I’ve lived in New Hampshire for over five years now and there are still so many places on my “to visit” list. Life is busy, so it’s taking me awhile to check things off, but earlier this summer, I did get to make a quick trip to Portsmouth for the first time.
While some friends from NY were passing through the area, we decided an afternoon in Portsmouth would be a fun way to catch up and discover the charms of a new-to-us place in NH. It did not disappoint! We didn’t have a set game plan or schedule for the afternoon beyond me really wanting seafood for lunch. So, we parked downtown and just started walking around.
We wandered among shops until we reached Market Square. There, a lovely lady at the information booth went over all of the great lunch options, focusing on those near the waterfront. We continued walking and settled on lunch at the River House. This was probably my favorite part of the day (I love food, okay). The restaurant overlooks the Piscataqua River and the weather was perfect for sitting out on the deck. I had a yummy, fruity cocktail and the most delicious fried clams I have ever eaten. Seriously, they melted in your mouth and every time I tell people about Portsmouth I mention the clams. The chowder was delicious too, which is probably why it’s been voted the best in New England and won at the area’s annual chowder festival on multiple occasions.
After the food, my friends and I continued on our trek around the city. We next hit Prescott Park. Being late summer, the flower gardens were overflowing with beautiful blooms. The waterfront park is over 10 acres in size and is free to the public. It was the perfect spot to sit and relax for a bit after our meal. As we were leaving the park, the stage was being prepared for a concert that evening.
Continuing on, we considered visiting the Strawberry Banke Museum, a living history museum in the historic district of Portsmouth. Buildings at the museum date back to the 1600s and the staff dress in period costumes for the tours. Unfortunately, we realized we were a bit crunched for time, so we had to pass on the museum on this trip, but I’m keeping it on the list for next time.
From there, we walked a bit more. I took a lot of pictures of the various street art pieces scattered throughout the city. These are leftover from a 2011 exhibit put on by the Portsmouth Museum of Art (more on the original exhibit here). We popped into a couple more shops. The Bull Moose was a favorite of the group, particularly for their vinyl collection. At that point, we were running out of time and had a lot of walking under our belts, so we called it a day and my friends moved on to the rest of their trip.
I feel like this was a good start to exploring Portsmouth, but there were definitely many other places I’d like to see another time. For instance, there were quite a few excellent-looking coffee shops scattered throughout the city that I’d be interested in. I also peeked into the window of Portsmouth Book & Bar, which is located in the historic Custom House and sells used books, beer, food, and regularly hosts live music. It seems really cool and I’d like to actually go inside on my next visit. I’d try the Portsmouth Brewery as well. Finally, I really, really want to do a Seacoast Helicopter tour. I’ve never been in a helicopter, and I think it would be an awesome way to see Portsmouth and the surrounding area, including the nearby lighthouses and the Isle of Shoals. So many more things to do and see in Portsmouth! Until next time…