Family Fun in Portsmouth: Activities for Kids and Parents

family having fun in Portsmouth

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is a treasure trove of family-friendly activities that promise fun and adventure for both kids and parents. From exploring lush parks and engaging museums to enjoying beach outings and historic sites, Portsmouth offers a variety of experiences to keep everyone entertained. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this guide will help you discover the best activities to make the most of your family time in this charming New England town.

Key Takeaways

  • Portsmouth provides a wide range of family-friendly activities, from outdoor adventures to educational experiences.
  • The city’s parks and beaches offer plenty of opportunities for picnics, games, and relaxation.
  • Interactive museums and historic sites provide both fun and learning experiences for children and parents alike.
  • Seasonal festivals and events add an extra layer of excitement and are perfect for making family memories.
  • With its small-town charm and variety of dining options, Portsmouth is an ideal destination for a family vacation.

Exploring Prescott Park

Prescott Park is Portsmouth’s outdoor showpiece, stretching from Marcy Street to the waterfront, and from State to Atkinson Streets. This lovely green space is particularly gorgeous in summer, when its rose garden is in fragrant, full bloom. The park also has a full calendar of family-friendly events, including theater and concerts, but you can visit anytime to stroll the waterfront.

Interactive Fun at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire

Located just 12 miles from Portsmouth, the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover is a must-visit for families. This former mill has been transformed into a playground of fun and learning that rivals any children’s museum. Our favorite exhibit was Yellow Submarine, constructed with the help of experts at the nearby naval shipyard. It actually does look like a submarine, thanks to authentic dimensions and accurate details.

Historic Sites and Learning

Step back in time at the Strawbery Banke Museum, where history comes alive through restored homes, period gardens, and costumed role-players. This living history museum offers a glimpse into Portsmouth’s past, making it a perfect educational outing for families.

Climb aboard the USS Albacore, a historic submarine turned museum. Explore the inner workings of this fascinating vessel and learn about its role in naval history. It’s an interactive experience that both kids and parents will enjoy.

Discover the rich history of Portsmouth at the Portsmouth Historical Society. The society manages several historic sites, including the John Paul Jones House, part of the Portsmouth Historical Society. It’s a treasure trove of information and exhibits that highlight the city’s storied past.

Visiting these historic sites offers a unique opportunity to learn and have fun as a family, making history both engaging and memorable.

Enjoying the Beaches

Wallis Sands State Beach

Wallis Sands State Beach is a family favorite, offering a beautiful stretch of sand and calm waters perfect for swimming. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months, ensuring a safe environment for kids. The beach also has picnic areas and a snack bar, making it easy to spend the whole day there.

Jenness State Beach

Jenness State Beach is another excellent option for families. This beach is known for its soft sand and gentle waves, ideal for young children. There are also nearby facilities, including restrooms and showers, to make your visit more comfortable. Don’t forget to bring your beach toys and sunscreen!

Beach Games and Activities

A day at the beach isn’t complete without some fun games and activities. Here are a few ideas to keep everyone entertained:

  • Beach Volleyball: Set up a net and enjoy a friendly game.
  • Sandcastle Building: Bring your buckets and shovels for some creative fun.
  • Frisbee: A classic beach game that’s fun for all ages.
  • Beachcombing: Explore the shoreline for unique shells and rocks.

Spending time at the beach is a wonderful way for families to bond and create lasting memories. Whether you’re swimming, playing games, or just relaxing, Portsmouth’s beaches offer something for everyone.

Family-Friendly Festivals

Portsmouth is always ready to party in a family-friendly way. Warm weather is celebrated with a series of festivals, many held in Prescott Park. Food, music, and art celebrations are all great fun for kids, and there are big bashes scheduled most summer weekends. Kid faves include the annual Roots & Rhythm Festival on Sunday, August 14, and the Fish & Lobster Festival, locally known as the Fishtival, on Saturday, September 24.

Outdoor Adventures

Portsmouth offers a variety of hiking trails suitable for all ages and skill levels. Families can enjoy a leisurely walk through scenic routes or challenge themselves with more rugged paths. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the beautiful landscapes and wildlife.

For water-loving families, kayaking and paddleboarding are perfect activities. Rentals are available at various locations, making it easy to explore the waterways. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, there’s something for everyone.

Portsmouth boasts numerous biking routes that cater to both casual riders and serious cyclists. Bike rentals are available, and many trails offer picturesque views of the city and its surroundings. It’s a fun and healthy way to spend time together as a family.

Outdoor adventures in Portsmouth provide endless opportunities for families to bond and create lasting memories. From hiking and biking to kayaking and paddleboarding, there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy.

City Park Escapades

Playground Fun

Portsmouth’s City Park is a 92-acre open space along the banks of the Western Branch of the Elizabeth River. The kids will enjoy the playground equipment, which offers a stimulating environment with loads of play. They can whizz along zip lines, cool off in splash pools, and get messy in sand-pits. Adventure playgrounds in Portsmouth are perfect for children who love to explore and have fun.

Miniature Railroad Rides

One of the highlights of City Park is the Pokey Smokey, a miniature railroad running through the park. Kids can take a ride and enjoy the scenic views. It’s a delightful experience that adds a touch of magic to their day in the park.

Foot Golf

Engage the whole family with a round of foot golf. Stop by the pro shop and purchase 9 holes of skill and fun. This unique activity combines soccer and golf, making it an exciting challenge for both kids and parents. After a day in the park, the kids will be good and tired for the ride home.

City Park offers a variety of activities that ensure a fun-filled day for the entire family. From playground adventures to unique sports, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Trolley Tours Around Town

Historic Downtown Loop

Hop on the trolley and explore Olde Towne Portsmouth’s rich history and charm. The Historic Downtown Loop offers a delightful journey through the city’s most iconic landmarks. This tour is perfect for families wanting to soak in the local culture without the hassle of walking long distances.

Scenic Views

Enjoy breathtaking scenic views as the trolley meanders through Portsmouth. From picturesque waterfronts to charming historic streets, every turn offers a new sight to behold. It’s a relaxing way to see the city while giving your feet a rest.

Convenient Stops

The trolley makes several convenient stops, allowing you to hop on and off as you please. Whether you’re looking to dine at must-visit spots or visit historic homes, the trolley provides easy access to all the best locations. It’s an ideal way to blend past and present marvels in this seaport town.

Dining Out with Kids

Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Portsmouth offers a variety of kid-friendly restaurants that cater to families. For instance, at the Ninety Nine Restaurants, kids eat free the day after a Red Sox win, making it a popular choice for sports-loving families. Roger Browns Restaurant and Sports Bar is another great option, featuring big screens and a diverse kids’ menu. If your kids enjoy seafood, Lobscouser is just up the street with delicious options.

Outdoor Dining Spots

When the weather is nice, outdoor dining can be a fun experience for the whole family. Many restaurants in Portsmouth offer outdoor seating where kids can enjoy the fresh air while dining. Legend Brewing Depot, located on the water, is a fantastic spot where kids might enjoy watching the boats go by. Gosport Tavern, at the other end of Olde Towne, also offers outdoor seating and is known for its tasty pimento cheese.

Sweet Treats and Desserts

No family meal is complete without a sweet treat! Portsmouth has several dessert spots that kids will love. From ice cream parlors to bakeries, there’s something for every sweet tooth. Make sure to stop by Annabelle’s Natural Ice Cream for some of the best ice cream in town. For a unique treat, visit The Beach Plum, known for its award-winning lobster rolls and delicious desserts.

Dining out with kids in Portsmouth is not just about the food; it’s about creating memorable experiences together. Whether you’re enjoying a meal by the water or indulging in a sweet treat, there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Rainy Day Activities

When the weather isn’t cooperating, Portsmouth offers a variety of indoor play centers that are perfect for kids to burn off some energy. From trampoline parks to indoor climbing gyms, there’s something for every age group. These centers provide a safe and fun environment for children to play and explore.

Local libraries in Portsmouth are a treasure trove of activities for kids. Many libraries offer storytime sessions, craft activities, and even interactive learning programs. It’s a great way to spend a rainy day while keeping the kids engaged and entertained.

For those who love to get creative, Portsmouth has several art and craft workshops designed for kids and families. These workshops often include painting, pottery, and other hands-on activities that can be both fun and educational. It’s a fantastic way to spend quality time together while creating something unique.

Don’t let the rain dampen your spirits. Portsmouth has plenty of indoor activities to keep the whole family entertained, no matter the weather.

Shopping for All Ages

Toy Stores

Portsmouth offers a variety of toy stores that will delight children of all ages. From classic toys to the latest trends, there’s something for everyone. Don’t miss out on the unique, locally-made toys that you won’t find anywhere else.


For families who love to read, Portsmouth’s bookshops are a treasure trove. You’ll find everything from children’s books to the latest bestsellers. Many shops also host storytime sessions and book signings, making it a fun outing for the whole family.

Boutiques and Souvenirs

Explore the charming boutiques and souvenir shops scattered throughout Portsmouth. These stores offer a range of unique items, from handmade crafts to Portsmouth-themed memorabilia. It’s the perfect way to take a piece of your visit home with you.

Shopping in Portsmouth is not just about buying things; it’s about creating memories with your family. Whether you’re hunting for toys, books, or unique souvenirs, you’ll find something special for everyone.

Seasonal Events and Celebrations

family enjoying seasonal festival in Portsmouth

Summer Concerts

Portsmouth comes alive in the summer with a variety of outdoor concerts. Families can enjoy live music in Prescott Park or at the Seacoast Science Center. These events are perfect for a relaxing evening with a picnic and some great tunes.

Holiday Parades

The city hosts several parades throughout the year, including the 4th of July and Halloween parades. These parades are a fantastic way for families to celebrate together, featuring floats, marching bands, and local performers.

Winter Festivals

When winter arrives, Portsmouth transforms into a festive wonderland. The annual Christmas tree lighting and the New Year’s Eve fireworks are must-see events. Families can also enjoy ice skating and holiday markets, making the season truly magical.

Portsmouth’s seasonal events offer something for everyone, ensuring that families can create lasting memories throughout the year.


Portsmouth truly offers a treasure trove of activities that cater to both kids and parents alike. Whether you’re exploring the historic streets, enjoying a festival, or simply relaxing in one of the many parks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The town’s family-friendly atmosphere and variety of attractions make it an ideal destination for creating lasting memories. So pack your bags, gather the family, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in Portsmouth!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some family-friendly activities in Portsmouth during the summer?

Portsmouth offers a variety of family-friendly activities during the summer, including exploring Prescott Park, visiting the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, enjoying the beaches, and participating in local festivals such as the Roots & Rhythm Festival and the Fish & Lobster Festival.

Are there any indoor activities for kids in Portsmouth?

Yes, there are several indoor activities for kids in Portsmouth, including visiting the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, exploring local libraries, and participating in art and craft workshops.

What historic sites can families visit in Portsmouth?

Families can visit several historic sites in Portsmouth, including the Strawbery Banke Museum, the USS Albacore Museum, and the Portsmouth Historical Society.

Are there any family-friendly restaurants in Portsmouth?

Yes, Portsmouth has many family-friendly restaurants that offer a variety of dining options suitable for kids. There are also outdoor dining spots and places that serve sweet treats and desserts.

What outdoor adventures can families enjoy in Portsmouth?

Families can enjoy various outdoor adventures in Portsmouth, such as hiking trails, kayaking and paddleboarding, and biking routes.

Are there any special events or festivals for families in Portsmouth?

Yes, Portsmouth hosts several special events and festivals for families, including Market Square Day, summer concerts, holiday parades, and winter festivals.

What beaches are suitable for families in Portsmouth?

Wallis Sands State Beach and Jenness State Beach are both suitable for families, offering clean sands, safe swimming areas, and facilities for beach games and activities.

Can families take trolley tours in Portsmouth?

Yes, families can take trolley tours around Portsmouth, which include a historic downtown loop, scenic views, and convenient stops for exploring the town.

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