Located on the banks of the Delaware River, northeast of Center City Philadelphia, lies Bristol, a borough boasting rich history and is the oldest borough in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Named after another Bristol place in England, Buck County’s Bristol was established all the way back in 1681, where it served as a community mill and urban center for all the farms, as well as a port and dock for all the marine activities on the river.
Bristol has grown and been urbanized just like any other city; however, they've seamlessly incorporated its rich history into their community.
From delicious restaurants to memorable parks and elegantly weathered buildings, there is a lot to discover here in Bristol.
With that in mind, here are the 15 best things to do in Bristol, Pennsylvania:
Take a Walk at the Historic Radcliffe Street
Start your trip here in Bristol at the historic Radcliffe Street.
Walking through this street will take you back to simpler days in Pennsylvania, where you'll discover most of Bristol’s rich history.
This charming stretch of mains street contains old houses and renovated homes of varying architectural designs, eras, and inspirations.
Some of the homes in Radcliffe Street date all the way back to 1781, and with the self-guided tour on your phone, you can learn more about each house’s history as you stroll by.
There are many locally owned and operated shops and restaurants on the main street, with most buildings having some historical value.
Taste Bristol’s Best at Radcliffe Cafe
If after the historic walk at the main street you end up east, the Radcliffe Café is a fantastic spot to eat at.
The Radcliffe Café is a small family-owned and operated restaurant focusing on breakfast dishes and meals.
This small diner is popular with locals and visitors because they make surprisingly fantastic and homey meals with such a small menu—it shows that they know what people like, and they’re good at making it.
Order breakfast favorites like pancakes, waffles, scrambled eggs, sausages, corned beef, and more.
The Radcliffe Cafe only serves breakfast and lunch and closes at 2 pm, so be sure to come by early!
Join Fun Events at the Bristol Wharf
After the historic mains street, there are still plenty of things to do here in Bristol; It’s time to visit the beautiful waterfront through the Bristol Wharf.
This is a fantastic place to stop by, sit down and enjoy the views overlooking the river.
You can join in on the other visitors fishing by the waters or even boating; swimming is not encouraged to do so—as the waters aren't as clean as they used to be, as well as dangerous riptides and strong currents.
You can also find some programs, concerts, festivities, and other stuff like yoga here, so be sure to visit not to miss out.
The Bristol Wharf is found at the end of Mill Street in the southwestern part of Bristol.
Relax at Bristol Lions Park
Located right next to the Bristol Wharf is the beautiful Bristol Lions Park.
The Bristol Lions Park is often also known as the Bristol Waterfront Park and is usually considered part of the Wharf.
This fabulous park overlooks the Delaware River and has amazing spots to sit down and relax—benches, on the covered gazebo, or even just on the green grass.
Here you’ll also find multiple historical monuments that commemorate important pieces of Bristol’s ethnic diversity, with monuments of—Harriet Tubman, a Hispanic Monument, a Celtic Monument, and a monument for Christopher Columbus.
The Park is located right next to the Wharf, at 100 Basin Street.
The Bristol Lions Park is also the starting point of the Delaware Canal Trail, which is a whole new journey itself.
Go Back to the Victorian Era at The Grundy Museum
The Grundy Museum is one of the most visited historical attractions here in Bristol.
Although not as old compared to the other building in the historic Radcliffe Street, The Grundy Museum is an amazing place to visit and experience what it's like living in a lavish household during the Victorian Era.
People are free to enter the house and have a guided tour; just make sure to register at the library nearby to get started.
Here you’ll be able to enter the gorgeous home and see all the old furnishings and equipment that the Grundy family themselves used to use and own.
You can also look outside for a scenic view overlooking the Delaware River, and viewing the house from the riverside shows you the full five floors of the beautiful home.
Dine at the Historic King George II Inn
Once you’re done with your walk, visit the historic King George II Inn.
It is one of the oldest operating inns in the country, dating back to the 17th century.
If there’s one thing popular about this inn more than the historic building and the elegant and weathered vibe, it’s the food.
They serve hearty comfort food, mainly American cuisine.
You can sit inside the inn and enjoy the atmosphere or outside alfresco, but with both options, you can look towards the beautiful waterfront and enjoy the view while eating your fantastic meal.
The King George II Inn is found at 102 Radcliffe Street; you’ll naturally find this place while walking through the historic main street.
Take a Hike at Silver Lake Nature Center
If you want a brief escape from the Waterfront into an amazing natural green landscape, the Silver Lake Nature Center is the place to be.
The Silver Lake Nature Center is a massive 460-acre park and recreational center found at 1306 Bath Road that allows for lots of opportunities for outdoor activities.
The forested park has over 7 miles of walking trails that go through several diverse habitats and beautiful scenery at their Nature Center; there is also one half-mile double loop that can be accessed by their Visitor’s Center.
The kids will have so much to do here as well, like visiting the 1-acre natural play area made to encourage kids' interest in nature, located right next to the Visitor’s Center, where kids can uncover fossils in the sandbox and many more.
They can also visit the Visitor’s Center for a hands-on experience while learning about the many habitats and wildlife in the park.
In addition, there’s also an auditorium, an amphitheater, pavilions, and educational programs that the Silver Lake Nature Center provides, so be sure to stop by for a whole day’s worth of fun.
Watch a Fabulous Show at the Bristol Riverside Theatre
You can’t visit Bristol without enjoying world-class performances at the Bristol Riverside Theatre.
The Bristol Riverside Theatre is a historic professional theatre established in 1986 by the beautiful Delaware Riverside.
You can buy tickets online and catch the show in this award-winning theater with over 84 Barrymore Awards of excellence nominations.
The Bristol Riverside Theatre is found at 120 Radcliffe Street.
Before going on your trip, book a slot for a show and have the complete Bristol experience.
Attend a Homily at the Historic St. Mark Church
If you want to visit a holy site with a lot of history, you can attend a homily at St. Mark Church.
St. Mark Church was first established in 1845 and is the first and oldest catholic church in Bucks County.
After suffering a few fires over the years, they used each tragedy as an opportunity, renovated the church each time, and added another 20 feet to the original church after another fire in 1882.
You can visit the church and admire the unique architecture—a tall central tower with a triangular roof, beautiful stained-glass windows, clean marble altars, and a scenic Rosetta window above the main door.
If you want to visit this church for a mass, it’s found at 1025 Radcliffe Street.
Drink the Best Rye Whiskey in the Country at Dad’s Hat
The Dad’s Hat is one of Bristol’s premier distilleries.
Rye Whiskey is an important part of Pennsylvania’s history which dates all the way back to the 18th century when farmers used their extra rye grain to create their very own homemade whiskey.
Dad’s Hat is here to keep the 200 years of Pennsylvania's distilling legacy and to share its glory with its visitors.
You can visit this distillery and discover for yourself how this authentic rye whiskey is made with their tours that show up close to the distillation and aging process.
If you want to visit Dad’s Hat, they’re found at Door 16, 925 Canal Street Building # 4.
Stroll along the Delaware Canal State Park
The Delaware Canal State Park is a park here in Bristol; however, it's not like any other park.
If you're imagining playgrounds, splash pads, and basketball courts, or maybe even beautiful mountains and steep treks, you’re mistaken!
The huge 830-acre park is a 60-mile towpath that runs parallel to the scenic Delaware river canal and crosses 18 municipalities in the area.
This historic towpath used to be the path where mules once walked and pulled cargo and canal boats along the Delaware Canal, nowadays, it’s a nice long stretch of well-paved pathway that's perfect for walking, biking, horseback riding, and jogging.
If you want to visit the start of the Delaware Canal State Park in Bristol, it’s just at the Lion’s Park near the Bristol Wharf.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Learn about Pennsylvania’s Founder at the Pennsbury Manor
One of the most historical places to visit here near Bristol is the Pennsbury Manor.
With just a 15-minute drive northeast, past Tullytown, lies the Pennsbury Manor, located right next to the Pennsbury Manor State Park.
This historic manor-turned-museum by the Delaware River is a recreated 43-acre 17th-century home of the founder of the colony of Pennsylvania, William Pen.
Here you can look around and see what it was like during the colonial period just at the luxurious home of the state’s founder.
They also offer a look at the daily colonial life demonstrations and tours and showcase some more detailed information about the history of Penn and Pennsylvania in their Visitor Center.
You can also have fun with the family at the beautiful Pennsbury Manor State Park and have a picnic along the waterfront.
Find Fabulous Gardens at The Andalusia Estate
The house was built all the way back in 1794 and is one of the earliest, most beautiful, and pristine examples of the Greek revival architectural style in the country.
This mansion overlooks the beautiful Delaware river and has spectacular gardens and preserved woodlands that continue to evolve to this day.
Since opening to the public in 1980, you can experience the sweeping scenery of this home for yourself while learning more about the past residents that lived here.
You can take a guided or self-guided tour of the formal gardens that date back 200 years, as the previous owners planted seeds of varying species, resulting in a colorful, blooming garden.
Also, visit the Andalusia Estate’s world-class arboretum for its tree-centric public garden that features a picturesque variety of trees alongside the scenic Delaware River.
Take Your Kids to Sesame Place
Kids will absolutely love their time here at Sesame Place in Langhorne.
With just a 17-minute drive, you and your family can visit this spectacular children’s theme park and waterpark found at 100 Sesame Road in Langhorne.
The park is based entirely on the iconic children's TV show "Sesame Street."
This theme park is also the very first theme park that is a Certified Autism Center, meaning it’s an amazing place that ensures that children with special needs are helped and happy.
Here at the Sesame Place, the children can go on several types of dry and wet rides—from rollercoasters to cozy bus rides, to large raft waterslides to actual waterslides, carousels, and lazy rivers; there are so many things to do.
You can also download and print their coloring books and activity sheets available on their website and have the kids fill them out in the children's play areas.
It’s no surprise that Bristol has so much history, being the oldest borough in Pennsylvania; what’s surprising is how much the residents value this history.
It's because of this fact that there are so many things to do, so much to visit and discover—from historic homes and museums that take you back in the past, old restaurants and diners that give you a tried-and-tested taste of Bristol, to beautiful parks and attractions that tell stories of Bristol in their way.
It’s no wonder this borough thrived—and is still thriving today after all these years; the place never lost its identity as a quiet port town by the river.
Hope this list of the best things to do in Bristol, Pennsylvania helps shape your itinerary on your next visit.