The city of Portsmouth is located on the New Hampshire side of the border between that state and Maine. It lies on the banks of the beautiful Piscataqua River. Established by English colonists in the second decade of the 17th century, Portsmouth has grown into a major centre of trade and fishing on the Atlantic Coast of the United States. It’s not big though; its population is just over 21,000 people. The area where the first English settlers built their colony was known as Strawbery Banke, for the abundance of strawberries on the riverbanks. What’s in a name, right?
Visiting Portsmouth NH
We decided to spend a day visiting Portsmouth NH in May, and spent that day getting lost in the gorgeous old Strawbery Banke neighbourhood and sampling seafood and local brews. Nowadays brewing is a popular trade in Portsmouth as well, as is shown in the large number of small local breweries. The actual area where the first colonists settled is now a wonderful open-air museum. We didn’t visit though – the price was too high for us at the time – but we could see many of the beautifully coloured wooden houses from outside the museum anyway. It’s supposed to be a great museum and next time we plan on visiting Portsmouth NH, we will make sure to go in and take a closer look.
Portsmouth is a hugely popular summer destination – it’s also pretty much the only coastal city in New Hampshire – and its beauty can’t be overstated. We were there on a sunny Sunday in spring and we could not have picked a better day to visit. It was pleasantly warm and thousands of people were enjoying one of the first actually warm Sundays of the year. Families were strolling alongside the river, couples were lying in the green grass in the parks and people of all walks of life were sitting on terraces, eating and drinking. There is a large selection of restaurants, cafés and breweries in the city, but we still had to wait before we got a table for lunch. What should you eat while visiting Portsmouth NH, you ask? Seafood is an answer. Lobster is a better answer.
In the afternoon we meandered through the city’s main shopping area, visited a few local craft and food stores and even found a bookstore that also was a café and a bar. I’m not kidding, if I lived in Portsmouth, that’s where I’d be all day every day.
Visiting Portsmouth NH is an ideal activity over the weekend. It would make for a great day trip if you’re in, say, New York City or Boston and have some time to spare. You can also stay a night or two in the area if you feel like exploring the town for a few days. It’s totally possible to walk around all areas of importance and see the highlights in several hours, which is great because then you will have some time left for lots of seafood and beer.