At the beginning of August, we moved on from our stay in Waterbury, Vermont to our next stop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We had stayed here for a couple of nights a few years ago and it seemed like a nice city to spend a bit more time in. Portsmouth also has the advantage of being nearly the easiest city to access from Ottawa since it is easy to follow the interstate almost all the way there – about 7 hours of straightforward driving.
Previously, I think Portsmouth used to be a pretty rough and tumble city based on shipbuilding and the traditional vices that go along with a working port. The city is clearly trying to make the transition from industry to tourism and there are a couple of new hotels under construction in addition to the new ones that have just been built. The downtown is very compact and excellent for walking around with historical sites, good restaurants, and interesting shops.
Also, close to Portsmouth are the beaches of New Hampshire, including the most popular one, Hampton Beach. The beach we chose was just north of Hampton at Jenness State Beach and worked well. We had no problem finding free parking and the super-wide beach was a nice lead-in to the FREEZING ocean…but not quite cold enough to keep the kids out.
Just across the bridge from Portsmouth, in Maine, H managed to keep busy at the Kittery outlets, stocking up for another year at work.
Other fun activities we did included touring the U.S.S. Albacore, a Cold War-era submarine that was originally built in Portsmouth before seeing active duty as a revolutionary submarine of its time and has since been returned as a museum. The big guy was enthralled with it and did the tour three times. I am not sure what the maximum height was for someone who worked on a sub but I certainly hope it was something smaller than me. We also visited the Seacoast Science Centre in Rye, NH where the kids enjoyed the opportunities to be interactive with many creatures including some cat sharks that they were able to pet.
Finally, why bother going to the Northeast coast if you aren’t going to indulge in some LOB-Stah! We are able to find two excellent ‘lobster pounds’ this year; true working lobstermen on the docks where the ‘restaurant’ consisted of nothing further than a steamer and a picnic table. I think our favorite was the Rye Harbour Lobster Pound but they were both fantastic!