If you’ve visited New Hampshire’s Seacoast during the summer, you may be familiar with scenic Route 1A, the stretch of road that hugs the state’s petite coastline, from Portsmouth to Seabrook. The views along this stretch are, in a word, stunning. As summer is an incredibly popular time to visit this part of the state, the roads, as you might imagine can get a bit crowded. Why not treat yourself to some of that spectacular scenery, during the off-season. That’s just what I did, and I discovered winter is a wonderful time to take a leisurely drive and enjoy the picture perfect scenery, but with a little less congestion.
Sure, it is a little bit colder during the winter months, but the scenery is still picture perfect. I started my trek in Portsmouth. I didn’t go to far without making my first stop. Yup, a cup of coffee at The Golden Egg, a popular breakfast and lunch spot among the locals (and they had my favorite blend: flavored coffee)!
You can access 1A right when you leave the Golden Egg. Head south toward Odiorne Point State Park in Rye. If it’s a chilly day, grab your mittens, hat and warm coat, and take some time to see the park. It’s a great place to explore. There are a number of paths around the park and there are spots where you can walk along the rocky shoreline.
After you’ve gotten a good dose of sea air, head back out on the road. You won’t go too far though without making another stop. The next place I stopped to admire the view was Wallis Sands State Beach. I pretty much had the beach to myself, except for seeing an occasional seagull or two, which is another bonus to visiting during this time of year.
Not far from Wallis Sands, is Petey’s. A hot place for seafood in the summer, but super popular in the off-season too. The day I stopped by the parking lot was packed. There are some really cool spots here for photo opps. So even if you’re not hungry it’s worth the stop!
Back on the route, wind your way down Ocean Boulevard (1A) through Rye, onto Rye Harbor State Park, and North Hampton. Find a place to pull off and park your car. Then meander along Little Boar’s Head Scenic Walk. You’ll have a fantastic view out to the Atlantic and will also be walking right nearby some of the beautiful mansions that line this stretch of the road.
One of the cool things to see along New Hampshire’s coast during the winter time is the surf scene. New Hampshire has a vibrant four-season surfing scene, with winter providing some pretty awesome swells! While the ocean was fairly calm the day I visited, it’s something to be watching for as your traveling through!
After enjoying the peaceful calm of ocean waves crashing on the rocks, head south again to Hampton and Hampton Beach State Park. This is another great place to stop and enjoy a walk on the beach. Take a look around, how often is it that you have this place to yourself!
Wrap up your drive by heading south to Seabrook. If you’ve worked up an appetite from all that sightseeing and ocean air, Brown’s and Markey’s both in Seabrook are open this time of year! Consider stopping in for a bite to eat.
So, while the weather can be a bit brisk in winter, bundle up and enjoy the sights. After all, beach days aren’t just reserved for the summertime!