Bristol in Bloom

If you only associate Bristol with the Fourth of July (and its unavoidable traffic), then you clearly haven’t seen the best of Bristol. Before Independence Day brings in the swarms of tourists, you can find a number of fun activities and places to explore in this quiet harborside town. Head down to Bristol, and forget about those cold winter blues as spring takes over our little state.

When most people think of Bristol, their first thought is usually Colt State Park. Known as the gem of the state park system, it’s easy to lose yourself in the hundreds of acres of beaches, lawns

Colt State Park

Colt State Park

and driving paths that the park is known for. This spring, take in the beauty of the luscious landscape, whether that be by bike trail, harbor piers or the number of flowering lawns that are perfect for your seasonal picnic.

Haven’t had your fill of the outdoors? Head over to the adjacent Coggeshall Farm Museum and learn a little about sustainable farming. This charming spot is rich with Rhode Island history, with its 48 acres boasting woodland, fields and marsh that is home to all different types of animals, as well as talented gardeners from all over New England. Satisfy your green thumb as you take an educational journey through the outdoor museum, with its 18th-century tour that brings in adults and children alike. While many other New England museums pay tribute to the people of the American Revolution, Coggeshall takes pride in its devotion to the working farm families that made Rhode Island great. They even recruit volunteers, so if you’re feeling an itch for a spring project, here’s your chance.

For those of you with little ones, it might be hard to find a spring activity that will hold their attention spans for more than five minutes. You’re in luck, though; the camouflaged egg hunt is coming to Bristol on March 24, providing a fun excursion for all kids aged 3 to 10. The hunt takes place at the Audubon Center, where children will be able to hunt for brown eggs in a natural setting. It’s a fun challenge that your kids will surely love, as they hunt for the coveted golden eggs (which come with a grand prize!). Advanced registration is required, so be sure to prepare early.

Another historical excursion that Bristol is known for is the Blithewold Mansion, which will be hosting a number of programs throughout the season. This American garden treasure is home to gorgeous views of Narragansett Bay, with a collection of gardens bursting with unique and breathtaking plants to take in. Take a gander at the North Garden and walk past its intricate stonework and garden pool, or head over to the pollinator garden filled with native honeybees and butterflies that tend to the foliage. The Lord and Burnham Greenhouses alone are also worth the trip, as the seeds that were planted during the winter will soon be blossoming for the spring.

Also worth noting at Blithewold is the annual daffodil display that adorns the park. Depending on when in the spring you go, you’re sure to catch a plethora of beautiful and exotic flowers, from the daffodils in April, to the ferns, campanula and lupines of late May. No matter when you go, you’ll surely be inspired by the gardens’ colorful landscapes.

Mount Hope Farm

Mount Hope Farm

Bristol is also home to another memorable farm, that being the 127-acre spot known as Mount Hope Farm. A number of wonderful events happen here all year round, from weddings to corporate outings to horticulture-based field trips. This spring, the farm is host to Scotch tastings (Scotch Tasting in the Barn on Apr 5), along with five-course dinners held in the barn (Morin’s Test Kitchen on Mar 23 and 24, as well as Apr 21). Later in the season, bring along your parents to both the Mother’s Day Brunch on May 13, and the Father’s Day Lunch on June 17. So many different excuses to discover an incomparable landscape.

If you still haven’t had your spring tour fix, head on over to Linden Place for one of the many guided or self-guided tours that the museum offers. Open Tuesday to Friday from March to April, then Tuesday to Saturday for the remainder of the spring, take an opportunity to learn about the mansion’s Victorian history, with sculpture-adorned gardens and an 18th century gazebo. Linden Place also regularly takes part in the Rhody Ramble scavenger hunt, where kids and adults alike can search for dozens of of trinkets and artifacts hidden in the house. You’ll get to explore the historic rooms, while also learning about the house itself. It’s free with museum admission, too!

Find your own definition of what makes Bristol great this spring. Forge your own path, so by the time you trek down for Fourth of July, you’ll already be an expert.

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