New Hampshire  has only a slim sliver of coastline compared to most New England states. But it makes the most of it, with an almost unbroken string of beaches leading up to the thriving city of Portsmouth . With history going back almost as far as the Pilgrims, this area has for centuries made its living on shipping and industry. After that slowed in the 20th century, the Portsmouth area reinvented itself as a knowledge center—wooing dot-com and computer companies and dubbing itself the “e-Coast.” After the dot-com bust, many tech workers have remained in the city, giving it a young, artsy vibe.
Outside of the city itself, the beaches around Hampton  have long been a family vacationland of cotton candy and arcades by the seashore; farther inland, the city of Exeter  is one of the oldest in the state, and is known for its large number of historic buildings and its prestigious prep school.
To drive to the Seacoast region from Boston , take I-93 north to I-95 north across the New Hampshire  border. For Hampton Beach , take exit 2 to Route 101 east (45 mi., 50 min.). For Exeter , take exit 2 to Route 101 west (52 mi., 1 hr.). For Portsmouth , take exit 5 off I-95 and follow signs for downtown (56 mi., 1 hr.). For Rye, take U.S. Route 1 north for 8 miles from Hampton  (12 min.). To drive from Manchester  to the Seacoast, take 101 east to Exeter (30 mi., 40 min.) or Hampton (35 mi., 45 min.).
Amtrak (800/872-7245, www.amtrak.com ) offers train service to Exeter, Durham, and Dover through its Downeaster service (www.thedowneaster.com ). C&J Trailways (185 Grafton Dr., Portsmouth, 603/430-1100, www.ridecj.com ) runs bus service between Dover and Boston’s South Station, stopping in Portsmouth along the way. Greyhound (800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com ) also runs bus service to Portsmouth, stopping at 22 Ladd Street in Market Square.
The local bus company, COAST (603/743-5777, www.coastbus.org ), serves towns throughout the Seacoast area. In addition, the Portsmouth Trolley (603/743-5777, www.cityofportsmouth.com ) and Hampton Beach Trolley (603/926-5789, www.hamptonbeach.org ) make loops around their respective locales.