Portsmouth, New Hampshire: New England's Best Small City?
Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Hurwitz. Page updated on 11/16/16.
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From a distance, the majestic church steeple rising above
a sleepy-looking, small New England town belies the vibrancy of this
New Hampshire seacoast city. While Portsmouth does have the leanings of
a small town, it also has a city feel, minus the traffic, and high
crime. Market Square is of particular interest. Locally owned shops,
great restaurants with a water view, narrow streets, tree-lined streets
with fine old homes and an overflow of eclectic University of New
Hampshire students make this section seem like a miniature version of
the diverse, historic city of Boston, Mass. No disrespect to
Burlington, Vt., Portland, Maine and Newport, R.I., but Portsmouth
could be New England's most appealing small city. It is interesting,
easy to navigate and welcoming.
For starters, check out the historical Strawbery Banke Museum, a
10-acre historic waterfront neighborhood, with homes dating back to
1650. Although modern amenities beckon around the corner in Market
Square, Strawberry Banke takes you out of the modern era and into
another period of time. Across the street is Prescott Park, with its
scenic waterfront, spectacular flower displays and diverse music
performances. It's also a great place to sit on a bench and people
watch. For excellent food, we recommend trying the Oar House, which
serves fine, traditional steak and seafood dishes. It's nicely located
in the historic Merchant's Row Building at the edge of the old
Portsmouth Harbor. Another great dining choice is the new River House
Restaurant restaurant (formerly the Stockpot) at 53 Bow St. This
casual, affordable restaurant features two levels of dining in a
historic building, plus outdoor dining with beautiful views of the
The River House menu is wide and varied, including burgers, flatbread
pizza, Thai salad (delicious!), chicken pesto panini (also delicious!),
seafood chowder, steamed lobster, broiled haddock, grilled haddock,
steak tips and a Coca Cola BBQ pork roll. We highly recommend this
family-friendly, yet hip waterfront restaurant.
More great Portsmouth news: once the day is done and you leave
the parking garage, your wallet will only be a few dollars
lighter--compare that to the $20-plus parking fees in some parts of
Boston. Whether single, married, young or old, Portsmouth makes for a
great day, filled with fun, a sense of history and a great mix of the
old and new. A day trip is great, and if you decide to stay longer,
plenty of bed and breakfasts, inn and motels await you. There's even a
Sheraton Hotel (you can find great prices in the "Deals" widget at the
beginning of this article), just a minute's walk to Market Square and
to Strawbery Banke. All in all, Portsmouth is a great representation of
New England, perfect for those who are looking for a great introduction
to the region.
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