If thirteen miles of seacoast are the crown of New Hampshire tourism, Portsmouth is its finest jewel. The city is host to thousands of visitors each year that come for the cities scenic beauty, historic sites and unique shopping and dining experiences. First settled in the early 1600s, the village was known as Piscataqua. It would later be named Strawberry Banke because of numerous wild strawberries growing along the banks of the Piscataqua River.
When the town was incorporated in 1653 the name was again changed to Portsmouth for John Mason, colony founder and former captain of the port of Portsmouth, England. Portsmouth was once one of the nation’s busiest seaports and shipbuilding facilities. The city was an important place during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. It has also been home to several notable historic figures such as John Paul Jones and William Whipple.
Also at home in Portsmouth is The Music Hall, a 900-seat theater first opened in 1878. The theater now is run by a non-profit and continues to offer a wide variety of live theater, cinema and music.
Today, the city is a reflection of the nation’s history. At every turn one is greeted by it. Strawberry Banke, now a museum, is the location of a number of Portsmouth’ historic homes There are also numerous house museums throughout the city’s limits. Amidst all of this history is modern Portsmouth, numerous small and specialty shops interspersed with several restaurants offering enough local flavor to sate even the most discerning palate. In 2008 the city was named one of the “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.