You might have noticed that the Seacoast is popular. Really popular. So popular that our little region is always showing up on top-10 (or sometimes top-20, or top-5,000) lists, best-of lists, and every other kind of list that desperate writers and editors seem to make when they want to drum up more readers.
Such tactics are usually beneath us here at The Sound, though we couldn’t help noticing that an inordinate number of Seacoast people, places, and things appeared quite frequently on these lists throughout 2015. We’ve recapped a few of the top-10 lists below, along with some miscellaneous honors of dubious distinction.
Home for the holidays
Portsmouth is strong with the holiday spirit. This year, both Travel + Leisure and Yankee Magazine named the city as one of the best places to spend the holidays. Both magazines cited Strawbery Banke Museum as the best place to get into the Christmas mood.
They grow up so fast
OK, so it’s more of a top-5,000 list than a top-10 list, but Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 list, which tallies the 5,000 fastest–growing American companies, included Portsmouth’s own Vital Design. The digital marketing agency came in at number 1,442 on the list. Seacoast companies had a good showing; other local names among the Inc. 5000 included: DeStefano Architects, Planet Fitness, Private Jet Services Group, Legacy Supply Chain Services, Adaptive Communications, and GlobalTechnical Talent.
Going to market
Even our farmers markets are popular. The weekly Portsmouth Farmers Market made Cooking Light magazine’s list of the 50 best farmers markets in the country.
The new hub
3S Artspace opened in March and then quickly found itself topping lists and in the running for awards. New Hampshire Magazine named the venue the state’s best “art hub” in its annual Best of NH awards list, and the American Institute of Architect’s New Hampshire chapter placed 3S in the running for its People’s Choice Award for architectural design, which will be chosen Jan. 22.
Under the influence
North Hampton-based Parma Recordings CEO Bob Lord closed out 2015 with a trip to Cuba for a new project and a spot on the website Musical America’s list of the 30 most influential music professionals in the country.
Flush with excitement
The Music Hall officially has the second-best bathrooms in the nation. That’s according to an annual contest sponsored by the Cintas Corporation, which designs and manufactures restroom supplies. Thousands of voters cast ballots online for their favorite restroom, and The Music Hall’s “Alice in Wonderland”-themed bathrooms came in second place. Along with bragging rights, The Music Hall will receive a “complimentary deep clean” of its bathrooms from Cintas.
2015 was a big year for director Robert Eggers. The Lee native’s first feature film, “The Witch,” about a family of Puritan settlers in 17th-century New England who must contend with a malevolent force, made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival at the beginning of the year and then generated lots of buzz at other festivals before earning the Best Feature award at the New Hampshire Film Festival in October.
Town by town
Everyone living in the Seacoast knows that it’s the best place to live, but one often wonders: Do people outside the Seacoast realize that? The answer, apparently, is yes — at least in one case. In February, Blue Water Mortgage Corporation, with offices throughout New England, released its list of the “10 best towns in New Hampshire,” compiled using a “wide range of data” including employment numbers, crime rates, economic health statistics, and more. Portsmouth came in first place, but the list was full of Seacoast towns. Exeter was number four, Dover was number seven, and Hampton and North Hampton rounded out the list at number 10.
Newmarket Junior/Senior High School was the only Seacoast school to make it into U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the country’s best high schools. The school came in at number 2,003 on the nationwide list and at number nine on the list of top N.H. schools. The ranking requires a caveat, though — of the state’s 88 high schools, the magazine only included 29 in its national rankings.
You know your city (or your TV show, or movie, or comic book, or whatever) has made it when you wind up on a Monopoly board, and so 2015 might be the year that Portsmouth officially hit the big time. Yet another online contest put Portsmouth in the running to appear on “Monopoly Here and Now: U.S. Edition,” the latest release of the board game that remains popular despite destroying families and friendships for 80 years. The Port City was voted one of 22 cities to make it into the game; it joins Charlotte, N.C., and Dallas, Texas, as one of the light blue properties.