A First Timers Guide to Southern New Hampshire

When To Visit

If you’re from the US, it’s obvious that New England in general is at its most beautiful in the Fall. The weather is dreamy perfection, something out of a Hallmark movie and the backdrops of the foliage change is absolutely breathtaking. We highly recommend taking a visit out here in the fall just to see the beauty of the state. Now if you want nice weather, definitely give Southern New Hampshire a visit in the summer. It’s still very pretty and super green but you’re going to be able enjoy the outdoors a little more and even visit the beach if you’re looking for some extra relaxation. If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder there are plenty of mountain options in the wintertime for you to visit but for the purposes of what we do and how we travel Summer and Fall are definitely the best months.

Getting There

If you’re flying into the area there is a small airport in Manchester, NH (MHT) that is super easy to navigate and depending where you’re coming from you may even be able to get a direct flight in. However, for most people the easiest airport is going to be Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). From both airports you’ll need to rent a car to get to where you’re going and both airports provide for shuttle buses to get you to your rental car agency. Boston’s airport has one bus that takes you to the main rental car building that has virtually every rental company and Manchester you’ll have to get on a specific shuttle bus/van.

Where to Stay

During your time in the seacoast make your home base Portsmouth, NH it’s close to both airports (BOS and MHT) and it’s a great central location for a lot of local attractions.

  1. Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel – Located in the heart of downtown Portsmouth you’ll be in an ideal location to walk to almost all the restaurants and bars in town. With the option of a traditional guest room, or a condominium-style suite the Sheraton is the perfect place for an individual, couple, or group. Brining your furry friend along, this hotel has pet friendly rooms!
  2. Wentworth by the Sea – Run by Marriott this historic hotel overlooking the ocean is the perfect luxury escape. With a selection of rooms this hotel is perfect for any group. The marina suites located on the marina and next to the pool are a great choice if you’re traveling with kids. The hotel offers indoor, and outdoor pools, a full spa (definitely worth checking out), restaurants, tennis courts, a nearby golf course, and plenty of excursions. If you’re in town and aren’t staying at the hotel it’s worth a visit to see the stunning property and make a reservation at SALT, their onsite restaurant. The brunch and cocktails are amazing!
Wentworth by the Sea

Getting Around

For day to day activities we highly recommend renting a car and driving yourself, parking is always easy to find, and things aren’t necessarily close to each other. As far as going out at night or if you will be drinking, Uber and Lyft are both good options and readily available in the area. If you are staying in Downtown Portsmouth most things will be within walking distance of your hotel.

Where to Eat

  1. Vida Cantina – If you’re a Diners, Drive ins and Dives fan this has to be on your list! Now before you say Mexican food in New Hampshire, the owner is from southern California and knows what he is doing! Everything is handmade and you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. The tacos and enchiladas are my go-to. Always with a Chupacabra, their version of a spicy margarita.  
  2. Row 34 – This should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for good seafood. They have a wine and cocktail list that pairs wonderfully with their seafood options. The menu is constantly changing but there are a few consistent items that are worth trying. The tuna crudo is a must order every time we go. The butterscotch pudding is another one we order every time, even if we get it to go (it’s that worth it!). If you’re looking for a traditional New England hot buttered lobster roll, they make an outstanding one. This restaurant gets very busy on the weekend and it’s a smaller place, so a reservation is recommended. 
  3. Cava Tapas & Wine Bar – with over 50+ wines by the glass, and a wine cave this tapas and wine bar is worth the visit. They often have tasting menus, which I highly recommended as it allows you to try more items! If you’re visiting in the warmer months you can dine beside their vertical garden. 
  4. Raleigh Wine Bar – they offer a little bit of everything, and the menu is always seasonal. Everything is paired with a diverse selection of natural wines. Whether you’re going for brunch or dinner try the cheese board, it’s always a hit!

Where to Grab a Drink 

  1. Martingale Wharf – casual waterfront dining, grab a drink or meal here. They have outdoor fire pits on their deck perfect for fall or spring. The deck gets busy so a reservation recommended 
  2. The Wilder – They have the best craft cocktails in town, but don’t sleep on the espresso martinis on tap! A funky cocktail bar and restaurant it’s a great spot to grab a drink after dinner. Late night the crowd can skew younger, so if that’s not what you’re looking for check out their happy hour. If you visit while the weather is warm be sure to check out their super cute terrace!

Wineries to Visit

  1. LaBelle Winery – LaBelle has two locations, a tasting room in downtown Portsmouth, and the vineyard is located about an hour west in Amhurst, NH. Visit the vineyard if you’re looking for a good brunch or dinner overlooking the vines. Serving American fair there is sure to be something for everyone in your group. You can’t have a meal here without ordering the blueberry pie martini made with their blueberry wine. We like to swap the Virginia Mae Sweet Blueberry wine for the Dry Blueberry wine, making the martini a little less sweet. It’s delicious and dangerous, it’s easy to down a few of these!
  2. Zorvino Vineyards – located in Sandown, NH about 45 minutes south west of Portsmouth. This vineyard is a great destination for a relaxing afternoon. Sitting outside on the terrace overlooking the vineyard. On hot days you can enjoy a wine slushy outside, the perfect thirst quencher.
  3. Fulchino Vineyards – this small family run winery is located in Hollis, NH about an hour west of Portsmouth, NH. When you arrive you immediately feel the Italian charm, they’ve created a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere. Perfect for indulging and hanging out with friends or family. All the hosts were very knowledgeable and provided great tasting notes. Try out the silver tasting experience. For $20 you get to choose six wines to try and you’re provided with rolls, dipping olive oil (purchase some before you leave, it’s from Italy and so worth it!), and cheese. They often bring in musicians, comedians, and host events so be sure to check the event schedule before going.