How to Spend a Day in Portsmouth, NH

Usually when I tell people I’m from New Hampshire, they say “Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone from there!” Well, I suppose it is a pretty small state, but it still has a lot to offer! With mountains, lakes, and beaches, NH offers lots of activities to do no matter what season you choose to visit. Plus, did I mention there’s no sales tax? If you’re starting to get sold on taking a trip out to the Granite State, make sure to visit Portsmouth while you’re there, it’s my favorite city in the state!

Portsmouth is near the Seacoast, about 20 minutes from the ocean, 5 minutes from the Maine border, and 45 minutes from Boston. So it might be closer to get to than you think! It’s also 15 minutes from the University of New Hampshire (my alma mater). This definitely gives it some of those college-town vibes, with great cafes, restaurants, and lots of art, music, and culture. If you ever find yourself spending a day there, here is my itinerary to catch the best highlights:

Start your day with a coffee at Portsmouth Book & Bar. This place has it all: cafe, food, bar, & bookstore! Such a great place to relax while sipping on a coffee (or a glass of wine), and a great place to warm up if you’re visiting in the winter!

After you have some caffeine, take a walk over to Prescott Park. In addition to being a great place to walk around, the park also has music, theater, movies and other special events. It seems like there’s always something going on there! From here, you can also walk over a bridge that will take you to Maine, if you want to say you stepped foot over the border.

You can also walk through Strawbery Banke Museum, which is a 10-acre outdoor history museum. Here, you can truly feel like you’ve stepped back in time as the employees (dressed in costume) tell you about what life was like back when Portsmouth was first settled. If you’re visiting in the winter, make sure to stop by the ice skating rink!

Once you’re hungry for lunch, head over to Lexie’s Joint for some of the best burgers and truffle fries you’ll ever have. If you’re a vegetarian, don’t miss their black bean burger – it’s one of my favorites! Also be sure to wash it all down with one of their inventive, delicious milkshakes.

After lunch, head downtown to Market Square. Here you’ll find streets lined with cafes, restaurants, boutiques and gift shops. You’re sure to find plenty of interesting stores to occupy your afternoon while taking advantage of some tax-free shopping.

After you’re shopped out, head over to Martingale Wharf to sip on a cocktail while enjoying one of the greatest views of the city. This bar & restaurant has an expansive deck overlooking the water and is a picture-perfect place to catch the sunset. When you’re ready for dinner, I’d recommend trying Green Elephant. Although this is a vegetarian restaurant, their menu is so expansive and their food is so delicious that you won’t even realize you’re missing the meat! They also have a great selection of cocktails and wine.

If you want to stay out after dinner, head to the Thirsty Moose Taphouse. With an expansive list of beers on tap and live music every Saturday night, this is the perfect place to end the evening.

So those are just the highlights, but Portsmouth is filled with so many great spots that I didn’t get to mention. If you have any more questions about restaurants, bars, or anything else, feel free to comment below!

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