Experience the best of the best with this Top 8 list of things to do and see in Portsmouth.
Walk through history and see Olde Towne’s origins and it’s continued evolution.
Plan for your visit and explore Portsmouth with the Visitor Directory.
A merry troupe of entertainers, Mary Veale and her clan portray characters from Portsmouth’s past while educating and entertaining with stories, songs, and word origins from the Colonial Era and beyond. Guests enjoy these knowledgeable folks as they bring to life real historic figures. But don’t confuse them with historic re-enactors. On the contrary, these characters sing, dance, and tell jokes, to make learning fun. They are more than entertainers…they are edu-tainers. They are History Alive (you’ve known them as Mary Veale and the Colonials), and they bring history to life through stories, song, word origins, colorful costuming, and equally colorful characters. This lively bunch of interpreters customize their stories to make it fun for all ages, groups, schools and more!
Enjoy the stories, songs and word origins that bring history to life! Walks guided by historic characters from Portsmouth’s rich and colorful past may be booked at a time convenient for you. Themed tours are available and include Black History, History and Architecture, Ships and Railroads, and much more. Schedule a tour for you and your group today.
Did you know the first African American double agent, James Armistead Lafayette operated in Portsmouth? That William “Billy” Flora, hero of the Battle of Great Bridge, was a business owner and well-respected citizen of Portsmouth? Or that Portsmouth was an important stop on the Underground Railroad? Meet the heroes and hear the history that influenced the lives of African Americans here in Tidewater.
See places occupied or visited by The Marquis de Lafayette, General Cornwallis, Benedict Arnold, William “Billy” Flora, James Armistead Lafayette, Mark Twain, and Andrew Jackson. This walk tells the history of Olde Towne homes against the backdrop of the largest collection of standing period architecture between Alexandria and Charleston-with a smattering of bawdy tunes and colonial culture thrown in for your amusement!
The life and history of Portsmouth has always been tied to the Elizabeth River and its ships. The Seaboard Railroad also played an important role, as well as the unseen railroad that secreted freedom seekers to ships heading north. This walking tour covers all this, as well as the general history of transportation in our region.
This reverent but lively stroll through Cedar Grove Cemetery, and the lives of Portsmouth servicemen and women interred there, and remembers their sacrifice, highlights, and their humanity with stories told by those who knew them best.
Underground Railroad Tour
These Edu-tainers can provide a variety of characters to entertain at your next event or serve as a keynote speaker. Characters include, but are not limited to: Mary Veale (housekeeper to Colonel William Crawford, founder of Portsmouth), Andrew Sproule (founder of Gosport Shipyard), James Armistead Lafayette (first African American spy), and newspaper columnist Jeffery Wilson. The More, The Merrier! For more details on a few of their characters, check out this other blog post HERE.
Some of the events they are known to frequent:
They are about to start their highly popular “Heroes and history” walking tour. This tour will be every Saturday in February at 11 a.m. starting at the Portsmouth Welcome Center, located at 206 High St, in Olde Towne. During Black History Month, Historic Emanuel A.M.E Church, has graciously agreed to open its doors for a tour! A.M.E. Church is recognized on the Nation Parks Service’s “Network to Freedom” as being part of the Underground Railroad. Don’t miss this opportunity to see hear the story and to see the features that made this this building an important stop on the Underground Railroad here in Portsmouth!
History Alive is expanding and upgrading to better accommodate its many fans, visitors, and customers. Some of those changes include a new and improved name, logo, website, and an expanded character selection. In addition, three new historic walking tours have been added. Visit their new website URL at HistoryAlive.info. So, be on the lookout for the many new and different characters strolling around historic Portsmouth!
Phone: (757) 705-8130