Summer is in high gear, so maybe it’s time to take the watersports show on the road. We have 20 potential destinations for families and their boat.
Fantastic Foothills Lake
Norris Lake, Tennessee
Norris Lake is situated in the foothills of the Cumberland and Smoky mountains in eastern Tennessee, near Knoxville. It features a reservoir that is 206 miles long by 1.2 miles wide and has 800 miles of natural shoreline, which minimizes backwash. There are plenty of coves and fingers to find calm, crystal clear water. Folks who need to can rent a wake- or a wakesurf board or take a lesson at G-Rides, which has two locations on Norris Lake.
Epicenter of Waterskiing
Butler Chain, Windermere, Florida
Though Orlando is known throughout the world for its theme parks, it is also the epicenter for waterskiing and wakeboarding. Near Orlando, the Butler Chain of Lakes in Windermere offers ideal conditions for year-round watersports. The chain consists of 11 interconnected lakes that cover almost 5,000 acres. The lakes are clear and the shores are lined with Cypress trees, sawgrass and sandbanks. The natural shoreline reduces backwash, which results in calmer water. There are plenty of ski and wake schools in the Orlando area, so newbies can learn to run the slalom course, do a flip on a wakeboard or wakesurf from a pro.
Chain of Lakes, Winter Haven, Florida
The Winter Haven vicinity includes the Northern Chain of Lakes, which consists of 10 lakes that are connected by canal, and the Southern Chain of Lakes, which features 16 lakes also connected by canal. Winter Haven is where much waterski history was made. Surfing behind a boat was first accomplished at Cypress Gardens, which is now a Legoland park on Lake Eloise. The park maintains the lake’s history with a daily kid-themed waterski show. Enjoy endless glassy water conditions for any activity, or learn to barefoot ski at the World Barefoot Center or take a waterski lesson at nearby Lucky Lowe ski school.
Competitive Ski Site
Okeeheelee Park, West Palm Beach, Florida
Okeeheelee Park offers year-round waterskiing in sunny, warm West Palm Beach, Fla., for the more ardent waterskiers. Consisting of five lakes, Okeeheelee is designed specifically for waterskiing and waterski competitions and has hosted many, including the Water Ski World Championship and U.S. Water Ski Championships and Barefoot Championships. Okeeheelee Park features four slalom courses and one jump ramp. One of the slalom courses features lights for night skiing. Though Okeeheelee Park is public, the park requires everyone to use an approved specialized ski boat and acquire an annual permit decal for the boat.
Brazos River, Texas
The 1,240-mile Brazos River winds from north-central Texas southeast past Dallas to the Gulf of Mexico. The winding river’s natural shoreline, with bluffs and sandy banks, absorbs boat wakes and provides calm conditions no matter the wind direction. Barefooters love it for its long, calm glass stretches. Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Ganbury and Lake Whiney are some dammed-up hotspots.
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