Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Now that the snow has melted and trees are starting to bud, you’re getting itchy for warm weather. You’re ready for salt air, some fried clams or a lobster roll, and a walk on the beach. It’s not that warm yet, though. A trip to Cape Cod or Ogunquit may have to wait a little longer.

So the beach may be out, but that doesn’t mean the seafood and salt air have to be as well. Time to head to Portsmouth, a small waterfront city with enough to keep you occupied that you’ll almost forget you’re missing the beach.

Photo: Philip Case Cohen
Photo: Philip Case Cohen

Downtown Portsmouth is filled with colonial brick buildings, tree-lined streets, and seagulls. Don’t expect a town that only focuses on its history though. Sure, you can spend a foggy morning touring the Strawbery Banke, an outdoor history museum. But you’ll quickly realize that many of the city’s 18th century buildings have been turned into independent shops, eclectic restaurants, and renowned theaters. Portsmouth is anything but stuffy.

Watch tugboats chug along the Piscataque River from Prescott Park. Wander the galleries, bookstores, and record shops around Market Square. Taste local beer. Listen to live music—in the Music Hall or in the street. Eat Moroccan bouillabaisse, jerk chicken, or lobster. Drink cocktails on the waterfront. And sleep in an old brewery.

Photo: Philip Case Cohen
Photo: Philip Case Cohen

The Ale House Inn blends comfort and modern perks—iPads and Keurigs—with the building’s historic brick and wood design. Add its prime location, complementary theater tickets, and beer upon check in, and you’ll quickly find the inn as charming as the rest of the city. And you’ll be ready to plan a return trip to Portsmouth. After beach season.

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