600 Market St., Exit 7 off I-95, Portsmouth • (603) 436-3680
The USS Albacore was a prototype submarine built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and commissioned in 1953. At the time she was the fastest submarine ever designed. Now she sits in the center of this lovely park, within view of Portsmouth Harbor. Visitors are amazed to see how 55 men lived in a 205- by 27-foot teardrop and are moved to remember those who served and died in the Submarine Service through the years.
Hours: Open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from May 1 to Columbus Day.
Prices: The park, visitors center and Memorial Garden are free. Admission to the submarine is $4 for adults, $3 seniors, $2ages 7 to 17 and free for those younger than 7. A family ticket is $10.
American Independence Museum
One Governors Ln., Exeter • (603) 772-2622
On a beautiful 2-acre site in the heart of Exeter's historic downtown, the museum is housed in the National Historic Register's Ladd-Gilman House. Exeter was the first capital of New Hampshire, and the museum focuses on the Colonial period and the time of the American Revolution. The extensive collection includes two draft copies of the U.S. Constitution with editorial notes. Folsom Tavern, saved from demolition and moved to its present location on Spring Street in 1929, is managed by the museum. Tours of the tavern may be arranged. The third weekend in July the museum hosts a festival celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the official copy, which took two weeks to arrive in Exeter by horse from Philadelphia, is housed in the museum.)
Hours: The museum is open May 1 to October 31, Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Prices: Admission to the park is free. The museum tour is $5 for adults, $3 for ages 6 to 18 and free for children younger than 6. Group discounts are also available.
The Children's Museum of Portsmouth
280 Marcy Street, Portsmouth NH 03801-4637 (603) 436-3853
The museum offers two programs designed especially for preschoolers, from September through May. There are also mini programs for ages 6-10 and programs for earning badges for Scouting. Fees vary per program. Museum Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Also Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 18-Sept. 2, 2001 and during other school vacations. The museum will be closed Sept. 3-14, 2001 for renovations. Admission: $4 adults and children; $3 for senior citizens; free for members of The Children's Museum of Portsmouth, members of AYM or ASTC and children under 1. Discounted rates are also available for groups of 10 or more that pre-register. Please call the museum for more information.
N.H. Rt. 1B at U.S. Coast Guard Station, New Castle • (603) 436-1552
First built in the 1600s and called Fort William and Mary, this fortification was built to defend Portsmouth Harbor. It was captured on December 14, 1774, by New Hampshire Patriots who had been warned by Paul Revere that — you guessed it — the British were coming. Armament taken from the Fort that night was used four months later against the British at the Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston. Interpretive panels guide you through this fascinating glimpse into Colonial America.
Hours: The fort is open from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. daily, year round.
Prices: Admission is free.
Wild Rose Ln., New Castle • (603) 436-1552
This fort, originally constructed in 1746, was rebuilt and updated continually throughout the nation's history. Fort Stark was actively fortified in every war from the American Revolution to World War II, when it was a submarine spotting site. Evidence of construction from various eras makes this a favorite with military buffs, while the spectacular views of Portsmouth Harbor attract more pacifist tourists. Tours of the fort are no longer available but the grounds are open for exploration.
Hours: Open 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Isle of Shoals Steamship Company
Barker Wharf, 315 Market St., Portsmouth • (603) 431-5500 or (800) 441-4620
Narrated cruises of historic Portsmouth Harbor give visitors the opportunity to see the coast and islands as Capt. John Smith did in 1614. Stories and myths abound in this harbor, and the tour guides have secrets to share. Isle of Shoals also offers a lighthouse tour, whale watches, a fall foliage trip to Great Bay Wilderness and many other specialty tours. New in 1997 was a 45-minute Portsmouth Harbor cruise geared especially for families. Another favorite is the Lobster Clambake Cruise. All trips offer a full galley (seagoing snack bar) and bar service. Reservations are recommended.
Hours: Tours are scheduled from May 1 to Labor Day.
Prices: Ticket prices vary by length of cruise: Adults prices range from $11 to $32, children's (ages 3 to 11) prices range from $4 to $16. Senior tickets are $1 off except for dinner cruises. It's free for people younger than 3 and older than 79.
NH Seacoast Cruises
N.H. Rt. 1A, Ocean Blvd., Rye • (603) 964-5545, (800) 964-5545
The Granite State is a sizable craft, licensed for up to 150 passengers on two decks. The naturalists on board are students in zoology and biology, and the observations made on whale watches are used in cetacean (whale) research. Their whale-sighting rate is so high (99 percent) that they give rain checks to passengers if no whales are sighted. In addition to lengthy whale-watch expeditions, NH Seacoast Cruises does evening Isles of Shoals tours, complete with seafaring tales and stops to see the Hampton Beach fireworks from off Boars Head.
Season: Whale-watch expeditions run weekends mid-May to Memorial Day, Wednesdays and weekends June 1 to June 21 and September 2 to October 12.
Hours:Expeditions run daily from June 21 to September 1.
Prices: Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $15 for children. Note that these trips are about four hours long. This company runs Evening Isles cruises every Wednesday from the last week of June through the end of August and on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. Watch the fireworks from the deck!
Old Sandown Meeting House
Fremont Rd., Sandown • (603) 887-3453
This 1773 meeting house gives visitors a taste of 18th-century class structure: Will you sit in the family box pews, the completely enclosed slave pews or the narrow, uncomfortable front-row benches reserved for paupers and penitents?
Hours: It's open March through November. Tours are by appointment.
Prices: Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
Old Sandown Railroad Depot
Sandown Center, N.H. Rt. 121A • (603) 887-6100 or 887-3259
Once the busiest freight depot in the country, this 1873 building houses railroad memorabilia, telegraph equipment, World War II and Civil War periodicals, tools and household artifacts.
Hours: It's open Memorial Day to Labor Day, Sundays only from 1 to 5 p.m.
Prices: Admission is free.
Odiorne Point State Park
Rte 1A, Rye • (603) 436-7406
Picnicking, boating, fishing, hiking, biking, nature walk, and cross country skiing are all available at Odiorne Point, the largest undeveloped stretch of shore on New Hampshire's eighteen mile coast.
Hours: Open year round.
Prices: Day-Use: $3.00, children 12 & under free. Boat Launch: $5.00 car top boats, $8.00 car and trailers.
Portsmouth Livery Company
Market Sq., Portsmouth • (603) 427-0044
Take a tour of historic Portsmouth, ride along the waterfront or just enjoy a quick spin around the downtown area in a horse-drawn carriage, complete with handsomely attired driver.
Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting. Reservations are not required for tours, although the carriages may be booked for special occasions.
Prices: Tours range from 5 to 40 minutes and from $10 to $35 per group. Or, for $25 per family, try the "Ride To, Walk Back" tour, which includes admission to the Children's Museum of Portsmouth.
Sandy Point Discovery Center
89 Depot Road, Stratham •(603) 778-0015
The Discovery Center is an environmental interpretation and education facility funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the N.H. Fish and Game Department. Education programs at the center are facilitated by volunteer educators, the University of New Hampshire Sea Grant Marine Docents, and interns under direction of the staff. The Center is also supported by a non-profit friends group, the Great Bay Stewards.
Hours: The grounds at Sandy Point are open to the public from dawn to dusk throughout the year (if weather permits). The Discovery Center is open to the public May through October, beginning Mother's Day weekend, Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., In October they are open on the weekends only. Price: Admission is free.
Science and Nature Center at Seabrook Station
N.H. Rt. 1, Seabrook • (800) 338-7482
This center, run by the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant, includes hands-on museum exhibits, a salt marsh nature trail and picnic areas. Films in the visitors center theater include a video tour of the nuclear power plant, and visitors can also explore the operator training center with its simulated control room. Bus tours of the site allow a closer look, although visitors are not allowed inside the plant.
Hours: The center is open year round, Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Prices: Admission is free.
Seacoast Science Center
Rte 1A, Rye• (603) 436-8043
The Center is situated on 330 acres, within which you can explore seven distinct coastal habitats. Many trails and a wooded seaside picnic area are handicapped accessible. The Center, located on the grounds of Odiorne Point State Park, offers year-round programs including naturalist guided or unguided explorer programs for schools, visitor programs on the natural and social history of Odiorne Point and the Gulf of Maine, and a variety of indoor exhibits highlighting some of the fascinating features of coastal New Hampshire.
Hours: The center is open daily 10 am to 5 pm.
Prices: Park entrance fee is $3.00 per person 12 years and older. Senior citizens are free. Center Admission is $1 per person Members and children under three are free.
Strawbery Banke Museum
Marcy St., opposite Prescott Park, Portsmouth • (603) 433-1100
When the first Colonists settled in what's now Portsmouth, they found wild strawberries growing on the banks of the Piscataqua River and called their settlement Strawbery Banke. The town received its "new" name of Portsmouth in 1653. The Puddledock subdivision, now site of Strawbery Banke, was developed in 1690. Fifteen buildings in the museum complex have been restored to different historic periods, so a tour of Strawbery Banke takes the visitor on a walk through time from 1690 to 1955. Costumed interpreters stay in character as they describe their daily lives, while other guides introduce the houses and shops, explain the ongoing restoration process and demonstrate methods of boat-building, coopering and other activities.
Hours: May 1 - October 31, open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., November 1 - April 30, open Wednesday through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. 90 minute Winter Walking Tours offered on the hour beginning at 10:00 a.m., last tour leaves at 2 p.m. (Candlelight Stroll days and holidays excluded).
Prices: Adults $6, Families $14, Seniors $5. Museum Members are free.
Tuck Memorial Museum
40 Park Ave., Hampton • (603) 929-0781
The museum's collection includes early furniture, farm equipment and pictures. Children will be interested in the re-created 1850s school room and firefighting museum.
Hours: It's open Wed., Fri. & Sun.; Jun. - Sept. 1-4 p.m.
Prices: There is no charge for admission.
Urban Forestry Center
45 Elwyn Rd., Portsmouth •(603)431-6774
Set on 170 acres of marshland, woods and meadows bordering Sagamore Creek, the center offers trails and gardens in a peaceful setting. Programs about forestry and natural resources are offered.
Hours: Trails open daily 7am-dusk. Office open Monday through Friday 8am-4pm.
Exit 5 off I-95, U.S. Rt. 1, Portsmouth • (603) 436-3556
New England's largest water park features tubing, giant water slides, a huge wave pool and a kiddie lagoon. There are totally crazed, thrill-a-minute rides (one is aptly named the Screamer) for the teens and fountains and waterfalls for the little ones. Life vests are free and required for children between 42 and 48 inches tall who venture onto the wilder rides. Tube rental is not included in the admission, and although they are not absolutely necessary your kids will definitely want them. Although there is plenty for younger children to do, parents of little ones often mention the crowds at the park as a drawback. Teens, on the other hand, adore the place. The park also hosts concerts and shows in the evenings.
Hours: Water Country is open mid-June through September. Hours vary: open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 8th to the 15th, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 16th to the 30th and open 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. begining July 1st.
Prices: Over 4 feet tall: $27.99, under 4 feet tall: $18.99, children 2 years and under: FREE.
Woodman Institute Museum
182-190 Central Ave., Dover • (603) 742-1038
This complex includes the Dame Garrison House, built around 1675, and two houses from the early 19th century, including the home of John Hale, abolitionist senator from New Hampshire. The Dame Garrison house, a hand-hewn log cabin with portholes to allow for defense in Indian raids, houses a collection of early American household tools and farm implements. The Woodman house shelters an eclectic collection that includes specimens of most of the region's native mammals, rocks and butterflies. Penacook artifacts are displayed in another room, and President Lincoln's saddle highlights the Civil War collection. The third building, Hale House, is filled with antique furniture from the time of Senator Hale's residency and many historical items.
Hours: The Institute is open Wednesday through Sunday, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., Saturdays & Sundays only December through January Closed February 1 through March 31.
Prices: $3 adults, $2 seniors (65+), $1 students 14-18, children & school tours free. Reservations required for 10 or more.