In My Footsteps
Trip 123: Rye, New Hampshire
May 25, 2011
The very first settlement in New Hampshire the small town of Rye has a history going back nearly 400 years. It is also known for its beaches, one of only a few New Hampshire towns known as such due to the tiny eighteen miles of coastline the state has.
The most famous of all of the beaches is of course Rye Beach located on New Hampshire’s shore hugging Rt. 1A. In addition to being the most well known of the beaches Rye Beach is also a village with its own zip code; it is a very desirable place to live and visit.
|Wallis Sands State Beach|
Rye Beach is the most well known of the sandy spots in this town but Wallis Sands State Beach is another area that features just as many beautiful views. The beach is not too large but gets crowded with people choosing it or those who are the spillover from the even more crowded Rye Beach. The best part of this spot is the tremendous view of the Isles of Shoals just off shore. They sit six miles off shore and lie between the border of New Hampshire and Maine; a clear day will give the best views. Still, even if the islands are not visible Wallis Sands State Beach is a great spot to start a trip in Rye.
Continuing with the state park theme of Rye there is Rye Harbor State Park which continues the seemingly endless stream of beautiful scenery. The views here include the Isles of Shoals and Rye Harbor which is filled with boats during the summer. The park is open pretty much from Memorial Day to Labor Day and the rocky shore coupled with the rolling waves makes it easy to lose yourself in the moment here.
Perhaps the most historic spot in all of Rye, and maybe the state of New Hampshire lies at Odiorne Point State Park. It is here that the first settlers of New Hampshire arrived in 1623. The park and point are named for the Odiorne family who arrived in the 1660’s. There is a marker on a hill overlooking the water which is supposedly the spot where the first settlers arrived.
Some of the history in Rye is apparent and obvious like Odiorne Point State Park, but then there is some that you have to go and find like the Parsons Homestead. Located on Washington Street this salmon colored home was once lived in by the Parsons Family, one of the original families to settle Rye. Built in 1757 the home’s unique color makes it stand out as does the open plot of land next to it. There is a lush green field to the right of the Parsons Homestead which was set off thanks to the efforts of 161 local families in 1978 to be used by the town.
A visit to the Rye Historical Society will give you a better understanding of the importance of places such as the Parsons Homestead as well as Odiorne Point State Park. It is located in the Mildred Wilson Antique Shop built in 1930 on Olde Parish Rd. It is not a very old building to house an historical society considering some of the other ones that I have seen in my travels but it fits just as well. It is in the same parking lot as the public library which is a beautiful building and just celebrated its centennial in September 2011. It is a peaceful sort of place, a perfect spot to end my time in Rye.
Well known for its beautiful beaches, and rightfully so, there is a lot more to see in Rye than just the sun and the sand. If that is all one chooses to see however that is still a great trip. Still take some time to visit Odiorne Point State Park to get a taste of New Hampshire’s history before going off to Rye Beach and Wallis Sands State Beach if you can. Have fun and happy traveling!
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Directions: Rye Beach: From I-93 N take Exit 27 to merge onto Rt. 1, merge onto I-95 N, take Exit 1 once into NH for Rt. 107, after 8 miles turn left onto Rt. 1 N, slight right onto North Rd. which will then become South Rd. Follow 2.6 miles, Rye Beach is straight ahead.
Odiorne Point State Park: From I-93 N take Exit 27 to merge onto Rt. 1, merge onto I-95 N, once into NH take Exit 3 for Rt. 33, continue straight, turn right onto Rt. 33 E, follow 1 mile, turn right onto Peverly Hill Rd. Continue onto Elwyn Rd., at rotary take 2nd exit for Rt. 1A, follow 1.4 miles, parking is on left.
References: Rye Beach Info.com