'Most scenic' designation could help boost tourism to Bristol

Historic locations, museums, patriotic celebration earn it a spot on the list

By Patrick Luce
Posted 3/2/17

With its historic locations, museums and picturesque neighborhoods — and, of course, its patriotic reputation — Bristol has been named one of the 33 most scenic towns in North America by …

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'Most scenic' designation could help boost tourism to Bristol

Historic locations, museums, patriotic celebration earn it a spot on the list

Posted

With its historic locations, museums and picturesque neighborhoods — and, of course, its patriotic reputation — Bristol has been named one of the 33 most scenic towns in North America by travel website Expedia.

The spotlight shined on Bristol in publications targeted at those likely to travel help the town compete in the constant battle for tourist dollars, according to Mike Byrnes of Explore Bristol. It’s not the first time Bristol has been listed nationally in travel publications recently. It has also been listed as a destination for an “affordable winter vacation people often overlook” by national magazines Marie Claire and Harper’s Bazaar; and one of the “most interesting” travel destinations in the country by Expedia, among several listings in statewide tourism publications.

“One of the things we sometimes forget is that Bristol is in competition with all towns within 150 miles to bring in visitors,” Mr. Byrnes said. “It’s a constant battle. When Bristol gets mentioned and Wickford doesn’t, the buzz is about Bristol.”

CarRentals.com, an off-shoot of Expedia, has given Bristol some new buzz on the national level. The website looked for “the best car destinations to visit” in all of North America, publishing the list of 33 towns all over the continent. Some have historical intrigue, others have popular national parks, and some “just make for a beautiful drive down the highway,” the website reads.

Bristol, obviously, falls into the historic category. The company recognized popular destinations like Blithewold Mansion and the other dozen properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Being the site of a huge summer party doesn't hurt, either.

"If you fancy yourself a history buff, the sleepy town of Bristol, Rhode Island, will be your very own slice of paradise," the carRentals blog reads. "Plan your visit around the Fourth of July and you’ll be able to attend the oldest continuously celebrated Independence Day festival in the country. There also happens to be over a dozen places about town that have earned spots in the National Register of Historic Places—including Blithewold Mansion and the Old Customs House, to name a few. Whoever said you couldn’t go back in time during your vacation?"

Local properties on the national historic register include Blithewold Mansion, Mount Hope Farm, Juniper Hill Cemetery, the Mount Hope Bridge, Poppasquash Farms Historic District, Benjamin Church House, Bristol County Courthouse, Bristol Waterfront Historic District, Bristol Custom House, Bristol Ferry Light and Bristol County Jail.

Gaining exposure for those properties, as well as the museums, parks, waterfront resources, restaurants and shops, is critical to keep them in operation, Mr. Byrnes said.

“It helps keep open the great venues we have, the great restaurants we have, because we can’t have them without visitors,” Mr. Byrnes said. “We have some wonderful attributes and we ought to be promoting them, The more visitors, the more vibrant our community. It enhances our economic vitality.”

Bristol is one of just two New England towns on CarRentals.com’s list, joined by Woodstock, Vermont. Some of the other towns include Paia, Hawaii; Sitka, Alaska; Santa Cruz, Calif.; Lake George, NY; Steamboat Spring, Colo.; Lexington, Kentucky; Quebec City, Quebec; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Santiago, Cuba; and Castries City, St. Lucia.

Comments

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  • CPM

    Isn't it time we stopped white-washing Bristol's history? It was a center for the slave trade before the Civil War. I haven't studied Bristol's history in detail, but I suspect that "America's most patriotic town" used displays of patriotism as a shield against criticism for its immoral slave-trading industry.

    Thursday, March 2, 2017 Report this

  • Local Bargain Jerk

    CM:

    I have two replies:

    1) Please feel free to "stud[y] Bristol's history in detail" before commenting again.

    2) If you do comment on this topic again, please let us know your thoughts on what Bristol *should* do, versus only telling us what we should stop doing. Solutions are always welcome, complaints less so.

    Thanks for your consideration of this.

    Thursday, March 2, 2017 Report this

  • Honoré de Balzac

    CM-

    Slavery in this country ended in 1865 - 152 years ago.

    Bristol did benefit indirectly from the slave trade and yes it is a part of our history, but are you suggesting that slavery should be the focal point of our past? What about the Pokanoket? Have you ever heard of King Philip (aka Metacomet - you know...Metacom Avenue) or the war that bears his name? That's also a PART of our history.

    Stop playing the victim card and move on. No one is trying to "white-wash" anything. These events form who we are TODAY - try to live in the present not the past.

    Thursday, March 2, 2017 Report this

  • CPM

    Actually, I've done more reading about Bristol than I let on. Bristol was one of the main centers of the slave trade. There weren't any slaves in Rhode Island, but the business of shipping them from Africa to the South was centered right here in Bristol (so Bristol benefitted DIRECTLY from the slave trade, not indirectly). And yes, I think all the patriotism stuff was a veneer over the truth. Besides, in general ostentatious displays of patriotism are usually phony and always suspect. Samuel Johnson said that "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel" -- in actuality, it is the FIRST refuge, and that can be seen in the behavior of Republicans who show little interest in solving our national problems. Generally speaking, it is conservatives who hold the flag the highest, but they are the last ones to show any concern about the inequities in our society, which are still glaringly evident.

    Friday, March 3, 2017 Report this

  • ARCHIEPELAGO

    CM:

    No one is white-washing anything. You apparently have little knowledge of the slave trade as there WERE slaves in RI. And I am a descendant of a Scottish highlander loyalist, John Munro, who was sold into slavery in 1652 by Oliver Cromwell after the defeat of Charles I, and sent to Boston. He eventually was freed and settled in Bristol where many of his descendants lived and now live. Slavery was a common practice but is hardly the central story of Bristol. Perhaps you should read Mount Hope or read/watch Traces of the Trade and you'll see that Bristol's slavery story is hardly white-washed. Nor are the atrocities associated with King Phillip on both sides as recounted by Benjamin Philbrick in Mayflower or by Benjamin Church, the father of the American Rangers/special forces, in his Memoir of the King Phillip War. But more important is Bristol's history as a seaport, and a hub of activity in the Revolutionary War, a headquarters for General Lafayette, a target of invasion and occupation by the British (twice!), a 13 gun protest salute at that time, and the oldest 4th of July parade in the country. This is not to mention its boat/yacht building, and other famous residents such as the Colts. Do some reading CM !

    Friday, March 3, 2017 Report this

  • Honoré de Balzac

    CM-

    Very good, I see you spent a few minutes googling "slavery in Bristol RI" - you hit on all the highlights.

    First, with the exception of the DeWolf family and possibly a few others that DIRECTLY benefited from the slave trade by active participation in the transport of "human cargo", the rest of Bristol (i.e. banks, distilleries, outfitters, sail makers, etc.) was only involved INDIRECTLY - they didn't participate in the ownership or traffic of slaves. (Too bad Almacs sold out to Seabra - as I recall they had a nice graphic on the North wall that depicted the "triangle trade".) You mock patriotism - but your revisionist histrionics paints with a broad brush - because one family wreaked havoc 150 years ago, the ENTIRE TOWN must now pay the price!

    You didn't address the treatment of Native Americans some 300 years ago. Why not, happened to long ago, or did you not google it because you ran out of time. Are you aware that many descendants from the aftermath of that time are still living in Bristol? Maybe you're the bigot, maybe the Pokanoket don't fit your agenda.

    Liberals, now known as Progressives (Teddy Roosevelt is rolling in his grave) are the intolerant dividers. Anyone not on their side is the enemy or worse, a bigot, racist, homophobe, misogynist, xenophobe, animal hater. You liberals think you're saving the world - you just make it harder to live in.

    So tell us, oh enlightened one, what are we ignorant patriots to do? Should we hate our town, our country? Should we lament over the sins of the past? Should be take to the streets and demand reparations! As for me, I will remember but I won't apologize. I will fly my flag proudly in this most Patriotic town in America. You on the other hand can cry me a river.

    Friday, March 3, 2017 Report this

  • K2NH

    When I was younger I had a friend who lived in a historical house on Hope Street. The house was a large, waterfront structure that also sat perfectly on the parade route. The driveway was cobblestone, fireplaces were numerous, a secret staircase sparked the imagination, and the creepy attic and hidden closets put a youngster on notice. However, nothing compared to the configuration of the basement. The basement had remnants of shackles being attached to the walls and small tunnels that extended into the foundation. The entryway to the tunnels were blocked by the home's owner with modern day clutter. I asked my friend why the tunnels were blocked. He told me that he and his sister once went into the tunnel, they both started hearing screams and voices, and never went back in. He talked about slaves, ships, and how we should get out of the basement. Slaves? The story scared me, so without hesitation I left the basement, but I never forgot the feeling I had while I was down there. But yet, up a staircase and out the front door and we were again in the presence of American flags, parade floats, and thousands of patriotic people. Like a time warp.

    Conquest, oppression, alcohol and profits...some may call this Patriotism, glorifying it all in a parade of self-righteous justification would only make sense. Last year, Chief Marshall Gallison lied his way to the top, stole from taxpayers, under-privileged children, even a dead man, all while pretending to be the most Patriotic man in Bristol. Depending on ones definition of Patriotism...maybe he was the most patriotic?

    The Evil exists

    Friday, March 3, 2017 Report this

  • Honoré de Balzac

    Angle-

    Wow, sounds like a great story - are you sure you didn't read that in a children's book somewhere?

    Friday, March 3, 2017 Report this

  • K2NH

    Honore-

    The story is true. I'll take your words as a compliment- thank you.

    Friday, March 3, 2017 Report this

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