New Hampshire’s slice of Atlantic Ocean waterfront is slight – only 18 miles of shoreline. But that shoreline, and the entire Seacoast region, is a delight. Among the highlights of the region are family-friendly Hampton Beach and the hip little city of Portsmouth.
Hampton Beach is a lavish, old-time family beach with day-and-night activities for everyone from toddlers to the old folks. There is a band shell with free concerts and weekly fireworks; the Casino Ballroom, hosting top national entertainers; and, lining the main street, row after row of lodgings, amusements, restaurants, and shops. Annual events at Hampton Beach include a volleyball tournament, children’s festival, sand-sculpting contest, and Hampton Beach Idol contest. Alongside all this activity is a luxurious sweep of white-sand beach where families can lounge and play in the surf. When kids want to get out of the sun, the Happy Hampton Arcade and Funarama offer video and table games.
The Seacoast also is home to the city of Portsmouth, a historic port city with cobblestoned streets, a pleasant downtown filled with charming shops and restaurants overlooking the harbor, and the beautiful waterfront Prescott Park. A fun and educational day event for adults and kids is a visit to Portsmouth’s Strawbery Banke Museum. This is a living history museum that describes everyday life from the 1600s to the 1950s in this neighborhood, known as Puddle Dock. Visitors may walk through furnished historic houses, join costumed role-players, or relax in period gardens.
Other attractions of the Seacoast region are the Fuller Gardens, a turn-of-the-century estate garden four miles north of Hampton Beach; the Seabrook Greyhound Park; and the Seacoast Science Center at Odiorne Point State Park in Rye. Lodging ranges from sophisticated downtown hotels and beachfront motels to inns and B&Bs nestled along quiet lanes.