A beautiful day spent discovering scenic coastal New Hampshire offers tourists as well as locals like myself a wonderful outing. New Hampshire has an eighteen mile coastline that is a mixture of rocky shores, white sand beaches, numerous waterfront parks, and exclusive neighborhoods with large homes overlooking the Atlantic ocean with its crashing waves. There are tidal waterways and harbors surrounded by 18th and 19th century buildings along little lanes that exist from the mid 1600’s.
One of my husband’s and my favorite rides is driving from our New Hampshire home down to the coast and then meandering from Rye to New Castle and then on to Portsmouth. We call this our “A” Tour and do this drive whenever anyone comes to visit us in New England. Along this scenic route, you will pass walkers, joggers, and cyclists all out to enjoy the beautiful scenery and refreshing breezes coming off the ocean.
Our route is not just about the views of the ocean but passes though the quaint town of New Castle with its historic homes from the 1600’s that are literally at the edge of the road in this tiny village. New Castle is also home to the small and picturesque Portsmouth Yacht Club first founded on the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth Harbor in 1898.
Drive just a little further down the road and you are in the historic South End district of Portsmouth. There are a few stores and shops that lie right at the water’s edge.
If you would like to plan a picnic, you might want to stop at South Street and Vine. The store has a wonderful choice of wine and cheese. The owner is both knowledgeable and helpful.
If you are in the mood for a lobster roll, a great place to stop is next door at Sanders Fish Market. The Sander’s family has sold lobsters and clambake supplies for three generations. They will steam your lobsters for you or you can take them live to cook yourself. Two streets away is their lobster pound where you can buy fresh lobsters straight out of their tanks.
From here, it is just a short walk to Prescott Park that has wonderful flower gardens and free concerts in the summer. Across the street is historic Strawberry Banke which is a living museum. It is a collection of homes from different periods since Portsmouth was first settled. Continue a little further on and you will arrive at Market Square in the heart of downtown Portsmouth.
Before leaving the Portsmouth area, a nice casual place for lunch is BG’s Boat House which is located on Sagamore Creek. This is a typical seafood shack that is not much to look at from the front of the building but when you see all the local’s cars in the parking lot you know that you can get a simple but good seafood meal.
The prime spot where everyone wants to sit is on one of the two outside decks. One is in the shade, the other hangs out over the water in the sunshine. One word of warning…you might want to bring a light jacket or sweater. Even in August, the area can be very cool if winds are blowing off the ocean.
Have a cold beer, a glass of wine or a cocktail while you look at the menu and watch diners arriving by boat. While having lunch, you may see one of the fishing boats delivering fresh lobsters or fish.
There is even a landing spot for the many kayakers who stop here for lunch.
You will find that most seafood shacks in New England serve chowders, lobsters and lobster rolls, fried clams and fried fish. Of course, there will be several items for those that don’t care for seafood but seafood and lobsters is what everyone wants.
For starters, good choices would be steamers (clams) and hand cut zucchini dipped in a light batter flavored with Italian seasoning.
Portions are a nice size so at lunch you have the option of ordering a smaller portion called mini but I don’t think there is anything mini about two large pieces of fresh fried sole, fries and slaw. Another favorite are fried saltwater smelts. Your simple meals will be served on paper plates and you beer and soda served in plastic cups although wine is served in a wineglass.
I’ve given you a few ideas of places to go, where you can have a lunch, or pack for a picnic when you are visiting the scenic coastal area of New Hampshire. I hope you get a chance to enjoy this wonderful state’s seacoast.