Adventure Towns: Coastal NH

Our "Adventure Towns" series is all about the basecamp towns. Each has easy access to the great outdoors, a community with a sense of adventure and a culture that values keeping it local. Here's the pick for the coastal area of New Hampshire.

A note from New Hampshire Magazine: Due to the statewide efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, many of the places mentioned here are either closed or officials strongly advise you to avoid them. For instance, popular hiking spots continue to draw large crowds. We hope that when you do go out, you’ll avoid busy places and practice appropriate social distancing. In the meantime, we hope this guide to our state’s adventure towns provides you with the tools to plan a future trip. Until then, stay safe and stay healthy.

There are three things that make up a good adventure town. The first and most obvious being easy access to the outdoors and endless ways to recreate. Second, a community with a sense of adventure that is deeply embedded in the culture, and works collectively to help it thrive.

Lastly, top-notch local brews, because no adventure is complete without a good beer. Yet, truth be told, no matter what you’re sipping on, it all begins and ends with a great adventure town to call home.

In a place like New Hampshire, none of these things are hard to come by, and each region has an outdoor mecca with a brand of fun all its own. Whether you want alpine trails and winding singletrack, a pristine surf break, or acres of backcountry ski glades, there’s a basecamp for you. Oh, and beer. There’s plenty of that too.

Ready to put down roots? Here are the best adventure towns in New Hampshire. See all of the selections: White Mountains, Lakes Region, Southwest and Great North Woods. Read on to learn about the top “adventure town” on the coast.


Fly Fishing On Teh Nh Coast

Photo by Joe Klementovich

The vibe: The Seacoast’s Surftown
The food + drink: Smuttynose Brewery/Stoneface Brewing
The adventure: Exposed reef breaks, sandy beaches and paddling the waterways

In comparison to its mountain ranges and ravines, dense buffer of forests, and region of shimmering lakes, New Hampshire has a relatively short stretch of coastline. Yet, in classic East Coast fashion, what it lacks in size, it delivers in epic adventures.

Located along the 18-mile-long seashore is Rye, the Seacoast’s vibrant adventure hub. From town, surfers can easily paddle out to beach breaks like Jenness Beach and Rye On The Rocks, but it’s not out of the question to travel up Route 1A to find a better swell in Hampton.

Note: Beaches are currently closed, and parking is prohibited along Route 1A. See more here.

For gear, head to Cinnamon Rainbows, Rye’s local surf shop that’s open year-round for retail or rentals. If it’s not pumping, or surfing isn’t your thing, there are other ways to get your fix: Spend a day on Sawyer’s Beach, check out the skate park, go out with the crew at Granite State Whale Watching, or head inland to Portsmouth Paddle Company for a mellower afternoon.

Note: Cinnamon Rainbows is open for online ordering. See more on their website and on Facebook. Granite State Whale Watching is hoping to open on May 16. See Facebook for updates. Portsmouth Paddle Company is scheduling virtual appointments to help you find the right paddle board. You can then pick it up or have it delivered (delivery is within a 15 mile radius from the store).

Of course, there’s the breweries. Smuttynose Brewery is a local institution now with a new outpost, called Smuttlabs. Its second location features a kitchen and a tasting room serving up limited-edition, small-batch brews. And, don’t pass up the chance to visit Stoneface Brewing to try some of their tasty craft beers after a sun-soaked day on the Seacoast.

Note: Smuttynose, Smuttlabs and Stoneface Brewing are all open for to-go orders.

Categories: Destination NH, Relocation Information