• Amanda Perkins

Top 7 Things To Do In Downtown Portsmouth, NH | Travel

Updated: 4 hours ago

When it comes to planning a trip to Portsmouth NH, you may wonder what there is to do and where you can go. This beautiful and historic city can make for excellent weekend trips or weeklong vacations. Downtown Portsmouth can be a large area to explore and there is plenty to do and discover. There certainly is no shortage of things to do. From the historic Strawbery Banke Museum to the scenic harbor and boardwalk, from the local award winning restaurants and boutique shops, this city is a feast for the senses.

There are many reasons to visit downtown Portsmouth NH. Whether it's a short drive, a day of adventuring, or a weeklong stint there is plenty to do in Portsmouth NH. Here's a list of seven things to do while visiting Portsmouth. (Pronounced port-smith)

1. Strawbery Banke Museum

This museum is the oldest remaining neighborhood still standing in New Hampshire that was settled by Europeans. Some buildings date back 300+ years! The NH coast was first settled by English pioneers in 1623. The Strawbery Banke neighborhood, called "Puddle Dock" was established not long after that. The museum is open almost year round and gives historic tours with very knowledgable professionals. There are also events hosted throughout the year like their "Candlelight Stroll" where actors will dress up and reenact what life could have been like back in the 1600s.

Also nestled inside Strawbery Banke museum is the Puddle Dock Pond Skating Rink. This is a classic outdoor New England skating rink that also rents out skates for you to borrow. Occasionally there will be events of professional ice skaters performing on Puddle Dock Pond too! If you start to get chilly skating around in freezing temperatures, they also have a fire pit off to the side of the rink where you can skate up to and get warm.

2. Prescott Park

Prescott Park is a beautiful, immaculately maintained park that is right on the waterfront in Downtown Portsmouth. This park is home to Prescott Park Gardens which is a beautiful flower garden surrounded by native trees and two water fountains. Many people stop in here to take photos!

Prescott Park is also home to the Prescott Park Arts Festival! Every summer this company puts together a grand play production and the community can come and watch for a donation. From everything to Peter Pan to Shrek, these actors are so talented and it is so fun to watch. You can bring a blanket to sit on and order snacks from the concession for a fun night out. In addition to the play, many bands have graced the stage for live performances as well.

3. Wentworth Coolidge Mansion

Benning Wentworth was the first royal governor of NH, back in the mid 1700s. His mansion still stands, and is truly a magnificent sight. You can do a guided tour or you can just show up and wander around, parking is always free.

Although the big huge house is a feast for the eyes, my favorite part about this Mansion are the trails that surround it. You can explore through the woods and adventure down to the water. There are always lots of hermit crabs to catch in the shallow tidal waters and you can watch many boats go by.

4. Harbor Cruises

Down on the banks of the Piscataqua River you can find several companies that will take you down the river and into the harbor. A few can even take you to the Isles of Shoals, which are a group of islands right off of the coast, some in NH and some in Maine! You will learn a lot of history by your boat's travel guide as you journey down the waters.

Looking for something different and fun? Hop on a party ship cruise! These are for guests who are 21 and over. Be ready to dance the night away on the river!

5. Pierce Island

Walk over the Pierce Island bridge from Prescott Park to explore this island and its smaller counter part - Four Tree Island. From here you can get a spectacular view of the Memorial Bridge as it raises and lowers so boats can travel underneath it.

These are tidal waters, so depending on the time of the day you will see a different type of landscape. There is also a public pool, playground, and boat launches here!

6. Shopping

Downtown Portsmouth is fun to just walk around and shop too. There is the beautiful North Church sitting on Market Square that is just surrounded by shops that you could poke into. There is something for everybody too. Thrift shops to high end boutiques! You can find handcrafted items made locally as well as souvenirs to bring home as evidence of a good time spent in Portsmouth.

7. Food

Several restaurants have won awards, been featured in magazines, and even been aired on popular TV shows! The Friendly Toast, Moxi, and Cure just to name a few. You really can't go wrong picking a restaurant in downtown Portsmouth.


I can't stress enough how much there is to do in Portsmouth. The city's historic waterfront area is utterly charming, full of beachfront views and eateries with stunning views of the ocean. You'll find plenty to do at the shops and restaurants there, as well as at the Strawbery Banke Museum.

It is fair to say that Portsmouth, NH has a variety of interesting sights and activities that make it a great destination for vacationers and locals alike. Whether you are looking for an on-the-water experience, history, museums or just some good food and drinks, Portsmouth has something for everyone.

More Resources:

The Best NH Beaches

4 Favorite Kid Friendly Seacoast NH Hiking Trails

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