The attractive, bustling Seacoast community of Portsmouth doesn't have much in the way of nightlife specifically geared to LGBT clients, but this generally liberal city of 21,000 does have a sizable gay population and is a population getaway for New Englanders farther south, coming from Boston (an hour south), Portland (an hour north), or Providence (two hours away). This historic city with a number of fascinating museums - notably the Strawbery Banke living history complex of colonial buildings, which is well worth a visit- lies at the northern end of the New Hampshire coastline, conveniently located just off of I-95, and with its downtown hugging the shores of the scenic Piscataqua River.
Gay-Friendly and mixed bars in Portsmouth
A few bars and restaurants in the walkable, historic downtown of Portsmouth do have a bit of a gay following, or are at least quite gay welcoming. These include the hip Red Door Lounge (107 State St., 603-373-6827), a swanky martini bar serving sophisticated cocktails (it's beside Dos Amigos Burritos); and Portsmouth Brewery (56 Market St., 603-431-1115), which crafts a fine selection of artisan beers and serves great comfort fare, too. Also quite gay-welcoming is the Daniel Street Tavern (111 Daniel St., 603-430-1011), a laid-back drinkery with a pool table, karaoke, and cheap drinks. It's a bit of a dive, but the crowd is always colorful and often quite diverse. The coffeehouse Breaking New Grounds (16 Market Square, 603-436-9555) draws a diverse crowd for coffee and baked goods throughout the day and evening - in warm weather, grab a table on the sidewalk.
Gay-Friendly restaurants in Portsmouth
You'll also find a number of excellent eateries downtown, where you'll likely encounter a warm welcome, including the Wellington Room (67 Bow St., 603-431-2989), which has lovely views over the Piscataqua River; quirky and groovy Lexie's Joint (212 Islington St., 603-319-4055), which serves terrific burgers (both veggie and meat); and the intimate and fun tapas and Mediterranean wine bar, Cava (10 Commercial Alley, 603-319-1575).
If it's fresh New England seafood you're after, consider the stylish waterfront eatery Surf Restaurant (99 Bow St., 603-334-9855), which has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the river and across to Kittery, Maine. The lobster roll here is superb, with its lobster meat warmed in drawn butter and served in a grilled brioche roll - the raw bar also turns out impressive tiered towers of fresh-caught oysters, smoked trout and salmon, sashimi tuna, and plenty more.
Other gay bars in New Hampshire and Southern Maine
Portsmouth is also just a 30-minute drive south of the gay-popular summer beach town, Ogunquit, and it's a little less than an hour's drive east of the state's largest city, Manchester, which has a couple of gay bars, including The Breezeway and Element Lounge. Do check the Element Lounge website before going, as the bar did close for renovations late in 2016 after sustaining some water damage from a fire on an upper floor of the building.