Ask a Local: New Hampshire Transcript
I love New Hampshire. It's got so much to offer, whether you’re interested in history or looking to get out into nature, or you want to experience culture or the arts. I grew up in the country on a dairy farm actually, so for me, Portsmouth was the big city. I remember coming with my parents to Portsmouth to come see a show, see a gallery. And it was always such an amazing experience.
I always wanted to be a performer. I love everything about the stage. The spotlight, the audience – there’s just something magical about transporting people to a different place. After college, I wanted a life in the arts. And knowing that Portsmouth had that is what attracted me here. There are people making their living as artists and they've got this cultural life beyond just their day-to-day jobs. Here at the Music Hall where I work, we have performances year-round. In the summertime, there's always something good going on at Prescott Park. There are producing houses like Seacoast Rep and the Players Ring. There's just always something going on.
I have to say, everyone here has a creative practice of some sort. Take for example Kristina Logan. She's a world-renowned bead maker. Her work’s in the Smithsonian, and she lived right next door to me. And then you've got all of these chefs who come here to take advantage of the fresh seafood and the locally grown produce, and it's really made Portsmouth a culinary destination. Actually, we call it a “little big city” because there’s just so much happening in this little place. We’re an hour outside of Boston. We’ve really got everything from a historic downtown with the best food to these amazing beaches where, to be honest, the water’s not always that warm, but they're still a great place to explore.
In addition to the sandy beaches, there are also these great wooded beaches. They’re perfect for kayaking. You can try New Castle Common; it’s one of my favorite spots. You’ve got the playground and you can go fishing there. It's just wonderful.
Portsmouth used to be kind of a gritty place, between the shipyard and the working port, not to mention the brothels. But in the ’70s and ’80s, a lot of those industrial buildings got to turn into lofts and studios spaces, and artists from all over New England started moving in.
Alongside the artists moving in, we started to get some really great restaurants. It started as just a trickle, but now we've got more restaurant seats than residents and we’re a culinary destination. On that note, you should definitely try the lobster rolls and oysters while you're here. You've got to go see Matt Louis who's recreating traditional American recipes at his restaurant, Moxy. And go see Jack Blalock. He opened one of the original riverfront restaurants, the Old Ferry Landing. And he’s actually the mayor now.
Yep, I’m also the mayor. So, this is my other job at City Hall. Fun fact: I was actually born a few offices down the hall back when this was Portsmouth Hospital.
Yeah, once you’re here for a couple of days, you'll see a lot of the same characters around town. It’s called “the city of the open door,” and everyone's really friendly. You can't help but feel welcome. Come by the coffee shops if you want to meet the locals. We also have some great cafes. Mayor Jack will probably be there with a book, and it’s a great place to meet some new friends and find someone to recommend your next dinner spot. Like I said, you'll see a lot of familiar faces.
Then, you might want to sit out and watch the working port. But definitely don't miss one of the great performances while you're in town. Check out the beaches. Take out a kayak. And then head to the White Mountains for nature like you've never seen.
White Mountains Speaker:
I started coming to the White Mountains when I was a little kid. I think I was probably about 7 or 8 the first time. My parents would bring me out here and I remember just walking around and exploring nature. I was kind of a lonely kid when I was here, I think a little homesick, and it was really comforting out here. I actually didn't realize the impact that it had on me until years later. I was living in the city and going through a divorce. Sometimes that kind of pain I think, brings you back and makes you want that original source of comfort that you knew. So, I found myself back in the White Mountains.
I spent some time on the trails. I camped and walked, and I just started to heal. And then I decided to stay. Now I volunteer as an Alpine Steward with the Appalachian Mountain Club. Our job is to help other people connect with the outdoors and with nature, to teach people to be good environmental stewards, so that we can protect the trails and keep them in good working order for years to come.
I think when people think of the White Mountains, they think about Mount Washington, which is the highest peak in the northeast. In the winter, Mount Washington is formidable. It’s so high, it actually has its own climate and weather station. You can go to the top of Mount Washington by train or by the Auto Road in the summertime. Mount Washington is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges. There's 48 4,000-footer peaks that people like to hike in the area. But there's actually a lot more to the White Mountains than that.
A lot of people come up here to climb and hike and ski. But there's also lots of valleys and forests and beautiful lake areas to explore. We actually have some of the best climbing in the world. Cannon Cliff in particular is renowned. But if climbing is not your thing, you can also take a tram up Cannon Mountain to get some great views of Franconia Ridge.
You can really be as connected with nature as you want here. There are remote trail cabins across the mountains that you can stay in. Or you can try one of the old resorts that were built in the 1800s. They're pretty impressive. And I need to get down there more often, but there's also the Lakes region, which is beautiful. We also have this scenic drive; we call it the Kanc. It connects you with a lot of cute towns like Lincoln and North Conway. North Conway has a five-and-dime and a general store, and it's really close to the village of Jackson.
I’ve always liked Jackson; it has a small-town vibe and it's really iconic. In Jackson, you'll find all these great inns and taverns. The Wildcat Inn has been there forever. They do a pasta night and it's a great way to meet the locals. There's also this breakfast place called Yesterdays. They have amazing pancakes, and that’s also where you’ll find the regulars. And if you're here in the winter, go to Nestlenook Farms, where you can go snowshoeing and drink hot cocoa out by the frozen pond. In the winter, you can also go on a horse-drawn sleigh ride. It's just a magical place and what could be better than sharing that?