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Florida's Favorite Boating Places

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Best Parks for Boat Camping
Here are a half-dozen state parks around our coastlines, with a variety of activities and overnight facilities for weekend visitors.

Too bad Ratty didn’t live in Florida. He’d have done much more traveling than messing about. Weekend boaters here have an endless choice of short-hop destinations.

Claiborne Young, a reliably salty guide who maintains six cruising guides and a busy website, cruisingguide.net., often patrols the coast for updates with co-author Morgan Stinemetz of Sarasota.

For Young, one destination is paramount: “If I could be anywhere right now, it would be Boca Grande,” he says. But he delights in the fact that there are scads of “back country anchorages” as well as marinas grand and funky. Here are some of his favorites:

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Florida: Weekend Boating
Apalachicola
Apalachicola. You can fill a full day shopping the old streets, sampling oysters and gumbo or poking around the history of the once-bustling cotton port.

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Florida: Weekend Boating
Carrabelle
Carrabelle. One of the least-spoiled corners of the Forgotten Coast for fishing. Fresh-caught local seafood and a laid-back attitude are on display everywhere.

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Florida: Weekend Boating
Fernandina Beach
Fernandina Beach. Young praises the revitalization of the city marina, which created thoroughly modern moorings just steps from the historic and walkable downtown.

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Florida: Weekend Boating
Doctors Lake
Doctors Lake. This friendly patch of water is on the west side of the St. Johns River. Go all the way to Whitey’s Fish Camp, always jumping with fried catfish.

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Florida: Weekend Boating
Goodland
Goodland. “A tiny fishing village on the southernmost tip of Marco, plenty of places to dock your boat.’’ Young’s favorite dive is Stan’s Idle Hour Bar and for a bigger menu, the Little Bar.

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Florida: Weekend Boating
Big Pine Key
Big Pine Key. “It’s hard to find anything out of the way in the Keys,” Young says, but he likes to dock here, taking the long walk to the No Name Pub and its pizzas, hidden there since 1935.

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Florida: Weekend Boating