Portsmouth is a must-see destination for those who wish to explore the area’s history. Visit the numerous museums, art centres, stroll through Market Square, take in an outdoor concert at Prescott Park, follow the Peace Treaty Trail or savour the culinary experience of the many dining establishments. You won’t be disappointed.
In 1905, Portsmouth hosted delegations from Russia and Japan with a view to negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War. Today, the Peace Treaty Trail identifies the important sites in and around Portsmouth and retraces the path of diplomacy, both formal and informal in the footsteps of the Russia-Japanese delegations, their attachés and hosts. You can see the homes and businesses that welcomed the delegations, including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the Wentworth by the Sea, where delegates were accommodated for the 30 days of the conference.
In August and September 1905, with the support and encouragement of the people of Portsmouth, “an uncommon commitment to peace became a common virtue” resulting in the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth at the US Navy Shipyard on September 5, 1905 at 3:47 p.m., thereby ending the conflict between the two protagonists.
As you tour, you can’t help being drawn to Strawberry Banke, a village of 38 historic homes and buildings including elegant mansions, homes, a tavern, copper shop and corner store. All have been restored and remain on their original site. History comes alive at Strawberry Banke as you experience New England life from 1695 through to the early 1950s and you can be part of the fun as you step back into and experience one of Portsmouth's finest cultural and recreational attractions. Travel through time and talk with costumed role players, witness traditional craft demonstrations and visit the Family Discovery Centre, James House, where children of all ages can listen to a picture book story that explores exciting moments in American history or have fun with toys through time at the hands on interactive play space. You can visit the buildings at your leisure or take part in a guided tour.
A visit to Portsmouth would not be complete without a walking tour of Market Square. The heart and centre of this wonderful eco-friendly city has many original 17th-century buildings that are now interesting shops, art galleries, book stores, antique shops, eclectic restaurants and coffee stops.
For a relaxing lunch, you will want to visit the Gas Light Pub. Built in 1873, it was the home of the city's first utility, the Portsmouth Gas Light Co. Today's restaurant has been restored to reflect the role of gas lights in the city's history. The street-level pub serves traditional pub fare. Try a locally brewed draft beer or a selection of boutique wines. The friendly staff and superb service make for a very memorable occasion. If dancing the night away is your thing, come back at night to find your groove at the Third Floor Night Club.
Great memories start with a great night’s sleep. Set in a residential area of Portsmouth, the Premier B&B Martin Hill Inn is within walking distance from Market Square and is the ideal location for an overnight stay. The Inn embraces two early 19th Century buildings, both representing typical New England architectural styles. Each room is tastefully and individually decorated for comfort and convenience in styles that reflect the long history of the city. There is a beautiful garden where you can sit and enjoy a drink or just relax.
A unique pub in the Portsmouth Restaurant Community is the Portsmouth Brewery. It is New Hampshire’s original brew pub. The pub produces an average of 300,000 pints a year and pride is very evident in the quality and production of the beer and their food preparation. The pub is environmentally friendly and the management is constantly looking for new ways to contribute to a sustainable environment. In addition to the brewery, the pub has a beer garden, dining room, lounge and souvenir shop. They have an extensive menu and amongst other items are famous for their mussels.
Moxy’s is another great place to eat. Its ‘modern American tapas’ are one of its specialties. This award-winning restaurant has complex flavours and is unique in presentation. Wentworth by the Sea is a jewel in the crown of the Marriott Hotel Chain. One could imagine the many grand functions held in the magnificent ballrooms in this historic hotel over the years, not the least of which was the hosting by the Japanese of the ‘International Love Fest’ following the signing of the Armistice that ended the Russo-Japanese war in September, 1905.
In 2003, after a 30-million dollar restoration, the hotel returned to its former grandeur with 21st century conveniences. The SALT Kitchen and Bar is one of the top-ranked New Hampshire restaurants and offers a gastronomic experience that is rarely seen today. The exotic menu includes fresh seafood, prime quality cut of meats, selected area grown produce, pasta, freshly baked breads and a vast array of desserts.
Head north to explore the beautiful sites of New Hampshire in one of the most picturesque regions of the Granite State. The White Mountains with their unmatched natural beauty, rugged mountain peaks and rolling hills offer a series of unique views of the northeast. With an elevation of 6288 feet above sea level, Mount Washington towers over the surrounding countryside. Along with the amazing scenery the region provided a wide range of family attractions, theme parks, recreational activities and of course tax-free shopping. For those who have difficulty getting around, the beauty of the White Mountains is as evident along the highways as it is on the many trails allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the region in the comfort of your car. The State Parks, with thousands of miles of trails, provide a multitude of activities for all ages and interests with wonderful camping facilities, hiking, biking, a day at the beach or a family picnic. US Rte 302 provides easy access to several parks.
In the heart of the White Mountains, is the town of North Woodstock. The town embodies the essence of the region and is amongst the most visited destinations in the White Mountains. It is also the home of the famous Woodstock Inn Station and Brewery. The Inn, which is centuries old, was refurbished in 1982 and is situated in a gracious and relaxed setting. It has an incredible restaurant on its patio, surrounded by a beautiful garden.
The brewery is fantastic. Premium hops from around the world are employed in the seven barrel system and are blended with English grain and pure deep well water to produce a superior selection of seasonal ales. Another unique and very refreshing popular drink produced by the brewery is its root beer.
If you are an art lover and enjoy music, food and more you will want to visit the historic Town of Littleton. Situated on the edge of the White Mountains it is the home of Eleanor H Porter creator of the world’s most optimistic character Pollyanna. Stroll along the award- winning main street and historic river district. There are more than 14 art galleries and unique shops. Take a leisurely walk across the walking bridge or take time to play the piano on the sidewalk of the main street. Before leaving Littleton, you will want to drop into Chutters, an institution on the main street. It holds the Guinness World Record for the longest candy counter (112 feet). Indulge in its fudge.
The historic, elegant Adair Country Inn is located in an exceptional region near Bethlehem and the White Mountain National Forest. It is a picturesque setting with a spectacular view of the mountains. The long driveway winds through a quiet forest and you are struck by the sight of a beautiful stately Georgian Manor situated on a knoll in the midst of sweeping manicured lawns, flower gardens and ponds. The Inn has nine well-appointed unique guest rooms, each named after a mountain in the Presidential Range. Spacious rooms with a private bath, large cherry fourposter queen feather bed, comfortable reading chairs, antique desk, fireplace and a series of library books made for an atmosphere of quiet splendour await you.
Awaken to a gourmet breakfast featuring the Innkeeper's homemade popovers, and quintessential New England breakfast, artfully presented. Dinner in the Adair Restaurant is another gastronomic delight featuring New England-style cuisine in a warm and friendly fireside atmosphere. A distinguishing characteristic of the Inn is the meticulous attention to detail. Innkeepers Barry and Kim are the epitome of gracious hosts and every effort is made to ensure the comfort and enjoyment of their guests whether their stay is for an intimate and romantic retreat, a relaxing sojourn or elegant casual dining.
North Conway is a year-round resort area and a popular destination for its recreation, attractions and tax-free shopping. Over 100 of the best shops, retail stores, art galleries and factory outlets are within walking distance of most major hotel chains, local motels and restaurants.
Do not miss the chance for a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad’s Dining Car Chocorua. Take a two-hour journey on historic 19-century routes through mountain ranges, river crossings, fields and woodlands. Chocorua takes you back to the golden age of railroading while enjoying a sumptuous dinner with excellent service and fine wine in the elegant oak-panelled dining car.
Overall, there is something for everyone in New Hampshire. It’s close to home and yet far enough away you will feel like you are getting away from it all. You get to visit a different place, and in some cases era, thanks to the historically important events and general history of the State. Put it on your bucket list of places to see.
Article written by Ron Donovan