Portsmouth is a beautiful harbor town, rich with history, character, and fabulous architecture. We love to spend the day there. It's a great city to stroll through, and you'll find plenty of places to eat and shop that can accommodate any budget.
On a sweltering day, nothing feels better than the spray of the harbor. Take your little ones on a narrated harbor cruise. There are a few options, and they are such fun for kids and kids-at-heart. And you're bound to learn some new things, too! We use the coupons found in the Breathe Free Fun Pass booklet, which saves a bundle. Try the Portsmouth Harbor Cruise or Isle of Shoals Steamship Company (reservations may be necessary for certain cruises).
It gets breezy out there. Notice how everyone has lost their hats by this point, ha!
From here, you can venture over to Prescott Park, where the garden displays are breathtaking. Occasionally, you can find free parking along the side road here (2-hour limit), but there is on-street parking with meters, and just about a quarter mile over a small bridge, you can visit Pierce Island, with free parking, and walk back if you don't mind a little stroll. This is often what we do; there is more info further down. If you don't have a vehicle, check out the local trolley system: http://www.seacoasttrolley.com/
At Prescott Park, you'll find brick walking paths that meander through more private gardens, including a water fountain and this majestic towering tree, perfect for an informal family portrait. You can also walk along the Piscataqua River, venture out on a long dock, and grab an ice cream or other snack. There are plenty of places to sit and relax, too.
Stealing a smooch from my little leading man atop one of the impressive theater stages, part of a summer arts festival.
Take a stroll through Pierce Island, located on the left just over the bridge beyond Prescott Park. There is a playground, open grassy fields (perfect for playing catch or soccer), and plenty of wide open walking paths that meander all along the shore of the Piscataqua River.
You could even pick a few posies for your baby doll... You're looking at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in the background, fascinating history for all you history buffs out there. You can climb down onto the rocks as well and putter along, which is what my boys love to do- the shoreline is safe and flat.
There are several gazebos and picnic tables outfitted with trash containers and grill pits. If you look closely, on this particular day, there was even visiting wildlife, besides the gulls and birds anyway. There was a very large groundhog just having himself the best old time- he is in between these two picnic areas, near the water.
There is also a large public swimming pool on Pierce Island. Costs and times vary. You can find more information at http://www.cityofportsmouth.com/recreation/outdoor.htm.
Several nights each week you can see a play or musical at Prescott Park. They are fabulous! Pack a picnic supper or grab something from a nearby shop or cafe, and settle in to enjoy a free summer theater production. (Donations gladly accepted.) More information and schedules can be found at this website: https://www.prescottpark.org/
Here we are about to see Peter Pan a few years ago...this summer, Peter Pan is back! It was spectacular.
And since you're so close, check out the beautiful beaches, all just a few miles down the road. Our favorites are Jenness Beach (limited metered parking) and North Hampton State Park Beach. Wallis Sands is great for smaller children. These last two options cost about $15 per vehicle for all day parking. There are rest rooms available at each beach.
I hope you've enjoyed these insider recommendations for a wonderful day spent in Portsmouth, NH. I'll be writing another post about what to do if you've got two or three (or more!) days to spend in this beautiful area, as well as what to enjoy as a couple if you happen to be visiting sans kiddos- and all on a budget, of course- so be sure to check back. Happy travels with your loved ones.