Although it measures in at just under 18 miles long, New Hampshire packs enough attractions along its coastline to keep you busy for days. History is clearly visible throughout the area, making it look like a lost portal in time compared to the modern world. Take your time and absorb the interesting sights and breathtaking views before dipping your toes in the coastal waters of New Hampshire.
Referred to as the Seacoast Region, the New Hampshire coastline is home to seven towns and cities. Begin at the southernmost point and leisurely work your way up in order to fully experience the distinctively different flavors throughout the unique area.
Despite the hustle and bustle of the modern world, Seabrook has managed to maintain an air of serenity. There’s plenty to do in Seabrook, but the pace is always relaxed. Bury your feet in the sand at Seabrook Beach, hike along the shoreline, or sample a locally distilled artisanal spirit at Smoky Quartz Distillery. If you need a bit of an adrenaline rush, wager a few dollars at Seabrook Greyhound Park, or land the big one on a day of deep sea fishing with Eastman’s Fishing Fleet.
Imagine grand historic homes, an impressive white church steeple and a country store stocked with local favorites and soft drinks. Built on the foundation of the timber industry, Hampton Falls proudly maintains its rural roots and character. The largest employer is Applecrest Farm Orchards, one of the oldest working apple orchards in the country. In town, visit a shopper’s village and antique shops, and grab a bite to eat in one of the unique restaurants, such as The Old Salt & Lamie’s.
Although the town has a historic feel, Hampton features an abundance of modern T-shirt shops and restaurants for tourists, primarily due to Hampton Beach, an extremely popular summer destination on the coast. From fireworks every week to 80 free summer concerts, the town stays hopping when the weather is warm. Ranked among the top three cleanest beaches in America by a National Resources Defense Council report, Hampton Beach is a great place for all your favorite beach activities, including sand castle building and boogie boarding.
North Hampton is the perfect place to visit if you want to view stylish examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture. If you visit between May and October, one must-see is Fuller Gardens, a turn-of-the-century estate located just a block from the Atlantic. The beautifully landscaped grounds feature formal rose gardens in the Colonial Revival style, making the site popular for weddings.
Rye boasts the longest stretch of coastline in New Hampshire and governs four of the nine islands referred to as the Isles of Shoals. If you are into history, Rye is for you. From pirates coming ashore to hidden treasures, the town has enjoyed more than its fair share of mystique and adventure. Go whale watching with Granite State Whale Watch, visit the Seacoast Science Center, or take an island cruise. When the day of fresh sea air finally wears you out, check out one of the bed and breakfasts in town.
New Castle is the only town in New Hampshire composed entirely of islands. Incorporated in 1693 during the reign of William and Mary, New Castle is now home to the Great Island Common recreational park, the world-famous Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Spa, and Fort Constitution and Fort Stark state parks. Approximately 60 miles from Boston and less than five miles from neighboring Portsmouth, New Castle is a great place to enjoy the ocean after a long day of sightseeing.
According to Lamphier, there is no place like Portsmouth when it comes to topping off a vacation. She calls the town a “charming, still wonderful destination for foodies” and says it offers approximately 120 restaurants, most of them small and intimate. She also recommends visiting one of the many craft beer houses, Market Square, or The North Church, built in 1855. Enjoy the gift of peace, love, and burgers at Lexie’s Landing, a little shack in the parking lot of a marina. “They have plastic chairs, plastic tablecloths, plastic forks, and the best food on the planet,” says Lamphier.