New Hampshire : Safety by City
- Hampton Beach
- North Conway
- West Lebanon
Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, is repeatedly given accolades for its beachfront beauty and boardwalk.
Even Country Living magazine stated, “These oceanside promenades are pure nostalgia — a little oceanside slice of Americana where you can take barefoot strolls in your bathing suit, play Skee-Ball in old-fashioned arcades, and snack on soft-serve and funnel cake.”
To be clear, this isn’t “The Hamptons.”
That upper echelon of society is in New York.
This Hampton Beach is touted as a value destination, offering budget prices for extraordinary amenities.
Four beaches line the seacoast, with one of them in a state park.
Since New Hampshire doesn’t have a sales tax, the shopping area is always filled with people looking to take advantage of that value.
The beach is open year-round, but the high season is between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Rental homes sell out months in advance, and hotels are known to be booked to capacity during holiday weekends.
The flexibility of Hampton Beach includes everything from a free movie night in the park to Las Vegas-style casinos to big performance schedules throughout the summer.
Warnings & Dangers in Hampton Beach
OVERALL RISK : LOW
I'm going back and forth in my head about this one. Hampton Beach isn't dangerous, but it isn't always safe. It's a place like Jersey Shore where you want to keep your wits about you. There's a lot going on at once for a place that is supposed to be relaxing. You should have no concerns about going here, but you should know what you're in for. Not every beach will meet each traveler's needs.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The fact that a "Party Bus" came up in my first search for "Visiting Hampton Beach without a car" tells you a lot. Taxis and rideshares will be available, but much of the beach and boardwalk are walkable (and faster than sitting in traffic or trying to find a parking spot).
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Since Hampton Beach is part of Hampton, I'm outright baffled that over the past five years, there hasn't been one report of a pickpocket or purse snatching. The risk is low, but the potential is high.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Hurricane season runs from June through November, while nor'easters can happen anytime between October and May. That alone gives it a medium risk. Extreme heat and bitter cold are other concerns during the appropriate seasons. Waves and riptides can be safety issues. Hampton's city website has an Emergency Management section where you can learn more.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Hampton has only had 11 robberies in the past five years, making it another low risk. Opioid use is growing and has been declared an epidemic in New Hampshire. That means the potential for robberies can increase as people get more desperate to feed their addictions. It's not an overwhelming risk, but something to be aware of.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here. As much as it's a populated and touristy area, there are far too many bigger cities nearby, like Boston, that would lure in a terrorist. I'd always be cautious in large, crowded areas of the potential of domestic terrorism. Large group gatherings can turn into fights, which can turn into shootouts. Just stay away from any rowdy crowds.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Scammers can be everywhere in tourist towns. With the high demand for rental homes, visitors could also be desperate to find a location and fall for a scam. Never wire money to reserve a place. Never just email with a landlord. Always confirm the person has a license to rent the home. When in doubt, contact the Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau to verify the legitimacy.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
This city has six or fewer sexual assaults reported each year going back to 2014. This is another category where the statistical risk is low, but the potential is there if you let go of your common sense while enjoying the beach or boardwalk activities.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The Hampton Water Quality Report from 2021 shows all standards were met or surpassed. You should mostly worry about water quality after flooding or a hurricane. The city's alert system will let people know of any issues.
Safest Places to Visit in Hampton Beach
HamptonBeach.org is the official tourism site for Hampton Beach.
Beyond that, always make sure your source is in New Hampshire and has a 603 area code.
To learn about the neighboring beach on the border with Massachusetts, look up “The Town of Seabrook, NH.”
Let’s look at the beach layout first.
You have four beaches to choose from:
- North Beach: Mostly for experienced surfers and almost disappears at high tide. Low tide is the best time to visit.
- Center Beach: This is the busiest beach in the middle of all the boardwalk activities.
- South Beach: Mostly for campers, RVs, large groups, or those looking to escape the chaos of the central part of town.
- Hampton Beach State Park: At the far southern end of Hampton Beach, this park covers four miles of seacoast with three separate beaches.
You can also drive four miles north to get to the more remote North Hampton State Beach, with more secluded beach areas and far smaller crowds.
Big summer events include the Sand Sculpture Contest and the Seafood Festival.
Fireworks are also a regular event, happening every Wednesday night through Labor Day.
Explore the Ocean World Oceanarium & Touch Tanks is a great way to interact with sea life without being in the elements.
This is a great first stop to learn about what’s in the waters off New Hampshire’s seacoast and get some safety lessons.
A touch tank allows you to reach into their world safely.
The Casino Ballroom is the main venue of Hampton Beach and has been more than 100 years!
Check the schedule, as new acts are always being announced.
You won’t get a Taylor Swift concert here, but The Beach Boys and Air Supply are more of their style.
You can walk along the shops and get everything from sunscreen to souvenirs to clothing.
Several arcades are located here but beware of places called “Gaming” that might be casinos.
There are arcades for kids and adult game lovers, and then there are casinos with age restrictions.
I recommend taking the trip to the other side of North Hampton State Beach to see the blooming estate at Fuller Gardens.
It’s a botanical garden with a turn-of-the-century flair (turn of the 20th century, that is).
Fishing boats, tour boats, and charter boats are available for ocean excursions.
Places to Avoid in Hampton Beach
While Hampton Beach is the premiere beach destination of New Hampshire, it’s not a place where a lot of locals go.
That means you’re less likely to avoid certain places and more likely to avoid certain groups.
In recent years, music videos have been shot on the street, a new, dangerous trend of mayhem and roadblocking called “Side Shows,” and more reports of drug overdoses have been reported.
If you’re coming here to party and let loose, you’ll be adding to the risk factor.
If you like to experiment with illegal drugs, you’re risking your life due to the overwhelming number of drugs laced with deadly fentanyl.
New Hampshire now charges the drug dealers who provided the substance if the drug user dies from the dose.
Stick to the beach, the shops, and the restaurants.
Don’t go walking around random neighborhoods.
The cost-savings of a budget destination come without the pristine, well-lit neighborhoods for blocks around.
Also, don’t go looking for a pier.
There isn’t one on this beach.
However, there’s a plan to build one in the years to come.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Hampton Beach
- Hampton Beach doesn’t have its own police department since it’s technically a village in Hampton. That means Hampton Police provide law enforcement. You can find them on Facebook @HamptonNHPD. The phone number is (603) 929-4444.
- The Police Department updates the calls for service and types of activity on the website. It’s the best way to find out about recent crime trends, though it doesn’t break down criminal activity by location.
- Before getting in the water, always know the tide charts. It wasn’t until I lived in Florida that I realized how much I need those tide charts to make the best of kayaking, fishing, and swimming. You can usually look at a beach and see where the high tide water line is, so you at least know the highest the water will get.
- There are many metered parking areas around Hampton Beach, but you can’t use cash to pay for your parking. You must have a credit card. Payment is a flat rate for the day.
- To park at Hampton Beach State Park, you’ll need the ParkMobile or Park Smarter app. You’ll need your license plate number, so I recommend taking a photo of it when you pick up the car. That way, it’s right there on your phone.
- Part of your daily routine should be checking the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Quality’s “Healthy Swimming Mapper.” Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you’ll be able to see what sections of the beach could be too dangerous to swim in. Any risk would be issued as a “Coastal Beach Advisory.”
- Hampton Beach does have sharks offshore, but it would be very hard for them to make it to the beach because of the natural barrier around the beach. If you are out on a boat in the water, please know if seals are around, it likely means sharks are too. Sharks feed on seals.
- Thieves around here are known to rustle through unlocked cars. They’ll also break a window if they see something of value inside. Relentlessly lock your door and remove all belongings. Don’t even crack the window an inch, even on a hot day. You should also check each day that the license plate is still attached, as crooks have been known to snag those.
- It doesn’t take too much of a storm to cause problems in Hampton Beach. Going back to the tide cycles, if a storm is sending a surge in during high tide or king tide (the highest of the high tides each season), it can cover the roads with water. I’m shaking my head as I write this as I see vehicles just floating away after ignoring the warnings during a December 2022 storm.
- Leave the fireworks to the professionals. While consumer fireworks are allowed in New Hampshire, a Hampton law prohibits them anywhere in Hampton. That includes Hampton Beach.
So... How Safe Is Hampton Beach Really?
Hampton Beach has all the same risks as a tourist beach town would have.
As it caters to the budget traveler, you’ll get more affordable opportunities at every corner but also could be in a rowdier crowd.
During the summer of 2022, several fights and general mayhem broke out.
Most were alcohol-related and late at night.
At one point, 40 people were arrested in a weekend.
Police had a strong presence after the first incident and will likely continue doing that into the summers to come.
“We want people to understand that if they are coming to Hampton Beach and are violating our laws and causing disruptions, then you will be arrested and prosecuted,” Hampton Police Chief Dave Hobbs said in 2022.
This coincides with an increase in juvenile crime and gun crimes across the country.
With more than 100,000 people at Hampton Beach some days, there’s just the *potential for danger.
The risks here are much more along the lines of petty theft than violent crime.
The state park will offer a calmer crowd than the bar-lined boardwalk.
Hampton Beach isn’t a dangerous place to visit.
It’s one of the best beach destinations in New England.
But how safe it REALLY depends on your personal safety steps, use of common sense, and leaving any area where there is trouble brewing.
How Does Hampton Beach Compare?
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- Visas - International guests will need to have a passport and visa (or visa waiver) ready when they go through Customs and Border Patrol at the airport. You won't have to show proof of ID beyond that unless you want to consume alcohol or run into trouble with the police. You can cross state lines without a checkpoint.
- Currency - You should consider exchanging any currency at your home back, as you'll get the lowest fees. Ask your hotel if there are currency exchange services available, and most airports will have an option. I'd limit what cash you bring to such a busy tourist area. Credit cards are widely accepted and offer the best fraud prevention.
- Weather - Summer visitors will need all the beach accessories, with a heaping stash of sunscreen. Get eco-friendly sunscreen to protect the ocean, reefs, and wildlife. You'll want water shoes and beach shoes, plus comfortable walking shoes to explore the boardwalk. Fall and spring can be chilly. Winters will be cold and blustery, so bring all those cold-weather accessories.
- Airports - The Portsmouth, New Hampshire, airport is just 11 miles away. The Manchester airport is 32 miles west, and Boston Logan International Airport is the largest airport nearby, just 40 miles south.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a must for such a great beach destination that can be impacted by severe weather, hurricanes, and winter weather. Some rentals might offer their own version of travel insurance to protect your deposit if you need to cancel.
Hampton Beach Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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