Located a quick one hour drive (~60 miles) from Boston, Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a great New England coastal town to visit, whether for a weekend away or even a day trip for Bostonians. Portsmouth is very walking friendly and manageable making it a lovely spot to visit and just wander around. MJD and I did a one night getaway to Portsmouth a few weekends ago and loved the chance to explore. If you live in Boston and are looking for a new-to-you town to visit or maybe are visiting New England and making a few stops, here are some of our favorite things to do, places to visit and eat in Portsmouth!
Where To Stay:
The Hotel Portsmouth- If you are planning an overnight stay, I can’t recommend The Hotel Portsmouth enough! Not only is the hotel gorgeous and flawlessly decorated, but it’s super conveniently located a quick walk from the downtown shopping and restaurants. The boutique hotel meets B&B vibe of this Lark Hotel makes for a great home away from home . PS- The Hotel Portsmouth did provide us with a complimentary stay, but all opinions are my own! Read more about our stay there here.
What To Do:
Portsmouth really is walking friendly so the best way to see things is just by walking around and exploring. The town is full of historic homes which I personally can spend hours looking at. There are also a number of streets filled with cute shops and you can easily spend a day shopping and popping into the stores. These are a few of the highlights I’d add to your exploring list/Google maps as you walk around:
Visit the Strawberry Banke Museum- The Strawberry Banke Museum is more of a historical village than a traditional museum, made up of a collection of historical homes, beautiful gardens and outdoor space. There are activities year round from ice skating in the winter to baby farm animals visiting in the spring to old fashioned field days with hula hooping and croquet in the summer. I also noticed a food and wine festival on their website which looks amazing 🙂
Shop at Gus & Ruby Letterpress- Pretty much anytime I see a stationery/paper store I have to go in and shop. Gus & Ruby has an amazing selection of cards, gifts, books and just is overall really cute. One of my favorite things is to go into stores like these and pick out “just because” cards to send. We loaded up on Mother’s Day cards while there and their selection was equal parts sentimental, funny and beautiful. I can only imagine it is the same for every holiday.
Take a selfie or picture in front of the “Shark and Sea Bird” Mural on Ceres Street– This mural makes for a fun photo opp to commemorate your trip to Portsmouth. So snap a selfie or enlist a stranger to grab a pic of your group trying to avoid getting eaten by the shark. When we visited there was a good deal of construction on some of the surrounding buildings in the area, but the mural was still visible and ready for pics!
Stroll through Prescott Park- While this is a seasonally dependent activity, Prescott Park is a ten-acre waterfront park stretching along the coast in Portsmouth. It was just starting to bloom during our April trip, but is absolutely stunning in the summer months which you can see from the square (guess I wanted to insta it) pic I took a few years back when we went for an afternoon. Over the summer there are a number of musical and theatrical performances in the park- I think going there with a picnic to enjoy a show outside would be amazing.
Where To Eat:
The Friendly Toast- You can’t go to Portsmouth and not visit The Friendly Toast! With a huge breakfast menu, it’s definitely worth a visit, but be prepared to wait! Their assortment of different pancakes and eggs benedicts literally has something for everyone. Boston friends, this is the original location for the restaurant now in Back Bay and Cambridge.
Moxy- We went to Moxy for dinner and it was absolutely delicious! An American style tapas restaurant with a James Beard award winning chef, each of the dishes we shared was great. Some of our favorites included the brussel sprouts, the truffle and cheese madelines (YUM!), and the calamari. We had a seat at the window bar which was perfect for two. They do take reservations, but I would recommend making them a bit in advance. The weekend we visited it was the last night of Portsmouth’s Restaurant Week so many of the restaurants were booked up- I’m not sure if this is typical for every other weekend, but would recommend a reservation to be safe.
The Goat- For a relaxed lunch vibe with country music and lots of decadent options, The Goat is the place to go. We stumbled upon this spot and while it isn’t fancy, it was a perfect casual spot for lunch. They are known for their burgers, their bacon bucket and big brunch cocktails like Bloody Marys and frozen hot chocolate topped with a Choco Taco. They only played country music which we loved and apparently also have live country performers on weekend nights.
Cava- While we did not have a chance to eat there, this restaurant was highly recommended (we couldn’t get in due to the Restaurant Week reservations mentioned before), but it looked nice and when the weather is warmer they have outdoor seating in their cute, cozy side street location. Cava is also a tapas style restaurant, but appears to be more traditional Spanish style tapas based on the menu.
With beautiful waterfront views, a cute downtown filled with fun shops and lots of yummy places to eat, Portsmouth is a great place to visit. Hope you’ll use some of my suggestions if planning a trip 🙂
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