55 degrees every day even especially in summer, 101 ways to get food delivered to your doorstep (Postmates, Caviar, UberEats, Munchery, Plate, Sprig, should I keep going?), and infinite traffic. Growing up in San Francisco, this was all I knew for 18 years. But this year, when I came home from college, instead of fog and food trucks I found myself surrounded by lobster rolls, “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, and an onslaught of shingles and clapboard. While I was away, my native Californian parents had made the Big Move and left San Francisco behind, resettling in Portsmouth, NH.

 

At first I was deeply skeptical of the whole endeavor, but the more time I spend here the more Portsmouth’s charm becomes obvious. So here’s an ode to the city from its new number one fan.

 

  1. Portsmouth Hits the Size Sweet Spot

 

There’s a lot that a big city can offer but there are also a number of problems that accompany size. Still, upon coming to Portsmouth I was worried that its smaller population would mean nothing to do, nothing to eat, and nothing to see. Obviously I had no idea what I was talking about. There are a million exciting restaurants (including authentic regional cuisines); hiking trails right next to town; nitro coffee, German coffee, Turkish coffee, coffee with tasting notes; shops of all sizes and styles; acai bowls and juice galore; music in the park, festivals in the streets, outdoor plays; and on and on. In my experience, Portsmouth feels vibrant and modern while avoiding the frustration (and smells!) that come with living in a big city.

 

[It’s a lot like Stout Heart in that way—small enough to feel personal and maintain a strong sense of community, but big enough to keep its finger on the pulse of what’s relevant].

  1. The City Is In Flux

 

Like I said, Portsmouth has a lively energy to it, due in part to the fact that it’s adaptable and evolving. Case and point, new stores and restaurants keep popping up (and, as a Stout Heart intern, I’m particularly thrilled by the new coffee bar opening right beneath our office).

 

  1. Seasons!

 

I’m from the West Coast. This whole season thing is a revelation.

 

But, because this isn’t Portsmouth-specific, let me add that not only are Portsmouth’s seasons striking, the city’s location, in general, is prime. Surrounded by the Piscataqua and all sorts of greenery, situated within driving distance of Boston and Portland, and snuggled on the border of New Hampshire and Maine (with Massachusetts right next door), Portsmouth is perfectly placed to give its residents access to all kinds of adventures.

 

  1. A Rich Historical Tradition

 

Not only does the city have a storied past, but the residents embrace it to its fullest. Portsmouth’s history defines its character; the past is central and celebrated, not just fodder for the occasional fun fact.

 

  1. The Sense of Community

 

Community pride is everywhere. A week or so after I moved here, I began to notice the flags (country, state, you name it) in every yard—something I hadn’t even realized was missing in the West. And everyone seems to know each other (or know each other by proxy). Or, if they don’t know you, they want to. Plus, people here take their holidays seriously. Halloween turns every home into a haunted house, Christmas lights stay up for months, and the Fourth of July is anticipated for weeks (all of which is not the case in San Francisco). These elements (and a million others) boil together and make the community spirit infectious and distinct.

 

 

Maybe you already knew what a prize Portsmouth is but, for anyone like me who was wondering why Stout Heart chose to make its home here, hopefully the answer has become clear. Why Portsmouth? Why anywhere but Portsmouth?