The coastal city of Portsmouth is one of the Northeast's favorite summer getaways. Right on the border of Maine and New Hampshire, Portsmouth is only an hour from Boston, making it an easy go-to for a quick three-day vacation. Teeming with rich history and amazing natural features, Portsmouth offers the adventurous spirit an opportunity to get to know New Hampshire's coastline in a whole new way. From seaside excursions to inland adventures, here's your itinerary for a three-day getaway in Portsmouth.
Peirce Island: The walking trails at this family-friendly park are a great introduction to Portsmouth. With access to tide pools and salt marshes and views of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Memorial Bridge, the island encapsulates Portsmouth's natural features and commercial shipping history. Spend your first afternoon in Portsmouth exploring the island. Put in at one of the boat ramps for a quick paddle on the Piscataqua River. When you return to shore, head to the connecting Four Tree Island for a picnic with a view.
Jenness State Beach: After watching the water from Peirce Island, you're probably itching to dive in, especially if it's one of those steamy New Hampshire summer days. The best place to cool off on New Hampshire's 18-mile coastline is Jenness State Beach. Only a 15-minute drive from Portsmouth, this family-friendly beach gets crowded in the summer, but it's worth it to soak in the salty Atlantic waters. In true New England fashion, dive into the chilly waters, warm up with a walk along the coastline, and repeat. Looking to ride the waves? There's a surf shop across the street that offers rentals and lessons so you can pick up a whole new way to enjoy the water.
Odiorne Point State Park and Seacoast Science Center: Dedicate a whole day to exploring all that this seaside state park has to offer. In the morning, put a kayak in at one of the boat ramps and paddle around Little Harbor. Afterward, hop back on land to explore the many hiking trails and discover the park's rich history, including overgrown military bunkers. Make time to explore the rocky coast, and look for tide pools and all the amazing creatures that call them home. Once you've worked up an appetite, stop for lunch at one of the many picnic areas and enjoy the cool Atlantic breeze. If you've got kiddos, be sure to stop by the Seacoast Science Center, where kids can learn about the Atlantic coast by touching and observing live animals and exploring indoor exhibits. The Science Center often offers educational programs and activities, so check ahead for the chance to hop on a fun and educational adventure.
Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge: On your final day in Portsmouth, wake up early and head to this wildlife refuge for the chance to spot beavers, river otters, deer, foxes, and more! There are two trails you can explore, both of which are relatively easy and one of which is wheelchair accessible. With about 2.5 miles of trails to walk, you can slow down the pace and carefully observe your surroundings, listening for birds like the American kestrel, and watch for white-tailed deer bounding through the brush. Before you visit, check out the wildlife refuge's website to sign up for ranger-led tours and other public activities.
If you still have time before you need to pack up the car and hit the road back home, we recommend trying to fit in a whale watch. Many different companies offer tours our of Portsmouth, but our favorite in the area is Granite State Whale Watch and their two hour tour is a great final touch to an incredible three days in Portsmouth.