This summer, when you’re hankering for a quick getaway consider a day trip or weekend in Bristol. The charming, coastal Rhode Island town is just an hour and a half drive from Boston and features upscale restaurants, quaint atmosphere and local shopping — without the crowds.
July kicks off with a bang, featuring its famous Fourth of July parade and celebration, heralded as one of the best in the country. The festival was first established way back in 1785, and Bristol officials say it’s the oldest Fourth of July celebration in the United States.
Today, it has grown from just a parade to a full calendar of exciting events spanning from June through July. Enjoy live music from a dynamic concert series June 21–July 3 and get dolled up for the annual Fourth of July Ball on June 21.
Even Bristol’s streets are festively painted with strips of red, white and blue for this patriotic party.
But there’s much more to Bristol than the Fourth.
Tour Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum. The 45-room mansion is one of the most impeccably preserved examples of Country Place Era architecture in New England. The interior is rife with historical items and stories and the 33-acre property is alive with flora unique to the area.
Colt State Park is another wonderful natural attraction. Go for a walk on the Western border of the park to see stunning, panoramic views of Narragansett Bay. Or, pack a picnic to enjoy in one of six designated picnic groves featuring fruit trees, flowering bushes and manicured lawns.
Shop around Bristol’s many boutiques, like Grasmere on Franklin Street, which offers a curated selection of handcrafted items by independent designers ranging from jewelry and natural textiles to wreaths and furniture. Roxie’s Consignment Boutique on Church Street has all the vintage cool your wardrobe could ever need.
After a day of touring this soothing seaside retreat and drinking in New England history, head to the Waterfront Historic District near Thames Street for dinner on (or by) the water. Indulge in an upscale meal at DeWolf Tavern, a waterfront spot situated in the historic home of the former DeWolf Rum Distillery and now serving up savory American classics. Or, head to Bar 31 for gourmet small plates and craft cocktails with a trendy ambiance.
Whether you visit for a day, a weekend or longer, Bristol has the history, culture and cuisine to refresh your spirit and inspire your summer.