Summer fun on the Seacoast – 2020 edition

There’s plenty to do with your family in Hampton and Portsmouth this year, it just may look a little different
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Hampton Beach is the place to be any summer in New Hampshire. Photo courtesy of the NH Division of Travel & Tourism.

New Hampshire’s Seacoast region is heating up with safe, socially distanced summer fun. Here is what you need to know about having fun at the coast during a summer that’s like no other.(Editor’s note: If things change throughout summer 2020 regarding parking or re-openings on the Seacoast, this article will be updated.) 

 Hampton Beach 

Hampton Beach traffic map

To make more room for pedestrians, traffic flow in and around Hampton Beach has been changed for summer 2020.

For many of us, its just not summer in New Hampshire without taking a trip to Hampton Beach. The good news: Beaches are open and ready for sandcastle building, surfing and suntanning. The Seacoasts public beaches and state parks, including Hampton Beach, are open for all normal recreational outdoor activities.  

Visitors are urged to practice 6-feet social distancing rules and to wear a face covering when social distancing is not possible. Other changes for 2020 include reduced public parking as a way to limit visitors, so create flexible plans in case lots are full or try to go earlier or later in the day.  

To make it safer to have an aprèsbeach meal or to stroll the shops of Hampton Beach, Ocean Boulevard from A Street to O Street is closed off to traffic this summer to create a popup pedestrian mall with outdoor dining and shopping opportunities. Traffic has been diverted to Ashworth Avenue – temporarily a two-way street. 

What about all those amazing free events that Hampton Beach is known for? Many are still happening with some slightly changed dates.  

The free outdoor Childrens Festival is set for Aug. 17-21; the Hampton Beach Talent Competition returns on Aug.28-30; the 20th annual Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic takes place Sept. 3-5; and the Cirque du Hampton (Boston Circus Guild) is slated for Sept. 5, 2020. Movie nights and music concerts are scheduled to return in late June.  (Editor’s note: As of 8/6/20, only the Sand Sculpting Classic, movies and concerts remain on the schedule. The other events have been cancelled.)

Unrelated to COVID-19, the piping plovers, a protected species, has nested where they launch the fireworks in Hampton Beach. It is still to be determined if and when weekly fireworks will return this summer.

All dates are subject to change. You can check with the Hampton Beach Village Districts website for updates throughout the summer: 

Fun up and down the coast

At Odiorne State Park in Rye, it is unclear when the Seacoast Science Center will open, but you can still explore the parks pathways to hidden beaches, old lookout forts from World War II, and a stone marker commemorating a travel party of Pilgrimsfirst landing in the area in 1623.  

In Portsmouth, explore four centuries of living Seacoast history when the Strawbery Banke Museum reopens July 1 

The museums grounds offer a wideopen place to roam and explore the different lanes and paths.Dates of summer events will be confirmed closer to the museums opening day; all Strawbery Banke summer camps will be virtual this year. 

Newcastles Great Island Common, another fun seaside spot with a rocky beach and oversized green space is also set to reopen on July 1. Its the perfect spot to spread out and enjoy the fresh sea air.  

What else is open?  

For healthy summer meals, stock up on fresh fruits and veggies at the Portsmouth Farmers Market, held Saturdays in a new location at Little Harbour School.  

Downtown Portsmouths shops and restaurants are reopened (or reopening) bringing the always hopping summertime destination back to life. Look for increased outdoor dining and shopping and follow guidelines for social distancing.  

The gardens and views at Prescott Park are as lovely and free as always, so head there for a chance for little legs to burn off energy.  

Water Country in Portsmouth has plans to reopen in summer 2020, so stay tuned. Amusement parks were given the go ahead by Gov. Chris Sununu to start operating on June 29. 

Even with these changes, lets take a deep breath of salty air and rememberIts still summer. It’s still the seacoast. Its still fun. See you there!  

Jacqueline Tourville is a longtime contributor to ParentingNH. 


Categories: Summer Fun, Things to Do