The Local’s Guide to the New England Coast
I’m getting all my fall decorations out this week and enjoying the *slightly* cooler weather here in Utah (you know, 86 degrees instead of 100 degrees) but before I officially bid Summer adieu, I HAVE to talk about the trip we took to the New England coast two weeks ago. Why? Because when I got back from my trip, everyone at work asked me: “Where did you go for vacation?” and I said: “I spent the week at the beach outside of Boston!” to which every. single. person said “Wait…I didn’t know Boston had a beach.”
A little piece of my heart broke off every time someone said that to me. Yes, the New England coastline isn’t like Florida or California, but it is it’s own magical and beautiful piece of paradise. I grew up only 45 minutes away from the coast and I spent every summer on the beach and in the picture-perfect coastal towns that stretch from Massachusetts through New Hampshire and up into Maine. When my grandfather remarried my wonderful Gram, we were blessed to be able to spend a week every summer in her beach cottage, which literally has the sand and ocean in the backyard. The New England coast has a huge piece of my heart and as a native, I know every nook and cranny like the back of my hand.
So today, I’m bringing you the most thorough and comprehensive guide to the New England coast, shared as only a local would know. I want anyone and everyone to know that there is magic and adventure and peace that only the Ocean can bring awaiting them on (apparently) unknown Northeast Coast.
Suit | Lime Ricki
Local’s Guide to the New England Coast – Coastal Towns to Visit
Newburyport, MA – Dated back to the 1600s, Newburyport was known for its shipbuilding. This is literally the most scenic, picturesque, New Englandy coastal town, down to the cobblestone streets and brick buildings with old murals painted on them. There’s a quaint main street filled with cute shops and little cafes. It’s filled with history that you can only find in New England, including a historic 231-acre farm from the 1600’s, the Plum Island lighthouse (the 13th lighthouse built in the United States) and a Maritime Museum. I took my sister’s bridals in downtown Newburyport and they are some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken…ever.
Salisbury, MA – Salisbury only has a few miles of town on the coast, but this is where my grandparents’ beach house is, so I have to put it on the list because I spend most of beach week here. Salisbury does have public beach and small boardwalk with fried dough, beach pizza, and an arcade, but most of the coast is filled with rentals and beach houses. There also is a state park, but I’ll be honest, I’ve never been there. There are some public beach access boardwalks along route one, which is definitely worth trying to find parking for, as most of this beach is private and quiet. Even though Salisbury doesn’t have a ton of attractions, there are a ton of adorable beach houses for rent along the Oceanfront and I’d recommend looking into Salisbury if you want to rent for a week!
Hampton, NH – Okay, I’ll be honest, Hampton used to be pretty trashy. However, in the last 10 years, they’ve really worked hard to turn the Hampton boardwalk around with new public buildings, restrooms, and an interactive children’s center. Hampton has a relatively large boardwalk with tiny shops, lots of places to eat, an amazing candy store, and two arcades. Every summer, they have a sand sculpting festival, where people from around the country come and create intricate sand sculptures along the boardwalk. There is a giant public beach here (and this is where I grew up coming every summer with my family before the beach house) with tidal pools at one end to explore at the North end of the beach.
Portsmouth, NH – Portsmouth is a super historic New Hampshire port town and it has a lot to offer and a lot to see. Dustin and I actually spent part of our Honeymoon in Portsmouth and spent a day walking around 17th and 18th-century houses and boat docks. It has a historic village/museum called Strawberry Banke where costumed staff demonstrates traditional crafts. It’s also home to the U.S.S. Albacore, a submarine that was turned into a museum!
Local’s Guide to the New England Coast – Places to Eat
Markey’s Lobster Pool – If you aren’t a local, you won’t know about the great debate between Markey’s and Brown’s, which are both seafood restaurants that sit directly across from each other in the marshes across from the ocean and are pretty iconic to the New Hampshire coastline. One of the biggest arguments you could get into at school was which one was better: Markey’s or Brown’s? I’m here to tell you that Markey’s is the better choice and to go there over Brown’s. If you want to eat like a real local, get yourself an order of steamers (pronounced Steem-ah’s) with buttah and go to town.
Blink’s Fry Doe – Lot’s of fried dough places along the coast, but Blinks is our favorite. They make their fried dough in more of a long oval shape instead of a big round blob, so it’s easier to eat while you walk along the beach. Make sure you get the works (cinnamon, powdered sugar and butter.) You won’t regret it.
Tripoli’s Pizza – Oh beach pizza. Literally the best pizza in the world. I kid you not, I eat a whole box of beach pizza BY MYSELF in one sitting and I have no regrets. There are a lot of beach pizza places along Salisbury Center and the Hampton Boardwalk, but Tripoli’s is the best. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Their pizza sauce is made out of rainbows and unicorns or SOMETHING because it’s so sweet and savory and literally perfect. The pizza itself is thin and crispy, but it has a thick and soft crust, so basically, the best of both worlds when it comes to pizza crust. Oh and also, their cannolis? LITERAL perfection.
Tuna Striker Pub – This restaurant is run by Eastman’s Docks and Fisher’s Fleet (which is the company we use for Deep Sea fishing.) We also get our Lobster from here when we want to cook it at the beach house because they bring in a fresh catch every morning. If you don’t feel like cooking your own lobster (cause you know, they are kind of creepy looking and they are pinchy) I’d recommend grabbing a table at the Tuna Striker. This pub has a beautiful deck that sits on one of the fishing ports on the New Hampshire coast and the food is always fresh and fantastic. I’m a huge Fish and Chips kind of girl and the Fish and Chips here never disappoints.
Brown Sugar by the Sea – Okay, if you aren’t a seafood kind of person (or just need a break from all the fish and chips) I’d recommend going to Brown Sugar by the Sea in Newburyport. It’s seriously some of the best Thai Food I’ve ever had (the Pad See Ew is what dreams are made of) and it’s a really nice break from all the swimmy things you typically eat while on the coast. It is closed on Monday’s, though, so don’t plan to go on then or else you’ll be disappointed (trust me, I know.)
Seaglass Restaurant and Lounge – If you want Upscale dining, Seaglass Resturant and Lounge is the place to go. It’s located in Salisbury, right on the ocean and just a mile away from our beach house. It has the most fantastic ocean views, with Dustin and I ate here twice during our honeymoon and felt so fancy! This is the best place to try Seafood that you might normally see on other menus, like the Swordfish Steak or Tiger Shrimp. I’ve also eaten their Filet Mignon here and it was what dreams are made of. This is the most expensive place on my list, but like I said, perfect for a fancy night out or a fine dining experience. You’ll definitely want to dress a little nicer if you decide to eat here (this isn’t the kind of place for bathing suits and coverups.)
The Lobster Pool – Located in Rockport, MA, I truly think you’d only know about it if a local told you, because it’s not in an obvious place. It’s off the beaten path, tucked away in a tiny cove away from Rockport’s downtown and it’s the most amazing fried Seafood you’ll ever have. My parents love to split the Seafood Platter and I got the Fish and Chips while Dustin got the Fried Shrimp plate. It was, hands down, the best Fish and Chips of my life and I’ll be dreaming about it for months to go. The Cod was literally pulled out of the ocean earlier that day and it was perfectly battered and fried without being greasy or soggy. Next to the amazing food, the prices here are really reasonable (compared to some of the more “touristy” places) and you’ll be able to sit outside RIGHT on the Ocean and watch the sunset.
Local’s Guide to the New England Coast – Things to Do
Abalcore Submarine Museum – The USS Albacore was built as a research submarine and was designed by the US Navy to test top-secret features that led to the design of modern submarines today. The Albacore was commissioned from 1952 until 1972 and then was brought to rest in Portsmouth, NH and opened to the public as a museum! You can climb through and explore the whole submarine and listen to the self-guided audio tour to learn about the different parts about the submarine and how it operated. It’s a really cool piece of Naval history and we had a blast trying to get in and out of the bunks (they are TINY!) There’s also a museum and memorial park, along with a bunch of the different propellers used during it’s time in the ocean.
Kittery Outlets – If you want to get some good shopping done, it’s 100% worth it to hop over the NH/ME border and spend a day at the Kittery Outlets. These outlets have over 100 stores to shop from, including big name brands like Coach and Kate Spade, and well-known brands like Old Navy and Gap.
Playland Arcade – There are two arcades on the Hampton Boardwalk, but we always go to the Playland Arcade over the Funarama one. For one, it’s cooler because it has way more openings to the ocean and so you get a good sea breeze. For two, we feel like it has a great variety of updated game and classics. We always end up getting a prize when we go and almost ALL the decorations in our guest bathroom have come from the Playland Arcade prize shelf. (We got a sailboat last time and a glass bottle with seashells in it this time around.) Also, Playland is super close to our favorite candy store, The Candy Corner. Get the homemade fudge and rock candy when you’re there. You won’t regret it.
Deep Sea Fishing & Whale Watching – Like I mentioned before, we do all our sea excursions through Eastman’s Fishing Fleet. They offer a variety of Deep Sea fishing and Whale Watching excursions through the week and their prices are very reasonable (35 dollars to go fishing for a half day, 63 dollars for a full day.) Dustin and Dad went Striper fishing the last time we were there, which is when they go fishing for striped bass at the mouth of the Merrimack River, where it meets the ocean and they had an amazing experience.
Okay, now that we’ve covered literally everything I could think of, do you believe me when I say that the New England actually has a beach and that it’s worth visiting?! Cause it is, 100%. I may be a native New Englander, but I’m telling you, there’s something magical about the Northeast Coast. It’s magical and peaceful and yes, the ocean is great for swimming up there.
Need a little more convincing? Here’s a vlog of our most recent trip to the coast, featuring MANY of the places shared above! 🙂