This port town splits the border between Southern Maine and NH. It has recently been named nationally as one of the “best places to live” by various publications and organizations. It is a small town of around 21,000 residents, and boasts some of New England’s most up and coming restaurants, events & entertainment in the Seacoast NH & ME area. It is truly a hidden gem, and is not to be missed. The historic waterfront area sits on the Piscataqua River with dramatic views of the Morton tugboats, Memorial Bridge & Naval Shipyard. Strawbery Banke, Prescott Park & the developing North and West Ends have expanded this small, very historic town into a sprawling city filled with culture, incredible people, and a “local” feel.   The real estate market is extremely competitive in Portsmouth, and if predictions are correct, it will only continue to grow. Its school system includes 3 elementary schools (Little Harbour, New Franklin, & Dondero), 1 middle school and 1 high school, all of which have great reputations in the school arena. There is something for everyone in Portsmouth, and universally the seasons offer the best of both worlds – with skiing an hour or two away, and the beach in Portsmouth’s backyard (see New Castle, Rye, Hampton, Kittery, and York).

Walking, Biking or Driving

What makes Portsmouth so enticing is its walkability. You can walk the entire downtown area with an hour (but it often a challenge, considering how many amazing stops to make along the way!). The city recently installed bike stations around town too if you want to zip around quicker. Driving through the heart of Portsmouth during busy summer months (and especially finding parking!) leaves a bit to be desired, but overall, traffic is not an issue in the winter, and only occasional jams occur during summer months. There are 3 bridges connecting Portsmouth to Maine, so you have your choice as to which way to get in and out. I-95 and US Route 1 run through Portsmouth. As for outdoor activities, walking the whole downtown area through Prescott Park & Strawbery Banke is unique. For a longer jaunt, head on foot or hop on a bike toward New Castle for unprecedented views and ocean breezes.

The Scene

Portsmouth is ripe with culture for every generation. For baby boomers are looking to downsize and retire here, the downtown area is offering a growing number of condominiums and low upkeep properties. The Music Hall, Seacoast Repertory Theater, Prescott Park, & numerous festivals and restaurants, including James Beard award winners, are attracting more and more residents. Restaurants like Mombo, Moxy, Row 34, Cure, Cava, Black Trumpet, the Oar House and Green Elephant are excellent. Portsmouth also offers guided walking and sailing tours for visitors, and museums abound. The USS Abacore, Strawbery Banke, and the Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden are great for sightseeing, as well as Portsmouth Harbor Cruises and Gundalow Sailing Company if you want a boat tour of the area. Generation Xers love the highly reputable Portsmouth public school district and the endless activities and sports for their whole families in the area. And with several local universities and colleges in the area, including University of New Hampshire, the millennials enjoy shopping and nightlife in Portsmouth. Red Hook Brewery and Earth Eagle Brewing Co. are local favorites, among a growing number of breweries in the area. For visitors, stay at the chic Hotel Portsmouth or The Ale House Inn.

The Backstory

Portsmouth is one of the oldest towns in the United States, settled in 1623. It is steeping in history, from Ceres Street to Strawbery Banke and beyond. Its downtown lies in a historic district, with a mix of Federal, Georgian and Colonial architectures. Within the buildings downtown, etchings and old artifacts still remain on the walls and masonry. Back in the 1600s, fishing, lumber and shipbuilding were the primary businesses in the region. These trades still remain at the heart of the city, with local fish shops and lobster shacks abound, as well as its continual operation as a seaport for large, industrial transport. In addition, one of the U.S. Naval shipyards is located just across the Piscataqua in Kittery, Maine. Kittery has a special relationship to Portsmouth, and is connected by the Memorial Bridge, which is a pedestrian-friendly vertical lift bridge completely rebuilt in 2013.