The coast and lakeshores of New Hampshire have some amazing beaches that are perfect for family vacations. The New Hampshire Atlantic shoreline is short but very lovely. There are long stretches of sand to play and run on, glorious scenery, and lots of accommodation for big families. Activities include swimming, fishing and even camping on the shore for those with an RV. Be aware that some beaches have restrictions on certain ocean sports (you’re often prohibited from surfing or body-boarding, for example) and most don’t allow pets in the high season. Conditions can vary quite rapidly, so you’ll need to keep your eyes open for red flags. Parking can be tricky during the high season; try and get to the beach early to find a spot. Many amenities are seasonal and won’t be open in the off-season.
Ellacoya State Park
This charming beach is situated on the south-west shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. It’s a 600-foot stretch of sand, offering views out over the lake to the Sandwich and Ossipee mountains beyond. The beach is well-appointed with plenty of amenities, making it ideal for a full day on the lakeshore. The clean lake water is ideal for swimming and paddling. Water-sports are permitted — you can kayak and canoe on the lake, and there’s a boat ramp for small vessels. You’ll need to get there early during the vacation season, as the beach fills up fast and latecomers may be turned away. There are picnic tables and covered meeting areas that are perfect for big family gatherings. The park store sells snacks and useful items. There are restrooms and showers. Lifeguards may be on duty, but staffing issues may affect patrols.
One of the best spots for sunbathing and swimming, Hampton Beach is open daily through the high summer season. In the off-season, you will need to come at the weekend. There’s a visitor center, restrooms, lockers for personal property, a store, and a first-aid station. The Main Beach has a playground for younger children. The Seashell complex includes the Oceanfront Pavilion, a spectacular available for events such as weddings, and the Sea Shell Stage, which offers shows and entertainments during the summer. The Seashell Complex has a wheelchair ramp for easy beach access. There’s parking close to the beach and lifeguards on duty on the Main Beach.
The sandy beach here is perfect for walking, playing and picnicking. This beach is a great spot for swimming, as the sea is generally calm. The beach is open every day during high summer and at weekends earlier in the season. Dates vary, so you’ll need to call ahead and confirm that the beach is open if you plan to visit in late May. There are restrooms on Jenness Beach itself, and also at the nearby North and North Hampton State Beaches. There’s also a bathhouse and lifeguards on duty in the summer.
North Hampton Beach
This sandy beach is ideal for picnicking in the sunshine or swimming in the ocean. It’s open daily from June through September, and at weekends during the rest of the year. Exact dates vary, so check if you’re arriving early or late in the season. There’s a bathhouse available with restrooms, as well as restrooms nearby on Ross Avenue. Lifeguards are on duty during the high season.
Wallis Sands State Beach
Wallis Sands State Beach is sandy and picturesque, making it popular with families. There are plenty of activities, including swimming, fishing, and hiking in the scenic state park. The beach has picnic tables, including a handy store with snacks and other necessities. Restrooms are available. There’s also a large modern bathhouse with hot and cold showers. Note that the beach gets very busy during the summer season and reservations may be required. Lifeguard patrols depend on the availability of staff. During the off-season, the beach and park are not staffed so extra caution is recommended. Amenities are seasonal.
Wellington State Park
Wellington State Park has a large freshwater swimming beach (the largest in the NH State Park system). Trails along the shore offer some fantastic hiking. The beach itself is sandy and inviting, with plenty to do. Kayaking, canoeing, and fishing are popular activities, with kayak rentals available at the store. There is a boat launch for small vessels, which is open year-round and free to use. The lake is perfect for swimming. There are also volleyball and horseshoe courts nearby. There’s a snack bar that sells snacks, ice cream, cold drinks, and useful items for picnics and beach games. The picnic areas allow gas grills, charcoal grills, and wood fires, making this a great place for a beach cookout. The beach is only staffed during the summer vacation season.