Family Fun in New England, Part 12: Concord and Portsmouth, New Hampshire

This is my twelfth post about our family's visit to New England. I suggest reading the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixthseventheighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh posts from the trip before this one. Because I blog about educational travel, I was given admission tickets, media rates, discounts, and other benefits for some of the places we visited during our trip. Some places are free for everyone; we paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm share is something that I recommend without hesitation. If you see any gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love that particular attraction, restaurant, or hotel enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.


Concord and Portsmouth, New Hampshire

We started Thursday, June 22 at the New Hampshire State House. Completed in 1819, it was the second granite building ever constructed in New Hampshire. Inmates from the state prison transported and shaped the granite blocks from Rattlesnake Hill Quarry, two miles to the north. It sounds like an unpleasant job, what with carrying heavy granite down a hill that is, apparently, literally crawling with rattlesnakes. It could be worse, I guess. 

An inscribed paver states that, as of 1969, this is the nation's oldest state house in which the legislature still occupies its original chambers. It still is. 

The Liberty Bell replica is in front of the Capitol. 

Once again, no metal detector, or bag search, or anything. It's so surprising that some states have airport-level security, while others just have a guard who might look up when you enter. It's weird. 

We had not intended on taking a guided tour, but when we went into the visitor center, there were 6 docents all available to tell us about the building. The one who gave us our private tour turned out to be a former state representative, which was neat. He knew a lot about the building and New Hampshire government. 

New Hampshire's State Motto: Live Free or Die

Wikipedia states that "it is possibly the best-known of all state mottos, .... partly because of its contrast to the milder sentiments found in other state mottos." Yes, I would say that all the other states' mottos are significantly milder than LIVE FREE OR DIE. Here's a sampling, translated to English as applicable: 

  • I have found it. (California)
  • Wisdom, justice, moderation. (Georgia)
  • If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you. (Michigan)
  • She flies with her own wings. (Oregon)
  • To be, rather than to seem. (North Carolina)

Besides their motto, New Hampshire might best be known for having the first presidential primary

We visited the New Hampshire Historical Society next. 

It was fine. I wouldn't go out of my way to visit, but if you're there, stop in. And consider doing the audio tour. We didn't, and that might have helped make the museum feel a bit more alive. 

My favorite exhibit was this one. That's the original eagle from 1818 that sat on top of the Capitol.

We left Concord and headed toward the coast. We started our time in Portsmouth with lunch at Geno's Chowder and Sandwich Shop

Steve wanted a lobster roll during this trip and everything I'd read said Geno's has one of the best. They're famous for their chowder as well. 

The view from our table. 

Portsmouth was the sixth British settlement in what is now the United States. In terms of importance as a British settlement, it is considered third behind Jamestown and Plymouth. Portsmouth is celebrating 400 years in 2023

We headed downtown, where we took the Portsmouth Harbor Trail Tour. The tour was good overall and we learned a lot, but the first half was frustrating. We walked no more than 10 feet during the first 40 minutes. A walking tour should have more walking. Otherwise it's just a standing around tour. Fortunately, the second half had plenty of walking and we ended up seeing a decent amount of downtown Portsmouth.


After the walking tour, we took a narrated harbor cruise. It was outstanding. 

Our captain did a great job sharing interesting stories about Portsmouth, past and present. The route took us down the Piscataqua River and under Memorial Bridge...

... past the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, where we saw a nuclear submarine being worked on... 

... past the old Naval hospital...

... to the Wood Island Life Saving Station...

... and the southernmost lighthouse in Maine. (It's barely in Maine, but it's still technically Maine!)

It's a lot colder out on the water than it is on land. Bundle up!

After the harbor cruise, we returned to Memorial Bridge. This time we went over it.

On foot. 

This sign seemed a bit overdramatic, but got the point across. 

We'd expected to see a marker designating the boundary between New Hampshire and Maine, but there wasn't one. It was really strange. There's always one. But I don't see how it could have been there and we missed it with all three of us looking. Anyway, here's Steve MAYBE standing with one foot in New Hampshire and one in Maine. That's New Hampshire behind him. 

This is Maine. 

We walked back to our car via the lovely Prescott Park

We had an excellent dinner at The Kitchen (get the Spudsters!) and then said goodbye to New Hampshire. We spent the night at the DoubleTree Boston North Shore, which was great and I highly recommend it. I do question the name, however, as it's 20 miles from Boston. But we weren't staying there to visit Boston. We had another destination scheduled for the next day. I'll tell you about that tomorrow. 

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