Explore our historic towns & beaches
From Southern Maine to New Hampshire’s border with Massachusetts, unique Seacoast towns settled in the 1600’s offer history and endless options for four season R&R – restaurants, shopping, museums, theater, music, beaches, parks, hiking, lighthouses, historic forts, picnicking, boating, and more.
The Piscataqua River
The Piscataqua River (pɪs’kæt.ə.kwə), which determines part of the boundary between the states of New Hampshire and Maine and empties into the Atlantic Ocean east of Portsmouth, is a 12-mile (19 km) long tidal estuary formed by the confluence of the Salmon Falls and Cocheco rivers. The last six miles before the sea form Portsmouth Harbor, one of the finest harbors in the northeastern United States, despite a tidal current rated as one of the fastest in North America.
Named by the area’s original Abenaki inhabitants, Piscataqua is believed to be a combination of peske (branch) with tegwe (a river with a strong current, possibly tidal). The first known European to explore the river was Martin Pring in 1603. Captain John Smith placed a spelling similar to “Piscataqua” for the region on his map of 1614. The river was the site of the first sawmill in the colonies in 1623, the same year the contemporary spelling “Piscataqua” was first recorded.
The historic working port of Portsmouth continues to contribute significantly to the economy of Portsmouth and the towns of New Castle and Newington in NH, and Kittery and Eliot in ME.
Three bridges span the Piscatqua River, connecting Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, ME.
- The Memorial Bridge connects Route 1 between Portsmouth’s downtown and Badgers Island in Kittery, and is the eastern-most span over the River. The original Memorial Bridge was built in 1922 and replaced in 2014. Watch this time lapse video that captures the Memorial Bridge raising and lowering to accommodate river traffic filmed from Badgers Island Marina.
- The Sarah Long Bridge, often called the “middle” bridge, connects the Route 1 Bypass between Portsmouth and Kittery. A new Sarah Long Bridge opened in March of 2018, after the original bridge was in operation from 1940 until 2016. Watch live video of the famous Moran Tugboats that assist ships navigating the Piscataqua’s strong tidal currents as they come in and out of port.
- Interstate 95 runs from Canada to Key West, Florida. The I-95 bridge is the western-most span over the Piscataqua River connecting Portsmouth and Kittery.