Enjoy sitting on the banks of the Elizabeth River with a good beer and the incredible views over the harbor.. Let the river breezes take you away as you try the award winning food at Fish & Slips or the great brews from Legend Brewing Depot.
Take a stroll through history
From the American Revolution, to the American Civil War, to modern day, Portsmouth is full of incredible historic properties which are incredible relics of a past that isn’t too far behind us. Experience these monuments to history by taking a walk with Portsmouth’s historical founder Col. William Crawford, or following along the self-guided tour of Portsmouth’s most historic locations.
Catch a movie at the Art-Deco
The Commodore Theater opened its doors in 1945 as a movie lovers dream. The theater was painstakingly restored decades later and now boasts a full restaurant within the main auditorium. Relax and enjoy the latest releases in a theater listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.
Join the spirits for a spooky evening Ghost Walk around Olde Towne where you’ll hear all the local legends. This annual event happens in late October and is a not to be missed event for any ghost hunters. If ghost stories aren’t your thing join the community at the annual Umoja Festival, which celebrates Portsmouth’s African- American Culture and Heritage, now in its 28th year.
Let your imagination run wild
at the Children’s Museum
Bring your little ones to the Children’s Museum Portsmouth and watch as they learn through experience. Gaze at the stars at the Beazley Planetarium and find your whole family transported from Portsmouth to far away planets and solar systems.
Start your weekend off right with the Concerts in the Courtyard series at the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center, where you can enjoy the music of a live band and admission to the Art Center. On Saturday afternoon find the freshest produce from local Chesapeake (location correct?) farmers, bakers, and artisans at the Olde Towne Portsmouth farmers market.
Visit the Lightship Portsmouth
Built in 1915 the Lightship Portsmouth served an important role as a mobile guide for mariners throughout the East Coast to help them safely enter into harbor at night. Now a museum, the lightship is full of period uniforms, photographs of its service and the role it played, and incredible artifacts from its time in use. A truly unique museum, the Lightship Portsmouth should be a stop for any history lover.
Walk along the Elizabeth River
The beauty and bounty of the Elizabeth River brought the Chesepian people, the Powhatan people, and the settlers at Jamestown to its rich banks. Conservationists are now working hard to keep the river clean and restore the fish and oyster populations. Today you can stroll down the newly opened boardwalk near Olde Towne and watch this busy waterway at work.
Murals & Public Art
The Portsmouth Art and Cultural District was only established in July of 2017 but has already made a name for itself with massive murals painted alongside local businesses and statues dotting the area. Keep an eye out for festivals and tours of the area that team up with local businesses, restaurants, and nonprofits to highlight the food and flavor of Portsmouth.
Explore Timeless Churches
Portsmouth may be small, but there is no lack of historic churches and places of worship. Take a walk to Church Square to see the oldest Church in Portsmouth, Trinity Church, which was established in 1762. Then head to North Street to see the Emanuel AME Church which was founded only a few years later in 1792 and is the oldest African-American church in the area. The church served as a stop on the Underground Railroad, and served as a substitute post office.
Enjoy a show at the
Union Bank & Trust Pavilion
Join world class performers at the Union Bank and Trust Pavilion right on the waterfront. Jam out to an incredible array of artists like The Avett Brothers, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Slightly Stoopid, and Vance Joy without venturing far from Olde Towne.
Catch a ride by water
Enjoy spending time on the water with a trip on the Elizabeth River Ferry. The ferry is operated by Hampton Roads Transportation and is a fun and affordable way to see the Portsmouth waterfront and Norfolk, and with ticket prices starting at only $2.00 you don’t have to be worried about breaking the bank. Or if you’ve got a specific location on the waterfront in mind, you can call the Norfolk Portsmouth Water taxi for a direct drop off.
Tour Copper & Oak Distillery
Producing spirits is just in their blood for the distillers at Copper & Oak Distillery; master distiller Skyler Pittman’s great grandfather supplied Al Capone with moonshine during Prohibition. Learn about the process as they turn locally sourced ingredients into gin, whisky, and bourbon and finish your experience with a tasting of their available spirits. Don’t have time for a tour? Stop in and enjoy a hand crafted cocktail in the uniquely designed tasting room.
It’s no surprise that a historic town like Portsmouth has some great museums. There’s something for every one too, from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum to the Railroad Museum of Virginia. Too industrial? Try The Hill House Museum which shows what life was like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries or the Jewish Museum & Cultural Center at the Chevra T’helim Synagogue.
Explore the Olde Towne Squares
Just looking to take a stroll after a busy day at the farmers market or hitting the museums? Wander around Olde Towne and stop by each of the Olde Towne Squares. Back in the day these squares were all given distinct names, and the Portsmouth Heritage Initiative has recently raised the funds to create historic markers displaying what each one is called. Try and make it to all (6? 7?) before turning in for the night.
Enjoy a waterside concert
at High Street Landing
Enjoy watching the sunset over the Elizabeth River as great local musicians perform just for you. Bring a blanket and a loved one, grab a bite to eat, and start your weekend off right with a Sunset Thursday performance.
Dine at uniquely Olde Towne locations
End your adventures in Olde Towne Portsmouth at one of the many incredible restaurants. Stop by Still to start your evening with mouth watering tapas or enjoy the outside patio at the Bier Garden with an authentic Bavarian menu and a top-notch beer selection. You won’t find anything like the food that Portsmouth has to offer.