Tour Portsmouth New Hampshire

Tour Portsmouth New Hampshire By Land

There aren't many cities in New England older than this vibrant little city by the sea.

Being settled in the first half of the 17th century affords the traveler so many opportunities to learn about Portsmouth New Hampshire and its long, multi-layered history.

First up, jump aboard and tour Portsmouth New Hampshire by trolley!

Running from late June to early September, the Seacoast Trolley Company provides narrated, historical tours of the communities of Portsmouth, New Castle and Rye, New Hampshire.

The trolley tours encompass magnificent Colonial, Georgian and Federal mansions, the mysterious and infamous Isles of Shoals as well as the legendary Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Portsmouth Naval Prison, a time warp spanning nearly four centuries.

Trolley tours are affordable, really fun, relaxing, scenic, and provide you with a terrific overview of the region.

Tour Portsmouth New Hampshire on Foot

Okay, this first tour isn't really on foot. It's on a Segway.

Seacoast Segway Tours are guided by none other than my good friend George Hosker-Bouley, longtime director of the Prescott Park Arts Festival in Portsmouth and Portsmouth history expert.

Starting at the Discover Portsmouth Center and the Portsmouth Historical Society's John Paul Jones House, you can choose from 2 one hour "Segway Experience" tours, a two hour tour, or 2 full length three hour tours.

Along with George's Segway tours, one of the more interesting, literally "behind the scenes" tours of Portsmouth is the tour of The Music Hall.

The Music Hall opens its doors monthly for guided tours, taking visitors behind the scenes and through the restorations, renovations and history of the celebrated 1878 theater, designated An American Treasure by the U.S. Senate.

The tour paints a full picture of the history of the hall, including the tales of sailors who rigged the theater in the late 19th Century, its flashy and famous owners, and stars across three centuries. Its performers have ranged from Mark Twain to Wynton Marsalis and David Crosby; from Vaudeville acts with elephants to RENT the musical and violinist Joshua Bell.

Visitors will see the passage of time through the building’s award-winning restorations and renovations which have brought back details dating back to 1878 and 1901, the hall’s periods of architectural significance.

Another great choice for a walking tour is the Portsmouth Harbour Trail 'Highlights Tour' available through the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce. This tour was named a Yankee Magazine Best of New England 2009 Editors' Choice.

Join in and let a knowledgeable guide highlight the historic homes, trademark tugboats and working waterfront, vibrant Market Square, colorful Prescott Park, and more.

Portsmouth's Black Heritage Trail is a self-guided walking tour of the city that has been home to Africans and African-Americans for more than 350 years.

The Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail guide takes the reader to a selection of sites where Portsmouth’s black residents lived, worked, prayed and celebrated. It tells stories omitted from three centuries of white historical narrative.

Tour Portsmouth New Hampshire's Historic Homes & Lighthouse

Besides the strongly recommended 9-acre living history museum, Strawbery Banke, many of the mansions and homes of centuries past by are open to the public for guided or self-guided tours (see list below).

One of my favorite places to be in Portsmouth is actually just across the town line in New Castle, New Hampshire. And one of the most worthwhile ways to tour Portsmouth New Hampshire is to walk the grounds of Fort Constitution and the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse.

There be ghosts there...

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse (also known as Fort Point Lighthouse, New Castle Lighthouse and Fort Constitution Lighthouse) was first established in June 1771, making it the first light station north of Boston in the American colonies. Today's 48-foot tower was built in 1878.

Portsmouth Harbor Light, the only mainland lighthouse on New Hampshire's 18-mile seacoast, can also be viewed from tour boats leaving Portsmouth.

The grounds of Fort Constitution are open to the public during the day (at times the entire site may be closed for security reasons). Visitors are not allowed into the area near the lighthouse, except during Open Houses held by the Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse.

Open Houses are held on summer Sunday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and offer the chance to climb the 44 steps inside Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse. Children under 48 inches are not allowed, nor can they be carried.

The tours are affordable, and the view from the top - magnificent!


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