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Portsmouth through the Centuries

Discover Portsmouth’s evolving history at the numerous homes-turned-museums that dot the city center. One of the best is the Strawbery Banke Museum, where costumed docents take visitors through preserved houses, some of which date back to the founding of the city 400 years ago. Take a peek into the homes of both famous Americans and local merchants at mansions such as the John Paul Jones House and Langdon House. These quintessential examples of colonial-style architecture contain exhibits and artifacts that relate to the men they are named for. A great way to see these houses and over 70 other historic sites is via a guided walk or boat ride along the Portsmouth Harbour Trail.

 

Gateway to Water Fun

Portsmouth’s location at the mouth of a major river means there’s no shortage of water-based fun to be had. To learn what it’s like to live under water, head over to the USS Albacore, a retired submarine that’s been turned into a museum. Then take a harbor cruise or hop the ferry to the Isles of Shoals to have a picnic lunch and roam the island and tour the buildings. Charter boats offer deep-sea fishing, whale-watching trips and even lobster tours. There are also a half-dozen beaches within a few minutes’ drive of Portsmouth where visitors can swim, kayak or paddleboard – though the water can be quite cold!

 

Shopping, Dining and Local Charms

To find a souvenir in Portsmouth, spend an afternoon browsing the galleries, bookstores, antique shops and craft boutiques that specialize in locally-made items. When you get hungry, try one of the many ethnic restaurants around town, then wander through Prescott Park, which features a lovely flower garden and a pier that extends into the river. In the evening, catch a show at The Music Hall, the region’s leading concert venue.

Fun Fact

The first settlement of Portsmouth was originally known as Strawbery Banke because of the large number of strawberries that grew along the Piscataqua River.
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The first settlement of Portsmouth was originally known as Strawbery Banke because of the large number of strawberries that grew along the Piscataqua River.

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