Top Picks for Outdoor Dining Digs near Portsmouth, NH

In just 10 minutes from our front steps at the Ale House Inn, you can walk to Maine. Better yet, you can walk to an ISLAND in Maine by way of a bridge over the Piscataqua River. Badger’s Island carries U.S. Route 1 between Maine and NH, connecting to the Kittery, ME mainland by the Badger’s Island Bridge, and to Portsmouth, NH by the Memorial Bridge. This route is great for runners and explorers, as the Memorial Bridge is super safe to walk and offers amazing views.

Warren's Lobster House

So much lobster at Warren’s Lobster House, so little time.

For a fun getaway and some destination al fresco dining, go for a stroll to Maine via Memorial Bridge and hit up Morrison’s Lobsters on Badger’s Island. Morrison’s offers spectacular views of the harbor, super friendly service and we hear a terrific lobster bisque in addition to lobsters off the boat and a killer deck right on the water. Don’t forget to bring cash because they don’t take anything else, and you’re encouraged to BYOB as they don’t serve alcohol.

Or head across bridge #2 (that’s Badger’s Island Bridge) if you’re a slightly more ambitious to mainland Kittery, Maine and visit Warren’s Lobster House. The place is huge and has been a mainstay southern Maine destination lobster joint since 1940. Built on pilings over the river, the 350-seat restaurant houses a bakery, a lobster pound capable of holding 28 tons of lobsters, a gift shop, 40-foot boat dock, and an open-air deck this is a seacoast mainstay.

Or for more alfresco dining right in Portsmouth, check out the new blog post on our Lark sister Portsmouth property, The Hotel Portsmouth.

What’s on Tap for Summer in New Hampshire – Portsmouth and Beyond!

With a name like Ale House Inn, it should come as no surprise that a cold beer is our summer drink of choice. But in a state like New Hampshire with so many notable breweries, which one to choose? Below are our top recommendations for breezy summer brews:

  • Smuttynose, based right here in Portsmouth, has a new summer seasonal dubbed Hayseed. This light and refreshing farmhouse style ale is also known as a grisette and is available in 12 ounce bottles and on draft at select locations.
  • White Birch Brewing in Hooksett, NH has crafted one of our new favorites, a tart and thirst quenching Berliner Weisse. If you’re been curious about this new tart/sour beer trend, this is a great place to start. Available in 12 ounce cans and on draft at select locations.
  • MOAT Mountain Iron Mike Pale Ale from North Conway, NH is another arrow in our summer cookout quiver, a deliciously crisp and moderately bitter pale ale that pairs well with grilled food. Available in 16 ounce cans and on draft at select locations.
    Hemingway Daquiri

    Would Hemingway approve? We think so.

So you’re not a beer drinker? We’ve got a suggestion for you, too, since we love a cool craft cocktail as much as the next person. This literary twist on the classic daiquiri is one of our go-to summer sippers.

Hemingway Daiquiri 

  • 3/4 ounces grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounces lime juice
  • 1/4 ounces simple syrup
  • 1/4 ounces maraschino liqueur
  • 2 ounces light rum

Combine all ingredients in a shaker full of ice and shake vigorously, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of grapefruit.

A Sporting Summer in Portsmouth

Residents of Portsmouth balance out the long New Hampshire winters by living an active life outdoors when summer finally comes around. Whatever your fitness or interest level, the city has something for you. No need to go full Ironman – you can observe, learn, or roll your sleeves up and really dig in to your sport of choice during your next Portsmouth getaway at the Ale House Inn.

Sailboat on the Atlantic

Clear skies and smooth sailing ahead

Seacoast Mavericks Baseball – New England has a soft spot for baseball, and Portsmouth is home to the Seacoast Mavericks, a collegiate level summer team that plays at Leary Field. Fun fact, the team has a connection with the Boston Red Sox – former standout pitcher Bob Stanley is President of the team. Head over on a cool summer evening for some fast-moving action, classic concessions, and good old fashioned fun. The season opens on June 4th with a game against the Nashua Silver Nights.

Piscataqua Sailing Association – Whether you’re an experienced skipper, beginner deckhand, or firm landlubber, this motley crew is the place for you. Located on the seacoast at the Maine-New Hampshire border, PSA brings together sailors of all levels for races in between Kittery, ME and Rye, NH. The club hosts different classes of boats most nights of the week, with at least one weekend ocean race a month, usually on Saturdays. 

Seacoast Road Race Series – All you’ll need are your running shoes to participate in this series of eight road races designed to promote health and community while taking in the sights and sounds of Portsmouth’s historic downtown and breathtaking coast. Distances range from 5-10k and field crowds of up to 2,000 (not to mention the cheering spectators). The series begins in early May and wraps up in mid-October, unless you decide to go all in for the bonus round – the Seacoast Half Marathon on November 8.

Musical Happenings in Portsmouth, NH

Brews and tunes go hand in hand. So after you’ve enjoyed the two complimentary bottles of locally brewed Smuttynose beer provided at check-in, shake off your travel fatigue by hitting one of the many musical joints around town. All of these venues are just a short walk from the inn, with most of them clocking in at under 5 minutes.
The vibe is laid back and attracts a wide mix of ages and personalities, from college kids to local matriarchs, townies to tourists. The food is standard pub fare done well, especially when paired with live music 7 nights a week all year round.
This chill yet upscale space plays host to a multitude of musical genres, ranging from acoustic bluegrass to reggae. In addition, the club also boasts an impressive line-up of comedians if you prefer to laugh rather than dance.
Housed in the tavern portion of the Dolphin Striker restaurant, this intimate space offers a variety of mostly acoustic music in a traditional tavern setting.
Do mellow melodies put you to sleep? Then the Thirsty Moose’s musical mix of rock, reggae, hip hop, and funk is for you. This is where Portsmouth goes to get down.
The pizza is hot, the beer is cold, and the outdoor deck is the perfect venue for catching live music in warmer weather.
The Music Hall
The historic Portsmouth Music Hall

It’s always a full house at the historic Portsmouth Music Hall

For those that prefer their entertainment on a grander scale, a trip to the Portsmouth Music Hall is a must do. This ornate theater showcases an amazing array of national and international comedy, music, and dramatic acts in a historic setting.  
The crown jewel of the Portsmouth music scene, visitors can take in national acts right on the banks of the Piscataqua River. The River House music series serves up live music all summer long, as well as several genre specific day long festivals throughout the season.

Right This Way for Breakfast in Portsmouth NH

Our mothers always told us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and now as adults, we must admit we agree (we’re mentally preparing for the “I told you so” coming our way). It would be hard to take advantage of all that Portsmouth NH has to offer – from biking to hiking, boating to shopping – on an empty stomach. Fortunately, there are several great breakfast spots within walking distance of the Ale House Inn. In the name of research, we’ve tested them all out and give the four listed below the AHI seal of approval.

Colby’s – 105 Daniel Street

This quaint spot has all the breakfast fixings, from waffles to eggs to french toast, and has a truly local feel. Its footprint may be small, but the pancakes (including traditional, granola, and chocolate chip varieties) are the size of a dinner plate. Waitstaff is friendly and keeps the coffee refills coming. Come early, come hungry.

Friendly Toast – 113 Congress Street

Friendly Toast restaurant in Portsmouth NH

Late sleeper? Friendly toast offers breakfast all day.

Enjoy breakfast all day at this funky eatery in the center of town. Using locally sourced ingredients, Friendly Toast offers a diverse menu of breakfast entrées and sides, including vegan options.

The restaurant recently underwent an extensive renovation and is now welcoming guests back for an eclectic dining experience.

Ceres Bakery – 51 Penhallow St

Known as much for the lunch specials and fresh baked goods as it is for breakfast, Ceres has been serving up homemade food to the Portsmouth crowd for over 30 years. There are too many tasty items on the menu to pick a favorite, but just remember to hit the ATM on your way over – Ceres is cash only.

Popovers on the Square – 8 Congress Street, Market Square

Named after the golden brown New England staple, this centrally-located café has something for every one. They’ve found creative ways to incorporate their namesake baked good into every day part, with delicious results. Enjoy a popover smothered with maple butter in the morning, alongside a fresh Caesar salad for the lunch, and as a bowl for clam chowder in the evening.

Snow Days Bring Spring Daydreams – 5 Springtime Activities in Portsmouth, NH

Sometimes the only way to get through the winter – thanks, Mother Nature, for that extra foot of snow! – is to start dreaming of the warmer temperatures and greener ground that come with spring.  Portsmouth is unique in that not only is it the Granite State’s only seaside city, but spring in this historic and hip destination beckons travelers to stroll the quaint streets and explore beyond city limits.  Check out our top 5 reasons for planning a visit to Portsmouth this spring, and book your stay here at the centrally-located Ale House Inn today.

  1. Maple Sugar Shacks

Maple sugar shack in Portsmouth, NH

Visit one of the area’s many maple sugar shacks for a back-of-the-house look at this New England staple

Just one week after the spring solstice officially starts the season, maple sugar producers statewide will welcome visitors to their sugar shacks as part of Maple Weekend. Held the weekend of March 28-29, you can learn more about this centuries-old craft while sampling and purchasing maple-themed delights like candies, syrup, coffee, and doughnuts. While you’ve undoubtedly tasted maple syrup before, there’s nothing like getting it pure from the source. Click here for a complete list of participating sugar shacks and events.

  1. Fuller Gardens

Whether you’ve got a green thumb or just admire the work of those who do, the elegant Fuller Gardens in nearby North Hampton are the perfect spot to catch the first blooms of the season. As one of the last remaining working formal estate gardens, this seaside gem plays host to over two thousand roses, eye-catching annuals, English perennial borders, a Japanese garden and koi pond, and a tropical conservatory all within the century-old sculpted hedges.

  1. Biking on the East Coast Greenway

Want to kick things up a notch? Portsmouth offers myriad on- and off-road opportunities for cyclists of all levels. The city serves as the endpoint of New Hampshire’s section of the East Coast Greenway, an ambitious and long-term project to connect 25 major cities along the eastern seaboard between Calais, Maine and Key West, Florida. The New Hampshire route hugs the coast for the entire 16-mile trek, offering unparalleled views of the Atlantic year round. Use our complimentary Trek bicycles, rent from one of the local bike shops, or bring your own for a more active adventure on the seacoast.

  1.  Aerial Seacoast Tour

Helicopter tour of the Portsmouth, NH area

Take the high road with an aerial tour of the rugged Atlantic coastline

If you’re looking to take your spring stay to the next level, an aerial tour with Seacoast Helicopters may be just the thing for you. Witness spring bursting forth over the rugged coastline just like the birds do.  Perched up high in their air conditioned touring helicopters, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the historic downtown, beaches, lighthouses, and the Isle of Shoals.

  1.  Portsmouth Restaurant Week

All that adventure works up an appetite. Portsmouth/Seacoast Restaurant Week, kicking off on April 9, is the perfect opportunity to visit a local favorite or try something new.  With 50+ local restaurants offering up special meals and deals over a delicious 10 days, there’s something to suit every palette.  Participating restaurants will offer three course prix fixe menus at $16.95 for lunch and $29.95 for dinner.  Bon appetit!


Welcome Brews at our Portsmouth Hotel

logo of smuttynose brewing company , a New Hampshire brewery.

The Smuttynose logo features a seal you just may see in the waters off the New Hampshire seacoast.

We like to be true to our Portsmouth boutique hotel’s unique name! That’s why we chill two complimentary bottles of locally brewed Smuttynose beer to greet you upon check in.

Sip this popular New Hampshire beer in the guest lounge or in the privacy of your room. We’ll also chill a full six-pack for you on request. Just ask about the available options when you call to book. The top 5 coolest things about Smuttynose?

1. The company is named for Smuttynose Island, the third largest of the nine islands that form the Isles of Shoals, a small, rugged archipelago that lies seven miles off the craggy New Hampshire coast.

2. Siblings, Peter & Janet Egelston, along with partners Cora Lee Drew and Mark Metzger, started the Northampton Brewery in 1987, now the oldest brewpub in New England.

3. Smuttynose’s pub at Towle Farm is slated to open in early 2015!

4. There’s a rad seal in the Smutty Nose logo

5. The Lark Hotels marketing department has a soft spot for Smutty Nose’s Robust Porter

What is Strawbery Banke Anyway?

New England’s colonial history is part of its charm and understated elegance. It’s why we love to walk along its picturesque seaport roads, stay in its re-imagined historic buildings, and enjoy it’s time-worn traditions when we visit.

Portsmouth history comes to life at the Strawbery Banke Museum

Portsmouth history comes to life at the Strawbery Banke Museum

When you visit our Portsmouth boutique hotel, there’s a particularly unique way to connect with local history: The Strawbery Banke Museum.

Imagined as a place where guests can reach into the past through vibrant living experiences, Strawbery Banke re-creates the day-to-day life of multiple eras of Portsmouth’s history. Visitors can experience for themselves just how people lived over nearly four centuries in this ever-changing community.

The 10-acre site features preserved historic homes and shops, period gardens, and is populated with costumed actors who recreate a time capsule of authentic hustle and bustle.

In the summer and fall months, the museum is host to a number of unique festivals—including the upcoming New Hampshire Fall Festival on October 11th. Named the best of New Hampshire’s fall festivals, this harvest celebration includes local crafts, live animal demonstrations, workshops on fiber arts, food preservation and demonstrations on historic trades and industries.

And coming up in late October, you can visit the Banke for a spooky peek into days gone by with the museum’s famous halloween celebration. You’ll be able to trick or treat throughout the historic community while rubbing elbows with long-dead sea captains and infamous pirates. And if you’re inspired to get your costume on, you can even opt to march in the New Orleans style costume parade through the village’s ghostly lanes.

While there’s so much contemporary creativity to enjoy in New England—and Portsmouth in particular—we love how places like Strawberry Banke invite visitors to connect to the history that gives our region it’s quintessential character. Taking a historic detour is a great way to add something utterly unique and eye-opening to your next trip!

Riding the Beer Wave in Portsmouth NH

Did you know that beer the world’s most widely consumed alcoholic beverage? It’s also benefitting from a deliciously creative renaissance amidst the local-micro-foodie revolution we’re all so busy enjoying.

Beer is on the rise and we love that at the Ale House Inn!

Beer is on the rise and we love that at the Ale House Inn!

Right here in Portsmouth, NH, we’re happily riding our own little wave of yeasty goodness.

(And considering we’re writing this from the Ale House Inn, let’s just say we’re pretty excited about that.)

So here’s what’s up on the beer front in Portsmouth:

First: Earth Eagle Brewings. Their website makes us thirsty. But what’s so cool about Earth Eagle is their flair for the uncommon—and the historic. Have you ever heard of Gruit? (Say “groot.”) Gruit is actually an old-fashioned way of making beer that was used before all those aromatic hops came on the scene. Getting flavors from local seasonal herbs, gruit couldn’t be a more direct reflection of the place and season in which it’s brewed. Earth Eagle’s brews are unusual, tasty, creative, and oh-so-deliciously unexpected. In other words: a must try.

Next: Smutty Nose. Distributed pretty much all over the world, chances are you’ve heard of it—but have you been to the brewery for a tour? With a wide range of seasonal brews, new batches and short releases, there’s always something new to discover. Tours run every day after about 11 am, with free tours on Friday at 3 pm and Saturday at 11 am.

And then: Red Hook. Another well-known classic, it’s another must-stop on your next NH brewery tour. Best part, take a tour for only $1 and get to try 3-4 samples of beer and receive a complimentary tasting glass.

You can read all about these great breweries as well as other fun activities on our “Things to Do” page. One of the best times for a weekend getaway in New England is our colorful, crisp autumn season, complete with all of the yummy seasonal brews on offer—so don’t wait!

Portsmouth Holiday Arts Tour – Nov 22-24, 2014

Looking for unique gifts this holiday season? The Portsmouth Holiday Arts Tour this weekend (Nov 22-24) won’t disappoint.

Thirteen of the seacoast’s most talented artists open their studio doors to the public to reveal crafts and goodies for everyone on your list. Leave our Portsmouth boutique inn and follow this map to all locations!

From Asian brush paintings, to books created from nautilus shells, to textile collages and brilliantly colored felted scarves, you can’t go wrong on the “original” front with these great gift options.  

Don’t miss these three days of socializing and early holiday shopping, Then plan a meal out one of Portsmouth’s great restaurant options. Just let us know if you need any personal insights to match your culinary style.