Insider’s Guide to New Hampshire (& Southern Maine) Sea coast Region

As you may (or may not) know, I grew up around Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which is quaint sea port city in Southern New Hampshire. While the winter can be a bit cold and well…long, the other 3 season’s all boast perfect weather, picturesque nature and so many fun weekend things to do!

Spring, Summer and Autumn are all great times to visit, but summer is the worst-kept secret as it is high-season and when all of the beaches are filled to the brim. That’s why I’m recommending you go now, in September!

Why September you may ask?

  • September is the start of true fall weather in NH, which means it is the perfect time to go hiking and see the leaves changing while it is still relatively warm!

  • It is warm in the sunshine and crisp in the shade. True sweater weather at its best.

  • It is apple picking season.

  • All of the beach restaurants are still open, yet the hoards are gone.

  • The farmer’s markets and local road-side farm stands are still filled with local, organic produce

How to get there (from NYC or Boston):

From NYC, book a C&J bus ticket for $79 one way or $158 RT and go straight from NYC —> Portsmouth in a luxury bus setting complete with wifi, keurig coffee/tea and free snacks

Alternatively, take a local bus from NYC —> Boston for ~$20 USD and From Boston —> Portsmouth via C&J for $14 one way, $28 RT. This is always longer and less convenient, but it is cheaper if you don’t mind a longer commute!

I would not really recommend the trains, as they are expensive and the train from NYC —> Boston isn’t the same station as Boston —> Portsmouth train or bus.

I’m not an expert on hotels in the region, but for fancy The Wentworth is the place to be.

Hiking Options:

Ok, I’m not the best person to giving hiking advice because Hendry and I like easy short hikes. hahaha… But below are a few nice simple hikes we’ve done. If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging, a quick google can give you some ideas. :)

Mount Major

4 miles moderate

A great half-day hike for all levels that rewards you with stunning views of Lake Winnipesaukee (the most popular lake in NH).

Located off Route 11 in the Mt. Major Parking Lot.

Blue Job Mountain Loop

3.3 miles moderate

Great, not super busy hike. During summer there are wild blueberries everywhere. At the top there is a tower you can climb for beautiful views of the region. This a great activity to fill a late afternoon (around 3 hours with stops).

Note that the parking is on the RIGHT side of the road, a few miles past where Waze thinks it’s located.

Mount Agamenticus (York, ME)

A great easy mountain with trails/ loops of varying distances and difficulty. This would only take 2ish hours and there are great views at the top. Note this will likely be crowded.

Best Beaches:

Jenness State Beach in Rye, NH

This is my favorite beach in NH. It is gorgeous and has fun rocks to climb (and photograph). It is also the surfing hub in the region, so if you want to surf or get a lesson, this is the place. Although you have to wear a wetsuit year round because the water only gets warmish at best.

Because of the surfing culture, the area has a fun younger bohemian, upscale (property is very expensive here) vibe. Note that there are only a few restaurants/ food options because the entire Rye beach region is a state park. Head to Summer Sessions for surf lessons, board rentals, and beach-y clothes shopping.

Ogunquit Beach, Ogunquit ME

Ogunquit is my second home. I worked in several shops here in high school.

It is a cute touristic town filled with restaurants, coffee shops and Gay bars (that is the scene around town at night). I like going here because I can hang at the beach, go eat, walk around etc. rather than having to pack food because there is nothing around (which happens at any beach that is a state park).

Be sure to walk the picturesque Marginal Way that runs through the cliffside above the beach between Ogunquit’s main beach area and Perkins Cove, a the small shopping/ dining area.

Turn your GPS on toll-free to have a beautiful nature drive on backroads without traffic.

York Beach, York ME

York is another touristic beach town, though admittedly the beach is less nice (IMO) than Ogunquit. However, it has a large playground and lots of cool candy shops selling things like saltwater taffy (which is a specialty in the region, check out The Goldenrod), so it is a great beach if you’re heading with kids.

Turn your GPS on toll-free to have a beautiful nature drive on backroads without traffic.

Great Island Common, New Castle NH

The closest beach to the town of Portsmouth, New Castle is a state park beach where you pay an entry per head and (likely) stay for the day. It has ample greenery, picnic benches, rocks to climb, and very gentle, almost nonexistent waves. It is the perfect beach to go for a picnic, a swim or to bring kids. You could also head here for a nice sunset if you’re going to dinner after in Portsmouth.

Shopping + Dining:

Downtown Porstmouth:

Downtown is a great, super walkable area to spend a morning or afternoon. The town is filled with local boutiques where you can pick up some great clothes, souvenirs and have a great meal. The restaurants tend towards upscale.

Farmers market is 8am-1pm on Saturday.

Kittery Outlets:

If you’re looking to score some deals on name-brand items, head to the Kittery Outlets to spend a few hours perusing the shops. I typically have a few places (i’m looking at you Lululemon) that I check out every time i’m in the area. Don’t plan on a meal here unless you like seafood (though theres a few places to have a light snack!)

Turn your GPS on toll-free to have a beautiful nature drive on backroads without traffic.

(Vegan) Dining Options:

Downtown Portsmouth, NH:

The Green Elephant - all vegetarian, asian fusion. sit down.

Durbar Square - Nepalese food. Many vegan options. Upscale, sit down.

Shalimar India - Indian food. Many vegan options. Sit down or take out.

The Juicery - healthy bites, smoothies and juices. To go, seating available.

The Soupery- spot for warm soups on cool days. To go, seating available.

The Portsmouth Health food Store- great pre-made vegan food in the back of store. To go.

The Fresh Press - healthy bites, smoothies, and cold-pressed juices. seating available To go, seating available.

Cup of Joe- coffee. Sit down or To-go.

Dover, NH:

Thai Taste- the best Thai food in the area. Sit down or take out.

Roots - all-vegan cafe with juices, smoothies, sandwiches and bowls. Sit down or take out. Breakfast and lunch only, closed Sunday and Monday…so plan to go on a Saturday before 4pm!

Flight Coffee Co. - great coffee spot. Sit down or To-go.

Earth’s Harvest & Kitchen - juices, sandwiches and salad. Ample veggie options and many meals can be made vegan. Sit down. Breakfast and Lunch only.

Ogunquit, ME:

Loveshack Juicery - juice and smoothie bowl spot. Outdoor Seating or To-go.

Bread and Roses Bakery - great coffee + vegan cinnamon twists. Outdoor Seating or To-go.

Banditos Mexican Grill - mexican food. Sit down, indoor and outdoors.

Scoop Shack - vegan soft serve available! Sit down or to-go.

if you want seafood + drinks, head to Barnacle Billys in Perkins Cove

Kittery, ME:

Lovebirds Donuts- I haven’t been yet (they’re new!) but all donuts are vegan!! go support them. Sit down or to-go.

When Pigs Fly Bread- best homemade bread ever! you can sample in shop. Take out.

Northwood, NH:

Susty’s Cafe - One of the only all vegan places around!!! Go support them. They make delicious vegan comfort food in a home-y adorable spot. Sit down.

Keep your eyes peeled for farmsteads on your drive to Susty’s!

Apple Picking:

DeMerritt Hill Farm

20 Orchard Way, Lee, New Hampshire 03861

note that they are CLOSED on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Open 10am-5pm on weekdays and 9am-6pm on weekends.

This is where my family always went! They have other fruits as blueberries (summer) and peaches depending on the season. You can also take a hayride/tractor ride if you’re into that sort of thing. Their apple cider is AMAZE and they also sell apples and fresh produce in their shop.

Please feel free to leave any questions below or DM me on Instagram. I love giving advice on the area!

I will update this each time I visit!

With love,


TravelAllee LizamausaComment