Portsmouth, NH: A Fun, Family Day Trip

My husband and older daughter

My husband’s family lives in Seattle. We are lucky that they visit often, and much more often now that we have children. We know they want to visit our daughters more than us, but it’s okay, that’s how it should be. Whenever they visit, we always like to take a day trip to a little New England town. Some of our favorites include Rockport and Newburyport, MA and Newport, RI. My mother and father-in-law visited last week to meet their new one-month-old granddaughter. While I was feeling well-enough for a fun day, I didn’t want to drive too far or do too much….I’m still adjusting to life with a 2-year-old and one-month-old, am still a little sore from my c-section, and let’s face it…a little sleep deprived.

So after receiving some great suggestions from my Facebook and Twitter friends (which included Lenox, Deerfield, Provincetown, the Vineyard, Chatham and Mystic, CT), we opted for Portsmouth, NH. We chose Portsmouth because it was relatively close by and was a great choice for a quick day trip.

We did a little research before we left and hit the road about 8:30am. We arrived just after 9:30, hitting no traffic at all. Most of the streets offer 2 hour metered parking, but we opted for a parking garage that charged $.75/hour, which is a steal compared to Boston rates.

The Friendly Toast, Portsmouth, NH - Great for breakfast

We started the day with breakfast at The Friendly Toast. It was awesome! It was a large, eclectic space and the food did not disappoint. We arrived a little after 9:30am and only had to wait 15 minutes for a party of 6 (well, sort of. 4 adults, a toddler and a newborn). They sat us at a large booth with lots of room. There was so much to look at on the walls, my little one was constantly entertained, as were the adults. And the classic rock music was awesome. I learned that the song Lola is sung by the Kinks. Our waiter was fantastic as well. The space inside was a little tight, so we opted to leave our stroller in the car and carry our baby in the bucket carseat…they had a booster for our older daughter. Since the garage we parked in was right around the corner, this was easy!

We ordered the following:

  • Coconut cake (me) – one large pancake filled with coconut, chocolate chips and cashews, topped with a coconut sauce. Awesome. Very sweet though so if you don’t love sweet, it may not be for you. I would get again, but would ask for sauce on the side. And yes, just one…one was huge..about the size of a small pizza. I took a bit before I snapped this picture. I may try to recreate this at home so keep a look out for the recipe.

Coconut Cake

  • Hansel & Gretel waffle (my husband) – gingerbread waffle with pomegranate molasses. This was our least favorite dish of all. The pomegranate was VERY overpowering.

  • Mexican Mashed Meal (father-in-law) – spicy mashed potatoes sopped with chorizo and friend eggs. My FIL gave it good reviews but beware, it did have a kick to it. He couldn’t get over the fact he was eating mashed potatoes for breakfast ;)
  • Breakfast Burrito (mother-in-law) – she ate half, my husband ate half and both enjoyed it. The potatoes on the side were delish.
  • Kids Chocolate Chip Pancake (my 2 year-old daughter) – shaped like Mickey Mouse…enough said :)  And yes, one ear is missing in this pic…I couldn’t snap the picture fast enough.

The service was great and we’d definitely go back again. And…I just found out there is a Friendly Toast closer by in Cambridge! Awesome. 

After breakfast, we set off to stroll the town. We found numerous shops – some vintage/consignment shops, shoes stores, and toy stores. There were many coffee shops and restaurants…too many to sample from in one day.

For lunch, we ate at the River House. Service was quite slow, but the food was fine…nothing spectacular, but good. Pretty basic seafood and basic fare. I got the seafood chowder/lobster roll combo which was available in two sizes, small ship or tall ship…I of course got the tall ship. My husband got a broiled haddock sandwich. The chowder was very good and full of seafood, I highly recommend it. There was a changing table in the bathroom which was very helpful as well.

Now on to the important stuff…shopping! I bought my first ever antique purchase at Carter Antiques on Market Street. It is an antique school desk and chair. I think I got a pretty good deal on it, but then again, I have no clue when it comes to antiques so who knows :)  I paid $60. I didn’t buy it for the value…I bought it because I like it. And actually, if it has no value, that’s fine b/c then I may paint it one day! We’ll see. My in-laws know a lot about antiques and they thought it was a good purchase. I also wanted to buy an old prescription shelf unit thingamajig, but at $800, it wasn’t in my budget :)

And speaking of antiques…I also bought a “vintage” leather Coach bag at Second Time Around. I’ve never bought anything from a second-hand store before but I spotted this cute little bag and snatched it up. It’s a deep green color but appears grey at times. I’m also not really a Coach fan but this is so simple, you can’t go wrong. And, Coach sells new version of this for $298, so considering I paid $30 for it….I feel like it’s a good deal!

My in-laws, my daughters and I taking a break

We also made some other purchases, including, shirts, flip-flops and onesies….and of course ice cream, as you see from the photo. My daughter couldn’t stop eating her “vanilla with sprinkles” long enough to smile for the picture.

It was a gorgeous day to visit Portsmouth and we look forward to going back again soon!

Day trip in New England: Rockport

Rockport, MA

Being 35 weeks pregnant, we knew we’d be staying pretty local this 4th of July weekend. Staying local doesn’t have to mean staying home. Especially when you live in the Northeast and you have so many amazing options close by. Yesterday, we decided to journey up to Rockport, MA. It’s one of our favorite day trips and thinking back, we realized we went up there last year over the 4th weekend as well.

Early morning view from the beach

We arrived early at 8:30 am and got a meter spot right at the beach. I think we were at Front Beach…but don’t quote me on it. It’s right on Beach Street…very close to the shopping area and restaurants. It’s relatively small but has public restroom facilities that are very clean with changing tables in both the mens and women’s rooms. We set up our area and were set for a while. I’m pretty impressed that we only had one large canvas beach bag and a beach chair to carry…granted we had a bit more in the car!

Playing in the sand

My husband and daughter

We stayed at the beach for 2 1/2 hours. Westarted noticing our daughter was getting cranky which means she is hungry and tired, so we packed it up around 11, hit the restrooms, dropped our beach stuff off at the car, changed, pulled out the stroller and walked down toward all the food and shopping. Within 5 minutes, our little one was passed out! Perfect timing. My husband and I were able to grab some lunch and sit and relax on the water for a little while. I had an amazing lobster roll from Roy Moore’s, and my husband grabbed a hot dog from Top Dog, two of our favorite spots. I also grabbed an elephant ear from The Fudgery…it’s irresistable. Then we hit up some stores and walked around. After a quick nap, our daughter was up and ready for her lunch, followed by some ice cream. We were packed up and ready to hit the road by about 1:30.

It was an awesome day and an awesome day-trip for the 4th of July weekend. Here are some tips for making a day trip to Rockport fun with the family!

  • Pack everything you need the night before. Makes the morning much easier.
  • Leave early to beat the traffic – We were up at 6am (our 2-year-old daughter is our alarm clock). We were out the door at 7:15 and arrived by 8:30. We made it up there with no traffic, in great time, and we found awesome metered street parking when we arrived. We kept feeding the same meter all day…If you try it and get ticketed, sorry…but worked for us!
  • Some meters are 2 hours, others are 4 hours…so there are great options. Bring change…they take quarters, dimes and nickels.
  • Have a realistic plan. We know our daughter is great til 11am or so…then she needs lunch and nap. So we planned the day accordingly.
  • Again, being realistic, if you have a 2-year-old, don’t think you will be able to lounge in the sun for 6 hours…not happening.
  • If your car is nearby, bring only what  you need onto the beach. It makes it a lot easier. Then swap stuff out if you head to shop or eat.
  • Pick clothes for you and your little one that are 1) easy on/off, 2) lightweight and dry easy if get wet, and 3) light-colored for summer.
  • Do your research ahead of time so you’re not driving/walking in circles trying to find the right spots. Luckily, we’ve been to Rockport about a dozen times so we know our way…but do a little research in advance.
  • There are some great dining options, but there are also some really tasty quick eating options. If you get food to go from your favorite spot, walk down the end of Bearskin Neck…there is a little cul-de-sac with some benches and rocks you can sit on. It’s the most beautiful and relaxing spot to enjoy  your lunch.

I hope you find time to visit this great little New England gem. We enjoy ourselves every trip up there and can’t wait to go again soon!