I wasn’t prepared, but next time I will be. You want shoes that are easy to slip on and off because you’ll take them off to board the boats. Bring a pair of shoes that are easy to slip on and off for both you and the kids.
See it in Shifts
The boat show is huge. I recommend seeing it in shifts. If you are seriously looking for a boat or to chat with some of the vendors have a plan. I recommend coming as a family to explore. Let the kids lead the way for a bit and choose where they want to go.
Then plan a break to grab a bite to eat or a drink. One parent can stay back with the kids and play in one of the convention lounge areas, or watch the olympics at the bar/lounge in the Westin. Grab lunch at MJ O’Connor’s and then divide and conquer.
Parking a Boat Is Harder than it Looks
Now I understand why there is boat insurance! At the Progressive Insurance area, I had the chance to learn to dock a boat. I have docked a motor boat and a canoe before, but never a boat with a more than a basic rudder and engine. Even though I was guided lever pull by pull and lever push by push, I still managed to knock everything over and that was just leaving the model harbour. I eventually made it to dock with lots of laughter and looks of disbelief. I had so much fun exploring, trying new things, and seeing what the world of boating had to offer.
- Please note that some activities such as the Virtual Reality experience are only for children 13 and older.
- There is a Starbucks in the Westin Hotel. It is a great spot for a coffee break or meeting point before you head into the New England Boat Show.
- I recommend parking in the Westin Hotel self-park area if there are spots available. We had lunch at M J O’Connors which was decent and were able to validate our parking making it more affordable. There is also street parking available if you are willing to drive a loop or two. It is worth a try.