Detailed Findings & Methodology
The bodies of water enjoyed by people in these places have also helped support thriving economies and larger populations. Often, a state’s most populated city is located near the best place to enjoy water sports. These cities started as settlements centuries ago because they are close to major water sources. The water made it easier to ship supplies, get clean drinking water, and grow crops.
All of the nation’s largest and oldest urban centers, including Chicago, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California, New York City, New York, are near major ports or waterways.
Many of the communities that lead their respective state in accessibility and availability of water activities are major vacation destinations. For example, Camden County, Missouri, serves as one of the premier vacation spots in the state mainly because it borders Lake of the Ozarks. Harlan County, Nebraska, located near Harlan County lake has just 3,465 residents. Yet with so few options in Nebraska, it doesn’t have much competition.
Being close to the water is nice, but it’s not a luxury everyone has. Most people have very few outlets nearby to hang out in or around the water. Of the over 2,500 U.S. counties considered for this list, nearly 1,000 had no type of outdoor water sport activity within the county.
To determine the best place to enjoy water sports in each state, 24/7 Tempo tallied various water-related features in U.S. counties, including marinas, designated fishing areas, port and harbor operations, water transportation infrastructure, scenic sightseeing, and other available water activities. The numbers of these features in each county came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns and are for 2016. To further verify the popularity of these areas, we reviewed various internet sources and local reports including tourism boards, vacation review websites, and local water sport businesses.