By Katy Killilea
Thoughts of Bristol have been snowballing in my mind, giving me a harsh case of town envy. We don’t care much about its famous Fourth of July parade. Bristol hardly needs it–there’s enough great stuff going on there every day.
1. Rogers Free Library (525 Hope Street) website
Bristol’s library is newly renovated, so clean and sunny, and features a children’s room generously filled with toys, a big glass jar of magic markers, computers for all, bike locks for patrons, and just enough books. Since it’s so new, the shelves are not yet jammed with every Dora the Explorer and Scooby Doo publication to cross the librarians’ desks. This will make parents appreciate a well-edited collection, and it’s a pleasure to browse here. (And almost all of the books reviewed by Nancy King were right there for the taking!) Another noteworthy item:Â the FREE in the library’s name means no fines are charged for overdue items. Mind boggling.
2. Daily Scoop (446 Thames Street) AND Gray’s Ice Cream (259 Thames Street)
What an embarrassment of riches–BOTH of these fantastic ice cream shops on one little Thames Street. You can get a Daily Scoop fix in Barrington, but the atmosphere on Thames Street is so much nicer than the back of Pepperoni’s. And for many of us, Gray’s at Tiverton Four Corners is that wicked combination of too far away and irresistibly good. In Bristol, a family can divide and conquer: get the black raspberry chip at both Daily Scoop and Gray’s, and then reconnoiter on the green across the street for taste-testing and boat watching.
3. Prudence Island Ferry (Church Street Wharf) website
Hanging out in Bristol, a family might start to feel boat deprived. That’s why my kids ride the Prudence Island Ferry. That’s our boat. The trip out and back is not long, and the ferry hasn’t got many seats, so everyone is free to let the ants in their pants move them. If there is some waiting time before embarkation, the dock abuts a fine playground, and is just a few steps away from the sunniest Dunkin’ Donuts frequented by friendly bachelor-retirees.
4 & 5: The Toy Shop and A Novel Idea (Both at 450 Hope Street)
The name of this independent toy store is as straightforward as its wares: the toys you want are here (especially if there are Playmobil enthusiasts in your group), it’s fun to browse, and kids are welcome to play. Open bins of assorted low-priced gee-gaws are near the cash register–a perfect place for learning to stretch a $2 allowance.
Browsing in A Novel Idea’s fiction section is heavenly, and if you are with kids, you’ll all appreciate the well-chosen children’s books. Excellent newsstand too.
6. The Mount Hope Bridge (Route 114, spanning Narragansett Bay) website
The view from this graceful bridge makes me so happy to live in Rhode Island. The Mount Hope Bridge links Bristol to Aquidneck Island, and the view is dramatic enough to silence even the whiniest passengers.
But wait, there’s more! Bristol also has: Colt State Park, the Audubon Environmental Education Center, and Coggeshall Farm Museum. What are your favorite things to do in Bristol? Please help us expand this list by posting your favorites.
Photo credits: Mount Hope Bridge, AS220; all others, Katy Killilea