On yet another hot day in July, we headed north for cooler temperatures and a visit to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, NH. The weather was overcast, but it was still very pretty there. I imagine that on a clear day, the view must be even more impressive. The science center is set on a huge parcel of land right on the water. There is a pretty cool playground area, a few very flat, very short, paved trails around which are beautiful flowers, great views, and neat rock formations. There is also a huge jetty and tons of rocks with a million little tidepools. Kids were finding all sorts of creatures and shells. You'll definitely need water shoes as this 'beach' is all rocks. This is not a swimming area, though some kids wore bathing suits and waded in to find more creatures and shells.
The Science Center itself is like a mini-aquarium. It's small, but great for little ones and it wasn't crowded at all when we were there. I would say we spent an hour and a half outside, and then an hour inside that day.
They have a touch tank where kids are allowed to touch or hold starfish or sea urchins. Mairead was wary at first but eventually warmed up and found it to be pretty cool.