Great Bay Discovery Center
Discover hidden treasure at the bottom of Depot Road in Greenland, New Hampshire. Here, the Great Bay Discovery Center offers visitors interpretive exhibits about the Great Bay Estuary and the creatures that live there. The center is the education headquarters of the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, part of a national network of reserves. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, an estuary is a body of water formed where freshwater from rivers and streams flows into the ocean, mixing with seawater.
Horseshoe crabs migrate in May and June, and the boat ramp at the Great Bay Discovery Center has one of the highest populations of horseshoe crabs in the bay. During these months at high tide on the new or full moon, the strange-looking crabs, which predate dinosaurs and flowering plants, come to the cobble shore to mate. To get up close and personal with these bay dwellers, come inside the center and explore the estuary touch tank, which is filled with fish, clams, horseshoe crabs, “regular” crabs, lobsters, mud snails, and more!
Bring a picnic and try out the center’s brand new covered pavilion with nine picnic tables. If you are looking for something warm to eat, drive down the road to Greenland’s Country View Restaurant, 692 Portsmouth Avenue, for a tasty and filling breakfast or lunch, or try Me & Ollie’s, 655 Portsmouth Avenue, for soups, baked goods, sandwiches, tea, and coffee.
Stroll the discovery center’s boardwalk, which stretches one-quarter mile along the estuary. Wander through upland forest with mature hickories and oaks. See bald eagles, osprey, migratory waterfowl such as black ducks and mallards, hawks, bluebirds, various warblers, and other songbirds including scarlet tanagers and the elusive sora. A birding magazine named the boardwalk a premier handicap-accessible spot for birding. The Great Bay Discovery Center has free admission. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, from May through September. October admission is on weekends only. Grounds are open from dawn to dusk year-round.