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Portsmouth NH Things To Do

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North Church in Market Square | Portsmouth NH Things To Do | New England Travel
North Church in Market Square

There is always something happening in historic Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The city combines a rich seafaring past with a dynamic music, food, and arts scene. Our article on the best things to do in Portsmouth, NH will help you get to know this hip city of tugboats, music halls, and markets.

Portsmouth Harbor | Things to do in Portsmouth NH | New England Coast
Portsmouth Harbor

Located on the New England coast, Portsmouth was settled in the 1600s. Today, dozens of interesting shops operate out of the Colonial and Federal style buildings that line the waterfront. For information on area restaurants and hotels, read our travel guide. For ideas on Portsmouth NH things to do, read on.

Colonial Portsmouth | Portsmouth Strawbery Banke | Things to do in Portsmouth NH
Colonial Portsmouth

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Moran Tugboats | Portsmouth New Hampshire
Moran Tugboats


1. Visit Strawbery Banke

(Hancock Street). The 10-acre Strawbery Banke Museum brings 300 years of New England history to life. The museum’s Puddle Dock neighborhood is full of historic houses, period gardens, shops, and taverns. There are costumed role-players on hand giving traditional craft demonstrations. The museum is open seasonally, but offers a Candlelight Stroll during the holidays and winter ice skating.

Portsmouth Strawbery Banke Museum | Best things to do in Portsmouth NH
Strawbery Banke Museum

2. Get out on the Harbor

Get out on the many active on the many rivers, islands, and tributaries surrounding Portsmouth. Schedule a kayak ride (Portsmouth Kayak Adventures) or paddleboard session (Portsmouth Paddleboard Co.). Or, enjoy a narrated history tour of Portsmouth Harbor and the Isle of Shoals on a steam boat cruise (Isle of Shoals Steamship Company).

Waterfront | Portsmouth Prescott Park | Things To Do in Portsmouth NH
Waterfront | Prescott Park

3. Walk the Portsmouth Harbour Trail

Explore the city’s historic homes and landmarks on the Portsmouth Harbour Trail. Weave through Portsmouth’s neighborhoods past the North Church, Portsmouth Athenaeum, Moffatt-Ladd House, Moran tugboats, Prescott Park, John Paul Jones House, and many other sites.

Portsmouth Harbour Trail | New England Coast
Portsmouth Harbour Trail

4. Shop (tax free) Market Square.

Since the 1700’s, Portsmouth Market Square has been the center of community life. Market Square is made up of the intersection of Market, Pleasant and Congress Streets. In the Square, ground-level storefronts and colorful cafes bring to life the 19th century brick buildings. Explore the galleries, bookstores, and antique shops that populate the neighborhood. Or, if national upscale chain stores are your style, cross the Piscataqua River and shop the Kittery Outlet Malls.

Tuscan Market | Portsmouth Market Square | New England Travel
Market Square

5. See a show at the Music Hall or in Prescott Park

The Portsmouth Music Hall is a revitalized Vaudeville theater that includes an 895-seat Victorian theater, and 120-seat modern theater. The Music Hall hosts concerts, theater, comedy, and magic shows. Portsmouth Prescott Park is a downtown waterfront park. In the warm months, the Prescott Park Arts Festival hosts a packed schedule of outdoor events including concerts, theater, movie nights, and festivals.

Portsmouth Prescott Park | Things to do in Portsmouth NH | New England Travel
Prescott Park

6. Enjoy a Pub Crawl

Enjoy a pub crawl through the ale houses of Portsmouth’s six breweries: Portsmouth Brewery (56 Market Street), Loaded Question Brewing Company (909 Islington St), Earth Eagle Brewings (175 High St.), Great Rhythm Brewing Company (105 Bartlett St.), Cisco Brewers Portsmouth (35 Corporate Drive), Liars Bench Beer Co. (459 Islington St.).

Portsmouth Brewery | Breweries in Portsmouth NH | New England Travel
Portsmouth Brewery

7. Walk the Black Heritage Trail

Take a self/guided walking tour of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail and African Burying Ground. The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire (BHTNH) website describes the tour as an exploration of 24 sites throughout the city that tell of story of the area’s “rich and often forgotten African-American history.”

St John's Episcopal Church | Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail | Portsmouth NH Things To Do | New England Travel
St John's Episcopal Church

8. Walk Wallis-Sands State Beach

Spend an afternoon at the picturesque Wallis-Sands State Beach (Rye) or lively Hampton Beach (Hampton). Both beaches are nearby. Wallis-Sands is a short sandy beach with a bathhouse and picnic area. Hampton Beach is a beach resort town with a long sandy beach and boardwalk.

Wallis-Sands State Park | Portsmouth NH Travel Blog | New England
Wallis-Sands State Park

9. Tour the USS Albacore

Portsmouth has long been known for its ship and submarine building and repair prowess (the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard sits across the Piscataqua River). The USS Albacore is a retired Naval submarine. Visitor can tour the vessel’s control room, bunkrooms, and other areas.

Charles Hovey Fountain | Waterfront | Portsmouth NH Things To Do
Charles Hovey Fountain | Waterfront

10. Wander downtown Portsmouth

Meander through downtown Portsmouth with no plan. In the small, walkable city center it’s tough to get lost. Begin in beautiful Market Square, and then branch out. Explore the city’s hidden gardens, brick lanes, steepled churches, art galleries, and wine bars. Eat, drink, and shop at your own pace. Delightful.

Jay McCance Smith Park | Best Things To Do in Portsmouth NH | New England
Jay McCance Smith Park


If you are traveling with kids consider:

  1. Spend the afternoon at the well-established Portsmouth Children’s Museum. Kids will love the exhibits on nature, world culture, messy play, and other displays.

  2. Go for the thrill rides at Water Country. The Portsmouth water park features water rides, rivers, and pools to keep your little (and not so little) ones happy.

  3. Go tide pooling at Odiorne State Park and the Seacoast Science Center (Rye). The much-loved science center lets kids get up close to ocean critters and offers exhibits on tide pools, ocean health, and more. In the State Park, families can explore the rocky Atlantic shore, miles of trails, and the ruins of World War II Fort Dearborn.

  4. Swim and play on Peirce Island. Cross a bridge over the Piscataqua River and explore 27 acres of paths, playgrounds, and an outdoor pool. Peirce Island is a city owned recreational area for locals and visitors to explore.

Seacoast Science Center at Odiorne State Park | New England Coast
Seacoast Science Center

Don’t leave without stopping at Kilwins on Congress St. for some homemade chocolates, Laura and Randy

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