Breathe soft, ye winds; ye waves in silence rest.
Inscription at the base of the New Hampshire Marine Memorial at Hampton Beach, pictured at right, below, dedicated to all New Hampshire servicepersons lost at sea due to warfare.
Hampton Beach is New Hampshire’s most popular family vacation destination, not just because of its mile and a half by 150 yards of sandy beach (groomed daily) but also because of its proximity to restaurants, snack bars, beach stores, gift shops, arcades, large, clean and modern bathhouses, all just steps across the boardwalk from the sand, free summer concerts nightly at the bandshell, Wednesday night fireworks, and regular performances by Big Name bands and entertainers at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom. The population explodes here from around 2500 in winter to more than 100,000 on summer weekends.
Hampton Beach was rated by the National Resources Defense Council as one of the Top Three Cleanest Beaches in the United States, and one of the Top 10 Values for Resorts in America.
Hampton Beach is far from the only beach in New Hampshire, of course, but it certainly is the only beach on the New Hampshire Seacoast with adjacent overnight accommodations and dozens of fast-food establishments and restaurants and many other convenient amenities for families.
Hampton Beach Accommodations
Where to Eat and What to Do at Hampton Beach
Midweek and Week-Long Events
Avoid the crowds and bring your family to the beach on weekdays, and take them to the following midweek events.
Hampton Beach attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every summer, mostly on weekends between Memorial Day and Columbus Day, but not just on Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to its long and broad sandy beach, dozens of Boardwalk restaurants, fast-food outlets, and souvenir stores, frequent visitors know that there are lots of regularly scheduled midweek and week-long events as well.
Prominent among them is the Annual Sand Sculpting Classic competition, the largest, most important Master’s sand sculpturing event in the Northeast, attracting master sculptors from across North America who compete for $25,000 in prize money. This annual event is free.
Visitors can view these remarkable sculptures (pictured at right) during the day, of course, and at night for a full week in early- to mid-June.
The Sand Sculpting Classic will take place between June 8 and June 17 in 2023. Voting for the People’s Choice Award will take place on Saturday, the 17th from 1:00 to 3:00pm, followed by an awards ceremony at 8:00pm and a special fireworks display at 9:30pm.
The spectacular Wednesday night fireworks attract thousands of visitors weekly, who watch them from the decks of nearby restaurants, though the best place to watch them (if you can’t get a seat on the Ashworth by the Sea Hotel deck, or an ocean-front room there), is from the boardwalk across the street from the Ashworth, below the fireworks exploding directly overhead, or on the beach itself. And, many visitors opt to take the fireworks cruises out of nearby Seabrook Harbor on Eastman’s deep-sea fishing charter boats that park just off the beach for these impressive pyrotechnic shows every Wednesday in July and August.
Regular visitors also know that there are free live music performances every night of the summer at the Seashell Stage bandshell across the street from the Hampton Beach Casino and the Purple Urchin Restaurant deck. Dinner guests have to arrive at the Purple Urchin early for the view (pictured at left) from the virtual front-row mezzanine seats.
Depending on the bands, visitors young and old are encouraged to get up and dance in front of the bandshell, and they always do.
Performances are always scheduled from 7:00 to 8:00pm and from 8:30 to 9:30pm nightly.
Visitors with young families can join local families in July and August for free Monday-night Movies on the Beach. Family-friendly films are projected on a giant screen across Ocean Boulevard from the Sea Ketch restaurant (and next to the playground). Regular visitors know to bring a beach blanket and beach chairs and their own refreshments for movies that begin at dusk (at about 8:30pm at the beginning of July to about 7:30pm at the end of August), weather permitting.
Major Weekend Events
The Seafood Festival, September 8-10, 2023
Hampton Beach Seafood Festival patrons should have every right to expect a wide variety of the best, expertly prepared seafood that the New Hampshire Seacoast’s seafood vendors have to offer, but seafood lovers may be disappointed with the quantity, and especially the quality of seafood offerings, which our editors believe has declined in recent years. Read more.
Deep sea fishing, live lobsters packed to travel, fresh off the boat, shucked oysters and fireworks cruises from Hampton Harbor
Hampton Harbor, a busy, deep-water Port Authority of New Hampshire facility, is located at the south end of Hampton Beach, directly across the street from Hampton Beach State Park, approximately five miles north of the Merrimack River and about seven miles south of Rye Harbor.
The Harbor is a short walk from the Sea Shell Stage at the Center of Hampton Beach, and a shorter walk from Bernie’s Beach Bar at the beach’s southerly end. (Read More)