That a historic town is well-preserved is a common claim, but Portsmouth adds a little spice to its legacy. In the months when the beach is only good for a short walk, 12 indie theaters downtown, six art galleries, and an annual film festival keep residents entertained.
Unlike Nantucket and Cape Cod further south, Portsmouth has predominantly full-time residents (about 20,000), which gives the downtown a year-round bustling energy. Citywide projects including Green Card—which offers discounts at 83 local businesses in the Green Alliance—have helped make Portsmouth one of the most sustainable towns in the country.
2 of 4Photographer Reena Bammi
Your View Is:
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and three bridges connecting the city to Maine.
Your best beach is: Fort Stark, a quiet beach about five miles from downtown, or the more popular Jenness Beach, which can be reached via trolley from downtown.
3 of 4Photographer Reena Bammi
You Main Street Has:
Market Square Jewelers, RiverRun Bookstore, Breaking New Grounds coffee shop, the majestic North Church in Market Square, Flatbread Company, Nahcotta Art Gallery, and the Portsmouth Brewery.
On the weekend you might: take the steamship dinner tour from downtown Portsmouth to the Isles of Shoals, a group of rocky islands six miles off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire.
Your neighbors are: mostly in their late 30s. Pastimes include watching concerts and films at the historic Music Hall, hanging out at the downtown dog park, or catching an outdoor food event at Prescott Park.
4 of 4Photographer Reena Bammi
Stay the week: Ale House Inn is a former downtown warehouse converted to contemporary loft-type rooms. Rates start at $119; 603/431-7760 or alehouseinn.com.
Stay a month: Little beach cottage across from Wallis Sands State Beach with two bedrooms and one bath. Weekly rates start at $650; 603/431-2179 or homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p250591.