Settled in 1623, Portsmouth lays claim to being one of the oldest cities in the United States. With a rich shipbuilding heritage, a working port and a large waterfront park, there is much to fascinate the visitor. Cruise through its waterways, learn about maritime history and explore hundreds of years of Portsmouth’s past in its old homes.
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was founded in 1800 and for much of its history was a major shipbuilding center. One of the many submarines to roll off its launchpad was the USS Albacore, now a floating museum. Walk through the vessel on a guided tour to find out about its years of service.
There is more history at the Strawbery Banke Museum, a 9.5-acre (3.8-hectare) site with 42 historic buildings. The oldest structure dates back to 1695. Tour these old properties, which contain artifacts that reveal aspects of everyday life from different eras.
Leave the car behind for a walk through Portsmouth’s tree-lined streets. They will take you past beautiful colonial houses. Shop in upscale boutiques, stop by a cozy café or restaurant and visit more historic homes. Step inside the Richard Jackson House, built in 1664. This is believed to be the oldest surviving wood frame home in New Hampshire.
For a pleasant change of scenery, head to the waterfront Prescott Park. Relax in the flower gardens and enjoy gorgeous views of the Piscataqua River.
A delightful way to see the city is from the water. Go for a cruise onboard a reproduction of the flat-bottom wooden barges that were once a regular feature on Portsmouth's waterways.
Take a short boat trip or drive across the bridge to the 27-acre (11-hectare) Pierce Island. The former site of Fort Washington is now known for its scenic walking trails and outdoor swimming pool.
Portsmouth is roughly halfway between Boston and Portland, Maine. The drive from either of these places takes little more than an hour. Both are also a little over an hour away by bus. Once you are in Portsmouth, many of the historic and waterfront attractions can be easily reached on foot.