Boats, RVs, motorcycles on display at these Atlanta shows

Boats, RVs, motorcycles on display at these Atlanta shows
Atlanta Boat Show returns to the Georgia World Congress Center this month. (Nelson Hicks)

If gray winter days give you the blues, create a diversion by plotting a springtime escape on a boat, motorcycle or an RV. To see the latest technologies and innovations in recreational vehicles, consider these annual shows in January. And while you’re there, pick up some accessories, catch a virtual fish, watch a BMX bike show and chat-up reality TV stars.

A lot has changed in the world of recreational boating since the Atlanta Boat Show debuted in 1962, but the fundamentals remain the same. For boating enthusiasts, there’s no better way to spend the day than on the water.

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What’s different is the technology, says Kevin Murphy, manager of the 2020 Progressive Atlanta Boat Show, which returns to the Georgia World Congress Center this month for four days.

“People are looking for new technologies that make boating easier, and manufacturers are building boats that are safer and easier to maneuver,” said Murphy. “Every year you see new technology for steering and in the motors that make them more fuel efficient and better for the environment.”

Another shift Murphy is seeing in the industry is more electric motors and an increase in pontoon boat sales, especially in Atlanta.

“It’s a safety thing,” said Murphy. “When most people are buying a boat, they’re doing it to spend time with the family. The comfort and stability of the pontoon are what appeal to a lot of families.”

Forced into a smaller hall last year due to a scheduling conflict, the Atlanta Boat Show returns to the 400,000-square-foot C Hall in 2020. In addition to more than 600 brand-new boats and watercrafts representing more than 70 brands, the popular Let’s Go Fishing Center returns. Its focal point will be a 40-foot-long tank stocked with live fish, which will be used for fishing demonstrations. There will also be a fishing simulator. Standing in front of a screen, participants will hold an actual rod and reel, and feel what it’s like to land a big one.

New this year is the Discover Boating Experience where new boaters can talk to experts, take sailing seminars and learn how to decrease their carbon footprint in boating.

“It gives inexperienced and new boaters people to talk to about becoming safer boaters and better fishermen and how to enjoy the boating the experience,” said Murphy.

Jan. 16-19. $15. Georgia World Congress Center, Hall C, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd., Atlanta. 401-651-3220,

According to a study funded by KOA campgrounds, interest in camping is on the upswing. For those who like to rough it in comfort, the Atlanta Camping & RV show is the place to go to see the latest models from eight metro Atlanta RV dealers. Produced by Duluth-based Hardman Productions in conjunction with the Atlanta RV Trade Association, the show features more than 250 units representing 50 models, including gas and diesel motorized RVs, cab over and fifth-wheel RVs, conversion vans, travel trailers and pop-up campers.

“The industry continues to look for innovative ways to make the camping experience enjoyable for families and empty nesters that are making it a lifestyle,” said promoter Bobby Smith. “We’ll have the latest and greatest of everything that’s out there.”

More than 16,000 people are expected to attend the show, which fills a 200,000-square-foot exhibition hall at Atlanta Exposition Center South. In addition to RVs, there will be educational seminars and more than 100 exhibitors promoting everything from state parks and KOA campgrounds to camping cookware, lighting and mattresses.

Jan. 24-26. $12, weekend pass $15. Atlanta Exposition Center South, 3850 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta. 770-447-3334,

For those who have a need for speed, the Great American Motorcycle Show at Cobb Galleria Centre has you covered. More than 100 exhibitors and dealers will display a variety of motorcycles, including sport, touring, vintage and custom bikes, as well as apparel and accessories like helmets, leatherware, trailers and jewelry.

While brands such as BMW, Harley Davidson and Indian may dominate the show, there will be a variety of styles to appeal to all riders.

“We have electric motorcycles that cater to new, younger buyers coming into the market,” said Rhonda Sodel, the show’s vice president. “There are a lot of motorcycles that cater to that rider. It might not be a Harley Davidson. It may be his first motorcycle.”

The show also features classes on how to ride safely, a BMX bicycle stunt show and custom builders from around the country, including legendary designers Kory Souza and Paul Yaffe, who was featured in 2014 on the History Channel’s reality TV show “Biker Battleground Phoenix.”

Jan. 25-26. $15, two-day pass $20. Cobb Galleria Centre, 2 Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 770-279-9899,

This story was written by Suzanne Van Atten with The Atlanta Journal Constitution.