Named after the city of the same name in England, Portsmouth in New Hampshire is one fo the oldest New England towns of all. It was first settled in 1630 and quickly became one of the country's busiest ports, as well as playing a part in major events in American history like the American Revolution. Nowadays, it is a prime example of a New England town, attracting many visitors from all over the globe for its unique charms and beauty. Portsmouth's old-fashioned architecture and many key landmarks like the Harbor Lighthouse, North Church, Memorial Bridge, and Music Hall help to make this a very popular touristic town.
The area around Portsmouth is also well-known for being home to some picturesque beaches. The state of New Hampshire only has about a dozen miles of coastline in total, but that's more than enough for the state to offer some super beaches, many of which can be found just short walks or drives from downtown Portsmouth. In addition, Portsmouth isn't far from the state border with Maine, so if you're willing to pack up the car and take a little road trip along the coastline, you can find even more great beaches in the Portsmouth area just a little further away.
Best Beaches in Portsmouth, NH
New England is renowned for its beautiful beaches and the city of Portsmouth is perfectly positioned to offer easy access to quite a lot of them. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Portsmouth has become such a popular summer resort town over the years and attracts good numbers of visitors on an annual basis. This is a lovely location to spend some time soaking up New England’s history and culture, as well as the sunshine.
Great Island Common
Only a ten-minute drive out of Portsmouth into the local town of New Castle, Great Island Common is one of the best beach parks in the area. It covers around 32 acres in total and is open all-day long from January through to December, offering a wonderful recreation spot for people of all ages come rain or shine. Simple amenities can be found here and there are some extraordinary coastal views, offering a really authentic New England beach experience. Try visiting early in the morning and watching the sun come up for a sight you’ll never forget.
Hampton Beach is one of the most family-friendly beaches in the Portsmouth area and definitely one of the most popular beaches in all of New Hampshire. It's only a short drive from Portsmouth and offers a large, wide space for everyone to enjoy. Lifeguards are on duty here in the summer, offering lots of safety that will definitely appeal to families with kids, and there are some nice, clean amenities like showers and restrooms too. You can play all kinds of beach games here or simply lie back and work on your tan when the sun is shining.
Long Sands Beach
Long Sands Beach is one of the several beaches in the York area over the state border in Maine. There are a few beaches here, with Short Sands Beach being another good example, and they're all very cozy and enjoyable, providing soft sands and surprisingly warm waters in the summer. If you're looking for a good picnic beach near Plymouth, Long Sands Beach is an excellent option.
Wallis Sands State Beach
Wallis Sands State Beach is less than twenty minutes away from Portsmouth and is certainly one of the most popular beaches in the area. However, even though this has been a beloved New Hampshire beach for many generations, it never seems to get too busy or crowded, which is a great advantage. There's a lot of space here, including both rocky and sandy spaces and magnificent views of coastal resorts and residences. The beach is formed in a curved shape, with some really decent swimming spots, but you'll need to pay a fee to get in if you're visiting during the summer.
Fort Foster is located over the state border in the town of Kittery, Maine. Situated on Gerrish Island, Fort Foster is actually home to three beaches, but they all link closely together and offer the same sort of experiences. The beaches here are small and cozy, offering wonderful views of nearby landmarks like Portsmouth Harbor and Fort Constitution. The local area has some old military sites to check out and explore, and there are lots of nice scenic trails near Fort Foster too. Basic amenities can be found at these Plymouth beaches, including restrooms and picnic tables.
Jenness State Beach
If you're looking for the sort of views that can take your breath away, Jenness State Beach is the one to visit. Found just off Ocean Boulevard outside the town of Rye, this New Hampshire beach is very easy to access and offers some great amenities like picnic areas and restrooms. The sands here are soft and comfortable, and the waves are usually very small and gentle, making a satisfying splashing sound as they wash gently onto the shore. The sights and sounds of this Plymouth beach make it a lovely spot for couples to stroll along and appreciate the romantic atmosphere, but families or solo travelers can also find a lot to love here.