This weekend my mom, sister, and I took to the streets of Portsmouth, NH for a little girls’ weekend getaway. Even in the dreary weather Portsmouth was beautiful. A small and easily walkable city tucked on New Hampshire’s tiny coastline just over the border of Maine, Portsmouth offers something for everyone! Great food, craft beer, gardens, history, small local shops, live music are all steps away. Here are some highlights from our trip! (click the headers for websites with more info)
The park is a great place to take a stroll. There are frequent concerts and festivals to take in, in addition to the many gardens. We wound around the flowers and through the display gardens with the sound of a children’s theater performance of “The Little Mermaid” in the background. Even in the clouds and drizzle the area was full of families enjoying the show and people walking the park. It isn’t very big, but it was beautiful, with a path that leads along the waterfront. It is also adjacent to the Strawbery Banke Museum – for the art and history buffs out there this area is a must see.
Downtown Portsmouth was very easy to walk around and navigate. There were plenty of cute shops to browse and lots of great bars and restaurants to pop into to cool off and enjoy a pint on a hot summer day, or escape a rainstorm if you need to… it is New England after all. Our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Portsmouth was centrally located and an easy walk to everything downtown had to offer.
Food and Drink
There are a LOT of options for chowing down and quenching your thirst in downtown Portsmouth. It was very tough to narrow it down, but we were very happy with our choices and have a list of others to try out next time!
Surf (on Bow Street, just off Market Square) was our first stop for a light lunch and drinks. Nice atmosphere with windows overlooking the harbor. Tap list had some nice local offerings and the wine list seemed to have a good selection (says the NON wine connoisseur.) I chose a Tuckerman’s Pale Ale (a favorite that’s not available in CT!) and the others got red sangria, which was tasty. They had a nice raw bar and sushi selection as well as plenty of seafood and sandwich offerings for lunch. Between us we had the crab louie salad, smoked haddock and corn chowder, and a special that was grilled shrimp over a cold ramen salad. The shrimp special was the winner at the table, but all was good. I was starving, so I forgot to snap some food pictures. Oops!
I LOVE bookstores. And craft beer. So a place where you can have both at the same time may just be the best thing ever. Enter Portsmouth Book & Bar. We kicked back with a couple of craft beers and browsed the shelves here. They also have a food and coffee menu offering espresso drinks and small plates, sandwiches, etc. There is an outdoor seating area as well, and some evenings there is live music or events. Great place!
Our noses led us straight through the doors of Breaking New Grounds for an afternoon caffeine buzz. The coffee smells wafting out into their outdoor seating area were irresistible and our tastebuds most definitely agreed. My cappuccino was fantastic! Nice seating areas inside and out.
Dinner was Italian. Again, I forgot to snap some pictures. Atmosphere was fairly laid back with families, a bachelorette party, and some obvious date nights all dining together. It was nice without being too fancy or stuffy which was perfect. Plenty of wines and cocktails to choose from and a menu that was just big enough without being overwhelming. We dined on salads (house and cesar), bread with seasoned olive oil for dipping, eggplant parmesan, lasagna (which was raved about), and calabrese.
After walking off our pasta we decided to re-carb load with some desert at Popovers. Lots of delicious desserts to choose from, plus coffee and some drinks and craft beer on tap.
Sunday brunch found us at District. We initially tried a couple of top brunch listings on Yelp (Friendly Toast and Colby’s Breakfast and Lunch) but there was an hour wait and we were WAY too hungry for that. We chose District instead and were definitely not disappointed! We were seated right away inside – there was also a covered outdoor seating area that was dog friendly. The coffee was great and there were plenty of bar options also. I had a Korean spiced fried rice topped with a fried egg and kimchi that was DELICIOUS. We also munched on a Belgian waffle topped with blueberries, and more standard breakfast fare of a veggie omelet and eggs and toast. It was all really great and I wouldn’t hesitate to brunch here again for sure.
We capped off our weekend with a quick trip over the bridge into Kittery, Maine for some bargain hunting at the Kittery Outlets and then headed home. Portsmouth was perfect for a quick weekend getaway and there is a whole lot more to explore when we come back! (especially the craft beer – I’m already planning a stop back to check out the Portsmouth Brewery and Thirsty Moose (huge tap list!)