Last month, in honor of one of those “big” birthdays, Paul and I spent a fabulous winter weekend in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Portsmouth lies a little over an hour from our house. However, the real distance from suburban Massachusetts to this old New England town was obvious from the minute we crossed into the city.
Portsmouth, founded in colonial times, features restored 17th and 18th century houses, many of which are open to visitors. It also still functions today as a working seaport. Over the years, Portsmouth’s main industry has alternated between boat building and repair (during times of war) and tourism (in times of peace). In the weeks leading up to Christmas (which was the case during our visit), Portsmouth is decked out in holiday finery and hosts glittering evening tours of historic homes. In fact, Portsmouth has a lot in common with last year’s holiday destination, Mystic Connecticut.
Another plus to spending a weekend in Portsmouth is the proximity of two of our regular New England poker rooms. Portsmouth is less than a half an hour from both the Seabrook and Hampton Falls poker rooms. This was definitely a factor in our choice of locale for the weekend.
What to Do in Portsmouth New Hampshire
We started our weekend in Portsmouth at the USS Albacore museum. We had seen the Albacore several times before, as it sits by the side of the main road entering Portsmouth from the south. However, we had never actually stopped to take a look. We figured it was time. The USS Albacore was built in Portsmouth in 1952 as a research submarine. After her decommissioning in the 1970s, she returned to Portsmouth and moved to where she currently sits. The USS Albacore museum offers the rare opportunity to walk through a fully preserved, formerly working submarine. For 8$ a person, we were able to stroll through the Albacore at our own pace. The sub features strategically placed recordings explaining key details of the ship’s history and functioning. At the end of our tour, we returned to the visitors center, staffed by former navy men who answered any questions that the recordings did not address. I have to say that this place blew me away. Also, I never want to be in a submarine underwater. Quarters are as tight as you would imagine, and I’d be pleading to get out about five minutes in.