The Seacoast Region is the southeast area of the of New Hampshire. The region stretches 18 miles along the Atlantic Ocean from New Hampshire's border with Salisbury, Massachusettes to the Piscataqua River and New Hampshire's border with Kittery, Maine. The shoreline is generally very rocky and rough in nature, although a few sandy beaches have been created using jetties/groins.
The Isles of Shoals, a short ferry ride out into the Gulf of Maine, are also considered to be in the Seacoast Region and collectively provide five additional miles of coastline in the form of islands: White, Seavey's, Lunging Island, and Star Islands.
The New Hampshire Seacoast region is known as "The Restaurant Capitol of New England" and offers a number of outstanding restaurants, unique country inns, quality hotels, wonderful attractions and tax-free shopping at large malls and small shops.
Although New Hampshire's seacoast only borders 18.57 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, you won't be disappointed if you love the ocean. New Hampshire's seacoast is actually much longer than the 18 plus miles that are directly on the Atlantic Ocean. When you include New Hampshire's tidal rivers, the Great Bay estuary and the Isles of Shoals, the state's salt-water shoreline adds up to more than 238 miles!
There is much to do in the New Hampshire seacost region; you can take a ferry ride, which leaves daily from Portmouth Harbor to the Isles of Shoals, a cluster of islands off the shore which harbors plant and animal life unique to these islands. You can visit the public beaches of Hampton and Rye, the city of Dover which was New Hampshire's first permanent settlement, or take a walking tour through Portsmouth to discover the history of this 375 year-old town.
Portsmouth, N.H., a city of roughly 21,000 people, sits near the mouth of the Piscataqua River, a short, wide river that divides New Hampshire and Maine. The city also is at the hub of a metropolitan region that includes several small cities and many towns.
Settled in 1623, Portsmouth lays claim to being the nation's third-oldest city. It served as a focal point on the Eastern seaboard until the late 1800s when rail travel did in the shipping industry. John Paul Jones' ship The Ranger was built in Portsmouth, and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (which lies across the river in Maine) was established in 1800 as the country's first Naval shipyard.
The geographic location, historic past and cultural strength of the area regularly lands it on various "best places to live" lists.
The region is noted for its many restaurants,attractions and shopping opportunities, which include outlet malls in North Hampton and in Kittery, Maine, as well as major malls in Newington, New Hampshire.
The redevelopment of
Pease Air Force Base
has generated many new job opportunties.
US Route 1 and NH Route 1A run along the seacoast; during the high tourist season, these highways are extremely crowded with day tourists and seasonal renters. Compounding the problem is Kittery, Maine, a very popular shopping district with many outlet stores. Slightly farther inland, Interstate 95 carries most of the through-traffic north into Maine while NH Route 101 carries New Hampshire's east-west traffic between the Seacoast Region and the inland portions of the state.
10 Things to Do in the Seacoast Region
Thinking about spending some time in the Seacoast Region? This easternmost area of the state is exremely popular with summer tourists but tends to quiet down after Columbus Day. There are many attractions here, including the 1940's style boardwalk of Hampton Beach. But slip off the "beaten path," and you'll discover some of the "other" great things that this region has to offer.
See the Wagon
The 130-acre Wagon Hill Farm on Route 4 in Durham offers sweeping views of the fields next to the old wagon atop the hill. These views are exquisite at sunset. The property features well marked trails leading to a nicely developed waterfront with picnic tables and swimming in Little Bay. The farm itself was preserved by the residents of Durham. Please respect the rules of the property. The site is also popular with cross-country skiers and sledders during winter months.
Flag Hill Winery
in Lee is both a winery and a distillery, which means it produces wines and spirits. At Flag Hill, there are more than 20 acres of vineyards that feature nine varieties of grapes suitable to New England's harsh climate. This produces red and white wines in a variety of flavors, including fruit wines with blends of strawberry, raspberry, apple and Wild Maine blueberries. In keeping with their "made in New Hampshire" pride, Flag Hill has a Heritage Red Wine that is blended with maple syrup. They have also created a Sugar Maple Liqueur that blends maple syrup wth their signature Vodka, the General John Stark Vodka. The winery invites visitors to explore the vineyards, and stop in the Tasting Room to browse through 15 varieties of wine. Call them to set up a private tour, 603-659-2949.
Float to the Shoals
The Isles of Shoals is steeped in legend and lore. But the islands are an destination for history buffs and photographers, vacationers and lighthouse lovers. The ship that will take you there is the M.V. Thomas Laighton, which leaves from Portsmouth Harbor and cruises 6 miles out to the Isles. A sister ship, the Captain's Lady leavdes from Rye Harbor. Portsmouth Harbor Cruises also offer cruises that explore all nine islands. New Hampshire only owns four of the islands; the other five belong to Maine. Interested in spending the night at the Shoals? You'll have to stay at Star Island, the only island of the nine that offers lodging facilities.
, located in North Hampton is a gardeners paradise. The estate is the home of over 2,000 rosebushes, perennial borders, hundreds of tulips, dozens of dahlias, a conservatory, and a Japanese Garden. Spend some time sitting on a bench and admire this turn-of-the-century formal garden. Nearby Prescott Park in Portsmouth offers demonstration beds, and plentiful perennials with fountains serving as a focal point. Brick walkways carry you around the gardens, and benches beckon to those who want to surround themselves with the beautiful blooms.
Do the Brew
The Redhook Brewery, which once commissioned the Spaulding and Frost Cooperage to build the largest wooden barrel in the world to attract visitors, is still an attraction in and of itself. Though the barrel is no longer onsite, the micro-brewery itself is now the attraction. Tours of the brewery operate daily and include 3-4 samples of ale. Redhook also owns the Cataqua Public House next door where you'll find a beer garden, good food and unique atmosphere. Try their seasonal ales, for some local flavor.
Cross the Footbridge
The Cocheco River Footbridge, which crosses the Cocheco River and deposits pedestrians in Henry Law Park, gives the City of Dover character. This 155-foot bridge was constructed in 1996 offsite and rebuilt at this location. It was constructed to help promote and develop the waterfront, attracting businesses and restaurants to the downtown area. A riverwalk and the Cocheco Mill Museum offer a glimpse into the manufacturing industry that served the City of Dover and notes the historic properties along the way.
Portsmouth Harbor's Fort Constitution, located off Route 1B in New Castle, overlooks the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The fort was built in 1631 to protect Portsmouth Harbor. It was attacked in 1774 in the first battle of the American Revolution. The ruins of the fort, which is found on the grounds of the U.S. Coast Guard Station, also contains the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse. The lighthouse is only open to the public during open houses held throughout the year. For details on open houses, contact the Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse at 603-431-9155.
Stroll New Hampshire's Oldest Neighborhood
Portsmouth is home to New Hampshire's oldest neighborhood and some of the oldest homes in the state. Many of the historic structures can be found on the streets surrounding Strawbery Banke, but if you want a total history experience, we highly recommend visiting the living museum. The Moffat-Ladd House and garden, located on nearby Market Street was built in 1763. It was built by Captain John Moffat, a merchant-trader who hired his crew to build the home. The National Historic Landmark contains period furnishings, some made in the Portsmouth area, a spectacular stairway, and a lovely garden designed by Alexander Hamilton Ladd. The house is open to the public from June through October. Another notable residence is the 300 year old Warner House, located on Daniel Street. It was built from 1716-18 for Captain Archibald MacPheadris and his bride-to-be, Sarah Wentworth, the daughter of Governor John Wentworth. The home features dramatic murals that are the oldest Colonial wall paintings still in place in New England. The house is open to the public from June through October. There are many other historic homes within walking distance in Portsmouth, and that's what makes it such a special place to visit.
Rye Harbor State Park
showcases the rocky New Hampshire shore better than any other location along the 18-mile coastline of the state. Saltwater fishing is popular with the many chartered boats that set out from the harbor. This is also a popular spot for weddings and picnics. Cruises heading out to the Isles of Shoals also depart from this location. Escape the hustle and bustle of Hampton with a short ride to Rye. The park is open late-May to mid-October.
Where the Potter's Are
If you like to watch artist's at work, take a trip to Salmon Falls Stoneware in Dover. The beloved stoneware is highly prized and has become an American tradition for more than 20 years. The pottery is hand-made and hand-decorated, with traditional or country designs. In 1983, Salmon Falls purchased an old building in Dover, known as the Boston and Maine Engine House, that was used to service train engines back in the 1920s. The building would become Salmon Falls Stoneware, a studio and shop where visitors can watch artisans create pots, electric lamps, crocks and vases made in the tradition of 1800's stoneware. The pieces are uniquely New England, making this shop a true landmark in the City of Dover.
MORE THINGS TO DO
American Independence Museum
- Established in 1991, the American Independence Museum is a private, not-for-profit institution whose mission is to be the premier center and historic site in New Hampshire for the study, research, education and interpretation of the American Revolution and the role that one state, one town, and one family played in the founding of the new republic.
Christmas Gallery & Tree Farm
- Delight in new discoveries while you browse in the trim-a-tree gallery barn for treasures reminiscent of Christmas' past. The farm features a wide selection of classic collectibles that have evolved over the centuries, but are still hand-crafted in the same age-old manner.
Seacoast Science Center
- Open daily, the Center's aquariums and live-animal exhibits interpret coastal habitats from tide pools to the seafloor. Interactive exhibits allow you to design your own fish for offshore aquaculture. Discover how the crew of a sunken submarine was rescued in 1939. Located in Odiorne Point State Park.
The Music Hall
- The region's leading concert venue. A Historic Theater in downtown Portsmouth offering the best of performing arts and films.
Prescott Park & Prescott Park Arts Festival
- Portsmouth's waterfront park and summer arts festival.
Hampton Beach - is a village district and beach resort within the town of Hampton, New Hampshire, located on the Atlantic Ocean. Hampton Beach is located in Rockingham County, approximately 15 miles (24 km) south of Portsmouth. The community is a popular tourist destination and the busiest beach community in the state. Ocean Boulevard, the main street along the beach, includes a boardwalk, several seasonal hotels, and the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom. The Ballroom hosts many national acts throughout the summer months.
Children's Museum of Portsmouth
- Exhibits and activities for children. Hands-on exhibits designed for learning and fun include computers, dinosaurs, literature, human anatomy, masks and sound. The museum also features a space shuttle cockpit, submarine play structure, and lobster boat.
Strawbery Banke Museum
- An historic waterfront museum featuring homes and exhibits from 3 centuries. Experience how people lived throughout four centuries of New England history through restored furnished houses, exhibits, period gardens, and historic landscapes. Costumed role players interpret the living history of generations who settled in Portsmouth, NH.
- Formal, turn of the century estate garden that was once an ornament to Alvan T. Fuller’s summer home. Over two thousand roses of many varieties bloom all summer, with unusual and eye catching annual and perennial plantings, a hosta display garden, public conservatory and a Japanese garden are all within the sculpted hedges of this seaside gem.
Isles of Shoals Steamship Company
- Variety of ocean cruises including historic tours, scenic lighthouse cruises, dinner cruises, fall foliage, and children's programs.
Odiorne Point State Park
and the associated Seacoast Science Center.
The USS Albacore, once the fastest submarine in the U.S. fleet, is now beached in Portsmouth and open to visitors.
Wentworth by the Sea
, a grand old hotel previously fallen into disrepair but now completely renovated.