The third-oldest city in the country boasts an enviable waterfront setting, grand architecture, a booming arts and theater scene, and vibrant community spirit. Meander its worn brick streets, flanked by 18th-century homes and historic sites, pretty gardens, and galleries showcasing local and national artists.
MODERN DIGS: The Ale House Inn (121 Bow St., 603-431-7760, www.alehouseinn.com, $139.99-$299.99) is located in a historic brick building, once home to the Portsmouth Brewing Co. Inside the 10-room inn is sleek and contemporary, more urban boutique than country inn. Modern, loft-like rooms have private baths, luxurious linens, and iPads. Guests have free use of Trek cruiser bikes, but the property is within easy walking distance of shops and restaurants. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.