Patriotic Bristol, RI

Blithewold Mansion

Blithewold Mansion and the Great Lawn

I always wanted to see Blithewold Mansion and Gardens in Bristol, Rhode Island. So when I began looking into a day trip to Blithewold I uncovered that the town of Bristol has a lot to offer.

We made Blithewold our first stop. Built in the mid-1890’s for Augustus and Bessie Van Winkle (he, a coal magnate), the mansion boasts wide-open views to Narragansett Bay. On its massive grounds is an impressive arboretum that includes a Giant Sequoia, and a variety of gardens where we lost all sense of time exploring each one. Spending a few hours at Blithewold is like visiting an old friend. Our self-guided tour of the mansion was welcoming. This was not a Newport mansion. It was more down-to-earth. You could imagine yourself lazing on the porch. In fact, it felt as if the family still lived there and was going to invite us for a walk in the gardens or a swim in the bay.

Leaving Blithewold, we made our way to the downtown. Downtown Bristol is pedestrian friendly and listed on the National Register for Historic Places. The smattering of historic homes is remarkable. One of them, Linden Place, a federal-style home, is open for tours. And, to top it off, the town has the oldest annual July 4th parade in the nation which draws hundreds of thousands of people from around the country! Bristol has a fitting nickname, “America’s most patriotic town.”Historic Downtown Bristol

Later that day, we were able to fit in a visit to the Herreshoff Marine Museum and America’s Cup Hall of Fame – the Herreshoff family built most of the winning America’s Cup boats in the early 1900’s – and the Audubon Society with its exhibit and nature trail. However, we needed a second day to see more of what Bristol offers: Coggeshall Farm Museum, Mount Hope Farm, Colt Park, Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, and the East Bay Bike Path to name a few.

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2 Responses to Patriotic Bristol, RI

  1. Sandy Pochapin says:

    My family lived in Bristol for close to 35 years so I can attest to the beauty and allure of this quaint Rhode Island town. Not to be overlooked are the many terrific restaurants in Bristol, as well as neighboring Warren. The 4th of July parade mentioned is the highlight of Bristol’s year, even the dividing lines on the parade route are painted red white and blue, instead of the traditional yellow. Also mentioned in the East Bay Bike Path which allows riders a peek at the backyards of many of Bristol’s fine homes as well as the opportunity to ride along the Bay.

  2. Rob says:

    Interesting article in the Providence Journal today about a family in Bristol that planted flags in their front yard to honor each casualty of 9/11.

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