Rachel Dixon, The Guardian, May 6, 2015
Why go now?
Ben Ainslie’s new British racing HQ opens this month, a sail-like building at the Camber in Old Portsmouth. Visitors can watch the team training on the Solent, ahead of the America’s Cup there in July. May also marks the 250th anniversary of HMS Victory’s launch; it’s on view at the Historic Dockyard.
Anything for non-sailors?
Loads of summer festivals: Festivities (19-28 June) for arts of all kinds, Southsea Fest (20 September) for comedy and food, and Victorious (29-30 August) for music – Ray Davies and the Flaming Lips are headlining. Live at the Bandstand is a series of free Sunday gigs, starting on 31 May.
Any must-see sites?
The house where Charles Dickens was born. Photograph: Alamy
Any decent food?
Southsea Beach Cafe
The new Southsea Beach Cafe is a scenic spot for breakfast: the eggs Benedict on bubble’n’squeak cake comes with ham hock and tomato hollandaise. Hip Southsea Coffee’s great cakes include red velvet with strawberry-coconut cream. At Pie & Vinyl, diners browse the records and scoff vegan pies. For posher fare, Restaurant 27 has a seven-course tasting menu for £39, and Bistro Montparnasse has three wine-and-food pairing dinners (£59.50) in May.
How about a drink?
Beers at Meat and Barrel
Southsea Castle’s fantastic new Courtyard restaurant becomes a champagne bar on Friday nights. The recently opened Meat and Barrel has craft ale and burgers, and the Brewhouse and Kitchen serves its own beers, including a liquorice porter and a raspberry wheat beer.
A bedroom at Florence Gardens
Any hotels for under £100 a night?
Florence Gardens (doubles from £59.95 B&B) is the latest in the Mercer Collection of lovely boutique hotels, all in Southsea. And the unusual G! Boutique Hotel (doubles from £80 B&B) has hanging bubble-pod chairs and cupcakes on arrival.
Do I need a car?
There are direct rail routes from London (90 minutes), Bristol, Southampton, Cardiff, Exeter, Reading and Brighton; more information at visitportsmouth.co.uk. For drivers, there is a new park and ride service
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
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