Newport vs Norwalk Boat Shows

There are several significant boat shows to choose from in the Northeast over the next few weeks, and this time next year there will be even more as New York adds a September boat show at the Javits center.

But let’s get back to the present, specifically the next two weeks. Newport and Norwalk. Rhode Island and Connecticut. Two small states in southern New England with two pretty good fall boat shows.

Norwalk Boat Show

Try a kayak or SUP at the Norwalk Boat Show

This weekend is the Newport Boat Show, which features in-water boats, and crowds of vendors in tents spread out among the many piers hosting the show in the Ocean State. If you plan to go to this show, bring lots of cash. It’s Newport, that’s just how it goes. From the tolls to get over the bridge, to the expensive (and limited) parking, to the cost of admission (especially on Thursday – $30!!!), your wallet will be lighter before you even set one foot on the docks. But hey, we’re all a bunch of rich yachties, right? Newport is a beautiful city, and there are usually more sailboats on display in Newport, as well as more megayachts, than at other shows in New England, so if you’ve never been to the Newport Boat Show it is worth checking out at least once.

A more reasonable alternative for family boaters, fishing enthusiasts, and anyone who loves boating, is the Norwalk Boat Show, which takes place the following weekend (September 19 – 22) at Norwalk Cove Marina in southern Connecticut.

First of all, you’ll see many of the same products and boats in both Norwalk and Newport. Many of the vendors from Newport make Norwalk their next stop as they head south for the fall from one show to the next.

Second, Norwalk is Connecticut’s largest in-water boat show, and it’s run by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which puts on dozens of large boat shows around the country. Because of the NMMA involvement, it is always a well-produced, well organized, professional show with lots of things to enjoy for the entire family.

Third, the cost of admission for the Norwalk Boat Show is more reasonable ($13 if you buy online), and there is plenty of parking in a large lot (TIP: in recent years, to avoid getting ripped off, you need to drive PAST the boat show entrance for the official event parking lot).

Last but not least, the Norwalk Boat Show actually encourages visitors to enjoy the boats on display. This year, the show is offering free powerboat and sailboat rides on Long Island Sound, as well as tours on a kayak or SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard).

So, if you’ve been looking to have an enjoyable and affordable day at a boat show in New England, and perhaps even get your feet wet – literally – Norwalk is the place to be next weekend. For more information, visit the official show website: