One of my favorite things about living in New England is that, even thirteen years later, there are so many new places to explore! Recently we took a weekend trip up to New Castle, New Hampshire, a small island off of Portsmouth. I’ve been to Portsmouth multiple times (see tips for spending a weekend in Portsmouth here) but had never heard of New Castle despite it being right next door! Literally – 10 minutes.
Where to Stay:
We stayed at Wentworth by the Sea Resort and Spa. The grand hotel has been running since 1874 and was massively restored in 2003. The facilities are beautiful and the location on New Castle Island marina means a fantastic view is never too far away. The hotel has heated pools and hot tubs both inside and outside, as well as tennis courts, a golf course, and spa.
The hotel boasts a beautiful marina with a short “boardwalk” where you can check out the boats. The outdoor saltwater pool was one of our favorite spots! The pool was sizeable, the chairs were plentiful, and the view was beautiful.
Since the island is so small, there aren’t many other options for lodging. A new boutique hotel, Great Island Inn, recently opened up on the island and looks adorable. Portsmouth is only 10 minutes away and has many more hotel options.
What to Do:
The best part about New Castle Island is that it’s so small – 2.4 square miles to be exact! Since nearly all the the island is residential most roads have a 20 mph speed limit and there’s very little traffic, it’s a great place for biking! We tooled around on our bikes exploring every road in New Castle, admiring the beautiful coastal views and homes.
On your walk biking around the island you can stop by Great Island Waterfront – a small local park with waterfront for small kids.
Also on the island is the historic Fort Constitution. The public is permitted to walk through the U.S. Coast Guard base to check out the old fort. It has fallen into disrepair, but was still worth a look around, plus you can see the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse up close.
There’s very little in terms of a village in New Castle, but there is Henry’s Market and it’s a perfect pit stop for coffee, smoothies, sandwiches, or a sweet treat. I went back two days in a row for their lemon meringue cupcakes!
There is no shopping area in New Castle Island, but I did manage to swing by the one antique shop we saw – Sweet Carolines. If it’s shopping you’re after you’ll want to head over to Portsmouth.
Across the Piscataqua River is Ordione State Park. We were intending on checking it out a bit more thoroughly, but there was a huge benefit bike race happening in the park as we arrived, so we decided to leave it for next time.
Where to Eat:
We divided up our meals between New Castle Island and Portsmouth.
New Castle Eats:
Henry’s Market has great ice coffee, sticky buns, lemon meringue cupcakes. Next time I’d definitely go back to try their breakfast sandwiches or sandwich options for a casual lunch.
The Golden Egg is a classic greasy spoon diner. It was really busy, but they moved people in and out quickly.
Latitudes is located on the Wentworth by the Sea premises. It’s a beautiful location with great views. I’d go for lunch for the tacos or burger. We went for dinner and entrees were pricey and a bit lackluster. You can enjoy the very same gorgeous view from the Wentworth by the Sea poolside bar as well!
The Green Bean Cafe is located on the “boardwalk” along the Wentworth by the Sea marina. Great views and great burgers.
The Ice House has fried seafood and the only ice cream place we saw on the island. I’ll admit, my ice cream came to me half-melted so the experience was a little meh in my opinion.
Our favorite meal of the weekend was the dinner we enjoyed in Portsmouth at Cava.
Cava is a wine bar with great tapas and a beautiful outdoor dining space with vertical gardens. The paella and tuna were highlights.
Ceo for delicious gelato.
Surf is a classic seafood restaurant with views overlooking the river.
On past visits I’ve enjoyed the Portsmouth Brewery and Book and Bar.
We had a great time exploring New Castle Island and look forward to returning!