The Seacoast has a number of old forts that are engaging places to take your kids to adventure, climb, learn, and play! Here are five Seacoast forts to visit with the family.
Fort Foster – Kittery, Maine
Pocahontas Rd, Kittery Point, ME 03905
Fort Foster is located at Fort Foster Park in Kittery Point, Maine. This historic location was an active fort from 1873-1948. Children will enjoy climbing the bunkers while the grown ups will swoon over views of multiple lighthouses. This park also has a fun playground, two beaches, fishing pier, picnic areas, and hiking trails. Leashed dogs are allowed in the park year round. Starting May 1 through the fall, there is a $20 entrance fee per vehicle so plan to spend the day. In the off season, the driving gate is closed but visitors can walk in after 10 am for free. Get the details for the season on the town website.
Fort McClary – Kittery Point, Maine
Pepperrell Rd, Kittery Point, ME 03905
Though it saw little conflict, this site was manned during five wars: The Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War I. The fort has beautiful views of the Piscataqua river as well as a beautiful garrison building, cliff walk, and community garden. The park is a Maine State Historic site. It is open 10 am to sunset in summer months (Memorial Day to Columbus Day) with a $4 entry fee for nonresidents ($3 for residents and less for seniors). In the off season, visitors can park outside the gate and walk in for free. Learn more on the state website.
Fort Stark – New Castle, NH
211 Wildrose Lane, New Castle, NH 03854
Fort Stark was first fortified in 1746. Fort Stark’s purpose was to defend the harbor of Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The fort remained in active use through World War II. Besides a cool place to view some military history, this location has a quiet, protected beach, picnic area, and large lawns. From Memorial Day to Columbus Day, the parking lot is open from 9 am to 7 pm and is free to visit. There is a visitor center that is open on summer weekends. In the off season, park outside the gate and walk in. This fort is now a New Hampshire State Historic Site. More information can be found on their website.
Fort Constitution – New Castle, NH
25 Wentworth Rd, New Castle, NH 03854
Fort Constitution was originally named Fort William and Mary and was a colonial British fortress. It was captured by the Patriot forces during the Revolutionary War and later renamed Fort Constitution. It continued to be an active fort through World War II. This location has quite an impressive appearance (also used to be called “the Castle”) and also is home to the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse. The site is a great spot for views and also picnics. Be aware that this site closes in the off season, so check the NH state park website to see if it’s open. It is also located on the site of an active duty US Coast Guard facility.
Fort Dearborn – Rye, NH
570 Ocean Blvd, Rye, NH 03870
Fort Dearborn is located on the grounds of Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, NH. Used during World War II, the fort was manned from 1942 to 1947. Now, visitors can get a glimpse of wartime history while enjoying this state park. Take a hike around the three mile perimeter to see some of the impressive fort sites. To get a detailed trail description, purchase my Seacoast Hikes and Nature Walks trail guide for your phone so you won’t get lost! Your kids will love the playground, Seacoast Science Center, and picnic areas. At low tide, check out the tide pools! Learn more about this location on the state park website. Fees are charged to enter in the summer season.
Put Seacoast forts on your summer bucket list
These five Seacoast forts to visit with the family should make it on your summer bucket list. Consider making it a summer goal to visit one (or all) of these historic sports with amazing picturesque views. Bring a picnic and enjoy these treasures of Seacoast New England. Looking for more activities for your family this spring and summer? Check out my ideas for 15 Seacoast outings to do with young kids.