Swasey Park lies on the southern bank of the Squamscott River in Exeter, New Hampshire. It is a half-mile stretch of paved walkway, hardwood trees, a gazebo, and lush grass punctuated frequently by wooden benches.
Mimicking the famous French Impressionist painting, La Grande Jatte by Seurat, residents and visitors occupy the benches, spread out on blankets, stroll, or stop to view the water birds and boats. The Phillips Exeter Academy's crew practicing in their sleek shells is an added attraction during fall and spring. A view east toward the dam and southeast to the spires and cupolas of Exeter’s historic town buildings is the backdrop to this scene.
Entrance to the park is free, as is parking along its paved two-lane road. The benches face north, towards the river, so your dermatologist should approve: get your Vitamin D from behind while protecting your face from unwanted harmful rays.
Hungry, but on a budget? Exeter has innumerable eating establishments in all price ranges, but in Swasey Park you’ll find Ian's Granite State Franks, a rolling food stand owned by Peter Datillo of East Kingston. Pick up your grilled-to-order frank or brat and sit at one of his picnic tables to enjoy the fresh air. A local bottler supplies an overwhelming selection of sodas. Peter even puts out copies of the local newspaper to digest along with your hot dog.
On Thursdays until the end of October, Swasey Park is home to a weekly Farmers’ Market spread along the southern end of the paved roadway. Fresh vegetables, flowers, and baked goods entice the shoppers. Craftspeople lure buyers to their tented stands, hoping to sell all manner of unique goodies. New Hampshire maple syrup begs to be taken home for tomorrow’s breakfast pancakes, just waitng for the additon of the fresh blueberries available at a neighboring stand.
A day in Swasey Park, “jest sett’n ‘n taking in the passing show is the absolute bestest way” to lower the blood pressure, go light on the budget, and fill your eyes with glorious images to last a lifetime.
To make this a day trip from Boston, check the fares and time tables on the Amtrak website. The ride is approximately one hour and five minutes to North Station. The round trip fare on weekdays is $15.00. The walk to the park is about half a mile.