National Trust for Historic Preservation, Distinctive Destination

National Geographic Traveler, #6 Authentic Historic Place in US
Coastal Living Magazine, Best Seaside Town"
US Department of the Interior, Preservation Community

Founded in 1623 and one of the oldest seaports in America, Portsmouth is "the crown jewel" of the New Hampshire seacoast. The state's only marine port, located on the fast-flowing Piscataqua River, Portsmouth is just four miles up-river from the Atlantic Ocean and offers the delightful contrast of the busy working port and an abundance of art, history, and culture. 

Portsmouth boasts 400 years of history, culture, architecture, and scenic beauty. The Harbor Guide and the portal created by the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce are ideal ways to begin your exploration of this pedestrian-friendly city. 

Or join one of Portsmouth's many other walking, van, bicycle, or boat tours and let the knowledgeable guides highlight the historic homes, working waterfront, colorful Prescott Park, vibrant Market Square, and more. Learn about the brewers and politicians, fishermen and revolutionaries, who made Portsmouth the talk of the nation in their day. Learn how diplomats from around the globe made peace here while others simply came to paint, write, or play their music. Visitors will find that the people who were born here, worked here, or moved here over the past three centuries - like John Paul Jones, William Whipple, and Celia Thaxter - weave a colorful cultural tapestry. Portsmouth was and still is, a town full of characters.

Visit The Welcome Center, the Portsmouth Historical Society's gateway to Portsmouth arts, culture, and history, a cultural visitor's center where information and exhibits about all the museums, historic homes, land and water tours, and performances in local theaters are available for free. Watch the short, award-winning film, "Welcome to Historic Portsmouth," chart your day with free maps and insider tips, and explore views of Portsmouth landmarks, the arts of the past and present, and the Seacoast African American Cultural Center. 

Portsmouth’s African American history dates back to 1645. The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire offers visitors options for guided or self-guided tours of significant Black history sites in Portsmouth, including the Portsmouth African Burying Ground and Memorial Park. Learn where and how Portsmouth’s early Black residents lived, worked, prayed, and celebrated. Four of the Black Heritage Trail sites are located on the Strawbery Banke Museum grounds and marked with bronze plaques: 

  • Sherburne House and the enslaved man and woman who worked for the Sherburne family, and other members of the Portsmouth Sherburne family who also enslaved people
  • Stoodley’s Tavern and James Stoodley’s auctions
  • Penhallow House and Judge Penhallow’s law office, where Newport, a man enslaved by Ezra Stiles, was granted his manumission in 1778
  • Pitt Tavern and John Stavers’ enslaved African James, whom Stavers sent out to face down a rioting mob in 1777.     

Strawbery Banke Museum is a member of the Portsmouth Historic Sites Association and encourages you to visit other historic sites and houses during your stay. Ask for a PHHA Passport to receive discounted admission at each site. They include: