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Living in Southern California,
the idea of going to another state means taking a road trip. Yes, we are bordered by Mexico, which we can drive to. Las Vegas is a short jaunt, and Arizona is close behind. But in Southern Maine, the next state is just a bridge away.
As you will see in my previous posts, I took a road trip through Kennebunkport, then to Ogunquit, and onto Kittery and Portsmouth. The special part about this portion of my trip is the distance of two small cities in different states that are connected by a bridge — one up and coming, the other full on thriving.
Where to stay...
Because Portsmouth and Kittery are so close, you can get away with staying in one area and still seeing everything. Settle in at the Great Island Inn. It's located in New Castle, which is a scenic five-minute drive from Portsmouth. New Castle is composed entirely of islands, making up a mere 0.8 square miles. Great Island Inn is a newly-renovated historic home offering apartment-style rooms. The nautical theme pairs perfectly with the view outside your window: the Piscataqua River, where colorful lobster boats sway on their moorings, people are kayaking in the glassy water, and birds are constantly flying about.
Where to eat...
Between Portsmouth and Kittery, there are far too many incredible restaurants to call out.
In Downtown Portsmouth, check out Row 34, for oysters and seafood dishes in a sleek space with a hip vibe, or head to "The Decks," a row of restaurants and bars on the Piscataqua River. Sip back a "Jimmy Juice" at The Old Ferry Landing while you watch tugboats pull in and help dock massive vessels carrying precious cargo. But for the very best view in town? Cross the bridge back into Kittery, Maine, and take a left onto Badger's Island West where you'll park it at Morrison's.
It's a quintessential lobster shack where you get to watch the hustle and bustle of Portsmouth but from what feels like your own private dock. Scattered with plastic red chairs and rickety tables, this place is BYOB. Order a pound and a half lobster for yourself, put on your cute lobster bib, and pig out while the sun sets and the sky ignites to a pastel hue you'll have to drop a lobster claw and pick up your camera for.
Other standouts in Kittery include: Locos Coco's Tacos, The Black Birch, and Anju Noodle Bar.
What to do...
Portsmouth is best explored on foot, so ditch the car and walk along Market Square, Congress, Daniel, Pleasant, Bow and Penhallow Streets where eclectic shops and restaurants line the streets. If you're looking for some high-end shopping, you can drop a pretty penny on Deer Street. It wouldn't be a trip to Portsmouth without sauntering through Prescott Park, where more than 500 flower varieties fill the riverside common. Check out a food or beer festival here, and catch a play or concert put on by Prescott Park Arts Festival. Mosey over to the park's pier and catch a view of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard across the harbor. This historic landmark has been here since 1800, where the Navy's submarines have continued to get repaired.
Take the bridge back across to Kittery. The bridge alone is Instagram-worthy, with its iconic vertical-lift system, so keep your journey on foot.
Kittery has developed a booming food and drink scene, and the boutiques and specialty shops that have popped up alongside them, particularly in up and coming downtown Kittery, are worth a look. Grab a coffee at Lil's Cafe, located in Wallingford Square, or settle for a handcrafted cocktail at The Dram.
Some content originally published on RD.com, and republished here with permission.