Welcome to your new duty station, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Or is it actually in Maine? This was one of the hardest things to figure out after arriving. It’s sort of like how Fort Campbell straddles the border of Kentucky and Tennessee. Anyway, welcome to the Seacoast area! This is a beautiful place to be, and there is so much to do and to see. After you adjust to the coast winter you’ll appreciate the snow, and learn how to navigate through the wind.
There are plenty of things to do in nearby towns in Maine, New Hampshire, and even Massachusetts. With so many things to do and see in the area, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start. Don’t worry, we have you covered! We have started with the basics here– the places closest to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and base housing (Admiralty Village). These are the places you will want to keep on your go-to list for those days when you just have to do something! Especially if you have just arrived and are new to the area.
6 Places to Visit When Stationed at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
1Mainly Fun Children’s Gym in Kittery, Maine
Located in the Kittery Outlets, this is a favorite of parents with little ones. They have been opened less than a year and we just can’t say enough good things about this place. They have plenty to keep the kids busy, from climbing structures to trampolines and plenty of toys.
When you walk in you are immediately met with the bright and open feeling. This is great for everyone with busy toddlers. Plus you can see just about every space here so there is no fear of the kiddos playing that oh-so-fun game called “Let’s give mommy a panic attack.”
Another thing we just love about this place is the staff, Mainly Fun is a family business and it shows! You are greeted with a smile when you check-in and a “thank you for coming” when you leave. The staff is kind, caring, and we have even spotted them sitting down to play with kids. A few extra perks in the gym are the changing and nursing areas and the snack room. You can bring in your own snacks or purchase them there. They also offer a military discount. Make sure you visit their Facebook page too because they have a lot of fun events and workshops.
2Rumble Tumble in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
This is the second closest indoor play gym in the area, located just a few miles from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. They have a little something for everyone, a jungle gym that goes up to the ceiling, small trampolines, slides and more! This place is a godsend to anyone who just moved to the area and doesn’t have their household goods yet. One of the many cool things about Rumble Tumble is the separate rooms with toys perfect for smaller ones. You can even close the doors for a break if your kids do not want to be in the larger area. They also offer a military discount so be sure to show your ID when you sign in!
3Water Country in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
What summer list would be complete without at least one waterpark! Conveniently located less than 20 minutes from Admiralty Village and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The park has 26 acres of attractions for all ages, including areas for your smaller kiddos to enjoy. From the smaller pools and slides to the large slides, they really do have something to offer everyone here. It is probably best to visit right when they open and on a weekday if you want to avoid crowds. They offer military discounts and special birthday party packages too!
4York’s Wild Kingdom in York, Maine
Is it a zoo or an amusement park? This local favorite is both an amusement park and a zoo! The rides offer something for all ages, even your littlest ones will find plenty to enjoy here. There are a surprising number of rides for younger age groups to enjoy. You can visit the amusement park, the zoo, or even get combo tickets if you want to see it all. They also have food, ice cream, and there is a beach within walking distance from the park.
If you are looking for a place that is small, but still has enough to keep the kids busy check out New England’s only amusement park and zoo. Located in the heart of one of the cutest downtown areas in York, Maine. The Ferris wheel and the merry go round can be seen as you drive up to the park. What a great way to build excitement in your little ones! They offer military discounts too, so make sure to contact the ITT office before your visit.
5Fort Foster in Kittery, Maine
For those of you that are looking for some outdoor fun, this one is for you! Fort Foster is pretty picture perfect. A great place to take family photos or take a walk. You can even bring your dog, or have a picnic. There is a beach, plenty of grassy areas, and a playground! There is also a beautiful wooden pier you can walk out on to get a closer look at the lighthouse. Before your visit, you will want to make sure you get a sticker for your car, so you don’t have to pay for parking. You can pick one up when you register your vehicle at the town hall. Fort Foster is open to visit year-round, but you can only get into the parking lot with your vehicle during the spring and summer months.
We could write a whole list of the beaches alone. Coastal Maine is a beautiful place! Long Sands and Short Sands beaches in York are about 20 minutes from Admiralty Village and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and are definitely favorites among the locals. The names are pretty self-explanatory. Long Sands Beach is 1.5 miles of mostly sand and Short Sands beach is about .25 miles of mostly sand with some tide pools and rocky areas. You may want to take the scenic route between the two beaches and make a stop at the Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick.
Not only are the beaches worth noting here, but there is also an arcade right off of Short Sands beach called Fun-O-Rama. If you need a break from all the sand and sun, make sure you check out the over 200 games and attractions they have to offer. There are also restaurants, shops, and a playground nearby if the beach gets to be too crowded or if you just need a break.
Now that you have an idea of where to start with your adventures at your new duty station, we are pretty confident that you will grow to love this area as much as we do. The base may be smaller than what you are used to, coming from Hawaii it sure was a shock for us, but the surrounding community is amazing and incredibly supportive. We hope that you are able to take advantage of all the fun this area has to offer!
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Photo Credits: Nichole Thruston Photography, Hannah Hurst, Water Country.