Ideas for one last summer getaway

Before the lazy days slip away, get your fill of family fun

New Hampshire’s coastline may be short, but there are still plenty of great beaches where you can take a seaside dip

Oh, summer, why can’t you stay forever? August is the last full month of this all-too-short season, so let’s make the most of it. Here are some ideas for late summer getaways that capitalize on sun and family-friendly fun.

Beach days abound

Here’s a fun fact: Ocean water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine tend to be at their warmest in early to mid-August, making it the perfect time to take a dip at one of New Hampshire’s seaside beaches without your teeth chattering…too much (temperatures historically peak around 68 degrees).

Where to go? The place with the most beach umbrellas stretched along the sand is, of course, the ever-popular Hampton Beach. One good reason to join the crowds? Monday, August 12 marks the kickoff of the Hampton Beach Children’s Festival, a week-long family celebration featuring live music, fireworks, a magic show by BJ Hickman on the Hampton Beach Seashell Stage, and the children’s costume parade on Friday, August 16.

Looking for some low-key beach time? A few miles north on Route 1A from Hampton is Wallis Sands Beach in Rye, Jenness State Park in Rye and North Beach in Hampton, all beautifully maintained state parks.

Away from the coast, there is no shortage of spur-of-the-moment destinations for families looking to spend a lazy August day swimming, picnicking and playing. If you live in the Manchester or Concord areas, it’s only a short drive to Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, where you will find a sandy swimming beach with lifeguards, canoe rentals, boat launch and a fishing area on Catamount Pond. Hiking trails and a campground are located nearby in the park. It’s a huge place to explore, so consider making this an overnight camping trip.

Also close by is Clough State Park in Weare. Besides hiking trails and great spots for a picnic, the park is home to a 900-foot long sandy beach swimming beach along Everett Lake.

Cruising the lakes

Want to spend the day on the water? Head to Lake Sunapee where you have a choice between taking a cruise around the lake aboard the MV Sunapee II Tour Boat or the MV Kearsarge Restaurant Ship. Interested in steering your own ship? Rent a boat at the venerable Sargents Marina in Sunapee Harbor. Rentals include the trendy stand-up paddleboards.

If your day away takes you to the Lakes Region, check out Squam Lakes Science Center in Holderness for its Lake Explorers Family Cruise, a kid-friendly jaunt that gives children an opportunity to use binoculars, search for loons, collect microscopic life, watch live fish, participate in a scavenger hunt, and test their navigational abilities. Cruises are held throughout the month.

On Lake Winnipesaukee, take a Family Party Cruise aboard the M/S Mount Washington; Wednesday evenings throughout August. Bring the whole family for a fun night of dinner, dancing and family entertainment. And who can beat this? Kids under 13 years old ride for free.

And if you’re still looking for something to do in the Lakes Region, then click here for 20+ things to do in Laconia, Weirs Beach and Meredith.

Fairs & Festivals

Put aside those back-to-school shopping lists for a day and make time to attend one of the many festivals and fairs taking place across the state this month. The annual Belknap Country 4-H Fair in Belmont (August 9-11) offers animal exhibits, live music and plenty of midway games and rides. In western New Hampshire, the annual Cornish Fair takes place from August 16-18. The fair offers a schedule of family-friendly events including face painting, rides and an animal comedy show featuring trick ponies and dogs.

Another can’t-miss summer event is the annual North Country Moose Festival, taking place this year from August 23-24 in Canaan, Vermont (Canaan is a hop, skip and jump away from Colebrook, NH). The festival is filled with family entertainment, dog show, car show, artisans, great music and moose-centric activities (like a moose calling contest) for all ages. It’s a celebration of the gentle giant of the North. And it’s also a way to celebrate the ending of another great summer.

Jacqueline Tourville is Parenting New Hampshire’s travel and tourism expert.

Categories: Summer Fun