The third-oldest city in the country boasts an enviable waterfront setting, grand architecture, a booming arts and theater scene, and vibrant community spirit. Meander its worn brick streets, flanked by 18th-century homes and historic sites, pretty gardens, and galleries showcasing local and national artists.
MODERN DIGS: The Ale House Inn (121 Bow St., 603-431-7760, www.alehouseinn.com, $139.99-$299.99) is located in a historic brick building, once home to the Portsmouth Brewing Co. Inside the 10-room inn is sleek and contemporary, more urban boutique than country inn. Modern, loft-like rooms have private baths, luxurious linens, and iPads. Guests have free use of Trek cruiser bikes, but the property is within easy walking distance of shops and restaurants.