Our 24-Trip to Portsmouth, NH
Photo via iStock
I’m writing this sitting on my couch back in Rhode Island, but I just had an amazing, super short trip to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. My boyfriend, Phil, and I needed to get out of R.I. for a bit, so we decided to get an impromptu AirBnB right in Market Square, plus we’re fortunate enough to live within driving distance. I had never been to Portsmouth before, but I know Phil had, but we both treated it as a first timer’s experience, walking around the entire town and getting ourselves lost.
My perspective of the town is a bit different since we visited early January and not mid-summer, so to me it was a sleepy, quiet town. However, I do hear it get pretty crazy in the Summer as it is a major tourist area. When we went, it was just soon enough after the holidays that the streets remained decorated in garlands and wreaths on every streetlamp. Plus, the town center had a massive tree still adorned with its bright, multicolored lights. It snowed up there recently where some of it had melted (the sidewalks weren’t slick or covered entirely with ice) but there was some crunches of snow here and there.
Portsmouth is a lovely little town to explore, with it’s old New England charm, meticulously maintained historical buildings and bright walkways. As we walked down the streets we noticed just how much detail has been put into the city, like hand-painted retail signs, store fronts decorated with proud figureheads or walkways lit up by real candlelight. It’s clear that the year-round residents of Portsmouth care about the city’s unique features. Here’s some of the fun things we tried while in town:
Food / Drinks
- Cure Restaurant
Our local friend made a few promising suggestions, however we decided to try a place close to our AirBnB that she had never been to. It was an amazing meal to say the least, and to no surprise either because Cure Restaurant has raving reviews on Yelp. If a restaurant has 300 near-perfect reviews online, I think it’s a pretty safe bet from there. We shared a steak tartare and French onion soup as appetizers and for an entre I had a pan seared chicken statler while Phil had the braised short rib. Everything we ate was nothing short of delicious. Plus, the ambiance of this restaurant is enough to keep you happy. Every room in Cure has exposed brick, illuminated by flattering candlelight, plus rustic décor throughout.
- Popovers on the Square
Because Phil works overnights at his job, he and I are on entirely different sleep schedules. Typically, around the time I am just getting up in the morning, he is going to bed. So, on Sunday morning while he was fast asleep, I decided to go on a stroll to get a feel for the town by myself. While I love having company, sometimes it’s also nice to walk quietly and become aware of the sounds within a town, to see sights I might have otherwise missed while in the company of others.
So, I went for a brisk walk and did some window-shopping, but I of course wanted to get a hot coffee so I could keep myself warm in the process. I loved this little café right in the town center. I walked out with a generously sized latte, however, Popovers on the Square seems to boast many other tempting things on their menu, like breakfast served all day, pastries and of course, popovers.
- The Works
After Phil woke up, we decided to get some food before we left town and headed over to the Works for a quick bite. Personally, I am a huge fan of the Friendly Toast (during my college days, I would constantly go to the one in Cambridge, MA) but because we were in a bit of a hurry, we wanted to get some bagels and go. Don’t get me wrong, the service might be quick but the food and drink at this little café is great. I got a freshly made berry smoothie with a lox bagel and Phil liking my idea, got the same with a hot cider. Our meal must have come out within five minutes, along with friendly and prompt service.
Despite Portsmouth seeming like a pretty sleepy town (who wants to go out in the New England winter, anyway?) there were quite a few people getting out of bars when we were getting back to our AirBnB that night. To be more specific, really friendly, really drunk people. Funny thing though, no one was causing trouble or trying to get into fights; just plenty of young people yelling and laughing as they gallivanted down those same streets having a good time.
- Portsmouth Brewery
As a disclaimer, we didn’t have a chance to stop here, unfortunately, but I have heard really amazing things about this brewery. Plus, it looked really busy and fun when we walked by it. If anyone has been here, I’d love to hear about your experience!
- Ri Ra Irish Pub
We made a stop into the Ri Ra Irish Pub as it was a block away from where we were staying. Fortunately, the Patriots were playing (unfortunately, they lost), so we got to enjoy the company of a pretty boisterous crowd, which was good company. We had a ton of fun chatting with locals while we sipped beer and watched the game.
- Em & Elle
During my solo morning stroll, I stumbled upon this local boutique and loved their selection of jewelry. I recently discovered that I have an allergy to some metals, so was pleasantly surprised of their vast selection of gold and silver plated jewelry. Plus, they have a ton of cute, seasonal clothes.
After our brunch at the Works, we stopped into Nahcotta, a boutique and art gallery store across the street. I recently picked up painting as a hobby and purchased a few brushes from them. I also bought a pair of hand-beaded earrings. I really lucked out with my jewelry purchases on this trip!
- Diversions Games Store
After our dinner at Cure, we stopped into Diversions because Phil and I were hopping to bring home a game that we could play. While we don’t have a ton of time to spend with eachother during the weekdays, we both enjoy quiet nights in on the weekends. Especially during the cold seasons here, we typically will cook dinner together on a Saturday night and will play a card game or two while sipping on cocktails. You could say we’re old souls!
To get back on track though, I loved checking out Diversions because they had an awesome selection of games and we came out with a couple of new options for us to try. Plus, they had extended hours for an in-house game night the store was hosting!
There are so many interesting and historical attractions in the Portsmouth area, so it will be worth making another trip there soon. It particularly seems like a good place to visit during the summer because of the wide selection of boat tours nearby as well as various other water sports (i.e. sailing and kayaking).
- Tour the Albacore Submarine
On our way out of town, we stopped by the Albacore Submarine to take a tour. We actually weren’t planning this ahead of time, but as we were walking around the perimeter of this massive submarine, we realized we could buy tickets to walk through! The photos don’t do it justice, this was definitely a highlight of the trip, particularly for me, where I know hardly anything about submarines or life living in one.
- Fort McClary in Kittery, ME
Phil and I took a ten-minute diversion from our ride back to R.I. to drive up to Kittery, ME, another charming little town. We stopped at the Fort McClary Park to walk through. This fort has been standing for more that 275 years and was manned during five prominent wars. This colonial-era military fort is open during the day to tour and gives an interesting perspective on the different eras it was be utilized!
Despite the fact that we visited during off-season and only spent a night in town, I think we were able to discover some pretty spectacular things about the city. I hope we can make another trip up once it gets warmer! Have you ever visited Portsmouth, New Hampshire and experienced some other fun things you’d like to share? Write to me at Hello@everscollective.comor comment below because I’d love to hear about it!