New Hampshire's Seacoast captures the essence of New England's oceanfront.
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New Hampshire's Seacoast captures the essence of New England's oceanfront. In just 18 miles of coastline, there are long, sandy beaches, working ports, offshore islands, surf-stung rocks, and popular resort towns and villages that date back nearly four hundred years. Many visitors begin their tours of New Hampshire along the coast, drawn by the sound and scent of the sea, and intrigued by all the region offers.
The Seacoast is where New Hampshire began, with the first settlement by Europeans in 1623 at Odiorne Point, now a State Park in Rye. By 1640, there were four towns: Hampton, Exeter, Dover and Portsmouth, all located on Seacoast rivers adapted to maritime uses, and all important and thriving centers for business, recreation and commerce today. Over 350 years of tradition and history give texture and color to life here.
Portsmouth, an important working port since colonial days, was once a hotbed of Revolutionary fervor. Today you can see how residents lived through the centuries at Strawbery Banke; take a whale watch or islands cruise; browse through shops as you walk cobblestone streets and Market Square; or catch a wave at Water Country, New England's largest waterpark. Hampton, just a few miles down the coast, is a vibrant beach resort with a full calendar of seasonal events. Nearby Durham is a bustling university town, with all the sports, special events and cultural opportunities you'd expect at a major university. Bike along the 18-mile coastline; play a round of golf, perhaps with an ocean view; take a hike; try deep sea fishing or parasailing, take a cruise to off-shore islands, or go for a run on the beach. If you're a sun and sand lover, there are plenty of long, sandy beaches, most of which are State Parks.
The harborfront area of Portsmouth is an area best toured on foot. The Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce offers guided tours on weekends in July and August and provide a brochure for self-guided tours year-round. Those who prefer to strike out on their own shouldn't miss Prescott Park, with its extensive flower gardens and annual summer-long Arts Festival; and Strawbery Banke, a 10-acre historic site across the street from the park that recreates life in the Puddle Dock neighborhood of Portsmouth over its 300-year history. For a look at Portsmouth, the working port, take a walk down Bow Street to Ceres Street. You can see tugs and other boats come in; a fine selection of restaurants and shops is there, too.