Kentucky has a lot of things to be proud of. From Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace to the most exciting college basketball programs in the country, we have plenty of reasons to feel good about the beautiful state we call home. One of the most obvious reasons for great pride is our lakes. Fishermen and women, houseboat owners and renters, and boaters flock to Kentucky’s many beautiful (and loaded) lakes each year. Many fall so deeply in love that they basically call friends back home and tell them they’ve found a new home!
Fact is, I believe Kentucky’s lakes are one of the primary ways we lure (excuse the pun) new neighbors.Ã?Â In fact, did you know that Kentucky (not just Lake Cumberland) is often thought of as the houseboat capital of the world? I’ve always heard this and came across it recently in a bit of research I was doing for Genuine Kentucky.Ã?Â As a web publisher, I often use “web tools” that help determine what words are most often searched-for on search engine giants like Google.
When I began this article on houseboat living and houseboat rentals, I turned to my trusty little web tool to see what the top search engine searches were relating to houseboats, house boats, houseboat rentals, etc. Amongst the top searches related to houseboats (or house boats as most people actually type in, oddly enough) were Kentucky Houseboats and Houseboat Rentals in Kentucky. I dug a little deeper (out of sheer nosiness) and found that houseboats are searched for more in conjunction with Kentucky than Florida, California, or… for that matter… any state I snooped into!
Apparently when Kentucky is referred to as the Ã¢â?¬Å?Houseboating Capital of the U.S.,Ã¢â?¬ÂÃ?Â there’s ample justification for it.
When you think about it, it all makes perfect sense. Kentucky is full of lakes that lend themselves to the pleasant pastime of houseboating.Ã?Â Of course, it’s more than just a pastime for a lot of people, it’s a lifestyle.
Many of Kentucky’s beautiful lakes offer a vast number of coves and fingers that allow houseboats to tie up or anchor away from the main channel and provide boaters with a peaceful, secluded atmosphere.
Then thereÃ¢â?¬â?¢s the ease with which visitors can rent houseboats from marinas operating on the lakes. Lake Cumberland boasts multiple marinas that specialize in renting these commodious craft to vacationers who crave laid-back quality time on the water with family and friends. When you add other popular waters like Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley, and Dale Hollow Lake, more marinas rent houseboats of various sizes and degrees of luxury in Kentucky than almost anywhere else.
USA Today once didÃ?Â a piece on “10 Great Places to Float Your Houseboat.”Ã?Â The story opened with the following:
Whether you own a houseboat or want to rent one, it’s a great way to get together with family and friends Ã¢â?¬â? or just get away. North America’s most popular (and therefore populated) houseboating waters are Lake Powell in southern Utah and Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. Consider these recommendations from Houseboat magazine’s managing editor, Brady Kay, who spoke with Anne Goodfriend for USA TODAY.
The story went on to mention other lakes which were excellent for houseboating. Another Kentucky Lake was mentioned along with Lake Cumberland. Read on!
Overshadowed by the nearby, popular Cumberland Lake, Dale Hollow Lake is “huge, and great for cruising or entertaining,” Kay says. “There are plenty of places to rent a houseboat, and they usually have the latest models” because most houseboats are manufactured in these two states (Kentucky and Tennessee). Fishing rods lure crappie and smallmouth bass. “It might be the best lake in (this area) that no one has ever heard of.”
A great place to locate information on the stateÃ¢â?¬â?¢s major lakes or marinas offering houseboat rentals is the Kentucky Department of Travel and TourismÃ¢â?¬â?¢s Official VisitorÃ¢â?¬â?¢s Guide, which has detailed listings for facilities in nine separate regions of the state. The guide is available online at www.kentuckytourism.com.Ã?Â A printed guide can be ordered online or by calling 800-225-8747.
And donÃ¢â?¬â?¢t forget that Kentucky is a leading houseboat manufacturing center. Buyers from all over the world order custom-built craft to match their particular desires. In Monticello, Somerset, Russell Springs and other towns around Lake Cumberland, youÃ¢â?¬â?¢ll find some of the worldÃ¢â?¬â?¢s best-known houseboat builders eager to provide the craft of your dreams. Many vacationers whoÃ¢â?¬â?¢ve gotten their feet wet with a rental eventually decide to become owners.
In the early 1950s, a Somerset native, Jim Sharpe, began building small houseboats at a facility on the banks of the newly impounded Lake Cumberland. Sharpe got the idea for the business when he realized that visitors to the lake had few options for accommodations close to the water. As the business grew, the size and luxury of the boats he built grew with it. The companyÃ¢â?¬â?¢s reputation spread, and Sharpe became known as the Henry Ford of houseboats. Although Sharpe is now retired, his company is still run by second- and third-generation family members.
For those who arenÃ¢â?¬â?¢t looking to buy, renting is an enjoyable alternative. The time of year and size of the boat determines the rental cost. A boat that sleeps 12 with six private cabins and amenities like kitchen, wet bar, central air conditioning and outdoor grill can rent for about $4,000 for Monday-Friday during peak season. Because of the pastimeÃ¢â?¬â?¢s popularity, make arrangements for your Kentucky houseboat vacation as far as possible in advance.
Learn More About Houseboat Rentals and Houseboat Vacations:
Green Turtle Bay Houseboat Rentals (Resort and Marina on beautiful Lake Barkley. You will not find friendlier people.)
Kentucky State Parks (a wealth of information)
Kentucky Tourism (endless information about all things Kentucky!)
If you’re in Kentucky, have houseboat rentals, and would like to be included in the list above, please contact me and I’ll “hook” you up.
Luke Yancey says
Thank you for adding the idea of renting a houseboat as well. That thought never even occurred to me. I might try renting one this summer!