Located just south of the Maine border on the Piscataqua River, Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a quaint little town that’s full of life and lots of restaurants. Explore the historical streets and dine at local hotspots. You won’t want to forget your camera.
First 24 Hours
Eat: Start your day with a pastry and coffee or tea at Breaking New Grounds (BNG). A local favorite since 1993, this locally owned cafe is located in the heart of downtown Portsmouth in Market Square. Glass windows make this coffee shop a great place to grab a seat inside while still soaking in the early morning sun. BNG offers a variety of teas and coffees from around the world available for purchase by cup or by pound so you can take it home with you! Pastries are locally made and range from savory to super sweet.
Explore: You won’t need a car. The third oldest city in the USA (settled in 1623) is best seen on foot. The cities downtown starts in Market Square with main streets spider webbing out. Here you’ll find big name companies like Gap and Starbucks – adjusted to fit Portsmouth’s old historic brick buildings – to local artisan shops selling locally made products, pastries, or beer. At Discover Portsmouth Center you can find a map to help guide your wanderings around the city, visit the museum or listen to the historical talks.
Lunch: Staying in the town centre, seek out Portsmouth Gas Light Company for some delicious traditional American cuisine at a good price. Inspired by the coastal city, seafood and fish are a strong factor on their menu, but you can find salads to stirfry to a Short Rib sandwich. Also, don’t miss out on sipping on any of the local brews offered up at the Gas Light. Take a peek at their menus!
Historical Adventures: Spend the afternoon wandering around Strawbery Banke Museum – “an authentic 10-acre outdoor history museum, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and dedicated to bringing 300* years of American history to life.” Guided tours are available, but strolling through the grounds is more than welcomed. Dressed-up role players help make this village come to life and show how this quaint little city used to be before the streets were packed with cafes, restaurants and shops.
Picnic & Play: Venture back towards the center of town to pick up an early dinner to go and take it with you to Prescott Park. Grab some tasty subs, grinders, bocadillos, or hoagies (whatever you know it as!) from Moe’s Italian Subs or order a pizza at Flatbread Company. You’ll want to get to the park early to snag a seat for the local show in the park. Throughout the summer Prescott Park Arts Festival offers various concert series to beer brewing festivals to theatre productions. Check the calendar to see what’s going on while you’re in town!
And then it was Day 2!
Breakfast: It’s not a trip to Portsmouth without experiencing The Friendly Toast. Renown for it’s eccentric decoration and tasty menu, this famous name on the map will provide you with your own mismatched plates, tattooed servers, and delicious plates whether it be breakfast or lunch as its always available at The Toast.
Take a drive: Pack up the gang and take a drive along the coast. The small winding backroads are the best way to explore the hidden Portsmouth. You’ll be adventuring outside of downtown through neighborhoods and farms all while taking in the rocky New England coastline. Make a stop for lunch and an ice cream at the Ice House.
Afternoon sail 3-5: To get out on the water, head down towards Prescott Park where the main office for Gundalow is located. You can buy tickets there for an afternoon on the flat-bottom sail-driven gundalow barges. On this informative sail down the Piscataqua River, you’ll learn about the culture and natural history of the region. Bring snacks for the tour around a sense of adventure.
Dine: Grab a bite to eat before spending an evening being awed by the talent at the Portsmouth Music Hall at The Black Trumpet located just off the Piscataqua River. The award winning chef Evan Mallett will guide you through a meal of exploring new flavors and combinations all made with local ingredients.
Music Galore: Plush red seats will let you relax as you sit back and enjoy the show in the Portsmouth Music Hall. Many a musicians, stand up comics, and theatre groups have called this stage home in downtown Portsmouth. “Since 1878 it has reflected and affected the growth of this bright corner of New England, serving as an important gathering place. Its performers have ranged from Mark Twain to Wynton Marsalis and David Crosby; Vaudeville acts with elephants to RENT the musical and violinist Joshua Bell.”
Last call: Wander down the street for last call at The Press Room where you might catch a free show to end the evening. Hosting different musicians almost every night, The Press Room offers a cozy atmosphere for locals and visitors alike. Split into two floors, you’re sure to find a space to cheers with friends and share good conversation.