The historical port-side city of Portsmouth, never fails to delight both residents and tourists alike. Only a 20-minute ride from campus, Portsmouth is a perfect cozy hang-out spot with more restaurants than one could imagine, shops for anyone and everyone and unique, unforgettable entertainment. Here are some of Portsmouth’s greatest hits.  

  1. 3S Artspace and Barrio 

Opened in March of 2015, this relatively new contemporary hot-spot is perfect for both art and music enthusiasts. 3S Artspace is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to supporting and presenting emerging art and entertainment and creating an inviting space for all. The organization features visual art, music, films, storytellers and more. Presidential candidates have made appearances at 3S Artspace as well.   

Attached to 3S Artspace is a taco bar called Barrio. Originated in Cleveland, Ohio, Barrio specializes in custom tacos, whiskey, tequila and beers on tap. It has quickly become a night-time favorite amongst locals and tourists. Being next to a place like 3S Artspace, there has to be a pretty cool vibe, which is exactly what Barrio brings. The atmosphere has a unique energy that is created with the music, art and staff while being casual and welcoming to all.  

Sundays feature brunch that begins at 11 a.m. and goes to 3 p.m.  For people 21 and over, happy hour, featuring half-priced drinks, is Monday through Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Fridays 2 to 7 p.m.  

2. Bull Moose/Off Piste 

Bull Moose is the type of store that is a rare find nowadays – it features vinyl records, more DVDs than one could comprehend, CDs, video games and more. This vintage-eclectic shop was first opened in November of 1996 and remains in the original building to this day.  

“If you shop at Bull Moose, you’re awesome. Everything is awesome” is Bull Moose’s motto. They hold the belief that people shouldn’t overpay for the things that they love, and that everyone should be able to enjoy entertainment. Looking for the full box set of “Friends” (I know I am)? Need a Jimi Hendrix record for a new turntable? In dire need of the new Taylor Swift album? Don’t worry, Bull Moose has you covered!   

Off Piste is a unique gift shop for the type that loves adult humor. They have everything from novelty socks to card games to oven mitts. Named after the ski term meaning difficult or unprepared ski runs, Off Piste is the perfect shop to get many laughs in and get your friends something they won’t forget.   

Located in the heart of Market Square in downtown Portsmouth at 37 Congress St., this is for sure a place that visitors of Portsmouth won’t want to miss. With their motto, “The coolest gift shop to exist in the history of forever. If you are fun and have an awesome sense of humor, we should be friends,” how could you not stop in? 

3. Strawbery Banke 

This 10-acre outdoor history museum is probably one of the most famous attractions Portsmouth has to offer.   

With 32 historic homes and buildings, eight heritage gardens and 30,000 artifacts, there is definitely plenty to do and explore. In the homes and shops featured, people roleplay as the family that once lived there to give guests the full-on experience of that time period. Strawbery Banke has a special event going on for each season and brings visitors through more than 300 years of American history.  

In my opinion, the most magical time of year to visit the museum is during Christmas. Starting the first Saturday of December and going all the way to Dec. 22, Strawbery Banke has their annual Candlelight Stroll where the pathways are lit by glowing lights where visitors can enter each home and experience how Strawberry Banke residents celebrated the holidays in that particular year.  

4. Book and Bar 

Located in one of the most historic spaces downtown Portsmouth – The Custom House and Post Office in the 1800s – Book and Bar is for the people who love good coffee, beer on tap and lots of books. All the books that Book and Bar has are used and they can be bought or enjoyed in the cafe. Book and Bar’s menu has sandwiches, salads (the Book and Bar salad is my personal favorite), baked goods, great coffee and espresso drinks as well as alcoholic beverages.   

The vibe is in Book and Bar is different from other Portsmouth bars with its twinkling fairy lights on the ceiling and indie/jazz music playing softly in the background. It has a calm, intimate atmosphere that makes it the perfect spot to have live music, which is offered around  three times a week along with open mics in the evenings. Most shows cost only $5 at the door.   

This is the perfect spot to get work done, cozy up with a book, hang out with friends or listen to a new band.   

5. Prescott Park 

If someone has heard of Portsmouth, they likely know about Prescott Park. This public park is where the Prescott Park Arts Festival is held each year, all summer long. The festival includes Monday night outdoor movies, live music, theatre, summer theater camp for kids and more. Prescott Park is also available for weddings year round. The park is open for picnics, gatherings of friends and family and a place to just enjoy the beauty Portsmouth has to offer.