By John Hirtle, Beach News Staff
Beach News, Thursday, June 23, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of Beach News]
[Beach News Photo by John Hirtle]
In truth, there are two sides to Hampton.
On the one side, there is downtown Hampton, near where the town was founded in 1638 as a farming community. The First Congregational Church of Hampton, on Winnacunnet Road was established at the same time as the town, and is one of the oldest continuously meeting congregations in North America.
Most of those farms in Hampton have vanished, leaving behind homes. The center of downtown Hampton is located around Route 1 / Lafayette Road where small shops, stores and a small industrial area can be found. Most of the town’s schools, the town office, the library, Post Office, and recreation fields are located within a mile of where Winnacunnet Road intersects Lafayette Road. This pedestrian friendly layout speaks of a time when Hampton was just a small New England town, but in truth though it has many of the urban amenities of a small city.
Founder’s Park, located on Park Ave near Winnacunnet High School commemorates the original founders of the town, and the "daughter towns" that split away. Tuck Museum, across the street is home to the Hampton Historical Society, a fine place to learn more about the town’s 365 year long history. Two playgrounds and recreational fields are also nearby.
Across the scenic salt marshes lies the other side of town: Hampton Beach. Once just trackless dunes and a source of feed for wandering cattle, Hampton Beach grew into a popular tourist destination during the 19th century -- a tradition that continues to this day.
The main portion of Hampton Beach bustles with activities during the summer from Memorial Day Weekend to just after Labor Day weekend with the annual Hampton Beach Seafood Festival. Fireworks take place every Wednesday evening, along with free concerts at the Seashell Stage every night.
Although the main portion of Hampton Beach draws the crowds, the narrower part of Hampton Beach north of Great Boar’s Head draws the surfers year round, as long as the waves keep rolling in.
Also of note is Hampton Harbor, which lies behind the main portion of Hampton Beach, where you can go fishing or whale watching on a party boat, or launch your own vessel.
New Hampshire’s State Parks place meters along these beaches from the start of May to the end of September, charging 25¢ for ten minutes.
They are strictly enforced, so be sure to bring plenty of quarters.
Affordable private parking and some town permit parking is available along the beach as well.
Hampton Vision, a place that helps bring everything into focus.
The Happy Clam, which was voted "Best Breakfast on the Beach".
Hearts & Crafts, a great handmade craft store to visit.
Harbors in Hampton, Rye and Portsmouth.
And of course the other Hamptons which were once part of Hampton -- Hampton Falls, North Hampton, and South Hampton.