Unique and whimsical shops can be found throughout the East Bay. Kick off your jaunt in Warren along Route 114 with a first stop to the massively fun Imagine Gift Store (5 Miller St.), which is also New England’s largest gift shop, or stroll a few streets over to visit the cute and charming Whimsies (4 Church St.). Head to the water to discover more shops including The Peyton Company (246 Water St.) for organic bath and beauty products. In Bristol, Caron Jewelers (473 Hope St.) has a stunning collection of fine jewelry, and browse local artisan gifts galore at Hotpoint Emporium (39 State St.). Find flowers, jewelry, and more at daisy dig’ins (123 Maple Ave.) in Barrington, or cross over the Mount Hope and Sakonnet bridges for an all-day, quintessential New England shopping experience at Tiverton Four Corners (Main Rd.), with a diverse variety of antique, artisan, boutique shopping, and galleries.
Sweet Berry Farm (915 Mitchell’s Lane, Middletown) is a lush, conserved, 100-acre estate that includes a market cafe and pick-your-own fruit. A small family farm, Sakonnet Farm (4042 Main Rd., Tiverton) offers free-range eggs, fresh produce, and homemade jams and pies. Wishing Stone Farm (25 Shaw Rd., Little Compton) is a modest-sized farm that has historically presented Instagram-ready farm dinners with some of the Ocean State’s top restaurants and chefs.
Newport Vineyards (909 E Main Rd., Middletown), New England’s largest grape grower, is a major destination that offers wine tastings, tours, and farm-to-plate cooking at Brix Restaurant. Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards (162 West Main Rd., Little Compton) is a dreamy space with award-winning wines.
Find award-winning cuisine in Warren at Eli’s Kitchen (40 Market St.), creative small plates at The Revival Craft Kitchen and Bar (50 Miller St.), and Insta-worthy brunch at Uptown Food & Spirits (437 Main St.). There’s seafood classics with nautical vibes abound at Thames Waterside Bar & Grill (251 Thames St.) in Bristol and a view to match at Bluewater Bar + Grill (32 Barton Ave.) in Barrington. Then, don’t forget to check out 15 Point Road Restaurant (15 Point Rd., Portsmouth), an upscale-meets-casual dining destination on the waterfront.
Though this picturesque waterfront town draws locals and visitors for its hopping downtown dining and shopping scene, Bristol is also a destination for historic sites. Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum (101 Ferry Rd.) is an impeccable property that includes the 1890s summer cottage of Augustus and Bessie Van Wickle. Tours of the mansion and extensive gardens are offered throughout the year along with virtual and onsite programs. Overlooking Narragansett Bay, Mount Hope Farm (250 Metacom Ave.) is a historically significant property that dates back to early American settlement. In fact, some historians believe that the first Thanksgiving feast was held here. Linden Place (500 Hope St.) is one of the grandest examples of Federalist architecture in New England. The museum gift shop is open and at press time the mansion planned to open late June. Consider a scenic drive to Little Compton where you’ll find Wilbur’s General Store (50 Commons), Art Cafe, honor system farm stands, and idyllic farmcoast vistas.
Colt State Park (Hope St., Bristol), often called the “gem” of the state parks, is a gorgeous public space with panoramic views of the coast, impeccably manicured lawns, four miles of bike trails, hundreds of picnic tables, and a small town beach. Nearby, the Audubon Nature Center and Aquarium (1401 Hope St., Bristol) typically offers visitors interactive exhibits about marine and wildlife and leaves its grounds open for long walks. The natural history museum is located right off the East Bay Bike Path, a 14.5-mile paved and scenic trail that spans from Bristol to Providence. Norman Bird Sanctuary (583 Third Beach Rd., Middletown) has seven miles of well-preserved hiking trails on its educational campus.
Of course, it isn’t summer in the East Bay without the Fourth of July in Bristol. Often referred as the “most patriotic town in America,” this waterfront community is home to the nation’s longest running Fourth of July parade. The Bristol Fourth of July Celebration is typically a multi-week series of events that includes a ten-day Concert Series at Independence Park and the fancy Fourth of July Ball at the Herreshoff Marine Museum, ultimately culminating in a massive Fourth of July parade. This year, expect your favorite festivities on a slighter scale, like a smaller parade and events (including the concert series) slated for late August. Check out FourthOfJulyBristolRI.com for a full calendar.