Hampton Beach, NH – Vacation Tips for a great vacation!

Hampton Beach – Seashore, Sunshine and Smiles!

beach front at Hampton Beach New Hampshire

Click here for a photo narration of our stay.

Ships Inn Resort, Hampton Beach, NH – Real Reviews by Real People

kids on bedWe chose Ships Inn Resort (877) 744-7466 as it had availability last minute for a two room suite. We were happily surprised that the two room suite had a full kitchen and open airy living room and balcony for breakfast outside, as their website did not mention this.

We stayed in the Robert E. Lee suite which was a second floor suite next to the Natchez. The two together would be ideal for two vacationing families. The furnishing and carpet were dated but the suite was very clean, offered fresh linens and had a fairly spacious common area for our young family of five. There were two rooms both small and they fit one small double bed each.

layout of room at resortThe location was ideal, one block from the beach (nothing is truly “on the beach” as the beach is separated from all hotels by a road) located closer to the Ashworth side of C & D streets. You can see the ocean (barely) from the porch. There is really no view but it’s only a short 1 minute walk to the beach.

For a heated pool, the pool was very chilly in August. I spoke to a maintenance man, who promised it was heated… I think by the sun.

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The Ocean & the Playground

 playground for kids on beachThe ocean is also quite brisk and attracted the brave 7-12 year olds! We enjoyed the sandy beach which stretches for miles. The kids had so much fun digging and making sand castles. The biggest hit of the vacation for this age group was the very large playground right in front of the beach and across from the Pelham Inn. It’s open from 9am-8pm, so it was a great way to finish tiring out the children before bedtime.

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TIP: If you stay at one of the suites, call as soon as you get there and ask for silverware and pots and pans, they only supply them upon request. Also, plan before you leave and shop for those necessities and bring them along, so that you don’t have to waste your precious vacation shopping in a grocery store. Here is what I recommend: Eggs, bacon, bread, OJ, milk (or milk substitute for kids with allergies) peanut butter and jelly, sugar, (2 days of coffee is supplied), so a baggy of coffee and filters, cheddar cheese, crackers, water bottles, juice boxes.

Fireworks and Live Music

clown at Children's Festival

Children’s Festival is a blast!

Every Wednesday there are fireworks, and every night – yes EVERY night, there is a live band at the seashell stage. My daughter and I danced and danced. There were many parents dancing to the lively tunes with their children and a few couples lost in romance. Most people just sat and watched but the band kept everyone clapping and smiling. Well done Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce – Kudos to you for sponsoring this every night.

The Hampton Beach Children’s Festival

The children’s festival added so much to the vacation and everything was free! Face Painting, Educational Entertainers like Julie and Brownie, Costume Parade, Clown making balloon toys, sand castle contests, bumper sticker contests (TIP: Get your bumper Sticker Contest entry page early so you can help your child with that prior to the vacation) and face painting!

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Le Bec Rouge and other great and some not so great restaurants in Hampton Beach

front of Le Bec RougeWe had heard wonderful things about Le Bec Rouge, so we asked for directions from someone staying at The Ships Inn Resort, they said, ooh, you don’t want to go there, it’s not the right atmosphere for kids… take them to this Italian restaurant, if you like seafood, it’s not fancy but it’s great… so we followed his directions to Tastee Tower, a fast food pizza place, I had a feeling it wasn’t what I wanted but we were too hungry and tired to go elsewhere. I ordered a lobster that had claws the size of my thumb (and that’s with the shell), the pizza was passable but I’m not one for eating on paper plates with a soggy lobster plus they only accepted cash.

So for dinner, we decided to try Le Bec Rouge and there I tried their award winning lobster salad sandwich which must have been packed with a 1.5 lb lobster – it was all sweet juicy perfect lobster meat. I also devoured the PEI mussels in spicy marinara sauce. We also ordered the spinach and artichoke dip which was fantastic and served in a fresh baked warm boule. The restaurant has three levels, with our stroller we decided to stick with the first floor, but the third floor overlooks the ocean and has an open deck which was beautiful!

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TIP: this is a car trip so get your oil changed, fill your car with windshield wiper fluid, fill with gas and clean the car out the day before leaving.

We hit McGuirk’s on a very busy Friday night. The food was fabulous and the atmosphere is fun, the restaurant is dedicated to Joseph T. McGuirk, a firefighter who bravely lost his life from an injury that he suffered while fighting a fire in Worcester. It is very touching and filled with memorabilia which my children enjoyed. I had the spinach lobster salad which was fabulous, and my husband had the blue cheese haddock, the children ordered fried fish and burgers from the menu which were a nice size. Unfortunately, it took well over an hour for our food and our children were so antsy that it was not a great night for us. It would have been a perfect date night restaurant or maybe a great place on a night that wasn’t so busy. If you have children and they are so busy that they can’t seat you upstairs and offer to seat you in the basement, my recommendation is go elsewhere. If it doesn’t look too busy, and they don’t seem panicked (one waitress asked a table if they were ready to order and they hadn’t received their menus yet), then it’s probably one of the better restaurants in town.

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Mama Leone’s is my third recommendation, we did not get to eat there but I have heard from so many people that I trust, that it’s a fabulous restaurant. Next year, we will go back to Hampton Beach and I will tell you all about this restaurant!

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Note, unlike Lake George, NY where the hotels and motels are all set back from the road, most motels are located near busy roads and there no “yard” in front of the hotel to buffer the sounds, so expect some car noise at night.

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