Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, offers enough variety to satisfy children of all ages at a price that agrees with a family budget. The 1 1/2 miles of Hampton Beach takes up its fair share of New Hampshire's 18 miles of Atlantic Ocean seacoast. Hampton Beach is one of the state's more commercial beaches with a mile-long asphalt "boardwalk" featuring restaurants, amusements and launching for fishing excursions and water tours.
Hit the Beach
Sunbathing on the beach and frolicking in the ocean waters lapping its shore is just the start of activities families can engage in at Hampton Beach (hamptonbeach.com). This beach features several shallow tidal pool areas with just enough water to accommodate the desire of younger children to get wet while honoring caregiver concerns regarding safety. More confident swimmers can venture farther into the surf with boogie boards for a quick ride on to shore. One caution: Be aware of riptide currents that run in the Atlantic Ocean. Fortunately, the Hampton Beach has lifeguards on duty.
Play In the Sand
The grainy sand of Hampton Beach State Park (nhstateparks.org), a 10-minute drive north from the village of Hampton Beach, is home to a yearly invitation-only sandcastle building competition in mid-June. While your family can't participate directly in Hampton Beach Sand Castle Competition (hamptonbeach.org) event, you can watch and take notes for your own project. Several shops along the village beach sell beach-themed plastic containers featuring shapes to create your own nautical scene. The ban on dogs and glass containers at Hampton Beach makes digging in its sand a relatively safe venture. Don't feel like creating a sandy masterpiece but still want to play in the sand? Let your kids bury you in the sand and enjoy its cooling qualities.
The ebb and flow of the Atlantic brings a variety of seashells and driftwood to Hampton Beach. Early risers get the best pick during a morning beachcombing expedition. Doing so before breakfast leaves plenty of time in the day for other outdoor activities or beating the heat with an afternoon inside using your treasures to make crafts. The collected shells are discarded homes for marine animals. Younger children will enjoy guessing what animal lived in which shell. Older kids can search the Internet to identify shells and learn more about the shell's former resident.
Regular Summer Events
Hampton Beach isn't just for sunbathing. During July and August, Monday Movies at the Beach is one way to extend shore fun after dusk. Each Wednesday features a fireworks show over the water. Summer nightly concerts are featured at the Seashell Complex (hamptonbeach.org), which includes a band shell amphitheater, information center and first aid station. Other annual events at the beach include a state fair in early June, a catamaran regatta in mid-June, a beach volleyball tournament in late June, a weeklong children's festival offering an extensive selection of free activities in mid-August, a talent show in late August and a three-day seafood festival in early September.