It’s time to start planning a road trip to Portsmouth, NH.
Recently named the #3 best small town food scene by USA Today, and as one of the world’s best small towns by “that dude who has visited every country,” Portsmouth seems to be continually recognized on the national stage for its charm, food scene, and arts culture.
And as a result, the tourist numbers will continue to grow. Which can make navigating the actual treasures Portsmouth has to offer a little more difficult. So whether you live in NH or not, if you only have a day to spend in Portsmouth, here’s my list of must-dos:
9:00 AM —
First off, park your car. You’ll be walking all day.
9:15 AM —
Next, head on over to Colby’s (105 Daniel St) for breakfast. They update their specials on a daily basis, with items that could range from blueberry, coconut and almond pancakes to a grilled cheddar biscuit topped with sausage, avocado, roasted poblano spread and poached eggs.
10:15 AM —
Even though you just ate breakfast, you’ll probably need some additional coffee. Head down Daniel Street to Breaking New Grounds (14 Market Square). Weather permitting, sit outside on their patio and partake in some serious people-watching.
11:00 AM —
After coffee, walk down to the African Burying Ground Memorial Park, We Stand in Honor of Those Forgotten (Chestnut St between Court and State St). Per the memorial’s website “The intent is to mark with dignity the location of this sacred place—not with headstones like the City’s other places of burial—but by creating a public place of reverence on this block of urban downtown street, in perpetuity, so that we will never again forget those buried beneath.”
11:15 AM —
From there, walk down to Strawbery Banke—one of America’s oldest continuously occupied neighborhoods. Wander around their 10-acre site to learn more about the people who lived there, from Colonial times to World War II. Also, be sure to swing by Pickwick’s at the Banke (43 Atkinson St) on your way out.
12:30 PM —
Break for lunch. There are countless fantastic lunch places in Portsmouth, and I will never try to convince you there is one clear winner above all else. But, in a town full of James Beard winning and nominated chefs, I really love Portsmouth Brewery (56 Market St). It’s simple and great. They consistently have fantastic beer, and their spicy curry mussels (paired with fries) are wonderful.
2:00 PM —
Start shopping. Portsmouth has an abundance of wonderful and local shops that include (but are not limited to) Gus and Ruby Letterpress (29 Congress St), Off Piste (37 Congress St), Stock + Spice (25 Ceres St), RiverRun Bookstore (142 Fleet St), janegee (107 Congress St), and Nahcotta (110 Congress Street).
4:30 PM —
You’ve been shopping, and you’re about to drop. A beer-centric pick-me-up is in order. And there’s no better place than Earth Eagle Brewings (165 High St). They have an interesting, unique and historic style all their own—and one that cannot be missed. To read a more in-depth review of their beer, click here.
6:00 PM —
Here’s where your personal taste takes over. Looking for some summertime entertainment? The Prescott Park Arts Festival may be putting on a fantastic free concert. But if you’re looking for a show indoors, look no further than 3S Artspace (319 Vaughan St), The Music Hall (28 Chestnut St) or the Portsmouth Music and Arts Center (973 Islington St). Or, the Press Room (77 Daniel St)—if you’d prefer more beer into that mix. Or skip the music scene altogether and go to dinner at one of the prestigious restaurants scattered across the city. Or grab a blanket from that car you parked at 9:00 AM and head down to the docks and watch the sunset across the water.
Whatever your preference, Portsmouth has a ton to offer. But, you already knew this. It’s been named #3 best small town food scene and as one of the world’s best small towns, after all.