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Founded in 1681, the town of Bristol, Pennsylvania boasts a long and proud history. Located on the banks of the Delaware River, Bristol served an important role in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars, and at one time it was a major textile-milling center. The old-world influence still exists today, as evidenced by the town’s many antique shops, historic mansions and significant landmarks.
Along the riverfront, several statues pay tribute to such icons as Christopher Columbus and Harriet Tubman. Another important figure, textile-milling tycoon Joseph R. Grundy, lends his name to many establishments around town, including the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library and the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Museum. The latter showcases an impressive collection of authentic Victorian-era décor and furniture, and free, guided tours are offered Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday.
A mix of independently owned restaurants and shops lines Mill Street. This charming stretch runs through the center of town, all the way down to the shores of the Delaware River. Radcliffe St., which meets with Mill Street at the King George II Inn, is also part of the Main Street experience.
Since 1986, Bristol Riverside Theatre, a community-oriented non-profit theater company, has produced performances of classic productions like Little Shop of Horrors and Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Comedy Works Bristol at Georgine’s restaurant showcases some of the country’s best standup comics on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as on special occasions. Aspiring artists can explore their creative side over cocktails at The Art-Tini Studio, a bring-your-own-bottle painting space that offers public classes and private parties.
The Bristol Waterfront Park provides a tranquil oasis for fishing and walking alongside the river. Just outside of town, outdoor enthusiasts love Silver Lake Nature Center featuring a butterfly garden, lakes, marshes, meadows, a bog and 4.5 miles of nature trails that highlight the diverse plant and animal life in the area.
The historic King George II Inn dates way back to 1681 and has welcomed notable guests such as Gregory Peck, Katherine Hepburn and even George Washington. The Golden Eagle Diner and Restaurant cooks home-style dishes that incorporate local fruits, vegetables and other fresh ingredients.
On Mill Street, Another Time Antiques sells fine items from the past, including art, jewelry, furniture and glassware. Locals frequent the family-owned Mignoni Jewelry for imported Irish gifts, dolls, jewelry and figurines. Around the corner, lifestyle shop Spice & Co. boasts oils, vinegars, coffee, tea, spa products, home goods and more.
On the First Friday of every month, businesses in the historic Bristol shopping district stay open late and offer discounts, specials and giveaways. The longest running exhibition of antique cars in the country, the Antique Auto Show attracts car enthusiasts on the first Sunday in May. Summer brings several ethnic celebrations, including the Celtic Festival, Puerto Rican Day Festival, Afro-American Festival and Italian Day Festival. In September, the Doo Wop Festival, Bristol’s largest festival, offers a day full of 1950s music. And every October, Historic Bristol Day brings a family-friendly street fair packed with arts and crafts, food vendors and entertainers, children’s games, a sailing regatta and more.
Driving the 25 miles from Center City to the Historic Bristol Borough takes roughly 35 minutes. Metered street parking and municipal lots are available. SEPTA operates a station in Bristol; leave about an hour to get from Center City Philadelphia to town.
Visitors looking to spend more time in Bristol can stay at the Days Inn located in town. Alternatively, make the short trip back to the city and save during your stay in Philadelphia with the two-night Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, which includes FREE hotel parking.