The Seacoast is a region in New Hampshire along the state's 18 mile long coast, between Maine and Massachusetts. It contains several large communities, and a handful of smaller towns and villages. The region is unique in New Hampshire for its historical significance.
The Seacoast region of New Hampshire was first settled in the early 1600s by English fishermen. By the 1630s a permanent settlement was created near Dover, NH. This historical heritage is an integral part of the Seacoast region of NH's character, and is reflected everywhere from its road design to its architecture. Portsmouth, the largest city in the seacoast region, was once one of the busiest ports in America. In 1814 a fire destroyed many of the buildings in Portsmouth, leading to a law requiring all buildings to be brick with slate roofs, creating a charming historical feel to the downtown area. Dover and Exeter thrived off of the success of Portsmouth, especially in the lumber business, supplying ship makers in Portsmouth with lumber for ship making.
The industrial Revolution eventually led Portsmouth and the Seacoast to become less important than neighboring inland cities like Manchester, Nashua, and Keene, but the stagnation meant that the historic character of the Seacoast region was preserved into modern times.
During World War II, because of the importance of Portsmouth's naval yards, the United States bought most of the coastline, closed it to civilians, and transformed it into a military base named Fort Dearborn. In 1961 the state bought the land back from the Federal government, resold some of it, and reopened the rest to visitors and tourists. Remnants of Fort Dearborn can still be seen along the coast.
|Seacoast (New Hampshire)|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The Seacoast region of NH has a typical New England range, with very cold winters and summers that vary from hot to mildly cold. The most important piece of climate advice when traveling anywhere in the New England region is to prepare for any weather. Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year, with rain generally being an all day event, as opposed to short showers. Thunderstorms are rarer then in other parts of the country, but they do occur. The ground is covered with snow usually from late December to March. Snow removal is excellent in the region, with only snowfalls greater than 6 inches (30 cm) affecting commerce and transportation in the area.
English is the dominant and virtually only language spoken in the seacoast region. While some residents may be bilingual there is no one popular second language spoken by residents throughout the region.
Public transportation to the Seacoast region is the second best in NH, following the Merrimack Valley region. Don't expect it to be nearly as available as public transportation is in more populous regions. Northern New England is an area of the country where almost all residents own cars, reducing the amount of public transportation available.
- Portsmouth International Airport at Pease (PSM) 1 mile west of downtown Portsmouth, Pease Airport is a low-cost airport with scheduled commercial flights by Allegiant Airlines. The airport is a 24/7 port of entry with full service charter and general aviation amenities. Long-term parking, rental cars and ground transportation to the Seacoast region area are available.
- Logan International Airport (BOS IATA) 45 miles south of the Seacoast in Boston Massachusetts, "Logan" as its called by locals is the only large airport within reasonable range. Transportation from the airport to the seacoast region is available by Amtrak Train or Bus.
- Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT IATA) About the same distance from the Seacoast as Logan airport, Manchester is liked by locals for being a smaller airport - thereby avoiding the bustle and congestion at Logan. There is no public transportation from Manchester-Boston to the Seacoast region, so this airport is only viable if a rental car is planned, or someone is available to drive you.
- Amtrak Downeaster, Toll free: +1-800-872-7245. The Downeaster runs from Boston MA up through Exeter, Durham (the UNH campus), and Dover. The train runs back and forth several times a day, with the schedule available on their website. It's important to buy your tickets in advance if possible, as the train frequently fills in the morning, especially during the workweek.
- C&J, Toll free: +1-800-258-7111. C&J provides bus service on air-conditioned coaches between Dover - Portsmouth and Boston on a regular basis. Check their website for pricing and scheduling.
There are three major roads leading towards the Seacoast. Interstate 95 cuts through the area, providing the main road from which to enter from either Maine (traveling south) or Massachusetts (traveling North). Interstate 95 is a toll road. From the West Rt. 101 comes from Keene and Manchester and ends at Hampton, providing easy access to the coast, and since it crosses interstate 95, its easy to access other seacoast cities like Portsmouth and Dover. Downtown Portsmouth has a parking garage, and almost all businesses (especially hotels) have available parking, usually free. In the cities metered parking is available on many streets.
Wildcat Transit, +1 603-862-2328. Wildcat transit is the inter-city bus routes run by the University of New Hampshire. Buses travel from Durham to Dover, Portsmouth, and Newington. The buses are clean, safe, handicapped accessible and usually within 3 minutes of their scheduled times. They cost $1.50 per ride for people not associated with the University. During the summer when school's out the buses run on a much reduced schedule, and don't run during the weekend at all.
- 3a (Dover) — Runs from Durham along Rt. 108 to Dover, then returns to Durham along Rt. 155
- 3b (Dover) — Runs from Durham along Rt. 155 to Dover, then returns to Durham along Rt. 155 (3b is the 3a route backwards)
- 4a (Portsmouth) — Runs from Durham to Portsmouth, visits Market Square before Islington St, Returns to Durham
- 4b (Portsmouth) — Runs from Durham to Portsmouth, visits Islington St before Market Square, Returns to Durham
- 4AM Express (Portsmouth) Same as routes 4a and 4b, but on return to campus skips Mall stop and Walmart.
- 5 (Newmarket) Runs between Durham and Newmarket
COAST Bus, +1 603-743-5777. The COAST bus has routes running between and around Dover, Portsmouth, Exeter, and other surrounding towns. The cost is $1.50 for most buses, and $0.50 for the trolley (which connects destinations within Portsmouth.) Check their website for specific routes and schedules.
While biking around the Seacoast region is growing in popularity, the area has practically no specific bicycle paths. Biking in the cities is easy, as motorists are usually paying attention, and there are plenty of places to lock a bike to while your not riding. (While it is illegal to ride on sidewalks in NH, this law is almost never enforced.) Riding between cities is more dangerous then in cities as many intercity roads in NH are narrow, often with no shoulder. The speed limit in these areas are also often high, up to 55 mph (89 km/h). If you choose to ride in these areas, don't be surprised to be passed within a few feet by a car going much faster than you. It is important if you choose to ride along these roads that you have excellent bicycle riding skills, and that your bicycle is in good condition. Under no circumstances should children ride along these roads.
Strawbery Banke, 14 Hancock Street Portsmouth, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Seasonal - from May to October daily, weekends until December. Strawbery Banke is an interactive historical exhibit and museum in Portsmouth. The exhibits consist of a block or so of restored buildings from the 1600s onward, and employees reenact daily life for residents of the NH Seacoast from earlier times. There is also a visitors' center with a store and ice cream parlor, which is particularly popular on hot days!
Downtown Portsmouth. Centered on Market Square, downtown Portsmouth consists of several square blocks of modern retailers and restaurants coexisting with historical buildings. Most of the retailers in the area are "mom and pop" shops, meaning they are locally owned and operated. This is the best place to find unique items, including handmade products, clothing and jewelry. Several coffee shops offer comfy chairs and views of pedestrians when you're finished shopping.
Watch the sunrise over the Atlantic. While it requires planning and an early start, watching the sunrise over the Isles of Shoals is an excellent way to start a day. Route 1A has many spots with a waist high seawall, which makes a perfect place to sit and enjoy the morning. Best of all, the beach at this time will be almost empty, with only a few joggers around. You can take advantage of your early start to get some time on the beach before it becomes crowded.
University of New Hampshire, 1 College Rd. Durham NH 03824, ☏ . The University of New Hampshire, as the largest college in the state, has many interesting visitor opportunities. The school has a 6,000-seat arena that holds sporting events for the school and occasionally has concerts and events for the general community. The school also has a 900-seat theater which hosts several professional performances each year.
Downtown Dover. Centered on Main Street and the Cocheco River, Downtown Dover consists of a series of previous mill buildings that have been converted into unique stores and restaurants.
Odiorne Point State Park, ☏ . Odiorne State Park is a rocky tide pool beach along Rt. 1A. popular with Grade School Field trips, the park offers a different beach experience, since the beach has large boulders instead of sand. The park is home to thousands of species of sea creatures, and an indoor science center offers the chance to learn about and interact with many of them.
Try Country Brook Cafe at 98 Amesbury Road, Kensington (+1 603-777-5111) for small town charm and feel, the right price, and service with a smile.
The Portsmouth Brewery, New Hampshire's original brewpub, has been serving great food and outstanding handcrafted beers in a friendly, lively atmosphere since 1991.