TIDEWATER TRAVELER | By James F. Lee  | Published June 2016

On the patio of the Bier Garden in Portsmouth, I sample a German beer and a Bavarian wurst. From my vantage, I can enjoy the art deco front of the historic Commodore Theatre and the lovely crepe myrtles and pin oaks lining High Street.

Portsmouth often plays second fiddle to its better-known Hampton Roads neighbors, such as Virginia Beach and Norfolk. That’s a shame, because this small city, founded in 1752 and home to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, has enticing secrets.

“People underestimate Portsmouth,” says Diane Cripps, the curator of history for the city’s museums. “They think you have to go to Williamsburg for history, but a stroll through Olde Towne Portsmouth takes you back to quiet side streets to see 18th- and 19th-century houses.”

Olde Towne’s herringbone brick sidewalks remind me of Savannah, Georgia, or Charleston, South Carolina. Nuggets of history abound: a house visited by President Andrew Jackson in 1829, another house designed by Pierre L’Enfant. For present-day diversions, High Street offers dining, entertainment, and an array of galleries and museums. In Olde Towne and beyond, Portsmouth provides an exciting destination for summer fun.

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