Mini City Guide

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

3 months ago by

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

For the past eleven years, I’ve spent my summers in New Hampshire. An escape from city life, not only is New Hampshire filled with nature, it is also home to my childhood summer camp.

As a camper, I would arrive at camp and enter a bubble that I was more than happy to never leave. But, as a staffer (and if any of you have ever worked as a camp counselor before, you’ll know how exhausting and draining it can be!), I began to desperately crave freedom from the bubble. I’d savor my precious days off and use them to explore the surrounding towns.

My absolute favorite New Hampshire town to visit is Portsmouth. Portsmouth is a historic seaport and a popular summer tourist destination on the Piscataqua River, bordering the state of Maine. But really, it’s a whole other world where crunchy-granola folks in cut-offs and Teva sandals come to enjoy cuisine, local crafts, and the quaint beach-town vibes. It veers far from the negative stereotypes of small-town life, with a vibrant and perogressive community with a unique feeling of local culture and local people.

Let’s begin with my favorite topic, food! The best restaurant in Portsmouth, and I would venture to say in the whole state (maybe even the best restaurant ever, but some may argue with me on that one, haha), is The Green Elephant. Described as an “Asian-inspired vegetarian bistro and bar, made with love,” The Green Elephant sources and provides local produce uniting ingredients and flavors from Thailand, Malaysia, China and India, into a meat-free menu with something for everyone. Each dish is so packed full with flavors and textures that even the most seemingly boring dishes are exciting… like the brussel sprouts, which are an unexpected favorite.
Other favorite bite spots are: The Friendly Toast, Elephantine Bakery (to go along with the elephant theme) and Annabelle’s Natural Ice Cream.

I also want to mention two amazing stores. These two, in particular, immediately drew me in with their beautifully curated collection of art and products.

Nahcotta, is a gallery/ boutique which provides a space for original, contemporary art from artists all over the world, alongside modern, innovative, well-designed gifts. Home to the Enormous Tiny Art Show, Nahcotta hosts a beautifully sleek collection of jewelry, stationary, homegoods and art that is so worth a visit in its own right.

Another Portsmouth gem is Gus & Ruby, a custom design/ print studio and duo of brick & mortar retail stores. When I passed by their store in Portsmouth, I literally did a double take. The entrance is decorated with my greatest weaknesses, flowery stationery and gifts, and I couldn’t be stopped from walking in (even though we were running late and my friends were rushing me). The store is packed full with charming beauty products and pretty pens… I couldn’t help but leave with a notebook by Moglea and a set of Tombow pens.

Although the summer is coming to an end, and the dark clouds of reality are looming, there is still time for one last trip with your girlfriends or your significant other. And if you are considering taking a trip and want your summer to culminate in one last relaxing, beachy, and quaint experience, then I highly recommend you take a trip to Portsmouth, NH. And while you’re at it, spend the night in a school bus and take a hike in the white mountains! It may sound crazy, but I think it’s something worth doing! Why not? Isn’t that what “Slow Living” is all about, anyways? :)

Written by Nina Sivan
Photo by Ronan Donovan for National Geographic

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