Kiplinger's takes a look at 10 great waterfront travel destinations. 10 Great Waterfront Destinations
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10 Great Waterfront Destinations

Courtesy of Chensiyuan

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If you still plan to squeeze in a break before the warm weather gives way to cooler temps, a vacation that includes a waterfront may appeal.

Waterfront destinations "showcase the city's identity, its character and its people," says Ethan Kent, vice president of Project for Public Spaces, a New York-based non-profit organization that helps people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities.

Working with Project for Public Spaces, Kiplinger's selected ten U.S. cities with enticing waterfronts that best showcase its people and culture, as well as provide strong economic growth. In addition, we selected waterfront cities that offer activities year-round for local residents and tourists.

So pack your bags, wear comfortable shoes and take a trip to one of these ten ports of call.
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10 Great Waterfront Destinations | Slide 2 of 11

1. Venice Beach: Los Angeles, Calif.

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Length of waterfront: 3 miles

Round-trip flight deals: Starting at $262 (Sept. 14-20, from New York JFK Airport)

Distance from Los Angeles International Airport:
9 miles

Spanning the California coastline between Santa Monica and Marina Del Ray, Venice Beach is great to visit year-round. It has its own cast of characters: street vendors, starving artists, health fanatics, bikini-clad models and muscle men. But there's more to it than just sun, surfing and street entertainment.

If you're in search of cheap and fun things to do, check out 1st Fridays on Abbot Kinney. The street marketplace brings together neighborhood merchants on the first Friday of each month and features musicians, art and shopping. The Venice Art Crawl, which happens every third Thursday of the month, is free to visitors and showcases the work of local artists. The Venice Beach Boardwalk, as well as the infamous Muscle Beach Gym are also tourist hot spots. Hop on one of the three major public transit services to Venice Beach and before you know it you'll be hobnobbing with some of L.A.'s most interesting beachgoers.
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10 Great Waterfront Destinations | Slide 3 of 11

2. River Walk: San Antonio, Tex.

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Length of waterfront: 5 miles

Round-trip flight deals: Starting at $236 (Sept. 6-12, from Chicago O'Hare International Airport)

Distance from San Antonio International Airport:
10 miles

Located along the San Antonio River that cuts through downtown San Antonio, the River Walk provides a relaxed atmosphere and lots to do for visitors to the area. Take a ride on a River Tour boat for about $8 and cruise along two and half miles of the River Walk. Visit the San Antonio Museum of Art, known for having the largest collection of ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Asian art in the southern United States; it's free on Tuesdays from 4 to 9 p.m. The city's VIA Metropolitan Transit bus service can get you where you need downtown, but for $4, you can purchase a One Day Pass to ride the city's historic streetcars.

Some coming attractions: the Ford Canoe Challenge, on August 20, features more than 90 canoe teams racing the river, and the Dos XX Taste of the River Walk, on September 7-8, lets you sample culinary offerings from nearly 30 River Walk establishments. A word to the wise: Visitors should coming here January 2-8, when the city drains the river.
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10 Great Waterfront Destinations | Slide 4 of 11

3. The Embarcadero: San Francisco, Calif.

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Length of waterfront: 3 miles

Round-trip flight deals: Starting at $353 (Nov. 16-22, from Washington, D.C.'s Dulles International Airport)

Distance from San Francisco International Airport: 13 miles

Look for deep-water piers and vintage trolley cars at the base of Market Street, the southern-most point of the Embarcadero and the transit hub for all of San Francisco's neighborhoods. The historic Ferry Building Marketplace, located in the North End, is perfect for a pit spot in-between taking in the sights. There, visitors can grab a quick bite at one of the restaurants or check out the farmer's market. The Bay Area Rapid Transit Embarcadero Station is located in the financial district a few blocks from the Ferry Building, Embarcadero Center, Transbay Terminal and the California Street cable car.

Spring and fall are the best times to visit the Bay area -- the skies are clear and mild (unlike the summer months, when the San Francisco is fog-bound). For two days in early October, Fleet Week at Pier 39 takes over the riverfront and features a parade of ships, military displays and an air show in honor of the troops. And if you're looking for something to do that's a bit more quirky, try a meal at Teatro ZinZanni, which offers a unique blend of European cabaret and circus performances paired with fine dining.
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10 Great Waterfront Destinations | Slide 5 of 11

4. Newport Harbor: Newport, R.I.

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Length of waterfront: 2.5 miles (including Goat Island)

Round-trip flight deals: Starting at $218 (Sept. 28-Oct. 4, from Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport)

Distance from T.F. Green airport (Providence): 27.5 miles

With the best times to visit starting in spring through the fall, Newport Harbor, once a colonial shipping hub, is host to several prestigious artistic and cultural events. The long-running Newport Jazz Festival, for example, continues to attract jazz enthusiasts from around the world. The Newport Summer Comedy Series boasts nationally-known entertainers, such as Louis CK and Ron White.

In addition to live entertainment, the area offers visitors plenty of cost-friendly options. For example, the Newport Arts Festival -- a creative marketplace featuring local and national artists, food, and live entertainment -- has something for the entire family with admission less than $10 per person. The International Tennis Hall of Fame also calls Newport home; adults pay $11 each for admission, and children under 16 get in free. The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority offers convenient, eco-friendly trolley and bus services along the waterfront as well as Newport's famed mansions and the city's Gateway Center.
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10 Great Waterfront Destinations | Slide 6 of 11

5. South Beach: Miami, Fla.

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Length of waterfront: 2.5 miles (from South Pointe Park to 23rd Street )

Round-trip flight deals: Starting at $278 (Nov. 2-8, from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport)

Distance from Miami International Airport:
13 miles

Arguably one of the world's most fashionable waterfront, there's more to Miami's South Beach than just beautiful people and glitzy nightlife. Take a walk along Collins Ave. and experience the finest in art deco architecture. Venture to one of the many art museums and galleries, such as the Bass Museum of Art where adults pay just $8. Or try the Wolfsonian, located in the heart of Miami Beach, which is free after 6 p.m. on Fridays. And Sleepless Night Miami Beach is a free all-night cultural entertainment event with acts that include an aerial dance troupe, trapeze artists and live music. Several Miami-Dade Transit bus lines provide convenient connections between South Beach and downtown.

The hurricane season starts in early June and lasts through November. If you're planning a trip, you may want to check the weather forecast to ensure you don't run into dangerous weather conditions.
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10 Great Waterfront Destinations | Slide 7 of 11

6. Savannah Riverfront: Savannah, Ga.

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Length of waterfront: 1 mile

Round-trip flight deals: Starting at $346 (Sept. 28-Oct. 4, from Chicago O'Hare International Airport)

Distance from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport:
10 miles

Savannah has the largest number of registered urban historic landmarks in the nation, making it perfect for sightseeing. More than 1,600 historical buildings and sites, including the Owens-Thomas House and Beach Institute, are clustered within a two-and-a-half square miles, with some perched along the Riverfront. The River Street Labor Day Celebration and Oktoberfest on the River are just a couple of events that bring visitors to the area each year in late summer through early fall. Savannah offers three convenient, yet affordable, public transit options: Chatham Area Transit, Fare-Free CAT Shuttle in Historic Savannah, and the Savannah Belles Ferries.
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10 Great Waterfront Destinations | Slide 8 of 11

7. Waikiki Beach: Honolulu, Hawaii

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Length of waterfront: Less than 2 miles

Round-trip flight deals: Starting at $523 (Oct. 5-12, from Los Angeles International Airport)

Distance from Honolulu International Airport: 8 miles

What more can be said about this iconic vista along the Pacific? Waikiki continues to expand economically, thanks to the Waikiki Beach Walk, an outdoor entertainment plaza that's the largest development project in the beach's history. The Beach Walk features some 50 retailers, 16 restaurants and five hotels. Take the Waikiki Trolley for as little as $7 a day to explore all that Waikiki and downtown Honolulu have to offer (Honolulu's main transit service, known simply as TheBus, offers convenient access to Waikiki, downtown and to the airport).

If you want to explore, venture west to Aina Moana State Recreation Area, where exercise enthusiasts work out in the early morning and you can discover a variety of community events, including marathons, pet walks and local outrigger canoe practice runs. If you visit in September, check out the Aloha Festivals Waikiki Hoolaulea, which features 12 blocks of live entertainment, authentic Hawaiian cuisine and street vendors.
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10 Great Waterfront Destinations | Slide 9 of 11

8. Camden, Maine

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Length of waterfront: 0.5 mile

Round-trip flight deals: Starting at $216 (Aug. 31-Sept. 6, from Washington, D.C. Reagan National Airport)

Distance from Portland International Jetport: 82 miles (57 miles from Bangor International Airport)

Camden, nestled along the southern coast of Maine, shares the title Jewel of Maine Coast with neighboring towns Lincolnville and Rockport, because of its treasure-trove of cultural venues and outdoor activities.

Sailing, of course, is a favorite pastime for some residents, but if you want to take a break from walking the harbor, take a short hike up Mount Battie, where you can experience breathtaking views of this quaint city. The population is a mere 5,200 for most of the year, but it triples in size during the summer months as tourists and wealthy northeasterners take up residence.
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10 Great Waterfront Destinations | Slide 10 of 11

9. Laguna Beach, Calif.

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Length of waterfront: 9 miles

Round-trip flight deals: Starting at $257 (Aug. 24-30, from Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport)

Distance from John Wayne Airport (Santa Ana): 14 miles (53 miles from Los Angeles International Airport)

Stretching seven miles along the southern California coast, Laguna Beach's sandy beaches and laid-back lifestyle are an inspiration to residents and visitors who desire a more tranquil landscape. It's also a highly artistic community with scores of art galleries and boutiques along the Pacific Coast Highway.

During the summer, local artists display their works at the Sawdust Art Festival, sponsored by a non-profit organization that promotes the local arts. A day pass to the event is $7.75 for adults and free for children under 5. And if Mom and Dad can steal away for a couple of hours, they may want to check out the Laguna Canyon Winery;its monthly First Friday Wine Tasting event ($35 per person) comes complete with an assortment of appetizers and wines. The Orange County Transit and Laguna Beach Transit make it easy for visitors and residents to experience what Laguna Beach has to offer (there's also a Summer Shuttle Service that runs through August 28).
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10 Great Waterfront Destinations | Slide 11 of 11

10. Inner Harbor & Fells Point: Baltimore, Md.

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Length of waterfront: 5 miles

Round-trip flight deals: Starting at $288 (Sept. 14-20, from Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport)

Distance from Baltimore/Washington International Airport:
12 miles

Baltimore's Inner Harbor is bustling. Take a short walk along the Inner Harbor and sample authentically prepared Maryland crab cakes, or shop at local boutiques at The Gallery. Or, take a lunch cruise around the bay on the Spirit of Baltimore Dining Cruises ($35.90 per person) or visit the National Aquarium, one of the most highly regarded aquariums in the country, for under $25 per person.

The best time to visit is in the spring and fall. In early October, you can take part in Baltimore's rich history and heritage by attending the Fells Point Fun Festival, a community celebration showcasing the historic district and its businesses; the event is free to the public. The Maryland Transit Administration offers convenient bus service throughout the Inner Harbor and downtown.
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