4 Unique Things to Do in Portsmouth, Virginia
Disclaimer: This post was a paid collaboration with the City of Portsmouth, Virginia Tourism Board
Portsmouth, Virginia is the city that dares to go different. As a Virginian born and raised, I can't believe that it took me 26 years to finally visit this lovely place, conveniently only a 2.5-hour drive from DC and perfect for a weekend trip with family or friends.
I spent one night at the gorgeous Renaissance Hotel, which is located within walking distance to Historic Olde Towne.
Here is my list of 4 Unique things you can do in Portsmouth, VA:
1. Catch a film at a restored 1945 Art Deco style motion picture theatre, The Commodore
Dinner and a movie at a beautifully restored theatre from 1945 on your bucket list? Well, it should be. If you're visiting Portsmouth, VA, you have to check out the Commodore Theater. Serving up fine dining, the Commodore boasts intimate seating perfect for a romantic date night. Shows on the weekdays begin at 7 pm. A quick word of warning- you'll want to arrive early, to get seated and start on your dinner. I'd aim for 6 pm.
If you're not in the mood for sit-down dinner, balcony seating is available as well as food and drinks from burgers to popcorn.
You can learn more information about the Commodore here.
2. Explore restored lands at Paradise Creek Nature Reserve
The city of Portsmouth, Virginia is located within one of the most important river watersheds in Virginia- the Elizabeth River. Paradise Creek is a 40-acre oasis located in an extremely unique area- the heart of the working industrial harbor. Created by the Elizabeth River Project, this park is a true testament to the benefits of habitat restoration. As explained to us during our brief tour, what was once a place where locals would dump, has blossomed into beautiful landscapes full of art exhibits, foraging gardens, and trails.
Visiting Paradise Creek was a nice refuge from the more populated historic Olde Towne. The park boasts 2-miles of handicap-accessible hiking trails perfect for strolling. But the highlight of our time was kayaking through the restored wetlands. Paradise Creek has a kayak launch point super close to the parking lot that's open to the public to use. Do not skip a visit here.
Learn more about Paradise Creek Nature Park here.
3. Eat authentic German food at the Bier Garden, a family-owned restaurant
I love German food, and I truly got my fill at the Bier Garden. You walk into the restaurant and are immediately transported to Germany. The walls are lined with antiques and family photos and you almost instantly get the vibe that this is a place that's special to Portsmouth. And it is. From currywurst to schnitzel, there's an array of traditional German dishes to choose from on their robust menu. They also offer a selection of over 300 import & craft beers. I'm not a huge beer drinker but was pleased to see several cider options on the menu as well.
I ordered the Rueben (which was immaculate) and please do not skip out on the beer batter fries. I had to physically stop myself from ordering seconds. And it's not an outing here without dessert- try the German Chocolate Cake, you won't be disappointed.
After your meal, be sure to head upstairs to the Bier Garden Market for an excellent selection of German foods and other goodies.
Learn more about the Bier Garden German Restaurant here.
4. Grab a vintage postcard from Way Back Yonder Antiques
Historic Olde Towne neighborhood in Portsmouth, VA has a ton to offer. Great food, amazing coffee (I'm looking at you Cure Coffee), and unique shops. But, I wouldn't miss an opportunity to check out this absolute jewel of a shop-Way Back Yonder Antiques, during your visit.
I originally went in to just browse and ponder, as they have a huge selection of vintage furniture, artwork, jewelry, and technology. And while browsing something truly special caught my eye- binders full of vintage postcards, many with handwritten messages dating back to the early 1900s from all over the world. I'm a bit nosey, so it was interesting to read and observe the kind of postcard messages people would send back in the day. But how cool are these!
My advice, pick up a few postcards to send out to your friends and family. You never know if they'll one day end up in an antique shop 50 years later.
Learn more about Way Back Yonder Antiques here.
That's my list, but there's far more to see and do than those 4 things. Head over to the City of Portsmouth's page VisitPortsVA.com for even more information and resources to help your plan your trip to Portsmouth, VA.