I grew up by the ocean and truly believe that even a quick visit can ease some of our woes. My children were on the sand as soon as they could sit and one of my biggest joys is watching them playfully chase a wave. Our family frequents many Seacoast-Area beaches and I am always looking for the “best” match for us. Depending on the activity, time frame, season (let’s be real, I’ve got to extend it WAY past those 8 weeks of summer), we’ve got a Seacoast Beach for you!
These are the things I’m always searching for from Seacoast Beaches:
- best “quick trip” (bonus if it has a nearby ice-cream stop)
- a great place for treasure hunting
- awesome tide pools
- awesome waves for boogie-boarding
- best playground (for when its high tide and the beach is GONE)
There are so many Seacoast beaches! I am going to attempt a round-up some of our favorites.
The Best Beaches of the Seacoast from north to south. . .
-With miles of beach to explore, Wells has soft sand dunes and tidal inlets, a long jetty and beautiful Rachel Carson Marsh that offer endless hours of natural fun. Hunt for crabs in the mud at low tide, kayak or paddle board at high tide. Stop at the Scoop Deck for a cone on the way home!
– Separate “sections” of the same long stretch. Moody Beach at the north is “private” and has limited access unless you’re local; Footbridge has a main lot with small bathroom facility and is quieter than the main beach. Prepare to walk over a steep bridge. The town lot at main beach has paid hourly parking with bath houses, a trolley stop, and is walking distance to town for restaurants and shops.
– Long Sands – long and flat, great for walking, limited parking, almost disappears at high tide
– Short Sands – playground, adjacent to downtown – shops/restaurants/arcade
– York Harbor Beach – crescent shaped, small waves, good for little ones. Free short-term street parking near the park, if you walk the trail down to the shore.
– Seapoint Beach – its off the beaten path, but the views feel like you’re “at the end of the earth”! Most parking is for Kittery residents.
– Fort Foster – Old military fort with ruins to explore, playground, small beach with tide pools, a long fishing pier, picnic area and trails to explore. Make a day of it! There’s ice cream in Pepperell Cove on the way back!
– Great Island Common – Perfect for little ones! There’s a good view of boats going down the river, a playground, shade, grassy area. The Ice House is on the route, for a cone on the way home!
– Odiorne Point State Park -Home of the Seacoast Science Center, there is so much to explore! While most of the beaches are rocky, they are great for tide pooling! It offers some biking and hiking trails, a playground, and bathrooms. Pack a lunch and spend the day.
– Wallis Sands State Park – Good size sandy beach with some waves, bathhouse with showers and a snack bar! It can get busy during the week with camps and parking is crazy on the weekend – go early if you can!
– Jenness State Beach – Such great beach for walking and surfing! Limited metered parking, or park along route 1 if you can find a spot. Summer Sessions is right across from the parking lot – they offer surf lessons and camps throughout the season. Bonus – there’s the Rye Beach Shop there also, that serves up some breakfast, lunch, ice cream and more.
– North Hampton State Beach – metered parking, bath house – and the Beach Plum right across the street! Lobster rolls and ice cream, yum!
– North Beach – This beach has a long “wall” along the sidewalk with metered parking, good for long walks with a stroller!
– Hampton Beach State Park – totally honky-tonk with some fun people watching, this beach offers miles of access along the busy boardwalk. With metered parking along Ocean Boulevard, there are bathhouses, concert venues and a pretty cool playground. Check here for all there is to do. South of the busy boardwalk section is the south beach area – where you pay one fee per car in a large lot by the RV park. This area has some really deep tide pools, of warm water where the river meets the ocean in the estuary – definitely a favorite of my kids.
While known for their sand dunes, there is limited parking; so you are best to get dropped off or go by bike. Quiet and serene, but no bathroom facilities.
– Salisbury Beach –with another beach little town to explore, there’s metered parking close to restaurants, but day-use lots and a playground at the state park area. Feast on beach pizza and ice cream, ride the small carousel or play in the arcade!
– Plum Island State Park –this barrier island is known for its stunning views. Plan ahead as parking is limited and the undertow is strong! Also check the green head season report – those flies can draw blood! Plum Island is especially beautiful on the shoulder seasons, when the crowds have left. Make sure to stop at Mad Martha’s Cafe for second breakfast!
A quick tip for NH residents…..
NH offers residents the opportunity to support the state parks system by purchasing one of their moose license plates. It gets you admission to all of the parks – including many of the beaches on this list! No more paying the ‘day rate’ for just a short visit. This has allowed our family to visit several of NH beaches, even if its just for an hour or so, between naps, or even for a picnic dinner after work.