Fun Things To Do In Portsmouth Nh This Summer
Were lucky to live in a state that not only has the breath-taking White Mountains, a gorgeous lakes region, and a thriving Seacoast that brings visitors from all over the world. As one of New Hampshires most well-known cities, Portsmouth frequently tops best of lists and has even been featured by National Geographic as one of the U.S.s greatest small towns.
Portsmouth is definitely a unique New England city that has a little bit of everything to offer, including arts and entertainment, historic trails, delicious restaurants, and thriving culture. To introduce you to our favorite little city, weve compiled a list of the top 20 fun things to do this summer in Portsmouth.
Prescott Park Portsmouth Nh
Prescott Park is a ten-acre urban green space posed on the edge of the Piscataqua River just blocks from downtown Portsmouth. The Park is composed of manicured gardens, wide lawns, three boardwalk piers, and two public boat docks with 26 public slips. Paved walkways weave their way throughout the space, and picnic tables, grills, and shelters are dotted throughout the grounds.
The park is open year round, and in warmer months, Prescott Park is home to the Prescott Park Arts Festival. During the warm months of summer and spring, this expansive space is host to various music performances, theatre shows, big screen movies, and other special events. If you are looking for things to do in Portsmouth NH with the whole family, this is a great place to visit.
105 Marcy St, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Phone: 603-431-8748
Portsmouth Historical Society Discover X
The Portsmouth Historical Society was founded in 1917 and is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the history, arts, and culture of the Portsmouth region through acquisitions, preservation, museum exhibitions, programs, and publications.
The historical society is in charge of Discover Portsmouth, and the 1758 John Paul Jones House Museum and Garden. Discover Portsmouth is actually two buildings turned into one. Originally, the building was split, with one being a private home and the other being a private school. They were brought together by an addition, which was built in 1954, and then again the building was revamped into the building it is today.
Inside this visitors center, youll find seven four-color, 4-by-8-foot information panels on each of Portsmouths historic houses, museums, landmarks, and performance venues.
There is also a small theater on-site that features continuous showings of a free 12-minute film on Portsmouths 400-year history of Welcome to Historic Portsmouth. Guided walking tours are available from May through October and last about 1.5 hours. Private tours are also available by request.
The John Paul Jones House was built in 1758 and was one of the first 3-story homes in the city. It was originally owned by a merchant and sea captain, before switching owners a number of times and has been a museum since 1920. The museum tells the stories surrounding the Revolutionary War.
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Free Things To Do In Portsmouth
Leave your wallet in the hotel room. It’s a snap to have fun in Portsmouth without spending a cent.
Discover Portsmouth – Approach the friendly staff and learn more about the unique collections on exhibit here.
St. John’s Cemetery – Feel like you’ve gone back in time while roaming around this historic site.
– Widely renowned among local residents, this site is worth a look.
St. John’s Episcopal Church – Take some time for a bit of prayer or meditation at this revered religious site.
Adams Point – Escape the concrete jungle and get in touch with Mother Nature at this picture-perfect spot.
Bellamy River Wildlife Management Area – Grab your rug, pack some snacks and find a cozy spot to be at one with nature.
Tour Historic Portsmouth With Portsmouth Harbor Trail Tours
If youre looking to see Portsmouth NH tourist attractions, what better way than to take a guided tour by people that know it best? Portsmouth Harbor Trail Tours offers a walking tour that has been named Best of New England Editors Choice by Yankee Magazine and will take you must visit spots like the Portsmouth NH waterfront, historic homes of Portsmouth, and more.
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Things To Do In Portsmouth New Hampshire
Check out all the incredible things to do in Portsmouth, New Hampshire along the New England seacoast and one of the most charming destinations on the East Coast as well as one of the nations oldest cities.
A destination packed with history settled in 1623 and the states oldest settlement and sole seaport you can find many great historic places to visit in Portsmouth along with some great Atlantic seafood plus some great tax-free shopping!
Situated at the mouth of the Piscataqua River known for its picturesque views of tug boats chugging away hard at work through the river and harbor you can find plenty of places to eat, drink, and sightsee around this charming New England seacoast destination.
Visiting Portsmouth, New Hampshire can be done in an afternoon if you just want a taste on your way to or from Portland, Maine to the north or Boston, Massachusetts to the south or what we recommend is staying the night, taking your time, and enjoying all the amazing places to visit in Portsmouth.
Tips For Visiting Portsmouth New Hampshire In The Winter
We 100% recommend visiting Portsmouth in the winter months, and we also are huge proponents of outdoor adventure. During your stay, plan to spend time meandering Portsmouths historic streets, hiking the local trails, and ice skating . Youll have plenty of time to warm up in a cozy coffee shop and browse in the many downtown stores.
To make your trip memorable for all the right reasons, you need to be prepared for winter conditions. The average temperature in Portsmouth hovers around freezing in January and February, and the ocean breezes that we love all summer long, are harsh and unforgiving in the winter.
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Go Sailing With The Gundalow Company
All aboard this stunning replica of the last commercial gundalow in operation, the Gundalow Company offers sailing excursions from the dock at Prescott Park between Memorial Day and Columbus Day, so if youve ever wondered what itd be like to sail in a historic vessel on the sea, this is your chance!
Things To Do In Portsmouth With Kids
There are lots of sensational experiences in Portsmouth that the entire gang will get a buzz out of. Here are some of the best family friendly experiences in the area.
You can study the exhibits at Portsmouth Athenaeum, a museum with a storied past, during your travels to Portsmouth. Wander the waterfront and beautiful beaches in the area.
St. John’s Episcopal Church
You can learn about the history of Portsmouth with a trip to St. John’s Episcopal Church. Wander the waterfront and beautiful beaches in the area.
The Music Hall
Enjoy a performance at The Music Hall, a storied theater in Portsmouth. Wander the waterfront and beautiful beaches in the area.
Find out about the history of Portsmouth with a stop at Portsmouth Brewery. Wander the waterfront and beautiful beaches in the area.
Explore the great outdoors at Prescott Park, a lovely green space in Portsmouth. Wander the waterfront and beautiful beaches in the area.
Fox Run Mall
You can search for that perfect souvenir at Fox Run Mall during your visit to Newington. Wander the beautiful beaches and waterfront in the area.
Strawbery Banke Museum
You can browse the exhibits at Strawbery Banke Museum, a museum with a storied past, during your trip to Portsmouth. Wander the waterfront and beautiful beaches in the area.
Bring your family to Water Country and enjoy this exciting theme park in Portsmouth. Wander the beautiful beaches and seaside in the area.
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Visit The Uss Albacore Museum
Did you know that a submarine sits right in Portsmouths Albacore Park on Market Street? Did you also know that the submarine vessel, which was designed by the Navy, is also the first of its kind to have the cylindrical shape?
The USS Albacore served as a prototype for the first boat built to operate underwater. The vessel was used for research from 1953 to 1972, and was maintained by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Today, it serves as an educational vessel for self-guided tours where you can learn about its history directly from the people who manned it so many years ago.
Shop The Outlets In Kittery
If youre looking to shop on your trip to Portsmouth, dont miss the Kittery Outlets. These shops are in Kittery, technically in southern Maine, just over the border from Portsmouth.
You can drive from Portsmouth to the Kittery Outlets in just 10 minutes. Just remember that Maine does have sales tax, whereas New Hampshire does not. Even so, your highly discounted outlet purchases could save you a lot more money overall. Though we recommend you check out the New Hampshire outlets, too!
There are tons of stores at the Kittery Outlets worth checking out for a great deal. Stores are open from 10:00 AM until 7:00 PM and there are 88 stores total. Its perfect for school shopping, retail therapy, or killing time. Youll definitely leave with more than you need but for a good price!
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Travel To Portsmouth New Hampshire
What are the best things to do in Portsmouth, NH?
How much time do you need in Portsmouth, NH?
You could explore Portsmouth in a day, but take a few days to really get to know it and explore the surrounding Seacoast.
How do you get to Portsmouth, NH?
Portsmouth is an hours drive or a 90-minute bus ride from Boston. Its right off 95 and close to Amtrak connections at Dover.
What are some good things to do in Portsmouth with kids?
Visit Strawberry Banke Museum
If you want to learn about the history of Portsmouth, then one of the best attractions to visit is Strawbery Banke Museum. It is an outdoor museum in the South End neighborhood, which is the oldest remaining European settled neighborhood in Portsmouth. The museum comprises 40 buildings from various eras throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th-centuries. Each of these has been restored, although they are not all open to the public. The museum staff wears period costumes to enhance the experience. Visitors are taken on a journey through time to learn about how life changed for Portsmouth residents in different eras.
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Take Out A Paddle Board Or Kayak
Tired of being cooped up in historic theatres or need to walk off some sweets from La Maison Navarre? Put on your adventure pants, rent a kayak or paddle board, and head out to the bay! You can go with a partner or sign up for a tour.
Portsmouth Kayak Adventures has summer camps for kids, classes for all ages, and tours that go around the harbor and to the beaches where you can do yoga, see the full moon, watch the sun go down, or even see fireworks.
Stroll Through Market Square Day
Since 1978 on the second Saturday in June, Market Street in Portsmouth is shut down from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the annual !
The festival was the first fundraiser put on by Pro Portsmouth, a non-profit that helps support the beautification of downtown Portsmouth. Each year the festival brings between 60,000 and 80,000 people throughout the day to enjoy the 150+ vendors, food, live music, and fun!
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Portsmouth Nh Day Trip Itinerary
There are a lot of things to do in Portsmouth, so what can you actually get done in a day? A lot of it will depend on the season.
Because we visited at the end of winter, many of the options listed here were closed. For us, we chose to start the day with a walk on the beach and then explore Market Square.
After lunch at the River House, we went to Four Tree Island and walked around the Strawbery Banke area. Then we took the drive out to New Castle to see the lighthouse in Portsmouth.
Because we were staying in the White Mountains that night, we had to leave a couple of hours at the end of the day for the drive.
If you are visiting in summer or fall, more of the museums are open then. Ive included a variety of options so that you can pick and choose the ones that best fit your interests to add to your day trip itinerary.
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Places to Visit near Portsmouth: While you’re in the corner of New Hampshire that’s so close to neighboring states, you may want to visit some of the tourist attractions of Massachusetts or explore the many things to do in Maine, such as Portland or the state’s outstanding beaches. Portsmouth is only an hour from Boston’s attractions, including the famous Freedom Trail.
Other Places to Visit in New Hampshire: Among New Hampshire’s attractions are the hiking trails of the beautiful White Mountains and the state’s charming lakeside and mountain resorts. If you’re visiting in the summer or fall, you may be interested in enjoying the outdoors at one of New Hampshire’s campgrounds or at its lake and ocean beaches in winter, take advantage of the snow at one of the state’s excellent ski resorts.
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Go To John Paul Jones House
John Paul Jones was a revolutionary war hero who lived in Portsmouth at two different stages of his life. What is now called the John Paul Jones House was once the sea captains home and a boarding house. Jones rented a room there while his warship was being built. The house is an excellent example of Georgian architecture. Inside, there are some impressive collections of craftsmen furniture, decorative arts, portraits, ceramics, textiles, and glasswork.
Vintage Christmas In Portsmouth
In 2017 Travel + Leisure Magazine called Portsmouth the Christmas Capital of North America, and it certainly lives up to the title. Its definitely one of the top New England Christmas destinations!
Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth is a month-long holiday celebration that kicks off on December 1st with the Portsmouth Christmas Tree Lighting and Illuminated Holiday Parade and continues throughout the month of December.
They have a free Vintage Christmas Trolley that makes a 15-minute loop of downtown Portsmouth, stopping at public parking lots, garages, hotels, The Music Hall and Strawbery Banke Museum.
A big part of the celebration is Strawbery Bankes Candlelight Stroll which is held on weekends in the evening. The Museum grounds are lit with the soft glow of hundreds of candle lanterns as well as a bonfire, and the historic homes are decorated with live greens and dried flowers and herbs collected from the Banks several historic gardens.
As mentioned before, December also marks the opening of the Labrie Family Skating Rink which adds more to the list of fun things to do in Portsmouth in the winter.
Portsmouth is an amazing place to visit any time of the year and every time I go I always find something new and exciting I hadnt known about before. If youre looking for a great time for all ages, put this picturesque New England town on your list.
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Prescott Park Arts Festival
Prescott Park Arts Festival / Facebook
Do you love art? Do you pick interest in learning new things or do you love socializing with other people?
Well, if that is what you love to do, Prescott Park Arts Festival in Portsmouth is the best place you need to visit.
This is an amazing place to increase your level of creativity and also meet other people.
There are lots of beautiful and interesting things to do here.
However, this is not the perfect place for someone that loves quiet places because it is always noisy.
Theyre also a river where you can swim or fish. You will get to learn different art in the place.
Also, it is advisable that you go to the festival with your packed lunch or dinner because you will not want to leave.
You can easily spend the whole day here without you knowing it.
You can also visit with your camera because you dont want to miss those beautiful views and art.
There is also a garden with beautiful flowers where you can snap and admire the beautiful gift of nature.
If you are planning a vacation to Portsmouth, then make sure to check this location out.
Address: 105 Marcy St, Portsmouth, NH 03801, United States
Have A Nice Dinner In Portsmouth
Wondering where to eat in Portsmouth next?
There are some great affordable dinner options around Portsmouth, a few of which Ive listed in this post, but if youre willing to splurge a bit I highly recommend visiting Cure.
Owner and executive chef Julie Cutting has created a delectable menu of gourmet American comfort food with something for everyone, and Cure is one of the top Portsmouth New Hampshire restaurants. The name Cure comes from their method for preparing meats, many of which are brined and slow-cooked to bring out the flavor.
All of their dishes are prepared daily from scratch using fresh ingredients and everything Ive tried has been absolutely fabulous. This is definitely one of the best places to eat in Portsmouth.
If you go, I highly recommend their Lobster Mac & Cheese entree which is rich and full of complex flavor as well as the Red Wine Braised Short Rib which is served with housemade mashed potatoes and a beurre rouge sauce. Also, the cornbread side is amazing!
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