Portsmouth Harbor Light House-15Portsmouth Harbor Light HousePortsmouth Harbor Light House-18One of the best parts of the New England region, is the amount and variety of interesting places to visit, all within a couple of hours of each other. For locals, it can be a little too easy to forget all there is to see and do. I am lucky enough to live in Massachusetts, and living only a couple of minutes from border, New Hampshire is like my second home state. But in spite of living in the region for most of my life, I must say that I had never been to a New Hampshire lighthouse. The state only has about 18 miles of coastline, which explains why there are only 2 lighthouses in the state, and being so rare and interesting it hard for me to understand why it took me so many years to visit one. The one I wanted to see that day was the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, which is actually in New Castle Island, NH right next door from Portsmouth. The lighthouse is on the grounds of Fort Constitution, and walking through the impressive entrance was like getting a view of a different time.

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The site is currently the home to the U.S. Coast Guard offices, and the old Lighthouse keeper’s house is now an office. The area however, is off limits. Nonetheless, visitors can get tour the lighthouse and even go up to the top during one of The Lighthouse Preservation Society’s open houses during the summer.

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One of the most interesting features of the site, is the way the walls of the once strong fort, have crumbled over time, revealing a rather wide gap that offers access to the rocks and the sea below.
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The man made wall, designed as a form of protection in time of war, almost crumbling into the natural landscape of the ocean is an interesting contrast to the Cast Iron Lighthouse, which is designed to help boats avoid meeting that very fate.
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The Cast Iron Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse was built in 1877, although Fort Constitution has been around since the British first fortified it before 1632. The lighthouse, with its Blue Light, still aids in navigation.

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Portsmouth Harbor Light House-17Portsmouth Harbor Light House-14After wandering around the grounds, ducking into the old passageways and enjoying the cloudy day, we developed quite an appetite.  Luckily there was a great little spot called Henry’s Market, right on New Castle Island, where we went to refuel with some delicious sandwiches before continuing on our short road trip up the coast. New Castle Island also has some fantastic views, and if you’re in the mood for even more history you can visit Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, which is about 10 minutes from the lighthouse.

Do you like visiting lighthouses or historic forts? Which is your favorite lighthouse in New England or anywhere for that matter?

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Written by Karina -mylettersoftransit.com

24 Comments

DB and The Princess (@EatSleepCruise)

Lovely pictures. I lived outside of Portsmouth for a few years and loved it. Your photos have really captured the essence of this area and the surrounding waterways. Really enjoyed your review. Sad to say I never visited the lighthouse when I lived in NH.

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Karina -mylettersoftransit.com

Portsmouth is awesome, and I don’t know why I haven’t visited it more often given that it’s not too far from me. It must’ve been great to live in the area, so much natural beauty mixed with interesting things to do!

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Idaintyit

It looks like you went on a really cold day! Seems like a great place to visit, I like seeing things like this, natural beauty

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Karina -mylettersoftransit.com

It wasn’t as cold as it looks. New England weather has been super erratic this year, we had a couple of unseasonably warm days and I took advantage of them. I am kind of a wimp when it comes to cold, even though I’ve lived here for over 20 years.

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Lana B.

It looks like a great travel destination to add to my list. I love lighthouses; they are magical.

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Karina -mylettersoftransit.com

I would love to see the UK! If you are moving back soon and want a few suggestions on New England spots to hit before you take off. If you DM me on Instagram or any other social media I’d love to help you make the most it while youre still in the area

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Elizabeth O

Your photos of the lighthouse and surrounding area are breathtakingly beautiful! I look forward to visiting the area in the near future. I love lighthouses too. They hold so much history.

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Lindsey Roman

Absolutely gorgeous photos! This looks like such an interesting place. I’m originally from New Hampshire, and somehow have never gone to see a lighthouse in the state! I’ve seen them in other places, but never my home state oddly enough. I definitely want to check this out! :)

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Karina -mylettersoftransit.com

Lindsey, if you can try to go in the summer when theyre holding one of their open houses so you can climb to the top. The Coast Guard officer I spoke to when I was there said you can see a lot of NH from up there as well Maine.

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Amy

Fantastic photographs. Kind of reminds me of back home in Ireland. The overcast sky, the ocean and the lighthouse. Love it.

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Karina -mylettersoftransit.com

It was a super cloudy couple of days when I visited. Now that you mention it perhaps Im finally ready to take that trip to England and Ireland I’ve been worried about because I don’t usually do so great with cloudy day photography but Im getting better.

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Alison

I have never lived in New England and being able to see all these beautiful sights myself but these pictures make me want to! I love how classic and beautiful and strong they are. Thanks for sharing!

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kellyharrold

Wow this is gorgeous! The photography is absolutely lovely. I”ve got to make it up North sometime and see all of the wonderful places you post about!

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