Think summer: 4 things you didn’t know about boat shows

(BPT) - Think summer this winter, and start planning now for warmer days ahead that could be spent relaxing on a boat. Beginning in January, boat shows take place across the country, offering some of the hottest post-holiday deals around, with special pricing and incentives on new boat models and marine accessories — a major draw for the 142 million Americans who take to the water each year, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. For those ready to plan their summer adventures on the water, boat shows are the best place to start.

Explore all boating curiosities and interests, from fishing and sailing to riding personal watercraft and wakesurfing. Boat shows not only offer the unique opportunity to browse and board the latest boats and marine accessories at the best prices of the year, but also offer those looking to get started in boating a taste of the boating lifestyle during the off-season. Most boat shows offer educational opportunities and ways to get on the water — from rentals to boat clubs and more.

Whether you want to fulfill that New Year’s resolution of spending more time outdoors with family and friends, or you're simply in the mood to escape the winter doldrums, Discover Boating, the national awareness program to help get people on the water, offers four reasons to visit a boat show near you this year:

* Warm up with hot deals. Unlike auto shows, boat shows are the place to buy. Hundreds of new models are available to buy right on the show floor at some of the best prices of the year, with many exhibitors offering special show pricing and other incentives. Boat shows make it easy to shop all the region’s dealers in one location, and it’s the perfect time to order a new boat to ensure it arrives by spring.

* Navigate the boating lifestyle. You can learn the ropes of boating and take advantage of onsite training, offered at little to no cost. Beginners can learn about boating, and more experienced captains are able to hone their skills. Plus, boat shows offer fun and interactive activities for the whole family from knot-tying and boating 101 seminars to remote-control docking ponds and virtual reality boating simulators and more. Most shows also have charters, boat clubs, rentals and boat schools for show-goers to research ways to get on the water before buying.

* Invest in your health. In addition to the thousands of steps you will achieve from browsing the latest products, boat shows could also be an investment in your health. According to a Discover Boating survey, 72 percent of Americans reported feeling healthier after spending time on the water. Plus, recent research has confirmed what many boaters already know — you experience health benefits, like reducing stress, by being near, in, on or under water, and while participating in activities like boating. Learn more about the health benefits of boating by visiting DiscoverBoating.com/your-brain-on-a-boat.

* Look for the seal of approval. When shopping for a boat at a show, online or at a dealership, always check to make sure it is NMMA Certified. NMMA Certified boat and trailer manufacturers have been independently inspected to ensure they meet strict industry standards for safety and construction, as well as all federal regulations. Look for the NMMA Certified sticker near the helm of a boat.

Visit DiscoverBoating.com to find a boat show near you, a list of certified boat manufacturers, a Boat Finder tool that matches your on-water interests with different boat types, plus more interactive tools and resources for getting started in boating.