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What comes to mind when you think of New Hampshire? Dartmouth College and the idyllic town of Hanover. Maybe John Irving novels such as The World According Garp. Or maybe, you've been there or know someone who has and they come back raving about the small, quiet, gorgeous coast line. The town of Portsmouth and the nearby Isles of Shoals are the types of places you visit and think about moving to forever. Blessed with geographical beauty, good people, plenty of fish and quaint inns near the roar of the sea, the New Hampshire coast is a great late summer and early fall getaway.

Located just an hour's drive from Logan (Boston), Portland (Maine) and Manchester, N.H. airports, Portsmouth, is a coastal town where fisherman and early Americans earned their keep and built a community steeped in American colonial values. With a bustling port, outstanding public beaches and a hearty artistic community, Portsmouth has become a haven for vacationers, summer renters and yearlong residents. Start your search for Portsmouth at www.portsmouthnh.com. The site gives a good roundabout view about travel to Portsmouth and its environs. For fisherman, the site's boat charter section (www.portsmouthnh.com/port/boats.cfm) lists big boats carrying 40-plus fishermen to small three-people charters looking to do half-day or full-day offshore excursions looking for haddock, cod, striped bass or mackerel. Some of the greatest stripe bass fisherman in the world cast off the New Hampshire shoreline looking to catch world record stripers. Northwind Charters (tel. 603/431-3188; www.northwindcharters.com) offers fishing trips and scuba diving options that include diving for scallops right in the surrounding reefs. From the coastline, you can see the large coastal properties on the New Hampshire seashore and get a feel for the peace and quiet of the New Hampshire sealine.

In terms of places to stay, Portsmouth and the surrounding area is full of inns and bed and breakfasts. The Three Chimneys Inn (tel. 888/399-9777; www.threechimneysinn.com) in the neighboring town of Durham, NH has some great relaxation and romance packages. Complete with 23 rooms, this recently restored 1649 colonial mansion and carriage house overlooks landscaped gardens, the Oyster River and small waterfall cascading over the Old Mill. You can take advantage of the 20 percent off all room rates from Mondays to Thursdays in July, or choose one of the other options such as the "Bill Cosby Two Night Special." The comedian will be performing just a short walk from the inn on September 16, 2005 and the two-double occupancy package with tickets, two free breakfasts, a buffet dinner on show night and transportation to and from the show. The price of the package starts around $450 plus tax and all gratuities. Prices are based on double occupancy. Through the hotel, you can also book plenty of day trips or boat rides around the area. Most of the hotel room packages include dinners and other meals.

To get an idea on the towns in the area or the other popular and relatively inexpensive hotels, Sea Coast, NH (www.seacoastnh.com) is a popular award-winning website serving the coastal New Hampshire area. You can find about events, such as the arrival of the Tall Ship Gazela on July 21, 2005, at the site. The Gazela was built in 1885 to transport fisherman from Portugal to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. It will stay and be in open to tours in Portsmouth's Harbor until August 1, 2005.

The site is also great for selecting hotels. The lodging guide page provides links to most if not all of Portsmouth and Southern Maine's hotels, bed and breakfasts, inns, campsites, vacation rental sites and cottages. We found the Ashworth By the Sea Hotel (tel. 800/345-6736; www.ashworthhotel.com), a coastal hotel in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire through the site. Owned and operated for the last fifty years by the Grandmaison family and their excellent staff, the Ashworth has deals such as a seventh night from June 24, 2005 to September 3, 2005 or "Escape to Sea" packages where rooms go for $120 per night from Sunday to Thursday from September 11 to October 15, 2005.

If you're still not satisfied with the travel options available here, try the individual sites of every New Hampshire town Chamber of Commerce at www.seacoastsearch.com/nhlinks/chambers. You can see what's new and happening in each individual town.

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