Road Scholar : Home
Exploring Historic New England Coastal Towns

Program Number: 14011RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/21/2014 - 9/26/2014;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Price starting at: $1,199.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: History & Culture
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Stay in the heart of the town and discover Portsmouth’s remarkable architecture, art, literature and maritime heritage. Step into a time capsule and experience New Hampshire in its earlier days at the Stawbery Banke Museum, a living outdoor history site. Learn about Portsmouth’s evolution and maritime heritage, its relation to surrounding waterfront neighborhoods and its reliance on the sea. Stroll Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine, the image of New England’s coastal beauty, and visit the Ogunquit Museum of Art, one of the finest small art museums in the country. Let the quaint sea-lined villages of New England wind you through history.


• “Meet” naturalist, gardener, artist, writer and poet Celia Thaxter — grande dame of the Isles of Shoals — in a living-history presentation.
• Enjoy a private, docent-narrated exploration of the home of Revolutionary War hero and former New Hampshire governor John Langdon, a contemporary and friend of George Washington.
• Savor a full traditional Downeast lobster “suppah” at a waterfront restaurant.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles, uneven surfaces, cobblestones, brick sidewalks; stairs in historic homes.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.


Settled in 1623, this seacoast city is one of the nation's oldest. A nexus of shipbuilding for several centuries, Portsmouth today remains a working seaport, active in fishing and lobstering, as well as the conservation of its marine ecosystem. From historic districts to quaint restaurants, Portsmouth is a diverse community with coastal ambiance.

Inn located in the heart of downtown Portsmouth.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hampton Inn & Suites Portsmouth Downtown
  Portsmouth, New Hampshire 5 nights
 Hampton Inn & Suites Portsmouth Downtown
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Hampton Inn & Suites Portsmouth Downtown is conveniently located in the heart of Portsmouth’s historic downtown district and just a quick stroll from top restaurants, boutique shops, entertainment venues and lovely waterfront gardens. Known for its waterfront location and enchanting 250-year-old colonial homes, historic downtown Portsmouth is one of New England’s most picture-perfect neighborhoods. Nestled along the Piscataqua River, this old-world town is full of life, with locals and tourists flowing in and out of Portsmouth’s cafés and shops well into the evening. History buffs will be delighted by the city’s impressive museums and classic 18th Century homes.
  Contact info: 23 Portwalk Place
Portsmouth, NH 03801 USA
phone: 603-430-3033
  Room amenities: Complimentary Wi-Fi Crisp, fresh Hampton bed® in each guestroom Lap desks in each guestroom for working on the bed Free local calls Flatscreen televisions Wet bar Work desk with Ergonomic chair Bathrooms with granite countertops and lighted vanities Refrigerator Microwave
  Facility amenities: Complimentary Wi-Fi in all rooms & social areas Free local transportation within a 5 mile radius Fitness center Heated indoor saltwater pool Portwalk Café lounge & bar Suite Shop market Free coffee and tea in the lobby Friendly service and local advice from our staff
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior:  This property does not offer discounted pre and post nights. If you would like to extend your stay please book nights directly with the Hampton Inn & Suites Portsmouth Downtown. Call 1-603-430-3033 or visit
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after:  This property does not offer discounted pre and post nights. If you would like to extend your stay please book nights directly with the Hampton Inn & Suites Portsmouth Downtown. Call 1-603-430-3033 or visit
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
3:00 PM at Inn. You will be staying at Hampton Inn & Suites Portsmouth Downtown that night.
  End of Program:
12:00 PM check-out You will be staying at Hampton Inn & Suites Portsmouth Downtown the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Valet parking avaliable for $18 per night. *Prices subject to change* Additional metered self-parking is available on the street. There is also a lot 1 block from the hotel.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  Nearest highway: I-95
  Nearest airport:  Manchester, New Hampshire
  From End of Program
  Location: Portsmouth, New Hampshire
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Boston Logan Airport


From Airport




Public Transportation
C & J (Bus)
phone: 800-258-7111


Per Person/One Way:


$24 (+ approx. $18 taxi fare from bus terminal to inn)
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


90 minutes 




Approximately 15 minute taxi ride from bus terminal to Inn.


C & J offers service practically around the clock, and has pick-up at Terminals A, B, C, and E -- all outside of baggage claim. The website is excellent and has complete ticketing, schedule, fare information. In Portsmouth, C & J terminates at Pease International Tradeport.


Manchester, NH


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
phone: 800-245-2525
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$77 per van for up to 3 people + driver's gratuity
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


1 hour 




60 miles


Boston North Station


From Train Station




Portsmouth Taxi
phone: 603-431-6811


Per Person/One Way:


Approximately $30
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


25 minutes 




15 miles


Amtrak Downeaster offers excellent train service from Boston's North Station to Durham, NH (approximately 30 minutes from Inn by taxi). Service is reduced on weekends. Travel time is approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes. Make sure to ask about discounted tickets if you are over 62 years.

Driving Directions
  From Manchester, NH. Follow Rt. 101 east to I-95 North (toll road). Then see directions “from all points south” below.
  From Portland, ME, and all points north. Portwalk Place may not be recognized by Google, US Postal Service, nor GPS; Please use 100 Deer Street as your trip destination to map your route. Interstate 95 S to Exit 7 in New Hampshire Left onto Market Street Right onto Russell Street Merge onto Deer Street (100 Deer Street is straight ahead when stopped at end of Russell Street) Pull into Portwalk Place at 100 Deer Street (This is a one-way drive)
  From all points south. Portwalk Place may not be recognized by Google, US Postal Service, nor GPS; Please use 100 Deer Street as your trip destination to map your route. Interstate 95 N to Exit 7 in New Hampshire Right onto Market Street Right onto Russell Street Merge onto Deer Street. (100 Deer Street is straight ahead when stopped at end of Russell Street) Pull into Portwalk Place at 100 Deer Street (This is a one-way drive)
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival and Welcome
(Sunday, September 21)
 Arrive To: Independent arrival at Hotel for check-in after 3:00 p.m. Pick up your "Welcome" packet and meet your group leader and fellow travelers for orientation
 Dinner: After you get acquainted with your fellow Road Scholar participants, we'll take a short walk to a local restaurant for dinner.
Accommodations: Hampton Inn & Suites Portsmouth Downtown
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Welcome to Portsmouth/Walking Excursion/Strawbery Banke Museum
(Monday, September 22)

Note: Quite a bit of walking today -- you will be on a guided walking excursion on city sidewalks, plus some uneven terrain at Strawbery Banke.

 Breakfast: Enjoy a delicious and healthy self-serve breakfast at your leisure
 Morning: Portsmouth, which has been called "a hidden gem" by the New York Times, is a city whose history, culture, scenic beauty, architecture and vibrant arts scene enchant all who visit here. Start the morning, with a presentation on the key events, people and history of the city. Then, take a guided walking excursion (a little more than an hour) to see "in person" some of the sights that you've just learned about.
 Lunch: After a stimulating morning, relax at a local casual restaurant.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a full afternoon at Strawbery Banke Museum, a 10-acre compound that has 46 buildings dating from 1695 to 1820, as well as exhibits, craftspeople, and period gardens. Ten furnished homes represent 300 years of history in one continuously occupied neighborhood. And by the way, the name of the museum is not misspelled! The first English settlers here named the area for the wild strawberries that were abundant along the shores of the river on which Portsmouth sits.
 Dinner: Dinner together at one of Portsmouth's local restaurants. The city is well known for its many and varied dining experiences.
Accommodations: Hampton Inn & Suites Portsmouth Downtown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: An Oceanfront Walk/An Oceanfront Art Museum/A Harbor Cruise -- Exploring Ogunquit
(Tuesday, September 23)

Note: You'll have the opportunity to take a one-mile walk along a spectacular paved oceanfront path.

 Breakfast: Delicious and healthy self-serve breakfast at your leisure
 Morning: Enjoy the early morning sea air as your travel up the coast from Portsmouth to the charming oceanfront town of Ogunquit, Maine. (Don't forget your cameras today!) There, enjoy a private, docent-led visit at a small art museum whose spectacularly beautiful location rivals that of the art it showcases. The Ogunquit Museum of American Art (OMAA) was hailed as "the most beautiful little museum in the world" by a former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. OMAA prides itself on its distinguished permanent collection which includes works of Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent, Walt Kuhn, and Thomas Hart Benton, among others. Outside, enjoy walking in the museum's sculpture gardens and, of course, the jaw-dropping view of the ocean and beyond, to the horizon. Next, climb aboard a lobster boat and go to sea with a Maine lobsterman! Your shipboard excursion combines the scenic beauty of Ogunquit's shoreline with a first-hand lobstering experience, including seeing traps being hauled. Your guide will give a detailed explanation of the lobster fishery and the numerous scenic spots along the way. You will come away with a deeper understanding of lobsters and their habitat.
 Lunch: Lunch today at Barnacle Billy's, smack dab on the water overlooking Perkins Cove.
 Afternoon: After a lunch, it's time for a walk on The Marginal Way, a one-mile paved oceanfront path. See magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean as you stroll past shrubs of pink and white sea roses, bayberry and bittersweet. Although the bends and inclines along the way are gentle, most walkers choose to relax and "sit a spell" on one of the 30 memorial benches along the path. Start or end your walk at Perkins Cove, one of the most charming (and photographed) seaside harbors in the country. Finally, sit back and enjoy a leisurely, scenic drive along the coast on your way back to Portsmouth. Weather permitting, you'll stop at Nubble Lighthouse, one of the most photographed lighthouses on the coast - keep your cameras handy. Once you return to Portsmouth, you'll be able to enjoy some free time this afternoon exploring this town that you now know better than many residents.
 Dinner: After a full day enjoy a casual dinner together at a local restaurant in Portsmouth.
Accommodations: Hampton Inn & Suites Portsmouth Downtown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Presentation by Local Actor/"Meeting" Celia Thaxter
(Wednesday, September 24)
 Breakfast: Delicious and healthy self-serve breakfast at your leisure.
 Morning: This morning, enjoy a presentation about the Isles of Shoals, a group of nine islands located six miles off the New Hampshire coastline. Learn about some of the hardy people who lived on these islands for more than 400 years, and hear tales of ghosts and pirates, shipwrecks and grand hotels that make up the lore and legend of the Shoals. The presentation includes archival photos from the 1870s that chronicle the transformation of this rocky archipelago from barren fishing outposts to an island resort and marine science center. Through a performance by a local actor, you also "meet" Celia Thaxter, the grande dame of the Isles of Shoals. The daughter of a lighthouse keeper, Thaxter grew up on Appledore Island and became an accomplished gardener, artist, writer and poet. An ardent naturalist, Celia wrote "An Island Garden," an inspired account of her famous garden on Appledore. Celia's salon was frequented by the leading writers, artists and musicians of her day and her garden drew international attention through the paintings of Childe Hassam, her long time friend and fellow artist. "Celia" regales you with the stories of her childhood and what it was like to grow up on her beloved Shoals at the end of the 19th century.
 Lunch: Lunch together with your fellow travelers at an historic downtown eatery.
 Afternoon: Now that you know your way around Portsmouth and the route up the road to the Maine coast, enjoy a full afternoon to explore and discover at your leisure.
 Dinner: Dinner is on your own tonight. Explore the many delicious dining options.
Accommodations: Hampton Inn & Suites Portsmouth Downtown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: The Hamilton House, South Berwick, Maine, and the Discover Portsmouth Center
(Thursday, September 25)

Note: You'll be walking over some uneven, grassy terrain today.

 Breakfast: Delicious and healthy self-serve breakfast at your leisure
 Morning: This morning, visit one of the most interesting historic homes in the region -- Hamilton House in South Berwick, Maine. Shipping merchant Jonathan Hamilton built this striking Georgian mansion c. 1785 on a bluff overlooking the Salmon Falls River inland from Portsmouth. Learn how the neighboring waterfront towns of South Berwick and Portsmouth depended on each other for their economic livelihoods in the 18th and 19th centuries. Enjoy the elaborate perennial garden, a private talk about the house, Mr. Hamilton or the gardens, and a private tour of the home.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch together after this morning's exploration.
 Afternoon: Take advantage of a special exhibit offered at the Discover Portsmouth Center or visit the John Paul House or both! Portsmouth's cultural and artistic scene is so rich it's best to keep a bit time open to take advantage of the special activities that the city's organizations, galleries and "boosters" host annually.
 Dinner: Enjoy a final dinner together this evening at a Portsmouth restaurant with your group of new friends and fellow travelers.
Accommodations: Hampton Inn & Suites Portsmouth Downtown
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Governor John Langdon House/Departure
(Friday, September 26)
 Depart From: The Hampton Inn & Suites Portsmouth Downtown.
 Breakfast: Your last morning to enjoy a casual breakfast at your leisure
 Morning: Take a final stroll through downtown Portsmouth to the gracious home of Revolutionary War hero and a former governor of New Hampshire. Local guide will provides you with a behind-the-scenes look at Governor John Langdon, a contemporary and friend of George Washington, and his life and times.Then, take a private docent-led visit of this beautiful home, located just a few blocks from your home this week, the Sise Inn.
 Lunch: Those who would like a brown-bag lunch to take with them will be able to do so upon returning to the Inn after the morning's visit to the Langdon House.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
  Portsmouth, New Hampshire Albacore Park
Year-round guided tours of the most advanced U.S. Navy submarine built before the atomic submarines. Built in Portsmouth, the USS Albacore served as the prototype for today's modern submarine fleet. Adults, $5.00.
  Chamber of Commerce
The chamber maintains a complete of area attractions.Visitors may find tourism information on attractions, accommodations, dining, shopping and services in the chamerb's online Guide to the Seacoast pages. The chamber maintains an information kiosk at Market Square (the hub of downtown Portsmouth). The chamber distributes state, regional, and local maps, publishes a calendar of events, and provides a visitor "mailbox" for tourists needing assistance after business hours. Telephone:603-436-3988. For additional information, visit
Portsmouth Kayak Adventures offers lessons, tours, excursions, rentals, and "all things kayak." 603-559-1000. For additional information, visit
  Ogunquit Playhouse
The Ogunquit Playhouse has been bringing Broadway to the Beach to entertain and delight audiences for 73 years. With a history of legendary professional theatre showcasing the biggest shows and brightest stars of Broadway, the Playhouse has earned its title of "America's Foremost Summer Theatre." The Playhouse, one of Southern Maine's most important cultural landmarks, celebrated its 73rd season in 2005. The Playhouse opens in June and runs through late September, usually producing five musicals each season. The theater is less than 30 minutes from the Inn. Telephone: 207-646-5511. For additional information, visit
  Prescott Park Arts Festival
Outdoor summer theater featuring plays, concerts, dance, festivals and special events. For additional information, visit
Enjoy a three-hour day sail ($50/pp) or sunset dinner sail ($100/pp) aboard a catamaran. Limited to 6 passengers per trip. Boat sails from Portsmouth Harbor.Telephone for reservations: 603-205-0630.
  Seacoast Repertory Theater
A 19-year old not-for-profit award winning professional theatre and school for the performing arts. We are dedicated to being a nurturing environment for seasoned and developing artists. SRT is devoted to unifying our community through the shared experience of theatre and preserving our future through education.The Seacoast Repertory Theatre was chosen by Boston Magazine's Travel as the premier entertainment venue on the Seacoast, and won the Spotlight on the Arts Award for Best Year Round Theatre on the Seacoast in 1998,1999 and 2000. Constructed in 1892, the Bow Street Theatre building originally was designed for beer and grain storage. It was built with walls up to two feet thick for insulation from winter cold and summer heat. In 1979, a glass enclosure for the lobby area was added when the facility was renovated as a theatre. For additional information, visit
  The Music Hall
Historic 800-seat theater is a nonprofit performing arts venue presenting music, theater, dance and film year-round. Telephone: 603-436-2400. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Among the Isles of Shoals

Author: Celia Thaxter

Description: Celia Thaxter (1835 – 1894), at age four, moved nine miles offshore Portsmouth to the Isles of Shoals when her father became the lighthouse keeper. She led a remarkable life on the isolated and barren islands, eventually becoming hostess of a salon that was the gathering place for the literary and artistic greats of New England. Already a popular poet when she began to publish these essays in the Atlantic Monthly in 1869, they were an immediate sensation. Horace Greeley said of her work: “The best prose writing I have seen for a long time.” Participants in this program will enjoy a presentation about Celia by an acclaimed Portsmouth actress.

An Island Garden

Author: Celia Thaxter

Description: Celia Thaxter is best known for this classic account of creating and loving her island garden. One of her closest friends, the American Impressionist Childe Hassam, did the exquisite watercolor illustrations for this book. An Island Garden was reprinted in a slip-cased edition by Houghton Mifflin in 1994; that edition is still available, but the paperback edition seems to go in and out of print.

The Weight of Water

Author: Anita Shreve

Description: This riveting work of fiction is based on fact. In 1873, two women on the Isles of Shoals, just off the New Hampshire coast, were brutally murdered. Shreve’s novel takes place more than a century later when the main character goes to the Isles for an extended stay and becomes immersed in the details of the murders. Shreve weaves the past and present together in a compelling page-turner, filled with accurate and vivid images of life on a windswept, lonely island. Widely available in paperback.

Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God

Author: Joe Coomer

Description: A young widow escapes her grief by moving aboard an old wooden boat in Portsmouth Harbor with an aging blue-haired octogenarian, a homeless teenage girl and the ugliest dog in literature. A genuine bond develops between the three disparate generations as their paths cross and converge. Set in a wonderfully accurate portrait of Portsmouth and its harbor, Coomer aptly portrays a rich Portsmouth past and present. (If you liked Beachcombing, I also highly recommend Pocketful of Names by Joe Coomer. It takes place on an island off the coast of Maine.)

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