Green City Guide: Portsmouth
Plan an easy, eco-friendly weekend getaway in this charming seaside city.
Located just over an hour’s drive from Boston, Portsmouth is the ideal destination for a short weekend road trip, or a quick staycation. Travel is different these days due to COVID-19, and with so many outdoor activity options and restaurants with patios, Portsmouth allows visitors to immerse themselves in the port city’s must-see sites and attractions while still remaining socially-distanced.
Settled in the early 1600’s, Portsmouth preserves historic charm and honors its rich history. At the same time, it’s hard to miss the distinct modern buzz, with a downtown bustling with locally owned restaurants, independent boutiques and a vibrant arts scene. With five places to charge an electric vehicle (three of which are centrally located downtown), Portsmouth is the perfect place to travel in an eco-friendly and sustainable way.
Here’s a one-stop guide for New Englanders who want an easy weekend escape complete with Destination Electric small businesses that support driving electric and environmental sustainability.
Editor’s Note: We understand that travel is complicated right now and restrictions vary state to state. Check out the state’s Travel & Tourism website for up-to-date COVID guidelines for New Hampshire. If you plan on visiting any of the below destinations, we recommend checking their official websites for possible closures, limited access announcements, and general safety guidelines.
Stop by Poco’s Bow Street Cantina for locally sourced and sustainable Mexican fare on a two-story deck overlooking the scenic Piscataqua River. Watch the boats sail as you dine on Poco’s famous pork carnitas nachos ($15-$20) at an authentically historic Portsmouth brick waterfront building.
Unwind next door at Two Ceres Street Martini Bar, the sister restaurant of Poco’s, a cozy and intimate spot on the waterfront known for its handcrafted drinks. Sip on a summery concoction like The Killer Bee (Bimini gin, local honey from Portsmouth’s West End Apiaries, fresh lemon juice, and habanero syrup, $10) or one of their house martinis like the Knob Creek Manhattan (Knob Creek bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters, and cherry, $11).
Tuck in early and catch a virtual, encore performance of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a joint production from the Youth Repertory Company and The Theatre Project. The show is available on YouTube for free and can be accessed from any device. Get cozy and enjoy the theatre from the comfort of your room at the Port Inn —a great way to experience the art that Portsmouth has to offer while staying in and staying safe!
A trip to Portsmouth is not complete without bread and breakfast pastries made from scratch at Ceres Bakery. Baking for Portsmouth since 1980, Ceres features a variety of breakfast items including blueberry sour cream coffee cake and egg sandwiches so delicious that the bakery is considered to be an absolute staple of Portsmouth cuisine. Grab a coffee and a homemade loaf of sourdough or crusty white for the road, all of which are baked fresh each Saturday ($6).
Take a walk on Portsmouth’s historic side and visit Strawbery Banke, a 10-acre outdoor history museum that brings to live over 300 years of American history ($17.50 per person, $10 for ages 5 to 17, and $45 family rate). This open-air museum is filled with historic houses, taverns, boats, shops, period gardens, and socially distanced actors that will bring adults and children alike back to colonial Portsmouth. Their newly re-imagined 2020 visitor experience ensures everyone’s safety while still bringing Portsmouth’s past to life in an immersive way.
Portsmouth is known for its ample boutique shopping, and The Drift Collective is no exception. Their talented team repairs and recreates secondhand clothing in store, bringing unwanted basics and forgotten vintage pieces back to life—and a stylish one at that. Stop in for one-of-a-kind re-created apparel sure to impress and simultaneously help the environment.
Walk through Goodwin Park to the Wrap Shack, one of the best places to grab lunch in Portsmouth featuring a low-frills and affordable menu served in a fun and friendly environment. Fan favorites include the Falafel Wrap (falafel, lettuce, tomato, cucumber salad, and cucumber mint sauce, $8) and the Fish Tacos (fried haddock, cabbage, avocado, cilantro, sauce, 1 for $5 or 2 for $9). Bonus: they offer gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options, as well as kid’s menu. Most importantly, they sell donuts for $2.
Set sail on the Piscataqua River with The Gundalow Company for an hour and a half afternoon cruise ($30 per adult, $15 per children ages 5-15, $5 per child age 4 and younger). Board a traditional reproduction of the flat-bottom gundalow barges that were once common in local waterways and take in the picturesque river and Portsmouth Harbor without the roar of a modern-day engine. To ensure the safety of all travelers, The Gundalow Company has reduced its capacity to 50%, so it is recommended that you book in advance to secure your spot onboard.
Time for fresh seafood—the real reason everyone comes to Portsmouth. Overlooking the Piscataqua River and nestled next to Portsmouth’s iconic tugboats, The Old Ferry Landing has no shortage of delicious options, and yes, craft beer. Try the famous Jimmy Juice—made with three different rums and juices—while devouring the freshest seafood, including lobster, haddock, scallops, and clams, to name a few. Not a seafood lover? Don’t fret. This spot also serves up a variety of chicken and vegetarian dishes that are equally tasty.
Sneak in a night cap at Portsmouth Brewery, New Hampshire’s original brewpub and a great place to unwind in a cozy atmosphere after a busy day. Plus, it is only a two-minute walk from The Old Ferry Landing. The Brewery is known for its wide selection of beers on tap including the Diggler Double IPA, Dirty Blonde Ale, and Citrus Vanilla Sour. They also offer fine wines and specialty cocktails, so there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Close out the weekend at The Friendly Toast, a popular breakfast spot offering a mimosa flight (yes, you read that right), a breakfast sandwich on a doughnut, five different eggs benedicts, and breakfast-style ramen noodles. If that doesn’t sell you, they make everything from scratch (including their fresh baked bread), offer vegetarian and vegan options, and the nearest EV charging station is a five-minute walk.
Driving an electric car has never been easier in Portsmouth, with three public charging stations all conveniently located downtown near the listed Destination Electric businesses:
Hanover Parking Garage
34 Hanover St.
Available EV plugs include J-1772.
Port Walk Garage*
173 Hanover St.
Available EV plugs include J-1772.
Foundry Place Garage
100 Foundry Pl.
Available EV plugs include J-1772.
*This location also has a Tesla charger onsite, which will only work with Tesla-manufactured vehicles.
Interested in purchasing your first or next EV? Check out these Portsmouth dealerships and use Drive Change. Drive Electric’s vehicle explorer tool to find your ideal EV match.
Port City Nissan Inc.
120 Spaulding Turnpike
Available EVs include the 2020 Nissan Leaf SV.
549 US-1 BYP
Available EVs include the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV.
Portsmouth Ford, Inc.
400 Spaulding Turnpike
Available EVs include the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E.
Toyota of Portsmouth
150 Greenleaf Avenue
Available EVs include the 2020 Toyota Prius Prime.