Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Bristol, NH

  • Published 2022/09/28

Bristol is a tranquil town in New Hampshire conveniently located close to Newfound Lake.

This makes the lake a prime destination for water-related adventures like boating, fishing, and swimming.

Other than that, Bristol is a community with a lot of heart.

You’ll discover many shops and restaurants that present their talents, passion, and unique sense of creativity.

You can trace all these back to 1819 when it was first incorporated as a proper settlement.

Today, Bristol proudly offers the benefits of the small-town lifestyle.

It’s not the same humdrum life that some people make it out to be!

Discover the best things to do in Bristol, New Hampshire, through this list!

Take a Swim in Newfound Lake

View of Newfound Lake from a cliff

Jon Michael Pics /

Newfound Lake trails across a few New Hampshire’s Lakes region towns, including Bristol.

It has some of the most pristine waters in the vicinity and boasts an incredible depth.

The key to its clean conditions lies in hard-working volunteers and the lack of settlers along the banks of the lake.

In the 17th century, people got into several disputes about the lake’s rightful owner, but they eventually opened it to the public.

The waters of Newfound Lake

User:Magicpiano, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Its gorgeous scenery and a serene atmosphere make Newfound Lake a top destination in town.

Whether you want to relax or go for recreation, this lake provides access to countless ventures.

Swimming, boating, and hiking are some activities you can enjoy on the premises.

Truly, Newfound Lake is proof of nature’s wonders.

Take a Break at Kelley Park

Kelley Park is one of the town’s most popular leisure destinations.

Established in the early 20th century, the construction of this park received funding from the donations of Mr. William G. Kelley.

The aim was to build a free, open space for children and young people of the town.

Kelley Park is home to a well-sized playground, tennis courts, and a few other athletic fields.

It also has a central pavilion and convenient restrooms.

Sometimes, they schedule live events and concerts in Kelley Park on Thursday nights.

It’s also on Main Street, offering an easy path to many other nearby shops and restaurants.

Taste Fun Wines at Crazy Cat Winery & Cafe

Drinking wine should be open and fun instead of closed and snobby!

This is the central premise of Crazy Cat Winery & Cafe.

With that in mind, the founder crafted bright and playful flavors of wine like mango, strawberry, and apples.

Many wines here feature unique and seasonal tastes, but it also has their fair share of classics.

Customers can enjoy a long list of options from the usual red and white wines to fun desserts and tropical-inspired wines.

They make wines from a mix of locally sourced fruits and international materials, guaranteeing fresh, high-quality ingredients.

Coupled with your choice of cheese plates, salads, or sandwiches, Crazy Cat Winery & Cafe offers a comfortable wine-tasting experience.

Check out this quirky winery and cafe along Lake Street!

Sip Fresh Water at Breck-Plankey Spring

Free and open to the public, Breck-Plankey Spring is a fantastic place to stop by in Bristol.

This public spring offers fresh, clean water from natural sources.

Anyone can visit, bring their water jugs, and fill them up to the brim!

Since 1982, the Bristol Community Commission has preserved the spring, ensuring the public can always enjoy it.

They test the waters quarterly to check if the spring is safe for general consumption.

If you’re interested, you can find the Breck-Plankey Spring along School Street.

Drink pure water straight from nature!

Have a Picnic at the Wellington State Park

Swimming beach of Wellington State Park

Jon Michael Pics /

A convenient way to see and explore Newfound Lake is to visit Wellington State Park.

Along Shore Road, this park offers a broad assortment of recreational facilities.

It has one of the largest swimming beaches in New Hampshire, filled with natural freshwater.

It’s also home to sports field courts, picnic areas, hiking trails, and fishing spots within the premises.

Map board at Wellington State Park

Jon Michael Pics /

If you get hungry, there’s a snack bar with an array of tasty treats, cold beverages, and ice cream to enjoy in the heat.

The Wellington State Park is a great way to immerse and connect with the beautiful side of the environment.

Breathe in the fresh air, swim in clear waters, or hike through the scenic nature preserve.

Reach the Slim Baker Lodge

Nestled at the top of a mountain, Slim Baker Lodge was completed in 1956.

It’s a homage to a cherished conservation officer in Bristol diagnosed with a terminal disease.

According to his long-time dream, the community gathered to construct this venue as an all-in-one outdoor destination.

They set up over 100 acres’ worth of outdoor facilities, amenities, and overnight lodging.

You can now explore various marked trails, join outdoor community activities, and rent some of their facilities.

At Little Roundtop Mountain, you’ll also get sweeping views of the town and its surrounding nature.

This also makes Slim Baker Lodge a perfect venue for sunset viewing!

Drink a Pint in Shackett’s Brewing Company

At Central Square, Shackett’s Brewing Company serves everyone who needs a casual lunch and drink.

Shackett’s Brewing Company features a warm ambience with rustic decor and wood-centric furnishings.

It’s almost as if you’re huddled in a cozy log cabin.

Another cool feature is a transparent window that gives you clear views of a moving river.

Expect homemade and locally sourced beers that range from ales, stouts, and brown drinks.

This local pub is conveniently positioned amid a vibrant street that you can explore after drinking.

With good food, local beers, and a warm atmosphere, Shackett’s Brewing Company is a fine choice.

Unwind in Henry Whipple House Bed & Breakfast

Built in 1904, Henry Whipple House Bed & Breakfast was the lavish home of a prominent businessman.

After his death, they turned the house into a beautiful historic bed and breakfast.

Until now, it retains a historic charm but with the bonus of modern conveniences.

From its exquisite lobby and dining area to old-style rooms, Henry Whipple House Bed & Breakfast takes you back in time.

Its most prominent decor inspiration comes from the Victorian era, consisting of dainty plate sets, cozy fireplaces, and patterned bed covers.

The building has also retained its original Queen Anne architecture, once popular in New England.

The new owners aim to balance the venue’s old elegance with a warm, cozy atmosphere.

Book a stay at this bed and breakfast on Summer Street!

See the Beauty of Profile Falls

Scenic view of Profile Falls

Brandon Gadbois /

Deep within a mysterious woodland area, you’ll find the Profile Falls.

This stunning work of nature provides a gorgeous backdrop to your swimming adventure in the cool, refreshing water.

The features of Profile Falls comprise a short height, wide shape, and strong waters spilling out from its highest point.

You’ll also swim amid lush trees from every direction.

Aerial view of Profile Falls

Eli Wilson /

The trail to reach Profile Falls is relatively short, spanning less than a kilometer.

In truth, this waterfall is a hidden gem that few people know.

Tucked within Mountain Hill Road, you’ll need to go through a dense forest to discover the venue.

Be careful crossing the rocky areas, because there are a few steep and slippery slopes!

Rent a Boat from West Shore Marine

With the town’s proximity to Newfound Lake, it’s no surprise that boat rentals are popular attractions.

West Shore Marine is an all-in-one venue for all things related to boating.

They offer maintenance services, boat sales, marina parking, and boat launchers to help you access Newfound Lake.

You can also request other boat-related services from their friendly staff, who will do their best to accommodate your needs.

West Shore Marine allows you to personally explore Newfound Lake, even if you don’t own a boat.

It’s located along Shore Road, in case you’re interested.

Treat Yourself at the Mill Fudge Factory

The Mill Fudge Factory is a haven for travelers who enjoy sweets.

Established in 2006, this family-owned business commits to using organic ingredients and avoids artificial flavorings.

They also use a secret recipe inspired from the family’s Scottish roots.

The result leads to a batch of smooth, sweet fudge of the highest quality.

Their menu features a wide assortment of sweets, from classic chocolates to unique, special flavors like pumpkin fudge.

Besides classic fudge, they also experiment with unique flavors with local ingredients such as New Hampshire Maple.

Along Central Street, the Mill Fudge Factory has also earned renown as one of America’s best fudge companies.

Learn why their artisan fudges have received praise throughout the region!

Buy a Souvenir at Twin Designs Gift Shop

For souvenirs and memorabilia, check out the Twin Designs Gift Shop in Bristol.

At Central Square, this venue takes pride in its selection of locally made crafts and unique works of art.

From paintings and storybooks to mugs, puzzles, and ceramics, the Twin Designs Gift Shop shelves contain many items.

Founded in 1992, the shop contained an array of both modern and old nostalgic products.

Most of the items are handmade, especially the storybooks!

It’s a great way to see the creative styles of the locals in Bristol.

You can also purchase affordable items at Twin Designs Gift Shop!

Explore the Central Square Historic District

American civil war monument at Central Square Historic District

Ken Gallager at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As an old town, Bristol is home to the Central Square Historic District.

In 1989, the National Register of Historic Places added the district to the record.

The community in Bristol voted to protect and preserve this place in 2006.

Today, it’s a source of pride for the people in town.

It contains several historic buildings around Central Square, Main Street, and Summer Street.

Central Square Historic District includes old residential homes, churches, and the community’s town hall.

You can walk along the district or explore it by car.

Either way, you’ll see impressive structures and vintage-style architecture.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Hike at the Sculptured Rocks Natural Area

Daytime view of the Sculptured Rocks Natural Area

Kristine Reed /

You can find the Sculptured Rocks Natural Area in Hebron, New Hampshire, 23 minutes from Bristol.

People know this area as the smaller version of the Grand Canyon.

Compared to the Grand Canyon, this area spans an estimated 272 acres.

Still, it’s great proof of nature’s distinct formations, made with power and time.

Thanks to its smooth rock formations, you can climb up and below its premises to peek at every hidden corner.

There’s also a low, tranquil river at the bottom of the geological site.

While relatively easy, always be careful exploring the Sculptured Rocks Natural Area.

Learn History in Daniel Webster Birthplace State Historic Site

Marker and house at Daniel Webster Birthplace State Historic Site

Joseph Sohm /

This place may seem like an old, simple log cabin, but it represents much more.

Daniel Webster Birthplace is a historic site that has impressively remained strong over the centuries.

Built in the 18th century, this home is a preserved testament to the idyllic farming lifestyle before the advent of modern technology.

They have preserved and restored the Daniel Webster Birthplace, from its inside decor to its outdoor posterior.

Much of its composition remains and looks the same as in the past.

Set in the middle of a lush environment, this venue is a perfect destination for learning and leisure.

You can also get glimpses of life for a small farmer in New Hampshire.

Find this historic site in Franklin, New Hampshire, 24 minutes from Bristol.

Final Thoughts

Bristol is solid proof that towns can be just as exciting as cities!

This humble town offers many activities and sights with unique shops, active recreation, and natural wonders.

You also get the bonus of being in a relatively peaceful community.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Bristol, New Hampshire!

Discover More of Grafton County, NH

Best Things to Do in Plymouth,NH

Best Things to Do in Littleton, NH

Best Things to Do in Bethlehem, NH

Best Things to Do in Woodstock, NH

Best Things to Do in Lincoln, NH

Best Things to Do in Franconia, NH

Best Things to Do in Campton, NH

Best Things to Do in Grafton County, NH

© All rights reserved.