It’s not necessarily somewhere you want to hang out in winter. But you couldn’t pick a more pleasant seaside town in summer than Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with its gorgeous Colonial and Federal style houses and colorful brick buildings lining the harbor. Half the fun of visiting is eating fresh seafood at a restaurant along the Piscataqua River (if you can splurge, try the Wellington Room). Then there’s the added bonus of being able to look across the water and see Maine. Sure, it’s just the town of Kittery you’re staring at and not Winslow Homer’s cliffs, but still. Maine! Wandering the shoreline of two states in this particular cove, you feel like you’re getting two snapshots of historic coastal New England for the price of one.
If you do make the few minutes’ drive across the Memorial Bridge to Kittery, you’ll realize that, unfortunately, most people are making a beeline for the town’s gigantic outlet malls. We say skip those and head straight for the historic sites, like the small museum at Fort McClary, the Lady Pepperell House and other historic buildings in Kittery Point.
For museums on the Portsmouth side, check out cool paintings and photos of New England seaside life at the Strawbery Banke Museum or period furniture at the Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden. If you’re still hungry at the end of the day, you must stop by Bob’s Clam Hut, the quintessential New England seafood shack where you can get whole clams, clam fritters, clam burgers and clam cakes. Perhaps not the healthiest pick, but Bob’s, which showed up recently on The Food Network, is a member of the Green Alliance, a Portsmouth-based environmental group. Bring your own silverware to Bob’s and they’ll donate $2 to green causes.