New Hampshire

A Perfect Weekend in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s summer seacoast is also an unforgettable holiday destination. Here’s how to spend a perfect weekend in Portsmouth, NH.

By Yankee Magazine

Nov 30 2017


Portsmouth’s Market Square is all aglow, courtesy of the city’s official Christmas tree and historic North Church, built in 1855.

Photo Credit : Carl Tremblay

Christmas in this historic city is downright magical — and not just because the summer tourists have vanished. Winter is the perfect time to get cozy at one of Portsmouth’s many inns or to simply take advantage of the many fine dining and shopping opportunities in Market Square. Save on off-season deals, and revel in a city that is strikingly beautiful when the snow starts to fall.

Portsmouth’s Market Square is all aglow, courtesy of the city’s official Christmas tree and historic North Church, built in 1855.
Portsmouth’s Market Square is all aglow, courtesy of the city’s official Christmas tree and historic North Church, built in 1855.
Photo Credit : Carl Tremblay


Portsmouth Music Hall

See the classic Irving Berlin musical White Christmas performed by the Ogunquit Playhouse in Portsmouth’s historic theater November 29–December 17. The 900-seat auditorium was recently restored to its full 1878

Seacoast Science Center

Check out “Tofu,” the 32-foot humpback whale skeleton, and then explore touch tanks, interpretive exhibits, and more. Step outside to enjoy views of New Hampshire’s coast and Odiorne Point State

Puttin’ on the Glitz

Possibly the city’s most popular window-shopping destination, this one-of-a kind venue offers a rich display of hats, jewelry, and handbags. And it’s not just new stuff: Check out the trove of vintage beaded purses that go all the way back to the

Book & Bar

Owners John Petrovato, Jon Strymish, and David Lovelace know that books and beer (or wine) are even better together. Browse the high-quality used books while sampling from the menu of beers, wines, gourmet sandwiches, and pastries.

Strawbery Banke

Portsmouth’s “Vintage Christmas” theme shines at Strawbery Banke Museum.
Portsmouth’s “Vintage Christmas” theme shines at Strawbery Banke Museum.
Photo Credit : Carl Tremblay

This cluster of 42 historic homes and buildings gives visitors a glimpse of New Hampshire’s coastal life stretching back more than three centuries. During the holidays, a “Vintage Christmas” program, complete with costumed interpreters and musicians, transports visitors to an earlier era.



Talented cooks lovingly craft the sausages and terrines for Mombo’s charcuterie plates, not to mention the sweet-and-savory accompaniments (red-onion compote, fig jam, cranberry-olive tapenade, stone-ground mustard). Vermont cheeses are also included.

Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Café

Mussels at Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Café.
Mussels at Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Café.
Photo Credit : Carl Tremblay

While Jumpin’ Jay’s cooks up some great fish dishes, including a rich San Francisco–style cioppino, the uncooked seafood is, if possible, even better. Taste several kinds of New Hampshire oysters alongside bivalves from Cape Cod, Damariscotta, Long Island Sound, and Chesapeake Bay.

Cava Tapas & Wine Bar

Creating Spanish food from great New England fish, meat, and produce, Cava serves tapas as well as hearty small plates. Some dishes (such as grilled octopus and chicken sausage paella) are Spanish classics, while others are inspired by a wider Mediterranean influence. The wine selections are among New England’s best.

Black Trumpet Bistro

A warm ambience, artful cuisine, and a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence make this Mediterranean bistro/wine bar on Ceres Street an inviting nook where you can nibble on foraged mushrooms, local seafood, and assorted paellas that feature Moroccan, Turkish, and Spanish influences.

The Franklin

Abenaki, Little Grizzly, and Fox Point, all piled on heaps of ice, greet the traveler who wanders off busy Market Street and steps inside this shimmering ode to seafood. When you plunk down at the horseshoe-shaped bar to order grilled “oysters off the hot line” and a side of pumpkin fritters, you do so knowing that the guys you crossed paths with in the doorway were dropping off something fresh and briny.


Ale House Inn

Located in the 1880 Portsmouth Brewing Company building and overlooking the Piscataqua River, Ale House offers visitors free tickets to the Seacoast Repertory Theatre next door. It’s also within easy walking distance of great shops and restaurants.

The Hotel Portsmouth

This 32-room 1881 mansion was rehabbed and newly opened in April 2014, offering modern style anda luxuriously stress-free B&B vibe — all just a few blocks from Market Square and the breezy waterfront.

Martin Hill Inn

For those who would like to stay near, but not in, the hubbub of Market Square, this 19th-century B&B is an ideal retreat on Islington Street, near Goodwin Park. A freshly homemade two-course breakfast is included, and the inn’s rotating recipes are a cut above: lemon-ricotta pancakes, artichoke-spinach quiche, tomato-pesto strata, etc.