Blue O’Connor is a proud Bristolian, keen adventurer and travel writer. We asked him for his must-do checklist for any Bristol resident or visitor, and this is what he came back with...

1. Hop on a steam engine train at Avon Valley Railway

This historical railway line which originally opened in 1869 is a great way to step back in time and enjoy the pleasures of a coal-driven steam engine train. Relish the restored Victorian station over a cup of tea in their adjacent café, or enjoy a meal in one of the beautiful vintage carriages. It doesn’t stop there though, the station holds beer festivals, murder mysteries, Santa specials and much more. 

Local's Top Tip: Get there early to catch the first departure and avoid the crowd. 

Bitton Station Blue - Avon Valley Railway - Credit Oliver Jordan
Image - Avon Valley Railway. Credit: Oliver Jordan

2. Have a drink at The Old Lock and Weir 

This peaceful riverside cottage pub is set in the heart of the Hanham Abbots conservation area. Enjoy a bite to eat before you take a walk around the tranquil conservation area, set alongside the meandering River Avon. Next door you'll find Chequers Inn, which also has a huge riverside terrace.

Local's Top Tip: Be aware that on weekends with sunny weather there is fierce competition for a table. 

Outdoor seating at Old Lock & Weir pub, Hanham Locks - Credit Oliver Jordan
Image - Old Lock and Weir. Credit: Oliver Jordan

3. Watch glass making at The Original Bristol Blue Glass

The Original Bristol Blue Glass was started back in 1988 by James Adlington, with the help of glass maker Peter St Clair. The aim was to re-establish a glass making tradition back into Bristol that had been lost for over 60 years.

Local's Top Tip: Book ahead to watch the mesmerising glass blowing in action. 

Person making blue glass object - Credit Oliver Jordan
Image - Bristol Blue Glass. Credit: Oliver Jordan

4. Have a stroll around Arnos Vale’s Victorian Cemetery

Just across the road from The Original Bristol Blue Glass is Arnos Vale, where 45 acres of unique Bristol heritage awaits your discovery. This Victorian garden cemetery is home to some of Bristol’s past tenants and an enchanting forest. 

Local's Top Tip: Grab a coffee and cake in the cafe and sit outside to take in the birdsong and views.

Graves at Arnos Vale Cemetery - Credit Oliver Jordan
Image - Arnos Vale Cemetery​. Credit: Oliver Jordan

5. Play board games at Chance and Counters on Christmas Steps

Bristol’s first dedicated board game café is home to over 650 board games. Gurus are on standby to recommend, teach and steer you through an array of options. 

Local's Top Tip: Be quick to book a table as this place fills out fast in the evenings.

Boardgames at Chance & Counters- Credit Oliver Jordan
Image - Chance & Counters. Credit: Oliver Jordan

6. Admire the architecture at Bristol Cathedral

One of the world's finest examples of a medieval 'hall church' stands at the heart of Bristol and is free to enter and explore. 

Local's Top Tip: Grab some food nearby to go and take a seat on College Green to enjoy the atmosphere and hopefully the weather.  

Interior of Bristol Cathedral with lights - credit Graham Flack

Image - Bristol Cathedral. Credit Graham Flack

7. Visit the eco-village and community farm at St Werburghs

A stone throw from the city centre, this area couldn’t feel any different. An eco-village, community farm, local pub, healthy café, indoor rock climbing centre, tranquil park and more make this small inner-city area a rarity of sights. 

Local's Top Tip: Head to the community farm during the Farm Summer Fair in June to enjoy live music, fresh food, local ales and all-round fun.

Goats at St Werburghs City Farm - Credit Oliver Jordan
Image - St Werburghs City Farm. Credit: Oliver Jordan

8. Immerse yourself in nature at Leigh Woods

This wilderness of tranquillity is set against Brunel's famous suspension bridge. You can pick from a myriad of walking routes or mountain biking trails to enjoy your adventure. 

Local's Top Tip: Take the path that leads down to the River Avon for an impressive view from underneath the infamous Clifton Suspension Bridge

View of Clifton Suspension Bridge from Leigh Woods
Image - View of Clifton Suspension Bridge from Leigh Woods

9. Eat quintessentially British fish and chips at Chew Valley Lake

At the UK’s fifth-largest artificial lake you can sail, go fishing, walk or just relax. Whatever you do, make sure you stop off in Salt and Malt for some award-winning fish and chips.

Local's Top Tip: On the way to Chew Valley Lake, stop off at Dundry Church for some panoramic views of the city of Bristol. 

Bridge and turret at Chew Valley Lake - Credit Oliver Jordan
Image - Chew Valley Lake. Credit: Oliver Jordan

10. Explore Blaise Castle Estate

The extensive grounds of Blaise Castle Estate showcases a 19th century mansion, 400 acres of parkland, café and children’s adventure playground

Local's Top Tip: Be sure to see the unique Blaise Hamlet - a collection of nine rustic cottages based on site that dates back to medieval times. 

Cottages in Blaise Hamlet - Credit Oliver Jordan

Image - Blaise Hamlet. Credit: Oliver Jordan

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