I was surprised to see so much action going on in a town I’d barely heard of. As we were walking around a heard a lady say to her companion ‘more and more people come here every summer.’ Portsmouth is definitely catching on, and with good reason. The city is oozing with New England charm, there are plenty of fantastic restaurants, shops, nearby beaches, and more than enough things to do to fill a weekend. Really a full week would be better! With just a few hours we barely scratched the surface, but what we found was gold.
Surf Restaurant, 99 Bow St, Portsmouth, NH 03801
On a hot day we were happy to sit in the air conditioning, but there is a gorgeous deck overlooking the water which was tempting. I loved the trendy decorations inside, and we could still see the water from our table. Service was prompt and the fish tacos were on point! Fresh blackened cod with a bright mango salsa, tasty guac, and a zing of chipotle-lime sour cream. They were filling, yet light, and made an excellent lunch option. There is an extensive raw bar menu and this is a great spot for dinner as well!
Popovers, 8 Congress Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801
Sitting on the patio, people watching, over a popover sundae was the cherry on top to a perfectly busy and fun day! There are so many dessert options to choose from, but the lady behind the counter sold us on ‘you can’t find a popover sundae anywhere else!’ It was epically delicious, but to tell it true, a bit too much after a full dinner. The popover itself was surely the star of the dish, so warm and flakey. Unless you’ve got a serious appetite, a simple popover with maple butter would certainly suffice.
The busy streets in town are lined with so many unique local shops you can spend a whole afternoon and not get through them all! Bonus, there is no sales tax. A few spots that stuck out were nautical Tugboat Alley [47 Bow St, Portsmouth, NH 03801], silly Marco Polo [89 Market St, Portsmouth, NH 03801],
artsy Tulips [62 Market St, Portsmouth, NH 03801],
and the spot to get all of your accessories, Prelude [65 Market St, Portsmouth, NH 03801].
Prescott Park, 105 Marcy St, Portsmouth, NH 03801
After dinner as the day was cooling down, we took a stroll through the town park. There are many fountains and flowerbeds to admire.
A walk down the pier to view the Piscataqua River and Memorial Bridge was very calming as the sun was setting.
During our visit there was live music, and after checking the events calendar I found out some pretty great acts play there (like Shakey Graves!) and often times there are plays as well.
A town that has been active with European settlers since 1630 as an important military base and trade port, you can imagine there is quite a bit of history in the area. Strawbery Banke Museum [14 Hancock St, Portsmouth, NH 03801] is a living history museum with many restored buildings ranging from the 17th-19th centuries. Isles of Shoals Steamship Company [315 Market Street Portsmouth, NH 03801] offers informational and scenic cruises. On board you will learn about the history of the islands that were charted by John Smith and have the option for a walking tours on Star Island. The USS Albacore [600 Market St, Portsmouth, NH 03801] was a Navy research submarine now available for self-guided tours.
Just outside of Portsmouth is Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge [28 Arboretum Dr, Newington, NH 03801]. There are two easy walking trails totaling 2.5 miles and plenty of wildlife to see!