The busy Elizabeth River provides the perfect backdrop for waterfront dining. Relax and enjoy a cold craft brew from Legend Brewing Depot or try the award-winning seafood at Fish & Slips Marina Raw Bar & Grill. Enjoying delicious food while feeling the cool river breeze and watching the sunset will ensure an evening to remember.
Take a stroll through history
From the American Revolution, to the Civil War, to modern day, Portsmouth is full of incredible historic homes and buildings. Experience the architecture of over 200 historic 18th & 19th century homes by following the self-guided walking tour of Portsmouth’s most historic locations. If walking isn’t for you, call the Olde Towne Courtesy Shuttle at 757 355-0478 for a ride.
Catch a movie at the Art-Deco
The Commodore Theatre opened its doors in 1945 as a movie lover’s dream. The theater was painstakingly restored decades later and now boasts a 40 foot screen, THX and Dolby Digital sound, as well as 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.
Olde Towne has exciting things to do all year, and every season offers its own special events. From the Umoja Festival and the Memorial Day Parade in the spring, the Virginia Craft Beer & Wine Festival and the Ghost Walk in the fall, to Winter Wonderland and the Holiday Music Festival in the winter. When you plan your visit you don’t want to miss these signature events.
Let your imagination run wild
at the Children’s Museum
Bring your little ones to the Children’s Museum of Virginia and watch as they learn through experience. Gaze at the stars in the Beazley Planetarium and find your whole family transported from Portsmouth to far away planets and solar systems. The Children’s Museum is a fun place for children to imagine, explore and discover!
Every Saturday from May through December enjoy yoga in the courtyard, and then stock up on some fresh produce, meat, pastries and more at the Farmers Market. If you are lucky enough to be here on the first weekend, you can also enjoy free admission to the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center as well as a concert in the courtyard Friday night. Then find some treasures at the Olde Towne Antique & Flea Market on the first Saturday of every month. Make the weekend complete with a delicious Sunday brunch at one of our amazing restaurants.
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 the harbor at night. Now a museum, the lightship is full of period uniforms, photographs of its service, 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 Elizabeth River was explored by Captain John Smith in 1608 and named for Princess Elizabeth. Ferries crossed from Norfolk to Portsmouth as early as 1637 with the first steam ferry launched in 1839. On March 8, 1862 the CSS Virginia sailed down the river from the Gosport Shipyard. This river has seen some amazing history. Today you can stroll the newly opened boardwalk and watch this busy waterway at work.
Murals & Public Art
The Portsmouth Cultural Arts District encompasses the waterfront and continues down High Street. Enjoy strolling the brick sidewalks and view more than a dozen examples of public art that are scattered throughout Olde Towne. With whimsical murals like a two-story tall Speckled Trout and statues like the First Amendment Sculpture, there is something for everyone to enjoy!
Explore Timeless Churches
With stained glass windows from Louis Comfort Tiffany, the largest Viscount organ in North America, history from the Underground Railroad and the battle of the Monitor and Merrimac, the churches of Olde Towne have been an integral part of Portsmouth’s rich history and are still active in our current community.
Enjoy a show at the
Union Bank & Trust Pavilion
Located on the banks of the Elizabeth River, the Union Bank & Trust Pavilion is one of the best live entertainment experiences in the Hampton Roads area. This outdoor venue seats 6,500 and presents a broad spectrum of concerts and events that connect audiences to the inspirational power of music.
Catch a ride by water
Enjoy spending time on the water with a trip on the Elizabeth River Ferry. The ferry is a fun and affordable way to see the Portsmouth waterfront or visit Norfolk. Children always find it special and exciting to sit on the top deck and watch the giant ferry wheel churn through the water. If you have a special destination in mind or want a different kind of boat ride, the Norfolk-Portsmouth Water Taxi is just a phone call away.
Tour Copper & Oak Craft Spirits
Producing spirits is just in their blood for the distillers at Copper & Oak Craft Spirits. 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 moonshine. Then finish your experience with a tasting of their spirits. Don’t have time for a tour? Then stop in and enjoy a handcrafted cocktail in the uniquely designed tasting room.
Museums & Galleries
It’s no surprise that a historic town like Portsmouth has some great museums. From art to trains, there’s something for everyone. You can visit the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center, the Railroad Museum of Virginia, or the Jewish Museum & Cultural Center and enjoy a unique museum experience.
Explore the Olde Towne Squares
Named after the English naval port of Portsmouth, England, Olde Towne Portsmouth is laid out in a series of squares. Many of the squares were labeled to designate the use for the property such as CHURCH, MARKET, or PRISON. With help from the writings of Portsmouth historians and an 1851 map, the Portsmouth Heritage Initiative has placed approximately 90 granite stone markers at intersections to commemorate each square’s historical significance. As you stroll the brick streets, you can enjoy discovering a little of Portsmouth’s past.
Enjoy a concert by the water at High Street Landing
Relax and watch the sunset over the Elizabeth River as great local musicians perform just for you. Bring a chair and a loved one, put on your dancing shoes, and get an early start on your weekend with a Sunset Thursday performance.
Dine at Uniquely Olde Towne Restaurants
Our Olde Towne streets are lined with delicious chef-owned restaurants featuring cuisines from around the world. Stop by Gosport Tavern and enjoy their Southern inspired American menu or visit Cafe Europa for an award-winning Mediterranean meal in old world surroundings. Whether you choose one of the 16 restaurants that offer alfresco dining or enjoy your meal in a historic building, you are guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face!