A quick 30-minute drive from Providence, RI and slightly over an hour from Boston is a small city that holds a suprising amount of history, charm, and my favorite...amazing food. Founded in 1680, it's hard to imagine that a town of only 25,000 people once played a huge role in the American Slave Trade, but now hosts beautiful inns, restaurants, and shops. Past aside, Bristol is located in one of the most liberal states in the U.S. and has been often voted one of the most patriotic towns in America. With a bevy of gorgeous historic homes, marvelous parks, and water, water, everywhere...Bristol, RI is definitely a city that deserves a peek when you're looking for the perfect New England getaway.
Here are a few things to check out when spending your weekend in Bristol!
EAT: The Lobster Pot - This waterside restaurant delivers classic New England seafood dishes. I personally love the grilled lobster with just a side of butter. When the weather is good, do yourself a favor and grab a seat outdoors. Eating seafood on the bay with a glass of wine at sunset...best thing ever.
DeWolf Tavern - The chef at this centrally located restaurant is a James Beard nom, so that being said...the food is gooood. The seafood dishes are inventive with hints of Indian influences. I was most excited about their drink menu, ordering a Rhode Island Red Martini, which is made with beet juice and decidedly delicious.
Quito's Seafood Restaurant - Full disclosure, this was my 1st Lobster Roll ever...so I may be biased, but it was to-die-for. Beautifully set on the water, this casual dining restaurant is family-friendly and perfect for an afternoon beer or gelato.
Beehive Cafe - Set up in what appears to be a former historic home, this cafe specializes in organic, yummy food. A great place to stop for breakfast (be prepared for a line), you can feast on items such as, coconut French toast, homeade granola, and lemon cornmeal pancakes.
STAY: Walkers Landing Inn - Start with great innkeepers (Pam, Stephen, and Berta)...and it's all uphill from there. Located directly across from The Lobster Pot, this B&B is spread on an amazing property with great views of Narragansett Bay and is modern without feeling stuffy. The breakfast is in a league of its own, using mostly local fruit, veg, eggs, and seafood. Also, using locally made bath products from Thames Naturals will allow you to experience all that Bristol is. This family-owned and operated inn is everything New England should be.
Point Pleasant Inn - On the other end of the price spectrum is Point Pleasant Inn, a beautifully manicured, waterside inn. Luxury is top-priority here. With well-appointed rooms and a great staff, you'll be very happy with your stay. As with many other properties in this neck-of-the-woods, it is seasonal...so call ahead to make sure they have rooms available.
DO: Blithewold Mansion - The perfect place to play "pretend", this mansion has some of the most amazing garden-meets-water views in all of New England. Previously built as a summer estate for the Van Wickle family, this home has amazing gardens that are perfect for a tour with your kids. This place is stunning, a great wedding and party venue and a lovely place to spend a warm day on the bay with someone you love.
Herreshoff Marine Museum & America's Cup Hall of Fame - If you are a boat enthusiast or just have a general curiosity, the Herreshoff Marine Museum is a great place to check out. Housing many of the ships used in the America's Cup, you'll be shocked at how large these vessels really are. This museum is hardly fussy, basically allowing you to wander among the ships and get lost in Rhode Island (American) boating history.
Coggeshell Farm - I'd personally never heard of a "living history" museum prior to visiting Coggeshell, but basically it is a great place to show kids how oldtime-y people lived on the farm. From cooking demonstrations to interacting with animals to participating in chores, your kids will love this place...and it doesn't suck for adult animal lovers either. If you like to work education into your vacation, this is a great place to visit.
Linden Place - A beautiful house with a storied history. Previously owned by the Colts (guns), the DeWolf's (slave trade), and lived in by the Barrymores (actors). Used by many as a wedding and party venue, Linden Place is a place to learn about how the slave trade made the DeWolfs one of America's richest and most haunted families.
SHOP: The Knotty Dog - A nautical-themed gift shop that sells all things New England-y. This super cute store is always packed with folks who come to Bristol simply to shop their goods. From handmade furniture and glassware to pet items and ornaments, you can basically decorate your summer cottage from this sweet spot in Bristol.
Harbor Bath and Body - This store specializes in bath products to give you the feeling of New England long after you're gone. With sugar scrubs, salt soaks, and scented candles galore, this perfectly located shop is a great place to grab a gift on your way home.