Certified Travel Associate
Proud Member of ASTA
Inspiring Travel, Designing Trips, Creating Memorable Experiences
Wandering New England Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth is a historic New Hampshire port city located on the Piscataqua River. It is one of the oldest settlements in the state of New Hampshire from back in colonial America when the seaport operated for building ships and fur trading. It’s about an hour north of Boston, Massachusetts and an hour south of Portland, Maine. Portsmouth is a hallmark for that quintessential New England feel being located right on the coast and boasting well-preserved old English style architecture. You’ll almost feel as if you traveled back in time. It offers many things to see and do for tourists like historic attractions, many appealing restaurant options, live music, boutiques, and of course the harbor.
Covid disclaimer: Please check with each state or city for the current COVID-19 guidelines and regulations for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
In the morning, I highly recommend starting your day at La Maison Navarre located on Congress St. It is a little Parisian style cafe with adorable french pastries, a coffee bar, and other light French fare. There’s a colorful, display of macarons to choose from for that authentic French cafe experience.
I got a cappuccino, and my husband and I both ordered a Paris-Brest to split, made of choux pastry and a praline and hazelnut flavored cream.
We also shared a Milk Chocolate Pistachio tart, described as being milk chocolate cream with pistachio filling, pistachio praline, and chocolate pistachio clusters on top.
Both were so delicious and beautifully presented.
If you prefer stopping by this french cafe later on in your day, there’s also plenty of light options for a meal like sandwiches, crepes, charcuterie board, and you can even enjoy a glass of wine as their wine bar opens up around 4:00pm.
For lunch I recommend Fezziwig's Food and Fountain located on State Street. A casual old English establishment that serves house made pastries, tea, espresso, craft beers and wines, and a menu of both sweet and savory crepe options, sandwiches, soups, salads and various small plates. You can’t go wrong with this lunch spot that offers a friendly staff and a unique experience on your trip to Portsmouth.
Did someone say tapas?
For dinner, a great option is Moxy located on Penhollow Street. Moxy is a large, very modern tapas restaurant that offers small plates of contemporary American cuisine such as corned beef, pork shoulder, or mini beef burgers. They also offer a full bar with many classic cocktails as well as some old fashioned signature recipes. At Moxy, you can be sure you will get a quality experience in terms of both service and food.
For fellow shopaholics...
Inside Out was a lovely boutique that really captured the feel of Portsmouth to me. The interior felt upscale and eclectic, but at the same time very cozy with the rustic brick and wood interior decor. The staff was very warm and greeted us immediately with a smile when we walked in. Their merchandise consists of a great selection of fashionable clothing pieces, jewelry, soaps, home goods, as well as kids toys, games, and books. If you’re visiting, I definitely recommend you stop by and check it out! It’s a great place to purchase unique souvenirs for a friend, family member, or yourself.
Portsmouth Book and Bar is such a fun place to visit, especially if you are a bookworm like me! It’s exactly what it sounds like. A bookstore/bar. However you can decide if you would like to entertain the actual bar, or the coffee bar if a nice espresso or latte is more your style. It really can cater to whatever mood you happen to be in at the time which is great!
There’s something about the atmosphere that I like so much; being surrounded by books of all sort of genres while sipping on a nice beverage. They also have live music on select nights and even host book signings from various best selling authors! This is a place you must absolutely put a pin in (or a bookmark) for when you visit Portsmouth. It’s worth checking out!
books, booze, and beans...
To keep this travel guide short and sweet, I’ll peak your interest without going too much into detail by strongly encouraging you to go visit Prescott Park for an afternoon stroll, the Portsmouth Harbour Lighthouse for a scenic ocean-view spot, and the Strawbery Banke Museum (spelled exactly like that) for an experience that brings the history of Portsmouth to life!
Portsmouth truly has the best of both worlds with it being a charming New England coastal city, and also a downtown district with a rich history and tons to explore.
Where to Stay:
Holiday Inn Portsmouth (IHG Rewards Hotel)
3 Star Hotel. Less than 25 minute walk to downtown; 5 minute drive.
Complimentary overnight parking for guests. Indoor pool. Fitness center. Restaurant on site that serves all three meals a day. IHG Green Engage hotel.
Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel
4 Star Hotel. Less than 10 minute walk to downtown. 2 minute drive.
Indoor hotel. Fitness Center. Pet friendly. On site restaurant with 3 meals a day.
THE INN Downtown
4 Star Boutique Hotel with an apartment-style feel. Located in the heart of historic downtown.
Contactless check in and check out. Fully equipped kitchenettes. Laundry access. Long term stays available for business travelers.