Boston and Portland top nearly every 'best places to go in the northeast' list. And while those are great options, if you're looking for something a bit more laid back, Portsmouth should be on your list. An hour from either Boston or Portland, it's easy to get to and a lovely town for a weekend away.
Where to stay
Whether you choose a hotel, a B&B, or AirBnb — the options are endless and will fit exactly what you need.
What to do
Portsmouth is filled with historic homes, maritime museums, and dozens of independent shops. While most museums and historic homes were closed due to the pandemic, the real way to see this city is walking around. We were treated to lovely weather and enjoyed strolling through the historic streets. It's an 18th-century architecture lovers' dream.
Many museums are only open in the warmer months, and it seems as though things are beginning to reopen per pandemic restrictions, so this summer will be the perfect time to visit.
Step back in time, marvel at the waterfront and pop into shops along the way. There's plenty to do and see, and something for everyone on every street.
Where to eat
Portsmouth is quite the place if you like delicious food and handcrafted drinks, and a variety of them! Here's my recommended 'foodie tour':
First stop, cocktails at the Wilder. An insanely creative cocktail bar, with food that looks delicious. (If we hadn't already made dinner reservations elsewhere, there's no question we would have stayed.)
If you're looking for 'picky' meal, opt for Moxy. A tapas place with a New England spin that is perfect if you're in the mood to sample more than just an entree or two. Everything we had was delicious.
Ever in search of a flaky pastry, I was well aware of the well-known Elephantine Bakery and we made that our first stop in the morning. A mix between Parisian vibes and the cool vibrancy of the middle east — it's the sort of coffee shop you want to hang out at all morning long with your closest friends. And with a pastry case that is chock full of hugely beautiful options, I'd highly recommend going with a group so you can sample the lot. Their cinnamon roll — which, is easily the size of a small pet — is gooey and spiced. Far from the usually dry, overly sweet ones you might be used to. It's absolutely delicious and you'll thank me for ordering it the moment you tuck in. We bought a baguette for the road and wished we could have tried everything. A place I'll definitely revisit.
Should you be looking for a detox from the sweets, or from last night's drinks, local New England chain The Juicery is just the spot for your health foods.
Why Portsmouth should be on your list
Aside from the reasons listed above, Portsmouth feels more relaxed than Boston and less sprawled than Portland. If you want a quaint, walking-friendly town with plenty of museums, shops and restaurants, and a glimpse of the ocean, Portsmouth is perfect — whether just for the day or for a whole weekend.