Things to do in Bristol

Bristol, Rhode Island, is an ideal place to live for those who appreciate coastal living, rich history, and a strong sense of community. As a town nestled along the shores of Narragansett Bay, residents enjoy access to beautiful beaches, boating, and other water activities, enhancing the quality of life for outdoor enthusiasts. Bristol's well-preserved historic district offers a charming backdrop with its stately 18th and 19th-century homes and vibrant Main Street, bustling with local shops, restaurants, and cafes. The town is also known for its deep-rooted traditions, most notably the annual Fourth of July celebration, which is the oldest continuous Independence Day event in the United States, fostering a strong sense of community pride. Furthermore, Bristol offers excellent schools and community facilities, making it not only a picturesque but also a practical and enriching place to call home.

Life in Bristol

Shopping & Things To Do

People who live in Bristol don’t have to travel far for their shopping needs. Route 136 has shopping plazas with Stop & Shop, CVS, Ocean State Job Lot, and several bank branches between Bristol and Warren. More options are along Route 6 in Seekonk or Somerset or further down Route 114 into Portsmouth and Middletown. The downtown area along Hope Street has consignment shops and small gift shops as well.

Recreation & Activities

Bristol 4th of July Celebration & Parade

Did you know that Bristol is home to the oldest and longest-running 4th of July Parade in the United States? That’s right — this small, seaside town floods with tens of thousands of people every third and fourth of July for an annual celebration, including summer concerts, giant fireworks show over the harbor and an all-day parade along Hope Street and High Street. Performers and marching bands from all over the country — literally! — come to participate in the parade and you can walk along the route or set up a spot to camp out and enjoy the festivities.

Herreshoff Marine Museum & America’s Cup Hall of Fame

Dedicated to preserve the accomplishments of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, international and local maritime yachting history, showcasing special collections, restoration, and more. The museum contains over 500 yacht models, including eight America’s Cup defenders. The Hall of Fame chronicles the history of the boats that have competed in the America’s Cup since 1851.

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Coggeshall Farm Museum

A non-profit farm museum in Colt State Park. Located on 48 acres of land and features interpreters and authentic reenactments of farm life in the year 1799. You can buy fresh-made maple syrup and celebrate farm-to-table dishes at their annual fall Harvest Fair.


Independence Park Summer Concerts

Starting on June 14th and ending on July 4th, Independence Park hosts weekend concerts on the main stage right on the water. Food trucks and concession stands set up along the park, and you can set up a chair or blanket to sit and enjoy the show.

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Town Common Summer Carnival

As part of the summer festivities, there a traveling carnival that sets up on the town common every year. It’s the perfect spot to bring the kids for carousel rides, carnival games, and deliciously fried doughboys.

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Musée Patamécanique

A private, by-reservation-only museum that delves into mind-twisting puzzles and curiosities seldom seen anywhere else in RI. The museum itself is shrouded in mystery and mystique, not giving away the contents of the museum but promising a fun, curious adventure into the unknown.


Audubon Society Environment Education Center

A state-of-the art natural history museum and aquarium that puts fun and excitement into experiencing nature. Inside, explore interactive exhibits featuring local habitats. Outside, walking trails lead you toward Narragansett Bay over the beautiful boardwalk.

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East Bay Bike Path

A 26-mile public bike path starts in Independence Park in Bristol and continues all the way to India Point Park in Providence. The Bristol portion of the bike path passes by the harbor, Colt State Park, and along the nature preserve spaces along the oceanfront.