A Floating House Party

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Ever wanted to rent a house boat? Let this be the summer-they're fun, easy to drive and best of all, highly affordable

Think of houseboats as RVs on water--only with houseboats, there's a lot less traffic, and every day you can roll out of bed and take a dip or drop your fishing line. You don't need a special driver's license, and anyone can figure out how to operate the equipment.

"Every rental company will give you a manual and run you through a full orientation," says Steve Smede, executive editor at Houseboat magazine. "Some boating experience is helpful, but that's mostly for your own peace of mind. No one's going to turn you away if you haven't driven a boat before."

Here are five great spots to rent a houseboat. But first, a few things to keep in mind.

  • Reservations are essential in summer.
  • Gas is not included in the rental price, and it's rare to use less than $100 worth over a long weekend.
  • Shop for groceries in town--stores at the marinas are notorious for ridiculously high prices.
  • Lake Cumberland, Kentucky

    Five species of bass and 1,200 miles of shoreline. A 64-foot boat that sleeps 12 is $1,357 to $1,704 for four days. State Dock, 888/782-8336, statedock.com.

    Shasta Lake, California

    Warm waters near 14,162-foot-high Mt. Shasta. A 56-foot boat that sleeps 12 is $1,550 to $2,230 for four nights. Shasta Marina Resort, 800/959-3359, shastalake.net.

    Lake Roosevelt, Washington

    Wends among forests and craggy shores (they're perfect for jumping off of--just look at our cover). A 62-foot boat that sleeps 13 is $1,995 to $2,795 for four days. Lake Roosevelt Houseboat Vacations, 800/635-7585, lakeroosevelt.com.

    Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

    In summer, much is accessible by foot or boat only. A 42-foot boat that sleeps five is $1,130 to $1,260 for four days. Ebels, 888/883-2357, ebels.com.

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