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Spotlight map of Bristol region Rhode Island

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Tichnor Brothers postcard of Mount Hope Bridge between Bristol and Portsmouth RI

Bristol (the county) is the smallest region in our New England by Heart repertoire, separated from Massachusetts’ Bristol County in 1746 after a longstanding border dispute, and comprising just three towns. With much of it sticking out into Narragansett Bay, water is the word of the day.

Bristol (the town) is a very pretty seaside community that proclaims itself America’s most patriotic Town” hosting “the oldest 4th of July celebration in the country”, having begun in 1785. Certainly these are bold claims, but who’s to argue? One thing for sure is that they know how to do it right. A one-day event will not do it for this town – the celebration begins on Flag Day on June 14th and proceeds through a series of events stretching to the 4th including free outdoor concerts, races, musters, pageants, dances, contests, tournaments, breakfasts, suppers and more. Add a carnival, a 4th of July Ball, all culminating in a parade that attracts over 200,000 viewers, and there you have it. Beat that.

Beyond the 4th celebration, the town boasts art and other museums, theater, parks and more. Newport doesn’t have all the mansions. Blithewold Mansion and Linden Place welcome visitors. And it’s worth taking some time just to stroll around this pretty town.

The county as a whole is full of parks, wildlife refuges and coastline. There are plenty of places to hike and bike (the East Bay Bike Path is a must), relax on one of the many beaches, check out the lighthouses, and of course, to get out on the water.

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