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Heading north for Rye’s four-course summer menu of sun, sand, surf, and seafood. By Karen Sackowitz Driving along ocean boulevard in Rye, New Hampshire can be a real test of concentration, especially as the narrow road winds its way over rocky cliffs, around jaw-dropping overlooks, and past gargantuan estates that seem straight out of The Great Gatsby. It is this classic Victorian charm and a keen sense of preservation that has held off the kind of development found in more inland towns. And for those who live in Rye, that’s just fine. “Rye is slow to move,” says lifelong resident Priscilla Jenness. “When it comes to change, we like to take a good, long look at things.” Jenness should know. In addition to being Vice-Chairwoman for the town’s Board of Selectmen, she is also a ninth-generation resident, descending directly from the original Jenness family who lived here when the town was incorporated in 1726. If the Jenness name sounds familiar that’s because you’ve probably seen it on signs signaling the way to Jenness Beach, a popular family destination on coastal Route 1A. Wallis Sands Beach, another New Hampshire State Park, is further up the coast and offers a small, pristine setting bordered on both sides by rock barriers. For those who forego sunbathing for exploration, Odiorne State Park sits at the northernmost point of Rye. Boasting the largest undeveloped stretch of shore on New Hampshire’s coastline, Odiorne is home to sheltered tide pools, fresh and salt water marshes, a pebble beach, rocky shore, and a small sand dune area. Yearround access to the property’s pathways makes the park a big draw for hikers, bikers, and cross-country skiers. The park also houses the Seacoast Science Center, where interactive programs and exhibits help visitors feel a connection to their coastal environment. Offering everything from educational programs to a summer music series, the center is a vibrant institution not to be missed. surfboard on beachRye Harbor is the gateway to more nautical discoveries. Whale watching, sport fishing, and lobstering tours are available, as well as a ferry service to the beautiful Isles of Shoals just a few miles offshore. The bond between nature and community in Rye is no secret to Dave and Judy Sullivan, lifelong summer vacationers who became full-time residents in 1995. “We raised our three sons in Danvers,” says Judy, “But as they grew older we found ourselves spending more and more time at our beach house in Rye.” Golfers also flock to Rye in the summer. The Wentworth By the Sea Country Club’s pristine course is set against dramatic rocky coastline and is sometimes called “Pebble Beach East.” Rich in history, the course features four original holes which date back to the turn of the century. schooner on the oceanOff the Grid: Rest and relaxation the old fashioned way-on Star Island. Who knew that just by hopping on a ferry in Rye Harbor, you could travel to a place where life seems just as it was in the 19th century? That place is Star Island, part of the historic Isles of Shoals located off the Rye coast. Since 1915, Star Island has been a summer gathering spot for weekly religious and educational conferences. Attendees explore topics from island geography and nature studies to world affairs and spirituality. Specially programmed family conferences offer a fun, familyfocused vacation for those looking to get away and reconnect. And for those who simply want to visit and explore on their own time, personal retreats can be booked throughout the season. The Oceanic House hotel, built in 1874, offers comfortable accommodations, set menus, and family-style meals. Without amenities such as televisions and computers, it remains reminiscent of a simpler time. “It really reflects the gracious living of the 1880s,” says Brad Greely, an island visitor since childhood who now presides over the Star Island Corporation Board of Directors. boy standing on skateboard rampMaintaining that historical feel, while addressing the growing needs of visitors, is an ongoing balancing act for the corporation’s CEO, Vicky Hardy. “Change is a subtle process in an organization that’s been around for 100 years,” she says, “Any shift needs to be in line with the feelings of the guests.” One such change will happen this year with the introduction of the island’s new Discreet Business Center which will offer guests Internet access and computer services for a small fee. But by and large, Star Island is mainly for folks who love being unplugged , kick back, and relax. For almost a century, Star Island has remained true to its roots as a kindred spirit community. To find out more about Star Island conferences and retreats, visit Living the Rye Life: Chow down, gear up, and set sail. Petey’s Summertime Seafood & Bar The bright buoys, upstairs deck, and picnic tables set the mood for this fun seafood eatery. Keep an eye out back for fishermen bringing their fresh catch right to the kitchen door. Live lobsters are always a favorite, but you’ll hear just as many raves for their fish chowder, which fans of Petey’s declare to be nothing less than the best on the planet. Do you prefer rotors to wheels? Fear not, there’s also a helipad onsite just for you. 1323 Ocean Blvd., 603-433-1937, Ray’s Seafood Restaurant Don’t worry if you still have sand on your flip-flops, you’ll feel right at home whether you pull up a seat in Ray’s harbor-view lounge or on the ocean view deck. A seacoast favorite for over 40 years, Ray’s serves up chowders, rolls, salads, and stews, not to mention every fried option known to man. 1677 Ocean Blvd., 603-436- 2280, Christine’s Crossing Roam from room to room in this unique open marketplace-style shop to see an eclectic mix of upscale chic clothing, accessories, antiques, and local artwork.You’re sure to find something irresistible from an ever-changing selection. 1000 Washington Rd., 603-964-6063, nsjj09_rye_41Seacoast Science Center At Odiorne State Park Surrounded by seven distinctly different habitats, the Seacoast Science Center offers exhibits, educational programs, and nature walks. An indoor touch tank lets kids see and feel tide pool animals, while deep ocean fish swim in a thousand-gallon Gulf of Maine tank. 570 Ocean Blvd., 603-436-1552,   Rye Airfield The area’s only indoor skateboard park features over 50,000 square feet of concrete pools, street areas, ramps, and ledges. Professional staffers are always on hand to teach safety-first techniques while skate teams drop in from time to time for shows. There is also an outdoor BMX track. 170 Lafayette Rd., 603-964- 2800, Whale Watching Captain Brad Cook’s custom built “big blue boat,” the Atlantic Queen II, can carry up to 100 passengers with plenty of rail space for excellent viewing. Also check out Granite State Whale Watching with expeditions lead by graduate zoologists and biologists affiliated with the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. Rye Harbor, 603.436.8043, Island Cruises The Uncle Oscar is captained by Sue Reynolds, a lifelong seacoast resident. Guests can choose a two-hour tour of the islands or a special three-hour walkabout of Star Island. Lobster trips are also available, featuring onboard demos and narration as the catch of the day is brought in. Rye Harbor State Marina, 603- 964-6446, The Details Date of Settlement: 1623 Date of Incorporation: 1726 Zip Code: 03870 Population: 5,174 Total Area: 35.5 square miles Median Household Income: $63,152 Public Schools: Rye Elementary, Rye Jr. High, Portsmouth High School Notable Residents: Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code; Herb Philbrick, author and former FBI informant; Farrah Fawcett (rumor) Real Estate nsjj09_rye_6 Median Price: : $449,900; 371 Wallis Rd.; 4 bedrooms; 1.5 bathrooms; 2,435 square feet; 1.27 acres. Listing Agent: Star Higgins, Bean Group.   nsjj09_rye_71High end Price: $3,350,000; Ocean Boulevard.; 7 bedrooms; 6.5 baths; 5,789 square feet; 0.73 acres. Listing Agent: Amy Pender, Carey & Giampa Real Estate.