When it comes to traveling as a gay man, having a quote unquote “gay scene” as part of your experience isn’t always a want or a necessity. There are areas we can head to that have zero gay bars, parades, etc, but still have a wonderful time in while feeling completely invited by the community itself.
Bristol, Rhode Island is a great example of this. I recently spent a couple of days there last week for the first time in my life and can safely say that I will be back as soon as I can. Located about 20 minutes outside Providence, Bristol is an area surrounded by gorgeous water, fabulous museums, a lush history, delicious food, and ambiance that is on a whole other level compared to its surroundings.
What is great about the area of Bristol is how much of a hidden gem it is. I’ve been traveling to and from Providence for fifteen years now, and never once visited this area. I’m glad I did now, as the places that I went to, the food that I ate and the location that I stayed in was truly incredible.
The history to Bristol is fascinating. Fun fact about it, they have the oldest 4th of July Parade in our entire country. The streets that you walk on in this area have red white and blue in the middle as opposed to just the white stripes, which is fitting given that they hold this record.
Beyond that, the area is pretty much like something out of a travel magazine with just how beautiful everything is. Rhode Island is nicknamed the “Ocean State”, and Bristol is a prime example of why it’s like that given how beautiful the bodies of water are that surround its location.
It’s a complete 180 from the rustic, city life of Providence, and that’s fine. Both have their own aesthetics, and Bristol’s is a lot calmer and more relaxed compared to its capital city.
Let’s talk about where to stay, where to eat, and what to see. For one, the Bradford-Dimond-Norris House is far from a typical place you would stay when traveling. It’s an actual house, a BnB, and a wonderful place to rest your head at night. The family that owns it takes hospitality to a whole other level, and makes you feel so invited outside of the beautiful insides that they have helped create. Two words really describe this: elegant and historic, as the rooms you will stay in transport you to a different time period that definitely isn’t 2018. Essentially: you won’t want to leave.
As for the food, keep in mind, this is the “Ocean State”, so seafood is something that they can brag about and then some. There are, however, other great spots that go beyond our crustacean obsession when it comes to the food we put in our mouth. The Bristol Sunset Café boasts a delicious assortment of breakfast options that will leave you feeling full and ready for the day ahead. Le Central and The Beehive are your lunchtime experts in terms of some great sandwiches and soups. And finally, for the seafood, you can’t go wrong with The Lobster Pot which provides succulent scallops, lobster and more in a gorgeous setting that overlooks the water.
The attractions in this area are what help make Bristol so beyond amazing. Mount Hope Farms, for example, is a 127-acre estate that hosts several special events throughout the year including a ton of weddings and whatnot… and can you blame them? The space is out of this world gorgeous.
Same goes for Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum which you will need a ton of energy in your system prior to arriving (scratch that, both of them you need it due to its sheer size). Blithewold has so much to see its hard to figure out where to begin. Whether it is their lush greenery, iconic views, 45-room mansion that is chock full of a bevy of information about its inhabitants and more, these are two places that are worth checking out during your stay in Bristol.
Overall, Bristol is a truly magical place to visit for this city boy and I look forward to the day when I can go back again. For more information, please check out their official website.
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