15 Things To Do With Kids in Olde Towne

Date: September 4, 2018 By: Kitty Bryant Category: Uncategorized

When my husband and I bought our first house in Olde Towne eight years ago, we loved the neighborhood’s history and the walkability to restaurants and bars. This would be our party house! Exactly one year later, we had our first child and our night life totally changed. But, we quickly realized that Olde Towne is a fantastic place to raise kids! Last year, we had our third child and bought the beautiful house down the street. Our neighbors raised their three kids in this house and we plan to do just the same. Here are 15 things we love to do with kids in Olde Towne.

1. The Childrens’ Museum 

This museum is an absolute gem in Olde Towne. It was renovated a few years ago and draws people from all over the region. If you live in Olde Towne, it’s a great way to spend a rainy, hot or wintery day. An hour in the train room is sometimes all you need to get little kids out of the house.














2. Red Lion Playground

Another treasure in Olde Towne is hidden just down the street from the Childrens’ Museum. This pocket playground is old school, which fits with the charm of the neighborhood. It’s leafy and quiet on Middle Street and just across the way, the neighborhood dogs gather to play each afternoon. Catch it on a fall afternoon and it feels like everyone in Olde Towne is out to play.

3. The ferry to Norfolk

One of our favorite summer activities is hoping on the ferry to Norfolk’s Towne Pointe Park. It’s right next to Waterside and has fountains for kids to run through and shaded tables for a picnic lunch. In the evenings, the ferry will also take you straight to Harbor Park for a Tides game. Riding under the Berkeley Bridge is almost as entertaining as the game itself.

4. The Seawall

Our kids have learned to walk, run, ride scooters and now race their bikes along the seawall. It’s breezy, the view is beautiful and it’s a great place to watch the boats, ships and helicopters pass by – especially from the top of the LOVE sign!

5. The Flea Market

On the first Saturday of each month, the Antiques to Flea Market pops up in one of Olde Towne’s parking garages. The thrill of taking the dollar your grandparents gave you and negotiating on Matchbox cars is like no other!

6. Outdoor concerts and movies

There are tons of opportunities to catch free, live music in Olde Towne. The city regularly hosts concerts along the seawall in the summer season. The Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center also hosts concerts in their courtyard on the first Friday of each month. If a movie is more your speed, Dominion Energy hosts a free spring/summer movie series at the Union Bank and Trust Pavilion.

7. Christmas in Olde Towne

Olde Towne is fun for kids all year ’round, not just in the summer! The Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center is home to Winter Wonderland: The Coleman Collection. Portsmouth natives remember these old-fashioned animatronic figures fondly and kids today love them too. They are unique, quirky and quaint – just like Olde Towne! Christmas carolers, beautiful decorations and a childrens’ parade are also all part of Olde Towne’s Christmas calendar. And if you’re here for New Year’s Eve, the Olde Towne Scottish Walk is definitely worth a go!

8. Ghost Walk

Another holiday favorite is the Olde Towne Civic League’s annual Ghost Walk. If you have older kids, this is a fun way to let them be spooked while learning a bit about the neighborhood’s history. Follow a guide who leads you by lantern light through the dark streets. Along the way, costumed actors will tell you stories about the ghosts who live in some of the city’s most historic homes! Check out the gravestones at Trinity Church while you’re there. Many date back to the American Revolution!

9. The Commodore

If you have older kids, another awesome spot is the Commodore movie theater. This restored Art Deco-style theater serves dinner, drinks and snacks and has a super cool old-fashioned Hollywood feel.

10. Walking on High Street

My kids are always content to go for a walk because we usually have a purpose: visiting the library, buying a birthday gift at the Little Shoppes, picking out candy at the dollar store, or going for dinner at a local restaurant. Plenty of restaurants have outdoor seating, perfect for kids. Many also offer kids deals on certain nights.

11. The Farmers’ Market

This is a great way to get everyone up and out of the house on a Saturday morning. The vendors here are so friendly too. My oldest was so fascinated with an oversized carrot a few weeks ago that the farmer threw it in for free with our purchase! This small town kindness is what makes the market so great.

12. Memorial Day Parade

Portsmouth’s parade is one of the oldest in the nation and is always a delight. It’s full of firetrucks, marching bands and veterans – exactly what a local parade should have. It’s easy to find a spot along High Street to sit and watch – and catch a piece of candy as the floats go by.

13. Lightship Portsmouth

If you follow London Street all the way to the Elizabeth River, you’ll find this cool ship now docked as a museum. It’s more than 100 years old and is a national historic landmark. Inside, a tour guide will tell you about how people lived and worked on the lightship. There are of nooks and crannies to pop into and artifacts to see.

14. Hill House Museum

This Hill sisters left this house and its entire contents to the Portsmouth Historical Society and when you visit, you get to see a treasure trove of antiques, art, clothes, musical instruments, knick-knacks and more. They’re all part of the house’s nearly 200 year history. Volunteers have been working hard to properly preserve this special piece Olde Towne history and they’re adding new programs and events.


15. Local festivals

There’s always a festival in Olde Towne! The Bier Garden’s Oktoberfest, The Seawall Art Show, The Umoja Festival, The Olde Towne Holiday Music Festival and many more! Ice cream, balloon animals, a bounce house? For kids, it doesn’t get much better than this!

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