Late spring, all summer long, and early fall are quite busy in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and for good reason. Families can spend a day or a weekend learning, playing, and enjoying all while walking around one of New England’s most historic places. Here are a few of the wonderful places we enjoyed on our trip to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Prescott Park Theater
Prescott Park was created and has been maintained by the terms of the will of Josie F. Prescott, a lifelong resident of the city of Portsmouth. It was her wish that a public park, free and accessible to all, be established along the Portsmouth waterfront replacing what had become a rundown industrial area of Portsmouth.
Today the park is thriving and home to some of the city’s most beautiful gardens, water views and family friendly theater performances. Seussical, an all-ages show based on Dr. Seuss, was playing when we went. The season series also includes Elf Jr, and The Who’s Tommy. Prescott Park also hosts 30 pages in 30 days, an opportunity for local playwrights to share their work. Bring your blanket and chairs and stake claim to your spot in the wonderful sunshine of Prescott Park.
The Strawbery Banke Museum
That is right. We spelled it correctly! The Strawbery Banke Museum is in the heart of Portsmouth and walking distance from everything. The museum offers an authentic 10-acre outdoor history museum dedicated to bringing 300+ years of American history in the same waterfront neighborhood to life. The museum is a place for children, adults, multigenerational families, and groups to gather to explore gardens, 32 historic buildings and hands-on activities.
The stories are told by costumed role-players and the changing exhibits offer hours of fun and discovery. Jessica was working the day we went, and she shared the history of the Jones House, which is home to the Family Discovery Center. We played games that were popular in the 1940s and today, as well as enjoying the 1940’s grocery store. We suggest starting your day at the museum as you can park all day while you explore the rest of Portsmouth.
Ceos Gelato Bistro
Pronounced “See-ohs”, this is a must stop for families. It was a short walk from the Strawbery Banke Museum and a welcome rest from the warmth. The ice cream and gelato are all natural and all tasty! I had the espresso gelato and could have eaten another two or three flavors. We also tried the lavender blueberry sorbetto and a chocolate raspberry gelato, and cooled off nicely inside their air-conditioned bistro. The gelato and sorbetto are made on the premises in small batches from all-natural ingredients. For those 12 and under, half sizes are available of all products. The love was tasted in every bite and felt in every corner of the bistro. A must stop for all families visiting Portsmouth.
G. Willikers Books and Toys
Family fun-focused and family run since 1978, G. Willikers is next door to CEOs and is equally as intriguing for the family. G. Willikers seeks to build curious readers and healthy, playful children. Their spacious reading and play area certainly help do just that. What we loved the most about G. Willikers (next to the friendly owners Bob and Jody) was that the toys and books were practical and educational, and the brands were ones all parents can trust. The focus was on family fun…right in line for a road trip for your family.
Poco’s Restaurant and Cantina is a must, especially if you are a veteran. Poco’s offers a 20% discount every day to military veterans. With gratitude like that, we reciprocated by enjoying dinner on their wonderful waterfront decks. Families can relax, feel the cool harbor breeze and enjoy the local, sustainable and fresh cuisine.
If spice is your thing, the Cajun blackened snapper tacos were incredible. The perfect flavor for a great tasting fish. We had fajitas and split an order of lobster mac and cheese and all were perfectly prepared. Kelly, our server, knew everything about the menu and made some outstanding recommendations. If fresh, quality food and a wonderful view of Portsmouth Harbor are your thing, Poco’s is the perfect way to put an exclamation point on your family visit to Portsmouth.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire Park and Play
When you are a family that travels a lot, parking is always a concern when you visit bigger cities. Not so in Portsmouth. To be able to park once is a blessing. We were able to visit these and other local businesses and drop our purchases off at our car. No all-day bag lugging for mom and dad! Our hands were free, our hearts were heightened, and our bellies and minds were full and satisfied. For a family looking for a great road trip, Portsmouth, New Hampshire provided just that.
Want to plan your Portsmouth, New Hampshire road trip? Here’s a quick way to get right to hotels in the area:
Donald Capoldo has been traveling, (46 states and counting!) taking pictures, and writing since he was 22 years old. He routinely travels Northern New England with his guitar, Nikon, and laptop. When he is not traveling he can be found at his Air B&B wellness retreat in Southern Maine.