The Biddington's Bentley Takes to the Road

A Trip Along New Hampshire's Atlantic Coast -- Route 1A

Editor's Note: Boston, the nearest major city, is roughly 55 miles south or one hour's drive from this bucolic portion of the eastern seaboard. When submitting this report in 1998, Frederick Fieldhouse Biddington (now retired) noted that the more commercial highway, Route 1, runs inland roughly parallel to Route 1A. Biddington's thanks Mary Ann Carey for freshening the restaurant information in this 2006 update.

The southernmost section of Route 1A, in the town of Hampton Beach, is best left to the gregarious young and restless. The prevailing atmosphere is that of a party. Here there are numerous bars and over-the-counter food outlets whose various servings are best consumed standing up. After a fire a few years back, the Old Salt, formerly on 1A, decamped to Route 1 in Hampton. Now called Lamie's Tavern & Inn (telephone: 603 926-0330) this casual and comfortable restaurant still has the same good seafood. Order a small lobster and begin to plan your next visit.

A bit further north, Route 1A becomes more family oriented. Consider a stop at Ron's Landing at Rocky Bend (telephone: 603 929-2122) one of the few restaurants in the area that remains open year round. That fact, as well as its varied and reasonably priced wine list, makes it a local standout.

Here a broad sidewalk at the seawall provides a fine platform for walking and running. The ocean is right there--within yards--to boost the spirit. Access to the beach is easy via broad stairways from the seawall.

This is the center of surfing activity along the New Hampshire coast. Often, if the surf is good, there will be several dozen surfers waiting to catch the next big one. (Ms. Biddington has told your correspondent that she has hung up her surfboard for good. Well, we'll see, next time we hear "Surf's Up! ")

The beach pinches in to become a rocky shoreline where Route 27 (locally called High St.) enters from the west. (Note the location, we will suggest the possibility of a small back-tracking later on.) Further along, Route 1A begins to twist as it follows the rocky shore, providing many striking sea views.

For the energetic, or for those who wish to spend a few moments enjoying the scenery, there is a footpath above the rocks alongside the road. This is a lovely walk at oceanside. There are convenient pull-offs for the Bentley.

Turn away from the ocean for a moment and look at the homes before you. You are in Bentley country.

In the town of North Hampton turn into Willow Avenue -- be watchful, it is not well marked. Barely 50 yards into Willow, on the right, you will see a relatively small gray building in a setting that seems to shield it from scrutiny. This is Union Chapel. Behind the altar of the chapel is a lovely, richly-colored stained glass window/landscape by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Access to the chapel is limited: Apart from Sunday services during the summer months, watch for weddings to offer entry.

Just a few yards further along Willow Avenue, on the right, are the Fuller Gardens on two acres planted in early bulbs and over a thousand rose bushes. The gardens seem to be only lightly visited by the public. There is ample parking.

Before we return to Route 1A, we think it may be valuable to discuss two decidedly better than "satisfactory" restaurants between Hampton and Rye Beach. (Ms. Biddington, ever the perfectionist, has yet to crystallize the criteria for her star ranking system.)

The Carriage House (telephone: 603 964-8251) is 2.2 miles north of Willow Avenue. (Notice your guide trying to get everybody back unto the same Route 1A map. Note also how the somber colors of the salt grasses come to life in the light of the setting sun.) At the Carriage House the food is very good, the host cordial and the atmosphere warm.

Further north on Route 1A, on the right sitting at the edge of Rye harbor, you will find Saunders (telephone: 603 964 -6466), a family owned and managed restaurant. The harbor, while not large, is the base of an active commercial fishing fleet. The coming and going of the fishing and sport boat fleets add to the pleasure of dining at Saunders. If the weather is good, this should be a must stop.

Caveat: during the warm weather months weekend dinner reservations at each of the named restaurants are an absolute must and are wise at all times.

The energetic should take a short hike out unto the harbor's sea wall--bring your camera.

At Saunders or further along Route 1A, look out over the ocean to the northeastward. These islands, seven miles off the seacoast, are the Isles of Shoals. They look romantic and intriguing out across the sea. Your correspondent has never found a reason to get any closer.

For whale watchers, the ferry ride to the islands may, with luck, provide more than enough sightings to warrant the trip. The ferry, operated by Portsmouth Harbor Cruises 800-776-0915 or 603-436-8084, departs Portsmouth.

Proceeding north on Route 1A, on the right, watch for signs for Odiorne State Park. Before World War II, this was the site of an oceanfront vacation community. With the onset of the war the land and the houses there were seized by the Government. The navy built fortified gun emplacements to protect the approaches to Portsmouth harbor, which was then a major naval and shipbuilding center.

One of the early homes remains. It probably served as base headquarters and now functions as an information center for the park. Within the building are antiques from that era and family photographs of long ago vacations. This seafront park is clean and uncrowded. If you planned to picnic somewhere along Route 1A, this is the spot. Get the hamper out of the Bentley and (discreetly) un-cork the wine.

Proceeding northward, take the right turn unto Route 1B. Here, on the left, you will find what old habitués remember as The Wentworth. Formerly a classic Victorian era vacation hotel of four stories, this aging beauty has been restored and transformed into the Wentworth by the Sea Marriott Hotel and Spa. Locals proudly describe her as The Jewel of the Seacoast.

Driving further north along Route 1B you will enter New Castle. This is a quaint island village of small houses built cheek-by-jowl along narrow, twisting roads. Most of these houses date from the 18th century. There are scenic water views at most turnings of the road. The sidewalks are crowded with young adults, all in high-style athletic attire, and there are many baby carriages. (The term baby carriage may be just a bit behind the times?)

Moving on, you will approach Portsmouth via causeways and over bridges with attractive maritime scenes at every quarter. You will enter the city at the Strawberry Banke Historic District. At Marcy Street turn right for a visit to Prescott Park. (There is ample parking on nearby Peirce Island.)

At the park, once a year, local restaurants--about 25 in all--enter their house chili in a tasting contest. For a small fee, you can sample an enormous amount of chili. On a different day during the year, there is a similar clam chowder tasting contest. These contests are held in high, good spirit. The Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce (603 436-3988) will provide the dates of these contests and other Prescott Park activities.

Stroll through the gardens at the park and proceed a bit further into the city. Here find the Strawberry Banke Museum and the restored homes of the original Portsmouth settlement.

Use the steeple of North Church as a guide to find the municipal garage just off Market Square. All of downtown Portsmouth is within easy walking distance of the garage.

Cross Market Street and walk down Bow Street to Ceres Street on the harbor front. There are numerous restaurants here, a favorite is the Dolphin Striker (telephone (603) 431-5222). At Ceres Street, there are three Moran tug boats moored side-by-side. The smokestack of each, on both sides, is adorned with a large capital letter "M". This grouping makes a splendidly balanced composition and has become the pictorial signature of the city. This scene is reproduced repeatedly in art galleries and gift shops throughout the city. Walk around, this is a very comfortable city home to many, many upmarket restaurants. Visit the John Paul Jones House at the corner of Middle and State Streets.

It is time to conclude or journey, we've reached the northern limit of North Hampshire's Atlantic coast. Are there any shoppers in your party? Kittery, Maine is just across the river. There are 115 factory outlets, oh my! Bring a book; you'll be safe in the Bentley.

More Travel Destinations:
Tourism New York City 2006: Museum Shows
San Antonio de Areco, Argentina
Tigre, Argentina
New Haven, Connecticut
Touring Montevideo, Uruguay
Tourism New York City 2005: Christo's Gates
Art Museums, Neighborhoods & Dining in Buenos Aires
Cultural Touring along Italy's Amalfi Coast
Museums & Restaurants in Amsterdam
Cultural Touring along Spain's Costa del Sol
Art Touring in Lisbon
Art Touring in Milan
Art Touring in Antwerp
Art Touring in Barcelona
I-80 Park City to New York City Art & Antiques
Tourism New York City 2003 (Archive)
Tourism New York City 2002 (Archive)
Art & Wine in the Finger Lakes of New York State
Art & Antiques in Hudson, New York (Columbia County)
Cultural Tourism & Restaurants in Rome 2002 Update
Hartford & Wilton, Connecticut
San Francisco Jackson Square
New Hampshire Route 1A
Morris County, New Jersey

Jake Biddington's 2005 Collecting Series:
Art Appraisals and Valuations
Investment Grade Contemporary Art

Jake Biddington Investing (Archives):
PPP Test: Judging Quality in Contemporary Art
Art, Time and Technology
American vs. European Paintings
Jake Biddington's Art as Entertainment
Jake Biddington's Vetted Antiques & Art Shows
Jake Biddington's Patent Numbers as a Dating Tool
Jake Biddington's Hard Assets as Portfolio Diversification
Jake Biddington's Buying Fine Jewelry at Auction
Jake Biddington's Long Term Investing
Jake Biddington's Short-Term Investing
Jake Biddington's The Craft of Art


Here at BIDDINGTON'S, our work is also our play. When we're not exhibiting and discussing art & antiques online, we're learning about wonderful objects in shops, at great shows and in museums all over the world.

In this section, Frederick Fieldhouse Biddington (retired) offers suggestions and descriptions of interesting touring destinations. Some of these places are always in business; others revolve around special or seasonal events. We at BIDDINGTON'S have enjoyed making these excursions. We hope you'll like them, too.

Contact Biddington's about This Travel Feature

COPYRIGHT: Images and information within are Copyright Biddington's, Inc. 1997-2005--except where preceded by individual copyrights of the artists.
Downloading or printing for online or print reproduction of any materials without specific written permission from Biddington's, Inc. is prohibited.

PEDIGREE & PROVENANCE--art words & terms defined. CREATIVE PROCESS-- studio visits.
JAKE BIDDINGTON'S INVESTING--financial advice on collecting. MY ART--art for kids.