Portsmouth New Hampshire is rapidly becoming one of New England’s hot spots for tourism. The once best-kept secret, Portsmouth is a picturesque, beautiful historical landmark at the mouth of the Piscataqua River. While Portsmouth is a well-marked town, it is the perfect blend of New England quaintness, middle-class America, and it has become a tour-based community.
As one of the major towns on the 17-mile New Hampshire coastline, Portsmouth is also a port town; with a wide array of grand timber mansions dating all the way back to the 1600’s. One of those amazing historical homes is the famous John Paul Jones House on State Street, which is now a museum open from June to mid-October. John Paul Jones founded the U.S. government’s first shipyard, which is located just across the bay in Kittery, Maine—a shipyard that is still active today.
While walking along the waterfront downtown in the famous Prescott Park, there is an intriguing collection of maritime memorabilia in the Sheafe Warehouse Museum. In addition, one should not miss the Strawberry Banke Museum, sponsored by the Historic Landscapes Department, offering a wonderful collection of living specimens—a recreation of history’s past in a wonderful display of organic gardening. The park was once privately owned by two sisters, Josie and Sarah Prescott, and was donated to the City of Portsmouth right around the turn of the century. The city has taken great care to restore and preserve this historical landmark.
Portsmouth’s downtown historic district is home to a wide array of wonderful boutiques, galleries, craft and specialty stores, a vintage music store, and varied restaurant/cafés, and finding the center of town is easy. Just look for the tall steeple of the North Church, which is the first church that was built back in 1657.
Up the road a bit is the alluring island of New Castle, which is one of the oldest settlements in New Hampshire. New Castle overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, and epitomizes elegance wrapped up in old world charm. Incorporated in 1693, and once known as Great Island, New Castle is a sister-town to Portsmouth. Part of New Castle’s uniqueness is in the fact that it is entirely made up of islands connected by bridges.
Whether planning to stay or visit, the brilliantly restored Wentworth By the Sea, Marriott Hotel of the Year should not be missed. Built in 1874, this wooden Victorian high-society resort was once the destination spot for the rich and famous and political delegates from all over the world.
Portsmouth is a wonderful getaway, and especially perfect during the spring. While New Hampshire’s seacoast is not very big, this quaint town with its narrow streets, old brick buildings, where the land meets the river mouth, is rich in history and diversity. Located 45 minutes north of Boston, it is simply a good idea.