A precursor to modern nuclear submarines, the USS Albacore (600 Market St., 603/436-3680, www.ussalbacore.org , 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. daily late May–mid-Oct.; 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mon.–Thurs. Columbus Day–Memorial Day, $5 adults, $3 children 7–17, free children under 7, $4 military, $10 family) looks like a beached whale at its site on dry land on the outskirts of downtown. Inside the sub, a museum tells the story of the ship’s construction at Portsmouth Navy Yard, as well as tales of other submarines in the nuclear sub fleet.
North of Portsmouth , in the historic town of Dover, the Woodman Institute Museum (182 Central Ave., Dover, 603/742-1038, www.seacoastnh.com/woodman , 12:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. Wed.–Sun.; Sat.–Sun. only Dec.–Jan.; closed Feb.–Mar., $5 adults, $4 students and seniors, $2 teens 14–16, free children under 13) is a little-known natural-history museum in the Victorian style, located in a historic brick mansion. Inside is a fascinating hodgepodge of rocks and minerals, taxidermed animals, and military artifacts. Among the items on display is a Civil War cannon and a saddle President Lincoln rode on soon before he was to be assassinated.
After filling their heads with knowledge, let the kids blow off steam at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (6 Washington St., Dover, 603/742-2002, www.childrens-museum.org , 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun. June–March; 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun. April–May, $8 adults and children, $7 seniors, free children under 1), also located in Dover, which includes interactive exhibits on dinosaurs, submarines, and musical instruments calculated to thrill those under four feet tall.