Delicious Eats at Hampton Beach
In Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, the hot sun beams down on ice cream cones and fried fish while the scent of the marsh mixes with sand. Children build large sandcastles attempting to recreate the professional ones down the street, while large groups of friends relax with a boom box and Italian sausages. Meanwhile, odd groups can be spotted pedaling eight-person bicycles throughout the boardwalk strip. In Hampton, people of all ages reclaim their youth and settle back into a familiar dance each year. Though many associate New Hampshire with skiing and trees, I know it for the sounds of summer and a childhood passed away.
My family visits Hampton each year and has tried nearly every restaurant on the beach. As a result, I have curated a set of eateries I must dine at each trip. The Airfield Café is always a huge breakfast hit with its antique airplane models circling around the restaurant and the rare opportunity to watch real models of old airplanes take off during breakfast. The Airfield also has the tastiest crabcake benedicts in the world, drenched in a creamy hollandaise sauce.
For lunch, I walk from the beach to Sal’s Pizza on the boardwalk for my favorite slice of pepperoni. Located right next to a lemonade stand, Sal’s has the perfect beach snack. When it’s time for dinner, I drive over the bridge to Markey’s Lobster Pool. I always enjoy my bowl of steaming New England chowder on the outdoor deck paired with a plate of crispy fried scallops and clams. If I’m in the mood for Chinese, I visit Wok the Wok for their great service, well-presented pineapple chicken, and delicious scorpion bowl drink.
Live Music at Hampton Beach
I always spend my evenings in Hampton listening to live music. When I’m in the mood for a bar scene, I head to Bernie’s Beach Bar, where different acts play Friday and Saturday nights every week alongside an array of food and sweet cocktails. When I’m in the mood for more of a concert atmosphere, I attend an event at The Casino Ballroom. Many famous artists have played in this intimate space over the years, including The Beach Boys, Billy Idol, and Janis Joplin, and there is no bad seat in the house.
Of course, I cannot talk about live music in Hampton Beach without mentioning The Seashell Stage. The Seashell Stage hosts free concerts every night of summer from 7-9:30, and nearly every music genre is covered by the end of the season. Regulars such as The Continentals and The Reminisants play several times throughout the summer and should not be missed; however, newer bands also share their craft and are worth discovering. In addition to the nightly shows, the stage hosts many events throughout the summer, including Hampton’s version of American Idol: The Hampton Beach Talent Show, Miss Hampton Beach, and Country Music Week. In fact, last summer, CMT award winners Maddie and Tae played a terrific free show for the first time as Country Music Week headliners, drawing out New Hampshire’s large population of country fans. As a result, I am anxiously waiting in anticipation for the announcement of this year’s lineup.
Hampton doesn’t just feature musical talent. Each summer, part of the beach is roped off for a spectacular sandcastle competition. During the contest, artists work through 200 tons of sand to create stellar sculptures, each representing an interesting theme or message. Last year, Melineige Beauregard’s “I am Life” piece won for its beautiful depiction of a person covered in flowers. Though this piece is lovely, wackier pieces have won in the past, alluding to Hampton residents’ appreciation for the unexpected.
While Hampton has plenty of fun activities for adults, there is no place better to be as a kid. Perfect for families, Hampton hosts an annual children’s festival that includes a costume parade, mini golf, contests, and dancing. I have fond memories of my own Children’s Festivals where my brother and I performed together in talent shows. As a child, I also loved playing vintage arcade games in the Funarama and Playland Arcades. I have trouble resisting them even as an adult.
Adding to the magic of the nighttime beach activities nicknamed “the summer sweet” by my family and I, Hampton lights up the sky every Wednesday night with fireworks, enchanting both young and old.
When you go:
* Arrive early in the morning. Cheap, metered parking goes quickly. However, on busier days Dave’s Garage is right near the water and offers the most reasonable private parking prices.
* On that note, don’t be afraid to walk! Private parking is cheaper further away from the beach. However, it’s all within a reasonable distance.
* Leave the alcohol at home. Drinking alcohol is strictly prohibited at Hampton Beach to keep the park’s condition pristine.
* Explore eats beyond the boardwalk! I understand eating lunch made on the strip; however, some of the best breakfast and dinner restaurants are located in the surrounding towns of Seabrook and North Hampton.
* Official Hampton Beach Website: https://hamptonbeach.org
* Hampton Beach Summer 2023 Event Calendar: https://hamptonbeach.org/events/calendar/
* The Seashell Stage 2023 Lineup: https://hamptonbeach.org/events/sea-shell-stage-nightly-shows/
* Info about Country Music Fest 2023: https://hamptonbeach.org/events/country-on-the-coast/
* The Airfield Café: https://theairfieldcafe.com
* Markey’s Lobster Pool: https://www.markeyslobsterpound.com
* Wok the Wok: https://www.wokthewoknh.com
Written by: Kaelie Piscitello
Kaelie is a college student pursuing bachelor’s degrees in elementary and special education at Salve Regina University (United States). She spent her spring semester studying abroad in Oxford, England. She traveled through several European countries while away and contributed two articles about her adventures to the Salve Regina study abroad blog page. In her spare time, Kaelie enjoys reading books, playing piano, and watching Gilmore Girls with her mom.
Contact Kaelie on: Linkedin
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