With the Memorial Day weekend approaching in a month, what could be more patriotic than a weekend in New England? Most people think about the usual locations- Cape Cod, Maine or Nantucket. Miss the crowds in these places and head to the New Hampshire Seacoast. Your probably thinking right now- New Hampshire has a seacoast? And your probably also thinking I like luxury. Can I find that in New Hampshire? YES, you can!
New Hampshire’s 18 miles of coastline is perhaps the prettiest in all of New England. Sandwiched between the Northern beaches of Massachusetts and the rocky beaches of Southern Maine, the seacoast ocean road, 1A, offers vast ocean views as well as beautiful centuries old homes. As you drive along 1A you can imagine the seafaring wives from long ago waiting on their widow’s walks (roof porches) for their sailor husbands to come home.
1A will lead you to one of the most charming, grand hotels, The Wentworth By The Sea. The hotel has been ranked #19 Best Hotel in the Northeast by Conde Naste Traveler in 2016.. This historic hotel in Newcastle, NH recalls old world Victorian charm with modern, luxurious amenities: a fabulous spa, a pool overlooking a gorgeous New England Marina, and views of Portsmouth, a red brick historic, ship building town. Staying at the hotel follows in the footsteps of the Russian and Japanese diplomats who stayed here in 1905 while negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War. The treaty of Portsmouth was signed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard located nearby. President Theodore Roosevelt actually suggested the peace talks. He won the Nobel Peace prize for his role.The spa provides a large variety of services as well as an indoor pool. Salt Kitchen and Bar is consistently top ranked in New Hampshire. The restaurant provides several different options of spaces to eat in: the lively chef table, the lounge with cozy nooks, and the main dining area. Food ranges from prime meat, homemade pasta, flatbreads and an extensive wine list. The chic contemporary atmosphere creates an warm fun filled place to enjoy a great meal. Definitely plan to eat one night there! You might not want to leave this fabulous place but there is so much to see and so much adventure awaits. www.wentworth.com
Wandering through Portsmouth is like being transported back in time. Check out the Strawbery Banke Museum located in downtown Portsmouth. This museum is one of the only living museums in the country comprised of 37 historic buildings exhibiting the evolution of the "Puddle Dock" neighborhood over 300 years. Buildings date from 1695 to 1954.. A museum educator greets visitors in each house. Some houses have roleplayers dressed as characters who represent a person who lived or worked in the house. They discuss daily life, the hardships and the happy times of the person during their respective time period. Speak with Mrs. Goodwin, wife of the NH Governor, as she cares for her garden in 1870. Or meet John Ragen Jr., son of Mrs. Goodwin’s gardener, who helps tend to the garden in 1870. Visit Mrs. Stavers, wife of the tavern keeper, as she does her daily chores at the Pitt Tavern in 1777. Enter the Little Corner Store where Mrs. Abbott the shop owner manages her house and store in 1943. History comes alive! www.strawberybanke.org
After visiting Strawberry Banke, head across the street to check out the lovely gardens in Prescott Park. During the spring, walking through the blooming gardens is picture perfect. During the summer months, check out Prescott Park Arts Festival. Enjoy a musical theater performance or a concert performed in the park overlooking Portsmouth Harbor. This summer's performance features Mary Poppins. Music under the sky is wonderful. www.prescottpark.org
No trip to New England is complete without visiting a true lobster pound. While I love luxury, lobster pounds are super casual but worth it! My favorite is Petey’s Summertime Seafood Restaurant and Bar located in Rye, NH about 8 miles south of the hotel. Petey’s has the sweetest, most delicious steamers on the Seacoast. Unlike other seafood places in New England, Petey’s offers a full menu for all of the landlubbers who don’t eat seafood as well as yummy ice cream. www.peteys.com
Don’t miss a day of sun at one of New Hampshire’s many beaches. Bring a chair or towel to Wallis Sands State Beach or Jenness State Beach. For even more action, check out the surfers on North Hampton Beach where National Champion surfers have trained. Beaches in NH are made for walking. At low tide, beaches are incredible wide and made up of hard packed sand. Be aware though that the water can be pretty chilly! www.nhstateparks.org
The New Hampshire seacoast makes for a great long weekend trip. Portsmouth has terrific restaurants as well as the best lobsters in the world. The town puts on a classic a parade for Memorial Day and a fantastic fire works display on Fourth of July. Driving time from New York is about 4 ½ to 5 hours and from Boston 1 ¼ hours. It is well worth the drive to this scenic, New England escape!