Bristol Marches into Spring

This winter has been mild compared to those in years past, so those first crocuses pushing up through the snow in the coming months likely won’t move me to tears of joy like they often do. But I still long for days spent outdoors with the scent of flowers perfuming the air. When I’m desperate for a taste of spring, Bristol is almost always my go-to spot. Blithewold Mansion and Arboretum, Coggeshall Farm Museum and Linden Place are a few can’t-miss destinations on my annual spring tour of Bristol. 

Blithewold Mansion’s 33 acres of gardens are nothing short of spectacular, and their Daffodil Days in April are truly something to behold. Every spring, the grounds explode in a sea of yellow as 50,000 daffodils wake from their winter slumber. And as spring weather slowly warms into summer, trees flower, plants bloom and flower lovers wandering the grounds rejoice. Their gardens are reason enough to visit, but Blithewold also offers garden tours, concerts, lectures and a special chef series in the spring.  

For those who long for simpler times, back when throwing on a sweater started with shearing a sheep or cooking a quick snack started with chopping down a tree — why were those times called simpler again?! — then a trip to Coggeshall Farm is one you should make. Coggeshall Farm is a living museum where volunteers work the land like farm families of the 18th century did. And the women volunteers do it in long skirts! Bread baking, candle making, hearth cooking and Coggeshall’s blacksmith shop are some of the workshops and demonstrations offered. Their highlighted spring event is maple sugaring, which runs through mid-March. Visitors to the farm can watch sap slowly pour from the trees through wooden straws into wooden buckets, after which volunteers boil the sap down into syrup over flames. Watching the painstaking process serves as a reminder of why real maple syrup is so expensive.

Linden Place is a stunning mansion that overlooks Bristol’s red, white and blue-painted Hope Street. The mansion interior is worth a visit, though those with vertigo might want to avoid its spectacular winding staircase. The grounds are peppered with beautiful statues, and as spring warms the air, trees bloom and the grounds burst with life. In the spring, Linden Place hosts concerts in the ballroom and leads historic walking tours through Bristol.

Blithewold Mansion and Arboretum, 101 Ferry Rd, Bristol. Step back in time and enjoy a specially designed menu prepared by a local chef and served in the dining room of a beautiful mansion. On March 19, enjoy a meal designed by Rick Allaire from Metacom Kitchen, and on April 23, sample the creativity of Champe Speidel of Persimmon.  

Coggeshall Farm Museum, One Colt Dr, Bristol. coggeshallfarm.org. Crazy about all things maple? Take this opportunity to help Coggeshall Farm volunteers tap their Norway maples and learn the process of turning ordinary sap into delicious maple sugar at their Maple Sugaring event! Saturdays & Sundays, Thru March 19, 10am – 4pm The 10th Annual Rhode Island Fiber Festival and Craft Fair hosts traditional artisans and craftspeople from across the Northeast. Have you ever wondered how the wool of a sheep turns into a sweater? This is your opportunity to see live demonstrations and shop for handmade items! Local music and food help make for a fun day for the family. The Fiber Festival takes place in late May every year. Keep an eye on Coggeshall’s website for details. 

Linden Place Museum, 500 Hope St, Bristol. lindenplace.org. On Friday, March 10, enjoy an evening of Celtic music performed by Rose Clancy and international folk singer, songwriter and storyteller Robbie O’Connell. 

Mount Hope Farm, 250 Metacom Ave, Bristol. mounthopefarm.org. The Mount Hope Farmers Market offers fresh, locally grown food year-round. Find the market in the barn through May on Saturdays, from 9am – 1pm. If you love seasonal food, but don’t want to cook your own farmers market veggies, check out Mount Hope Farm’s Farmer’s Table weekly pop-up dining experience. Chefs from Russell Morin Fine Catering and Event serve a three-course prix fixe menu of inventive new dishes every week. Diners are served in the Governor Bradford House, which promises an intimate and romantic atmosphere. 

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