Summer at the seacoast
Our coast may be small, but we've packed a ton of things to do into those short miles. From events and people watching at Hampton Beach to surfing lessons, here are our suggestions for the ocean lovers.
You scoff at the idea of sitting by a placid lake — it’s sand between your toes and salt in your hair that you crave. Our tiny sliver of coast may be small, but we’ve packed a summer’s worth of fun into it.
Learn more about visiting and staying at Hampton Beach here. Photo by P.T. Sullivan
Looking for crowds, top-notch people watching, fried food and non-stop activities? Try Hampton Beach, where there’s always something going on, from the Sand-Sculpting Contest (June 15-17) to weekly fireworks (Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. and on holidays) and the Miss Hampton Beach Pageant (July 30).
Looking for some peace and quiet? Rye Beach is the place to crack open that novel you’ve been meaning to get to for months.
In addition to Hampton Beach, there are four other Seacoast state park beaches: North Beach, North Hampton, Jenness and Wallis Sands.
New Castle Beach is often overlooked by the summer tourists. It’s a small, picturesque spot that’s somewhat rocky but still sandy. It’s about 10 minutes outside of Portsmouth, located at the Great Island Common in New Castle. It’s also right next to the lovely New Castle Common Park, which is where you’ll find parking.
We’re certainly no Hawaii, but there are still surfing spots to be found in NH. Summer Sessions Surf Shop in Rye and Portsmouth, Pioneers Board Shop in North Hampton and Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Co. in Hampton offer lessons and rentals.
Learn more about marine life at the excellent Seacoast Science Center in Rye and then use your newfound knowledge as you explore the rustic trails in the 135-acre Odiorne Point State Park, where the center is located. The Center also hosts the Atlantic Grill Music-by-the-sea Concert Series on Thursday evenings in July. Tickets are $12 for adults, $2 for kids ages 3-12 and free for kids under 3. Proceeds support the Center’s ocean education mission and Marine Mammal Rescue Program. You can also attend the benefit, Sippin' for Seals on Thursday, June 15, which also helps the Center's Rescue Program. Enjoy food prepared by local chefs, live music and dancing.
Feeling the urge to sail the high seas? Get out on the water with Portsmouth Harbor Cruises, which offers narrated harbor cruises, an Isles of Shoals trip, evening sunset cruises and a wine cruise aboard the M/V Heritage with Carla Snow. Try to spot whales and other marine life with Granite State Whale Watching or Atlantic Whale Watch, both based in Rye.
The Isles of Shoals Steamship Company has a bunch of great tours including a walking tour of the historic Star Island, one of the first footholds for settlement in the new world. Learn about 400 fascinating years of history that ranges from the charting of the Isles in 1614 by Captain John Smith of Jamestown and Pocohontas fame and the legend of the pirate Blackbeard to the possible haunting by the lady ghost on White Island.