Bristol, RI boasts the oldest continuously observed Fourth of July celebration in America; it began in 1785. That would just be a bit of trivia, were it not for the way this small Rhode Island town goes all out in honor of the nation’s independence.
Walk or drive through Bristol in the weeks leading up to the 4th and you’ll quickly see that the town is awash in red, white, and blue. Block after block of houses, businesses, lampposts, and lawns are draped in banners, bunting, ribbons, and flags. This makes for a remarkably charming and all-American backdrop. (It doesn't hurt that the historic town is pretty darn cute even without all that patriotic decoration.)
In addition to the Military, Civic and Firemen's Parade, which follows a red, white, and blue stripe through the streets of Bristol, there are other festivities like a carnival on the town common, a ball, and a free concert series. And the visitor who has traveled the longest distance to be there wins a prize.
To enter Colt State Park, on Narragansett Bay in Bristol, is to instantly relax. The road winds along the shore, offering views of blue water and green grass, and all the options seem equally tempting: should you stop at a picnic grove? Seek out the biking or walking trails, fruit trees, stone walls, playing fields, or open-air chapel? Continue towards the fishing pier and stone bridge? All of the above?
Even the official website, while providing facts about the Colt State Park’s acreage (464) and number of picnic tables (400+), can’t resist pointing out that it is “often referred to as the 'Gem' of the State Parks System.” And don’t be misled by the summery photo – this park is beautiful year round.