23 Best & Fun Things to Do in Portsmouth (VA)

Portsmouth, located in southeastern Virginia, United States, is an independent city with a growing population. Its population in 2021 was 97,840.

Portsmouth is in Portsmouth City County and can be found on the south shore of the Elizabeth River, opposite Norfolk City.

Portsmouth is an admirable place because of its outstanding beauty and, as such, a recommendable tourist attraction.

Portsmouth is also rich in culture and has lots of exciting history. There are amazing historical places in Portsmouth, including The Commodore Theatre, Portsmouth Children’s Museum, St. John’s Episcopal Church, and many more.

Are you planning to visit Portsmouth? Here is a list of the best and fun things to do in Portsmouth, VA.

Things to Do In Portsmouth, VA

1. The Elizabeth River Boardwalk

Elizabeth River Boardwalk
Credits: eutrophication&hypoxia / Flickr
Elizabeth River Boardwalk

Exploring the Elizabeth River Boardwalk is one of the best things to do in Portsmouth, VA.

Elizabeth River Boardwalk is a fantastic place for a lovely walk. You could come here for an evening stroll or even for sightseeing.

As a visitor with kids, you could come with your kids for them to enjoy the lovely view of the Elizabeth River, and you could also take beautiful family pictures since there are lovely spots.

There are many attractions in Elizabeth River’s surroundings, including the historical Naval Medical Center, which has been in existence since 1827 and still functioning.

The view of sunset on the Elizabeth River is fantastic. The air around the corners of the River is also top-notch. You could also dive into the River for a swim if you want.

Another lovely view you could catch in the corners of the River is the Renaissance Hotel; behind this hotel stands the 950-foot-long piece of steel called the Titan and a floating dry pier.

Address: Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

2. The Elizabeth River Ferry

Elizabeth River Ferry
Credits: Kenya Allmond / Flickr
Elizabeth River Ferry

One of the fun things to do in Portsmouth, VA, is to join the Elizabeth River Ferry ride. The experience you get from joining the Ferry is one worth remembering.

While onboard, you enjoy the lovely river view and its surroundings. The Ferry runs between Portsmouth and Norfolk.

A ride on the Ferry could relieve your stress, and you could also join the Ferry as a form of sightseeing.

The Ferry leaves every 30 minutes, but the time could change if the weather isn’t favorable for it to travel.

An amazing fact about the Ferry is that it is wheelchair accessible, so you could bring your disabled friends or family to enjoy this fun moment.

This Ferry has an electronic fare box that accepts payment for the ride, and you need to have the specific amount since the fare box can’t give change.

This Ferry is affordable and fun; it is worth trying out in Portsmouth.

Address: 6 Crawford Pkwy, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

3. The Commodore Theatre

Commodore Theatre
Credits: Jimmy Emerson, DVM /  Flickr
Commodore Theatre

The Commodore Theatre is a historical landmark in Portsmouth, VA. It was established in 1945 and has been making a name for itself.

The Commodore Theatre is among the top listed places in the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.

This Theatre was close to crumbling years back, but a man named Fred Schoenfeld came through for the Theatre and helped it rise again.

Fred did lots of damage repairs in the Theatre ranging from the faulty ceilings to the artwork in the auditorium and those in the Lobby.

Currently, the Commodore Theatre is doing well; you will be captivated by its beauty. Its bonus for its customers includes a free dual charging spot for Tesla Vehicles.

The Commodore Theatre is highly patronized by locals and guests of Portsmouth. They also have a fantastic restaurant whose settings are like that of a club.

One lovely thing about their restaurant is that they have a phone ordering system that connects you to the kitchen as long as you are in the restaurant.

The Commodore Restaurant is a place loved by many, so as a visitor to Portsmouth, it is worth adding to your list of the best places to visit in Portsmouth, VA.

Address: 421 High St, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

4. Skipjack Marine Gallery

Skipjack Marine Gallery
Credits: Kwangmoozaa / Shutterstock

Still indecisive about what to do in Portsmouth, VA? Check out Skipjack Marine Gallery. There are lots of lovable marine wares here at Skipjack, ranging from ship bells to doors, windows, and many more.

They also offer sailing instruments, ship models, jewelry, historic nautical furniture, home decorations, and lots more for Sailors.

Skipjack Marine Gallery is a fun place to visit in Portsmouth, both for the old and the young, because you will definitely see something you would love.

The best part of the Gallery is that it can be accessed using water, road, and also foot,

If you are visiting with kids, you could also come by with them and get them some Nautical toys; they would also love to see the beauty of this place.

Address: 620 High Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States.

5. St. John’s Episcopal Church

St. John’s Episcopal Church
Credits: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock
St. John’s Episcopal Church

St. John’s Episcopal Church is a historical church in Portsmouth worth visiting.

This Church came into existence in 1848 under the Diocese of Virginia. It is a well-known church in Portsmouth frequented by lots of people, both locals and visitors.

St. John’s Episcopal Church is the second Episcopal community in Portsmouth. The Church was built using rose granite from Salisbury. In the Church stands a huge rose window on the east side of the Church and a gauze window above the altar.

When the Yellow fever Pandemic hit Portsmouth in 1855, Rev. James Chisholm, the first priest of St. John’s, refused to run off; instead, he stayed back and looked after the sick ones.

After some time, Rev. James passed away because he got infected with the disease, to the dismay of the members of St. John’s.

The Church is still in existence to date and is flourishing. So while visiting Portsmouth, it will be nice to visit this Church; you could come for a service or sightseeing.

Address: 424 Washington St, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

6. The Homes and History Walk Tour

Come for a tour with Mary Veale and the colonials, and you won’t regret what you did. This is an amazing event in Portsmouth you wouldn’t like to miss for anything; as such, add it to your list of top things to do in Portsmouth, VA.

The Homes and History Walk Tour lets you see lovely places in Portsmouth. This tour is organized by a cast of competent performers. They take you through historical sites and show you historical things in Portsmouth, which will leave you astonished.

On this tour, you’re bound to learn new things and meet and mingle with new people, as Portsmouth has many historical stories. While on tour, you get to visit various homes of well-known dignitaries and significant places frequented by prominent people of Portsmouth.

You never get bored or tired on this tour because local history guide personalities mostly head the tour. All these people are well-oriented when it comes to the history of Portsmouth.

The best part of this tour is that most times, you will be taken to the actual location of where these historical events took place in Portsmouth, and it will make you feel like you were there when it happened.

Address: Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

7. Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve

Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve
Credits: Popartic / Shutterstock

Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve is a well-known reserve In Portsmouth. It is a large reserve that covers up to 142 acres of land.

It consists of wetlands, a wooden forest, and an exceptional saltwater lake. It is a suitable environment for animals of various breeds.

This Wildlife Preserve is the only lasting preserve in Portsmouth, which is why it is well-known.

The Preserve is concentrated on education, research, conservation, and recreation. While on a visit to the Preserve, you can never get bored. There are lots of fantastic views to amaze you.

Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve also features many exciting activities to keep you entertained, ranging from wildlife games to kayaking, hiking, and many more.

Hiking in this Preserve is a fantastic experience; it has a 3-mile hiking trail extending to four territories.

This environment consists of a meadow of grasses and wildflowers, a salty lake, and lots more fantastic views to feed your eyes.

A few things are being prohibited here to keep the preserve safe from harm; they include smoking, bringing pets, fishing, smoking, and running. This Preserve is one of the best places to visit in Portsmouth, VA.

Address: 4510 Twin Pines Road, Portsmouth, VA 23703, United States

8. Ellen’s Homestyle & BBQ Express, LLC

Ellen’s Homestyle & BBQ Express, LLC
Credits: INTHEBLVCK / Shutterstock

This is another exciting place to visit in Portsmouth. Ellen’s Homestyle and Barbeque Express is a place that is worth your time.

Ellen’s Homestyle is owned by a black, and just like its name, “homestyle,” it offers homemade food.

What’s more acknowledging about this restaurant is that their meals are made mainly with locally obtained natural stocks.

Ellen’s offers lunch, brunch, dinner, and lots more. Ellen’s Homestyle is also into catering and is known for providing quality services to their customers.

If you are looking for a caterer for your birthdays or any form of party or celebration, Ellen’s has got you covered.

Address:4206 Portsmouth Blvd, Portsmouth, VA 23701, United States

Also, check out the best of attractions and activities in Culpeperand Harrisonburg for a fun vacation in Virginia.

9. Lightship Portsmouth

Lightship Portsmouth
Credits: James Hatcher / Flickr
Lightship Portsmouth

Lightship Portsmouth was established in 1915. It was initially known as a lighthouse because it operated as a floating lighthouse in the past.

The floating lighthouses were used where it was impossible to build formal ones. This happened between April 1820 and March 1985.

Around this time, 179 ships served 116 stations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Currently, only 20 floating lighthouses are in existence.

The Lightship Portsmouth was first implemented in Wilmington. It is an extraordinary ship designed with a steel whaleback hull, making it possible to survive on stormy days at sea.

The Lightship is one of the best things to explore in Portsmouth. It has hollow masts, which give light to the ship.

This ship guarded the overfalls of shallows in Delaware. While in Delaware, the ship underwent lots of changes which included a new fog horn, an improved structure, an upgraded diesel engine, and electrified lights.

Currently, the Lightship has retired, and it is now a museum. It served the coasts of Virginia, Massachusetts, and Delaware for 48 years.

The Lightship was regarded as a historic landmark in 1989. Lightship Portsmouth, as a museum, explains and teaches people about the history of lightships and Mariners.

Address: London And Water Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

10. Portsmouth Children’s Museum

Portsmouth Children’s Museum
Credits: Kelly Verdeck / Flickr
Portsmouth Children’s Museum

If you are visiting with kids, Portsmouth Children’s Museum is a beautiful place to bring your children to have a good time.

In the Museum, they learn new things, especially about Portsmouth’s history and other essential things.

Your kids also get to have fun, making the Museum entertaining and educational. This Museum is not only for Children, as you might get discouraged just by hearing its name.

Although it’s mostly for kids, there are most things in the Museum Adults don’t even know, so it’s advisable to accompany your kids to the Museum.

This Museum is an excellent place to have a family time out. Its environment is friendly and refreshing too.

The Museum features lots of unique exhibits. It also has a working Port with a waterfront area, making it a heavenly sight.

The Museum also has a Train and Toy Collection. You will see lots of unusual toys and trains you haven’t seen before.

One strict policy about this Museum is that you need tickets to enter the museum, and the tickets are booked online.

Address: 221 High St, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

11. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum
Credits: Michael Tefft / Flickr
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum came into existence in 1949 but was later moved years later from its old site to a new site which is downtown and more open to the public.

The Museum grew massively and also attracted more people, both locals, and visitors. With time, its exhibition also grew. They had more antiques, ranging from different ship models to firearms and much more historical naval equipment.

This Museum is one of the best when it comes to naval history. As a visitor to Portsmouth and a lover of the Navy and ships, this museum is a must-visit.

The Museum also offers programs where you can learn more about naval history, so if you have the time to stop by while in Portsmouth, it is worth your time.

Address: 2 High St, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

12. The Coffee Shoppe

The Coffee Shoppe
Credits: Bojan Pesic / Shutterstock

The Coffee Shopee is a significant attraction in Portsmouth because its building is a 200 years old federal-style structure. 

The Coffee Shopee was established in 2009 and is situated in the Olde Towne Portsmouth, a perfect location for a local Cafe.

This Cafe is loved by many, both locals and guests, and always has good recommendations from those who have visited the Cafe.

The Cafe is primarily famous because they are the best at what they do. They are always there for you whenever you need them. They offer breakfast, lunch, pastries, and lots more.

They also offer lattes, cappuccino, smoothies, parfait, espresso, and lots more enticing things on their menu.

This is a place you could stop by to have a quiet and good time to yourself. You could also bring your kids here to have breakfast or lunch; they would love it here.

Address: 300 High St, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

13. Jewish Museum And Cultural Center

Jewish Museum & Cultural Center
Credits: Jewish Museum & Cultural Center / Facebook
Jewish Museum & Cultural Center

The Jewish Museum And Cultural Center is a beautiful place in Portsmouth. This place teaches a lot about the Jewish people’s history, faith, and culture.

This place is of great significance to Portsmouth. It has existed since 1918 and is still a center of attraction in Portsmouth.

The Jewish Museum was formerly known as the Chevra T’helim Synagogue. It was loved and attended by Orthodox Jew believers.

In 1985 the Chevra T’helim Synagogue stopped functioning and was revived again in 2008 and has been blossoming ever since.

The Museum is one of the first amazing sights that welcome you to Portsmouth. The Museum is a must-visit in Portsmouth, and the story surrounding the museum is even lovelier.

Address: 607 Effingham St, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

14. Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum

Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum
Credits: Capt1922 [CC BY-SA 3.0], Wikimedia Commons
Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum
Aside from the regular kinds of books you get to see in a Library, Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum also contains books that teach about the culture and history of Portsmouth.

The Library Museum is also regarded as a historical landmark in Portsmouth. The Library Museum was established in 1937 inside the historic St. James Episcopal Church.

Currently, the museum stands along Elm Ave street and has been doing well. It’s so far, one of the major attractions in Portsmouth.

This is a great place to explore, read books, and learn new things, especially about Portsmouth and its people and culture.

Address: 904 Elm Ave, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

15. Southern Flair Seafood & More

Southern Flair Seafood & More
Credits: Southern Flair Seafood & More Llc / Facebook
Southern Flair Seafood & More

Southern Flair Seafood And More is an ideal place in Portsmouth. Southern Flair is known for the beautiful meals they serve.

It is a place frequently visited by both locals and guests in Portsmouth. The food served here is top-notch, and their customer service is one to write about.

Southern Flair Seafood and More is primarily for lovers of seafood. You are bound to come back after your first visit to this place.

If you are visiting Portsmouth and you are coming with kids, Southern Flair Seafood is a place they would love to visit too.

Southern Flair serves various meals with crab, shrimp, lobster, and lots more. Southern Flair is also known for their special homemade garlic butter and delicious banana pudding. The meals offered at Southern Flair can lighten up a person’s mood.

Address: 3933 Unit B, Turnpike Road, Portsmouth, VA 23701, United States

Check out the things to do in Tysons Corner, and things to do in Woodbridge for a memorable exploration of Virginia.

16. Longboard’s Lounge, Portsmouth

Longboard's Lounge, Portsmouth
Credits: Longboards Portsmouth/ Facebook
Longboard’s Lounge, Portsmouth

Longboard’s Lounge is well-known as a Hawaiian bar and grill in Portsmouth. It is known for its delicious dishes.

Longboard’s Lounge started operations in 2008 and was formerly known as Longboard’s Hawaiian Grill.

Longboard’s Lounge is a place for everyone; they offer one of the best homemade dishes in Portsmouth.

Longboard is a fantastic place to visit since it also features a bar; you could come here to relax while sipping a glass of wine or beer.

Longboards also feature live music every weekend.

Address: 440 High Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

17. Umoja Fest

Umoja Fest is a remarkable and historical feast in Portsmouth. It is a ceremony that unites Portsmouth locals. One of the fun things to do in Portsmouth, VA, is to attend the Umoja Festival.

The term Umoja means Unity in Kiswahili. The Umoja Fest is an African-American culture festival that is done annually. The Umoja Fest was given its name since it best defines what the festival is all about.

As a visitor to Portsmouth, this festival is worth attending, but that is if you are visiting at the time of the festival since it’s done once a year.

This festival could help you to interact with its locals and meet new people. You could make new friends too.

If you are visiting with your family or friends, you should bring them along to have fun together.

This festival is done for two days, accompanied by a live performance from different artists and different genres of music.

There are also fun activities specifically designed for kids to have a good time; games, crafts, and lots more enticing things. At this festival, you also view historical sculptures, prints, and varieties of local foods.

You shouldn’t miss out on the Umoja Festival during your visit to Portsmouth.

Address: 901 Crawford St, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

18. The Hill House Museum

Hill House Museum
Credits: Hill House Museum / Facebook
Hill House Museum

The Hill House Museum was established by Thompson John, a famous businessman and entrepreneur, in 1825.

The Hill House Museum was initially the home of the Hill family. It has been in existence for more than 190 years. The Hill mansion housed three generations of the Hill family.

The Hill House was gifted to the government in 1960 by the remaining surviving persons of the Hill family.

As a visitor to Portsmouth, the Hill House Museum is a fantastic place to visit; you get the hear about the Hill family and also see things for yourself. What is more interesting about the Hill Family is that they gave their building and everything in it.

Most things inside the Museum include furniture, household items, pottery, carpets, paintings and pictures, and lots more.

The Hill mansion is an essential asset to the Hills and has also become an important place to the people of Portsmouth.

Address: 221 North St, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

19. Pollard’s Chicken

Pollards Chicken
Credits: Pollards Chicken & Catering in Portsmouth / Facebook
Pollard’s Chicken

If you are a chicken lover visiting Portsmouth, this place is worth checking out. The dishes served here are excellent and delicious. Pollard’s is one of the best for chicken, which is evident because of its name.

One of the specialties offered in Pollard is tasty Two Chicken Breasts. They also offer mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheeseburger, fish sandwich Cuban, and lots more unique dishes.

Although the restaurant has existed for several years, and so has its building, its building and environment are a lovely view one would love to see.

It is a perfect place for everyone, both old and young alike. It is also an excellent family bonding place for those visiting with their family.

Address: 4806 George Washington Highway, Portsmouth, VA 23702, United States

20. Portsmouth Cultural Arts District Tour

Portsmouth Cultural Arts District Tour
Credits: Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center / Facebook
Portsmouth Cultural Arts District Tour

Portsmouth Cultural Arts District Tour is one of the top things to do in Portsmouth, VA. While on tour, they take you to unique places in Portsmouth, VA.

The Portsmouth Cultural Arts District Tour is one of the best things to involve yourself in Portsmouth.

This tour helps guests in Portsmouth to know more about Portsmouth and its most fantastic features.

You get to explore many places in Portsmouth while on tour; you also get to see many historic and non-historic buildings, churches, event centers, restaurants, and many more.

Portsmouth Cultural Arts District Tour helps give a person more insight into the history of Portsmouth. There are lots of amazing things you get to see while on tour, one of which includes the Bronze Toad Sculpture.

The Bronze Toad Sculpture is generally known as I Have Been Kissed. It is typically the first stop on the Portsmouth Cultural Tour. The bronze toad is a mystical and historical structure in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth Cultural Arts District Tour is an activity that should be on every tourist list. It is not only fun but also educational.

While on the Portsmouth Cultural Arts District tour, you also get to see the Legend Brewing depot, First Order Fresnel Lens, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum, the statue of Colonel William Crawford, the founder of Portsmouth, and lots more.

Address: High St, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

21. Lobscouser Seafood Restaurant

Lobscouser Seafood Restaurant
Credits: Wanessa_p / Shutterstock

Your stay in Portsmouth won’t be complete without food, of course. So, on your checklist of what to do in Portsmouth, VA, should be dining in Lobscouser Seafood Restaurant.

Lobscouser is a famous and fabulous seafood restaurant in Portsmouth. Lobscouser, put in one word, is amazing. Their seafood is fresh and delicious, and they are neat.

The Restaurant also has a lovely interior and exterior decoration; It is amazingly decorated with watercolor paintings.

Interestingly, A Ship’s Chef is nicknamed a Lobscouser, so the Restaurant has to do with sailor’s food fantasy.

Address; 337 High Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

22. Portsmouth Farmers Market

Portsmouth Farmers Market
Credits: Denis Tabler / Shutterstock

Portsmouth Farmers Market is equipped with lots of quality and fresh farm produce. It is situated in the heart of Olde Towne, Portsmouth.

It is a famous place in Portsmouth, frequently visited by locals and guests. Portsmouth Farmer’s Market offers many items, including seafood, seasonal farm produce, poultry and eggs, and lots more.

You also get to see quality home-baked foods, sauces, local honey, jam, pickles, handmade lotions and soaps, and lots more at the market. They also trade jewelry and other beautiful accessories.

Portsmouth Farmers Market is fully stocked with whatever you need, and the environment is neat and welcoming. The vendors at the market are also friendly and nice.

They also hold events at the market most time to keep vendors and customers entertained.

You also get to find varieties of lovely flowers with unique scents to give your partner. There is just something for everyone. There is also a large parking lot for car owners so that you can come with your car.

Address: 400 High St, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

23. Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel

Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel
Credits: Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel / Facebook
Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel

Of course, while planning a trip to a particular area, you must look for a place to lay your head for the duration of your stay.

Renaissance is the place for you. It is affordable, and its services are top-notch. It is a popular hotel in Portsmouth, VA, with notable recommendations.

The atmosphere at Renaissance is fantastic, and it would make a person want to stay more at the hotel. It is a home away from home.

Renaissance has a nice view of the Elizabeth River from each room, making it epic and classical.

Renaissance Waterfront Hotel services, food, outdoor space for relaxation, conference room for business class people, and lots more are just so amazing.

Address: 425 Water Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704, United States

Take to exploring other cities of Virginia. Check out our list of things to do in Richmondthings to do in Front Royal, and things to do in Cape Charles.

Plan Your Trip to Portsmouth

Portsmouth, VA, is one of the best tourist locations with unique historical places and buildings.

This area is also rich when it comes to its culture. They have special fresh meals that every tourist or guest would like to taste.

Portsmouth is generally a fantastic place and undoubtedly one of the best places to spend your vacation.