Portsmouth is a small but colorful harbor city, and is guaranteed to make for a dandy day and fun photos! Full of interesting stuff for tourists like festivals, the Music Hall, the USS Albacore and the like, Portsmouth sure has something for everyone!
Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a pleasant little harbor city filled with fun culture and unique history. Located on the Piscataqua River across from Kittery, Maine, the area was said to be filled with wild strawberries when first settled by English immigrants in 1630. Hence, it was first called “Strawbery Banke,” which is now the title of an outdoor historical museum. However, the name was changed to Portsmouth a few decades later, after the Portsmouth in England, as was the pattern for most place names in the state.
One might be surprised to learn this city was once among the busiest ports in the country. In fact, several treaties have been negotiated and signed in Portsmouth. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has been supplying the US Navy with ships for over 200 years. In 1774, Paul Revere rode to Portsmouth to warn its citizens of approaching British troops. Oney Judge, a former slave of George Washington, famously escaped from Washington’s manor to Portsmouth, where she found freedom.
I don’t mean to make a history lesson, but Portsmouth has succeeded in its endeavors to preserve its history, so it is hard to avoid! And really, anyone with vague interest should try to explore Portsmouth’s historic district. The ships of the harbor, the old cemeteries, and the classic architecture will provide you with many sights worth photographing. But anyway, let’s talk about the cultural aspects of Portsmouth.
There is a fun and eclectic collection of restaurants and shops throughout Portsmouth. I’ve been visiting Portsmouth for years on a regular basis and I’m still discovering new spots of interest. Everything in and around Market Square is worth a visit. I highly recommend The Friendly Toast if you want a bite to eat. Not only is their food yummy, but it will also make for great Lomo opportunities; their atmosphere is wonderfully strange with retro decor bordering on circus freakshow. A short walk away and you’ll find Odyssey and the Oracle, a tiny store jam-packed with used records of all kinds and music memorabilia.
Prescott Park is a nice sight with its flower gardens and is only a short walk from the downtown area. There are usually all sorts of free activities and festivals going on there in the summer too. Also check out The Music Hall, which is located in such a discreet building you may almost miss it. They screen all sorts of films in addition to having an assortment of musical performances and theatrical plays. Another thing that may make for interesting (or at least random and different) photos is the USS Albacore, a small naval submarine that is now on land and was once used to test a new hull design, though this is a short drive from the downtown area.
Well, that’s probably enough plugging of my favorite spots of the area. As a lifelong New Hampshire resident, I have to say I appreciate Portsmouth more than any place in the whole state and this article only barely explains why. Sure, Portsmouth has great architecture and history. What really makes the place, though, is the way it is always bustling with life. Anyone who lives in New Hampshire knows what I mean when I say not many cities in the state can claim to have their own culture and a downtown area that people frequently use. Portsmouth is an exception to that and I recommend it. Oh, and did I mention it is minutes away by car from Hampton Beach?