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Though it's a small city, Portsmouth is definitely a happening place. From breweries to bars to live entertainment venues, there's always something happening in Portsmouth, like live music every night (check out www.seacoastmusicscene.com for dates & venues). For a current calendar of local events go to: www.portsmouthnh.com
Portsmouth is a very walk-able city, so park the car, get a hotel room, and go have a good time. With so many restaurants and bars to choose from, you'll need to spread it out over a few nights. But here's the ultimate Portsmouth pub crawl:
- If you're visiting in the spring/summer/fall, start at "the decks" of Poco's, the Old Ferry Landing, and Harpoon Willy's - whichever one you can get into because on a beautiful summer night they're always packed! Have a margarita or a local brew (Smuttynose or Redhook are both brewed in Portsmouth) and enjoy the views of the Piscataqua River and the tugboats.
- For a more low-key pace, head across the alley to the Spring Hill Tavern (below the Dolphin Striker) for some chill local entertainment, or check out the cozy new 2 Ceres Street martini bar.
- Head just up Market Street to the Portsmouth Gas Light Co. (opt for the sophisticated street-level bar, or 3rd floor nightclub for the 20 to 30-somthings who want to dance). Don't miss the Portsmouth Brewery next door where you can try a "flight" (tasting sampler) of their award-winning beers, or head downstairs to the Jimmy LaPanza Lounge for some pool, shuffleboard, and plush couches.
- From Market Street, work your way up Congress Street to the Muddy River Smokehouse, a local favorite spot for live music, good beer and good ole Southern barbeque. Dare you to try the fried pickles!
- Head back to Market Square and get in the mood for some Irish bars - there's the new Ri Ra Irish pub in Market Square (when you step inside, look up at the stained glass domed ceiling, a remnant of when this building was the oldest bank in New Hampshire); for a slightly less raucous atmosphere head to McMenemy's Restaurant & Pub on State Street; and check out the The Press Room on Daniel Street, a local hangout featuring live music every night of the year.
- If you're looking for an upscale, elegant bar that would delight any GQ reader, head to The Library at the old Rockingham Hotel on State Street, where you'll be immersed in a hardwood, leather-bound, classic atmosphere. Scotch, anyone?
- Your last stop of the evening, The Red Door, a hip and sophisticated martini bar on State Street marked only by its red door (there's no sign, but if you get lost it's right next to Dos Amigos Burritos, which conveniently is often open late in case you get hungry after 10pm).
If you're staying at the Ale House Inn, Sheraton Harborside, or the Hilton Garden Inn you're within easy walking distance back to your room. Which is a good thing, because late-night cabs in this city can be hard to come by.
Tomorrow, if you haven't quite had your fill of beer, drive over to the Redhook Ale Brewery in the Pease International Tradeport for an afternoon brewery tour. Refreshing AND educational - what a great combo. If you're in need of breakfast, check out Colby's on Daniel Street, Ceres Bakery on Penhallow, or The Friendly Toast on Congress St.