New Hampshire might have the smallest seacoast in New England (other than Vermont, which has none), but it makes the most of what it has. With less than 20 miles of shoreline and sandwiched between the popular Maine Beaches and Massachusetts’ acclaimed North Shore, the Seacoast holds its own with Portsmouth and Hampton Beach, a smattering of other beaches between, and even charming inland towns.
The old port city of Portsmouth is a pleasing colonial mix of brick and clapboard buildings, and is full of history. Initially settled by Europeans in the early 1600s, it soon became a major seaport, and is still an active port and a vibrant and intimate city. In its heart is Strawberry Banke, a living outdoor museum, covering 10 acres and 300 years of history, with historic houses and gardens, costumed roleplayers, craft demonstrations and more. Prescott Park is also a draw, a 10 acre waterfront park on the Piscataqua River with gardens and water fountains and benches to sit and watch the river flow by.
Further down the coast is Hampton Beach (not to be confused with the affluent “Hamptons” on Long Island in New York), with a wide white sand beach and a long strip offering everything you’d expect from a classic beach town – seafood shacks and restaurants, souvenir and t-shirt shops, mini-golf, arcades and seaside lodging. Summertime should always feel this good.
Further inland, pretty Exeter on the Squamscott and Exeter Rivers, is home to one of the oldest private secondary schools in America, Phillips Exeter Academy. Durham, host to the University of New Hampshire, is a lovely and vibrant college town.
There’s a lot packed into this little region – come check it out.