Sure, the ocean’s not 70 degrees yet (keep waiting) and many restaurants and attractions are still beefing up their summer staff, but that doesn’t mean the 27’ pirate at the mini golf place won’t lure you in for a round or two. And fried dough tastes awesome no matter what month it is– but it’s got to be Blink’s. Here are some other things you’ve got to try in April at the N.H. seacoast.
Put on your best blue jeans, and head to the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom — not for poker or gaming (you can find that elsewhere) but for a great show. This spot is legendary for featuring everyone from Bing Crosby and Duke Ellington (back in the day) to being the place on Aug. 9, 1995, where Grateful Dead band member Bob Weir played the day Jerry Garcia died. Now, where’s my bandanna?
Being a foodie at Hampton Beach, means knowing (in addition to Blink’s Fry Doe a part of a well-rounded beach diet for more than 40 years) a few other beach staples. If you’re near North Beach, visit North Beach Bar and Grill. They not only serve up yummy coconut shrimp, but many nights feature live entertainment for when you tire of watching the waves. And, don’t miss the Queen of the Beach, the Ashworth by the Sea Hotel. It’s been standing proud and pretty for 100+ years, but it’s also the spot for DJ Dancing and stumping your best beach buds at trivia nights. Best of all, you can book a room right across from the beach AND the dance floor. Other spots that mix music and food? Try the Goat live country music with 10 types of burgers and 50 kinds of whiskey. That should keep you busy for awhile. If you’ve got a bike, bring it to Wally’s, but if you don’t, don’t let that stop you. They’ve got live music and events and daily specials. When’s the last time you got to have the prime rib dinner deal in a biker bar? And if you want the elegance of a restored 1920’s home and dinner music, Ron’s Landing relaxing dining atmosphere and music Friday through Sunday, might be just the ticket.
The Sea Ketch, standing at least three stories tall with just as many decks(!) opens for its 47th season this year. In almost 50 years, this Hampton Beach icon of food and acoustic music has learned a thing or two about staying power, coupled with rum drinks. The best thing about catching music at the catch is that you’ll know every song. The musicians play everything from Sweet Baby James to Jimmy Buffett. The perfect accompaniment to a plate of lobster rangoons, no?
Some food spots are a destination unto themselves. Bernie’s Beach Bar is basically the beachside living room you’ve always wanted to have (complete with cornhole and a drink menu that includes Tequila Mockingbird, Watermelon Cucumber Cooler, and Sandbar Sangria.) Owner Al Fleury, is also the proprietor of The Goat (think country music and really good hamburgers) and Wally’s (a biker bar with locals that know their stuff.) BBB is not just a place for a beachy meal and a pop–they feature top name live music (past shows have included Roots of Creation, Robert Randolph & the Family Band and Zach Deputy with Sarah Blacker and Freevolt.) Also, Fleury is the Seacoast’s own Kevin Bacon.
While parking can be elusive, Seabrook Beach, Hampton’s southerly neighbor, can be quite pristine. When you’re not walking the beach, Seabrook also offers up a gem of an attraction: The Smoky Quartz Distillery. Even if you’ve tried every nanobrewery from Newburyport, Mass. to Kennebunk, Maine, you’ll still want to stop at this place. It’s not a beer spot. Their elixirs are the award winning V5 bourbon and Granite Coast Rum. Also, be on the lookout for Granite Lightning Moonshine and Solid Granite Vodka. This NH outpost knows its stuff.
Lastly, April is a great time to take in some of the beauty that Hampton Beach has to offer, (before having to share with all the vacationers.) Keep your eyes open for any lingering snowy white owls resting on rooftops and seaside rocks (just be sure to be on your best behavior). The other nature that’s prevalent at Hampton Beach? Surfers, especially near “The Wall” area. Check them out here or in person. It’s hosted by the super fine folks at Cinnamon Rainbows surf shop (they have sincerely cool gear, women’s and men’s summer clothing, and offer lessons and ladies nights, too!) Both snowy owls and surfers in flight are sights to behold. Enjoy!
By JL Stevens