It is the quintessential colonial New England town with an abundance of historical homes, an abundance of fantastic museums, brilliant sprawling waterfront parks, and a ton of adorable boutique shops.
Welcome to Bristol, Rhode Island.
It’s home to the oldest continuous Fourth of July celebration in the United States of America. So it should be no surprise that patriotism emanates through its quaint downtown all year round. Perhaps the most breathtaking part of Bristol is its waterfront; the town is surrounded on three sides by water.
Miles from Boston (roundtrip): 65
Travel Time: About 1 hour and 10 minutes
Colt State Park
Colt State Park‘s sprawling fields stretch along the bay. The park’s 464 acres feature a salt marsh, a bike path, walking trails, plenty of picnic space, typically breezy wide-open kite-flying space, a pier with prime fishing real estate, and room for just about any outdoor activity you can possibly dream up. The adjoining Bristol Town Beach is a great spot for swimming. Keep an eye out for the Del’s Lemonade truck, which typically circles the park. Del’s Lemonade is an Ocean State staple.
Other Great Parks: Bristol Town Common, Independence Park, Walley Beach
Mount Hope Farm
The historic farm’s buildings are spread out across 200 acres of fields, meadows, pastures, woodlands, ponds and streams, with a panoramic view of Mount Hope and Narragansett Bays. Built in the 1680’s, Mount Hope Farm is a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tours are available at the Governor Bradford House May-October, Wednesday-Sunday from noon – 4 pm.
Visit www.mounthopefarm.com for more information.
Linden Place, built in 1810, has hosted four U.S. presidents and was featured in the film “The Great Gatsby.”
Guided tours are available May – October, Thursday to Saturday from 10 am – 4 pm, Sunday noon – 4 pm. Tours are $5 per person, $3 for children under 12.
Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum
Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum is a 45-room 17th century English manor style mansion and 33 acres of brilliantly landscaped grounds and gardens. Blithewold boasts 300 different tree species and more than 2,500 herbaceous plants.
Open daily from 10 am – 5 pm.
Admission for the mansion and gardens: Adults $10, Seniors $8, Free for children 16 and under.
Downtown Bristol has tons of boutique shops and galleries. Just stroll your way between Thames and Hope Streets.
If you didn’t bring a picnic, Bristol’s downtown area has a whole bunch of bayside restaurants.
Here are a few of them:
Quito’s Restaurant, 411 Thames Street.
Thames Waterside Bar & Grill, Thames Street Landing
The Lobster Pot, 119 Hope St
Gray’s on The Dock, Thames Street Landing (ice cream)
Kayaking or Boating Around Bristol
The shores of Bristol are beautifully carved out by Narragansett Bay. A kayaking adventure offers unmatched views of beautiful coves, hidden inlets, and even an offshore island to explore. Bristol Harbor Inn at Thames Street Landing, Northwind Sports at 267 Thames Street and Ocean State Adventures at 99 Poppasquash Road offer kayak rentals at great prices.
Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology
Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, run by Brown University, houses fascinating artifacts from all over the world. It includes items from the area’s native Wampanoag people.
Open June – August, Tuesday – Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm. Open September – May Saturday & Sunday only.
Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors, $1 for children 12 and under.
Other Great Museums in Bristol:
Herreshoff Marine Museum and America’s Cup Hall of Fame
Coggeshall Farm Museum
Bristol Train of Artillery
Bristol Historical & Preservation Society
Audubon Society of Rhode Island, Environmental Education Center