The city's Stateside connections go way back. Here's our pick of US themed things to see and do on 4 July and beyond...

American attractions

Image - The Matthew by Shawn Spencer Smith  

Sometimes referred to as the 'Birthplace of America', Bristol has many attractions which showcase its historic links across the Atlantic. Here are some of the highlights:

A good starting point on this voyage of discovery is to head to the Harbourside and hop aboard The Matthew, a replica of the ship John Cabot set sail on over 500 years ago. Although intending to find Asia, he landed on the coast of Newfoundland and is therefore thought to be the original discoverer of North America - before Christopher Columbus in 1492.

There’s another famous ship with connections to the US too: Brunel’s ss Great Britain transformed transatlantic travel to America when she was launched in the 19th century. Get a feel for what life on the high seas was like for those Victorian travellers and even have a go at climbing the rigging with Go Aloft!

For a less daredevil activity, climb up Cabot Tower – this monument built to honour Cabot’s discovery is free to enter and offers marvellous views over the city.

Not far from Bristol Temple Meads, the gothic 800-year-old St Mary Redcliffe Church offers some keys to Bristol and America’s past… St John’s Chapel, now known as The American Chapel, holds the tomb and armour of Admiral Sir William Penn, father of the founder of Pennsylvania. And look out for the giant whale-bone next to the chapel, a souvenir brought back to Bristol by John Cabot in 1497 following his expedition to North America. You can see the story of the journey depicted in stained glass.

Then there’s the New Room, also known as John Wesley’s Chapel. It is the world’s first and oldest Methodist chapel. Built by one of Methodism’s founding fathers, John Wesley, who came to Bristol in 1739, it remains a peaceful sanctuary in the heart of Bristol’s Shopping Quarter.

See our blog for more of Bristol’s many connections with the USA, from the first American Embassy in Queen Square to Blackbeard the Pirate's watering hole - the Llandoger Trow.

Burger joints, beers and candy stops

Image - Lock Jaw burger at Grillstock by Paul Box 

Grillstock on Clifton Triangle kick-started Bristol’s barbecuing revolution, and now also hosts a hugely popular annual music and meat festival of the same name plus more restaurants in Bristol and beyond. On a big day like 4 July, go for something special from the smoker like the epic Grand Champion. If you can polish it off in one hour you’ll get a Grand Champion tee and some finger-licking BBQ sauce. Brace yourself though, the ultimate low ‘n’ slow meat feast includes pulled pork, sliced brisket, half a chicken, full rack of babyback ribs plus mac ‘n’ cheese, chilli cheese fries, house pickles and slaw!

Down the road on Park Row, independent restaurant and cocktail bar Plead the 5th is celebrating 4 July by offering anyone with an American passport free corn dogs (booking advised). Anytime of year though, this is a great spot for savoury waffles – try the Louisana pulled pork. And for inspiration on even more places to eat, see our page on American restaurants

For sweet treats and soda, go to Treasure Island Sweets on St Nicholas Street. You can really live the American dream here - the shop imports old school favourites like Milk Duds, 3 Musketeers, Marshmallow Fluff, Pay Day, A&W Root Beer, Vanilla Coke, Lucky Charms Treats bars and all the usual Reese’s and Hershey’s goodies.

Image - King Street Brew House 

If you'd rather raise a toast to the motherland, what better way to do so than with a micro-brewed beer? Make a beeline for either King Street Brew House, Prince Street Social or both - they serve some great microbrews inspired by the experimental American brewing scene. Go for Red Neck, a 4.6% Red Rye IPA brewed with Melanoiden Malt, CaraRed and a little Carafa III to give it its distinctive red colour, or White Trash, a strong 5.8% American IPA which boasts ‘new world’ hops.

And for sumptuous speakeasy style, find one of the city's prohibition era cocktail bars such as Milk Thistle and Hyde & Co. Sip on a Dame to Kill For, which fuses the best of Bristol and the US with its potent mix of Wild Turkey Bourbon and Harveys Bristol Cream. As a special treat on Thursday (7 July), Hyde & Co and Bristol Whiskey Club will be joing forces to celebrate The Evolution of American Whiskey. Tickets are £20 and include a full flight of whiskies, a tutored tasting from the fabulous folk at Marussia and American finger food.

Stars and stripes fashion

About mid-way up Park Street you’ll find Uncle Sam’s, a clothes shop specialising in vintage fashion from across the pond. Great for leather jackets, cowboy boots and well-worn jeans. Up in Clifton Village, check out Dustbowl Vintage, which hones in with effortless cool on ‘fine mid-century vintage American menswear’.

Americana festival and more

Image - The Hillbenders, Bristol Americana Weekend 

Hold onto your Stetsons, Bristol’s annual celebration of American country and roots music returns to two of the city’s favourite music venues - Colston Hall and St George’s - from 15-17 July. Big American acts taking to the main stage at Colston Hall include Elvis Costello & The Imposters (17 July), Mary Chapin Carpenter (16 July) and Lucinda Williams (15 July). There’s also a foot-stomping line-up of free foyer entertainment by artists including Lousiana-born Gill Landry, formerly of Old Crow Medicine Show (16 July). At St George’s, don’t miss The HillBenders’ Bluegrass Opry – a tribute to The Who’s seminal album. For Bristol Americana Weekend tickets, go to: www.colstonhall.org/shows/bristol-americana-weekend.

Image - Cary Grant in front of Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol Evening Post 

Celebrate Hollywood’s Bristolian hero Cary Grant at the Cary Grant Comes Home festival (16-17 July). Born Archibald Leach in Horfield, he began his career backstage at Bristol Hippodrome. The much-loved actor now has his very own festival, which this year coincides nicely with the Harbour Festival. It will feature vintage film screenings and music, wine tastings and other glamorous pursuits all themed around the golden age of travel.

Line dancing lessons

If nothing will do but a full-on foot stomping hoedown, then join one of Bristol’s line-dancing classes. Jay-Jays run two weekly line-dancing shindigs (https://jjline.wordpress.com). Their regular classes are for all abilities, and they also run socials and weekend breaks in the surrounding countryside. Over in Frampton Cotterell, Laughter in Line are ‘beginner specialists’ (Mondays, 7.30-8.30pm) but they also have an improvers class for those who have mastered the Monteray and other dances (Mondays, 8.30-9.30pm). And don’t miss Party Night on 18 July! See www.laughterinline.org for details. 

Getting here: 

If you're coming from the US, you're in luck... You can also hop across the Atlantic via Dublin with Aer Lingus

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