Written by Alayne White, Author, local resident + concierge, and typewriter collector.
If you have never been to Bristol, RI, you may be surprised at the red, white and blue stripes that bring you into our charming and authentically old-fashioned town. This is because we have the oldest July 4th celebration in the country.
Come Spring the stripes may not be as shiny and bright as they are after the new stripes are painted and refreshed, but you will get the point. If you want to familiarize yourself with some of the prettiest walking in Bristol, you could park your car and simply walk the 2. 5 miles following the stripes. If early spring is not the spring day you had hoped for, a nice drive will show you a little glimpse of our town.
A Great Walk Year Round
You may not think walking on a fickle spring day is a good match, but if you love the outside year-round, this park never disappoints. Even if you don’t want to walk, you can park close to the water and open your window and pretend you are outside just breathing in the blustery wind that way. Feel the power. Nothing like the wind to wake up your winter soul.
Not for the tender-hearted walkers who only want sun and heat, Colt State Park is one of the most scenic spots to walk along the water or in the woods. Calm and pretty, likely brisker than a warm summer day if you are walking in early Spring , but well worth the delight of less crowds, less traffic, and a wind around the water on the path that brilliantly wraps the bay.
Dress warm and put on some added moisturizer so your skin doesn’t take a beating since the water usually whips some extra wind, but your soul will thank you for the wakeup call. Easy to park inside the park in one of the many lots close to the path. Pack a lunch and make an afternoon of it.
A Few Less Predictable Places to Eat or Take Out in Bristol, RI
Even if you are not planning on getting out of your car at Colt State Park, these few places are great to stop to get some food to go, to sit at the park and look at our beautiful bay.
I have included Wood Street as a place to head to since it is the street that runs parallel to High and Hope and is always a pleasure to check out.
Located just north of the park between Hope St and Metacom, Gooding Avenue right around the corner from Colt State Park and just the place to go for the best subs in Bristol, since 1971, these grinders have served the Bristol community for lunch, after sports dinners and platters for all types of events, especially during July 4th!
Great beach food, a small sandwich is plenty. Get a large and you are all set for a few post lunches the next few days. Remember to grab a bag of Cape Cod chips on your way out. The Italian with everything, cold, is my personal favorite ensuring the need for large quantities of water the rest of the day.
More of a local neighborhood market, this little gem in Bristol, has some great mini caçoila (Pronounced “Casserla”) sandwiches on the counter by the register and sometimes pints of it ready for your own sandwiches in the fridge right alongside the homemade Portuguese rice pudding. An experience of a time gone by when small neighborhoods had markets that styled the needs of its residents.
Check out the meat counter for some Portuguese blade meat to take home for dinner and head over to Batista bakery to pick up some fresh Portuguese rolls for later (if you can wait until you get home to open the bag).
This local gem of a bakery is not about stellar noveau riche service, so please, ignore the low review rating. This amazing bakery is run by an old Portuguese family who works 7 days a week 5:00am-6:00pm to serve the community with the most delicious rolls and sweet bread. Their service is their amazing bread. Cash only.
Where else could you get a fresh bag of the freshest rolls for $2.00? I went in there to ask if I could take a picture for a blog post and the owner said no if this tells you anything but leave your perception of how business is supposed to be and just enjoy the step back in time to the old school neighborhood bakery. Get a loaf of cinnamon bread or if you are lucky and find yourself in there on a Sunday morning, pick up a couple Malasadas (Portuguese fried dough that will change your life) and make sure to have some napkins or else sugar will be your new accessory. Last time I checked they were only $1.00 each!
Alan B. On Yelp captured the experience with its only 5 star rating when he said,
“Hopped down to Bristol today for Mother's Day. Happened to see this Bakery while parking. Folks were coming out with bags full always a good sign! Went inside it was like a step back in time. Great old place with all kinds of breads and pastries. All I can tell you is I bought a really fresh sliced Portuguese bread, a French loaf and delicious apple turnover l still got change from five dollars! These places are gems that we should support before they are lost to the history books.”
I love it when a tourist gets the point. Thank you Alan B. for nailing it.
Learn a Little History
Bristol has a lot of museums, two of my favorites are small and easy.
Bristol Art Museum
A small and quaint art museum that is easy to walk around, just a few rooms to glance at and enjoy. Located in the heart of the downtown Historic Bristol off Hope Street, this lovely museum has a wonderful group of volunteers who work tirelessly to have both exhibits and lectures. Located on the backside of Linden Place, while you are there, stop in at the gift shop and take a tour of this historic mansion with lots of history, especially the more sordid sort of the slave trading merchant, General George DeWolf. A great book to read ahead of time about this well-known and not such a good guy, is Inheriting the Trade, by Thomas Norman DeWolf
Only open Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 1-5, this small but mighty museum is the original jail in Bristol and has incredible history to it. You can actually see the old jail cells and the volunteers and team who work there are filled with treasures of Bristol History. Worth a short visit and sometimes they have incredible walking tours offered on weekends so check out their website. You can likely schedule private walks or tours too if you are interested.
Here is a Rough Itinerary to Offer a Little Guidance
Here is my itinerary if you just have a day to tool around. If you want to stay two days, there is so much more you can do, but this should get you started on the right path. And if you want some guidance, send an email to me and I will reply with great joy. (include my email)
1. Order Riccottis to go and pick up your sandwich for whenever you decide to picnic. The weather will likely be cool enough to not need a cooler, but if you want to do that to house the sandwiches feel free. Pack your drinks while you are at it. No sense spending money on bottles of water when it is so much easier to bring some with you.
2. Take the drive into Colt State Park and find a spot in the park somewhere. There are at least 7 -10 parking lots all through the park. Get out of your car and walk for a bit. If walking isn’t your thing, then sit and enjoy the views. There used to be a ferry that ran to Rocky Point back in the day (an amusement park that was across the bay in Warwick, RI.)
(On a side note, for a fun documentary, You Must Be This Tall, The Story of Rocky Point Park is a great movie to watch.)
3. Enjoy your lunch somewhere in the park, in the car in the park or wherever grabs your attention. If it is too early, then head out of the park into town and take the drive following the stripes to familiarize yourself with the area.
If you want to meander over to the Bristol Historical and Preservation Society, it is a few streets south located on Court Street. You could easily sneak that in if you are curious or save it for another time if you have found yourself in Bristol on a day they are not open. They have great walking tours too.
5. Head up any of the crossing streets towards High Street and bring some cash into Batista Bakery to pick up some Portuguese Rolls and Sweet Bread to take home with you. Here is a nice essay from local resident Dr. Ed Iannucci here on his walk to Batista.
6. Finish off your day with a walk through Azorean Butcher Shop to pick up some Rice pudding, some caçoila (Pronounced “Casserla”) for those rolls later and a container of Portugalia Butter (right next to the rice pudding) The butter from Sao Miguel, one of the Azorean Islands off Portugal where the owners and many Bristol residents are from, is second to none as is the cheese if they have it in stock.
With your full bellies, your happy day, head back to your own home driving satisfied knowing you just had a lovely day in one of the most delightful little towns in Little Rhody knowing for sure you will be back.
If you took any pictures, please consider tagging @explorebristolri on Instagram or Facebook.
If you want more Explore Bristol Blogs headed your way, sign up here.