Jackie's Loft, boutique on Thames St., Bristol, R.I.
Sea Star Treasures, State St., Bristol, R.I.
Imagine Gift Store, Miller St. off Main St., Warren, R.I.
Kate & Company,  Hope St., Bristol, R.I.

Enjoy the Oldest Independence Day Parade on the 4th of July in Bristol, Rhode Island

Bristol is the place to be on the 4th of July if you love a parade. The town of Bristol prides itself on having the oldest Independence Day parade in America. And it is not just one day of celebrating. The festivities go on from Flag Day (June 14th) to the 4th of July. The 2 1/2 mile, approximately 2 hour parade begins in downtown Bristol on the 4th of July and winds its way through the town. Live music the night before at downtown Independence Park ends with fireworks over Bristol Harbor on July 3rd. For kids, there is the Rockwell Amusements Carnival on the Town common at select times throughout the week. After the parade, shopping and dining choices downtown are plentiful. The town shops are (More)

Head of East Bay Bike Path at Independence Park, Bristol, R.I.

a mix of antiques, home decor, boutiques, gift shops, and art galleries. Bristol is overflowing with patriotic feeling as evidenced in the red, white and blue lines down the center of Hope St. Their 4th of July parade is the oldest in America being the first town to celebrate Independence Day in 1785. The town shops (note that many may be closed on the 4th of July) have gifts, antiques, jewelry and home items. Wedding planners can find jewelry, photography, venues, and cake. The East Bay Bike Path draws cyclists and the Bristol Harbor brings in kayakers, sailors and boaters. The Marinas cater to boat owners and sailors. Museums and historic houses, and a self-guided walking tour immerse the visitor in 17th and 18th century life.


Nearby Warren is an eclectic mix of antique shops, art galleries and a large gift shop, Imagine Gift Store that attracts bus tours. Luca Boutique has children's designer consignment clothing. The Warren Exchange antique shop also has coin appraisals and coins to add to your collection. For more antiques, visit Water Street Antiques. Art Night on the last Thursday of May through August includes a free trolley ride to artists' studios and open galleries, with shops and restaurants participating as well.


Being on the water, both towns have many waterview restaurants including seafood, tavern style, French, Mexican, Italian and contemporary menus. Lower key than Newport, Bristol and Warren offer small town atmospheres with shopping, and eating choices boasting harbor views. Wedding planning and decorating your home are helped along by the shops, bakeries, venues, photographers, salons and boutiques. History buffs have lots of properties to explore. Vineyards are a short drive away. Antiques and art galleries are located in both towns. For a laid back getaway or day trip by the sea, Bristol has lots to offer, without the crowds (except on the 4th of July!)


For more information and links about shops, restaurants, accommodations and attractions, go to the Scenic Shopping™ Bristol and Warren page.


-M.A. Barrett (July, 2013, updated June, 2019)


Green River Silver, jewelry shop on Hope St., Bristol, R.I.
State St. shops, Bristol, R.I.
4th of July Parade, Bristol, R.I.
Thames Waterside Bar & Grill, Thames St., Bristol, R.I.
Bristol 4th of July Parade, Hope St., Bristol, R.I.