Portsmouth Virginia has a wonderful range of activities for people of any age. Visitors to the city of Portsmouth will want to find the Old Towne section which lies on the western bank of the Elizabeth River right across from Norfolk’s waterside.
The Portsmouth Visitor Information Center is a good starting point when visiting. The center is known for its convenient location, friendly staff, displays and abundance of informational brochures. Exiting the back door of the center, visitors will find the famous Portsmouth Seawall with a spectacular view of Norfolk and some of the enormous Naval ships. The first of two Portsmouth ferry stops is right outside the center.
A trip along the walk takes just a few minutes but allows visitors to choose from a wide range of sights, or to include them all. Looking across the Elizabeth, tourists will spot Nauticus, the American Rover, the park at Waterside and other notable points of interest. Traffic on the river may include the ferries, taxis, sailing vessels, tour boats, cruise ships and naval vessels.
As visitors continue along the seawall, they will find more attractions including the Lightship Portsmouth, the Hog Island Fresnel Lens, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum, the High Street ferry landing, City Hall and the nTelos Pavilion.
Several attractions in Olde Towne and along High Street are within a few minutes of the Visitor Information Center.
The Children’s Museum of Virginia provides fun for kids of all ages. Exhibits include a planetarium, a rock-climbing wall, a giant bubble-making station, a real fire engine, a city bus and the Lancaster Antique Toy and Train Collection, one of the most notable model train collections in the world. The displays help kids learn about science, nature, art and other subjects in a fun setting. The Children’s Museum of Virginia is located at 221 High Street.
The Courthouse Galleries is an art museum which includes two large galleries of exhibits. During Portsmouth’s First Friday events, the Courthouse Galleries often host free musical entertainment. Another special event is the First Sunday of the month when educational programs such as gallery talks and seminars that complement the exhibits are held. The museum also hosts a range of art classes, lectures, poetry readings and book signings. The attraction is housed in a beautiful Greek-Revival building surrounded by a wrought-iron fence and nearly hidden behind massive oak trees that occupy its courtyard. The structure was built in 1846 and served as the Norfolk County Courthouse until 1960. The Courthouse Galleries is located at the corner of High and Court streets.
Lightship Portsmouth Museum is a popular stop in Olde Towne, located at the end of London Street on the waterfront. Visitors to the ship can board and see how the men of the Lightship Service lived during their many months at sea. The Lightship Portsmouth was commissioned in 1915 and has since been restored to its original condition. While in active service, the vessel anchored for months off the coastline, serving Hampton Roads as a vital navigational aid to mariners. In 1989, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum contains exhibits on naval history and local memorabilia The museum was established in 1949 within the nation’s oldest shipyard in Norfolk. The Naval Shipyard Museum was later moved to the Portsmouth waterfront at High Street Landing on the Elizabeth River.
The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum contains two stories of sports and health exhibits. The attraction features information about nearly 300 past and present athletes. Special exhibits include a NASCAR simulator, baseball pitch speed test, and a sports broadcasting simulator. Fitness, nutrition, exercise and sports medicine is showcased in the Training Room. The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame is located at 206 High St.
Located at 221 North St. is Hill House. The four-story 1825 English basement home is furnished entirely with original family belongings. The structure is listed on the Virginia Register of Historic Places.