Colt State Park: Bristol, RI Review

View of the ocean at sunset in Bristol, Rhode Island
Bristol, Bristol County, Rhode Island
Car, Public Transportation
Trail Length
5.3 miles
Trail Type
Elevation Gain
131 feet
Ocean, Lifeguards on duty Memorial Day to Labor Day until dusk
Trail difficulty
Wheelchair Access
On leash
Free, $10 on weekends (avoidable)
Beautiful town beach, State park amenities, Wide variety of activities
Bristol Town Beach at sunset with tree and lifeguard stand

Rhode Island is often overlooked when it comes to natural beauty, and if you’re the type who wants to spend time in the mountains, we understand why. However, there are plenty of beautiful beaches outside of Newport, and we’re here to share a perfect example with you, Colt State Park.

With its crown jewel known as Bristol Town Beach, this is a true gem in The Ocean State. Let’s talk about why!

Review of Colt State Park

We’re going to cut right to the chase this time and say that Colt State Park is a truly underrated gem in southern New England. If you live in Eastern Massachusetts or Connecticut, as well as anywhere in Rhode Island, then we suggest choosing a day as soon as possible.

For those living in Central Massachusetts, there are often two options discussed: southern Rhode Island or Hampton Beach. 

Well, if you want to go somewhere for free but want to avoid the large crowds, then this is the place for you.

The Beach

Without a doubt, the biggest attraction here is Bristol Town Beach. At only a couple of football fields in length, this small beach is rarely overcrowded, free to enter, and there are almost always lifeguards on duty.

However, beware of the seashells, as there are many on this beach year-round. We suggest wearing flip-flops or water shoes when walking around on the sand.

Fun for Everyone

Now, state parks are always quite family-friendly, but Colt goes the extra mile. For example, amenities include:

  • Plenty of picnic tables
  • Two different playgrounds
  • On-site bathrooms
  • Public beach
  • Two soccer fields
  • Walking/biking trails
  • Several park benches overlooking the water
  • Barbecue stations

The list goes on. Unlike most state parks we’ve visited, families really make a day out of their journeys here by bringing enough equipment for barbecues, making for delicious and nostalgic aromas when walking around.

While it’s not nearly as crowded as other beaches in RI, we understand if you are not interested in spending time surrounded by others. In that case, the walking and biking trails are very serene and quiet, with parts going through wooded areas and others overlooking the ocean.

Great Place to Spend a Day

Unfortunately, there are no camping options available at this park, so this is definitely a “day trip” park. If you are looking for a place to set up camp, we suggest Lincoln Woods State Park right off Rt 146.

However, you’d be hard-pressed to find yourself bored at this park, especially if you come during the week when it’s less crowded. If you bring a ball, a book, and a bike, then you won’t run out of activities.

Play an instrument? The park benches and picnic tables are a great place for practicing, as well as playing board games, or just talking with friends. With the right planning, you won’t run out of fun activities.

It’s okay to get bored of the beach. If you do, Bristol’s downtown area has plenty of great shops and other destinations within a short drive.

What if you don’t pack enough food? Well, DoorDash and other delivery apps are available, and if you’re willing to take a quick drive, you’ll find plenty of available restaurants within a few minutes of the beach.

Year-Round Fun

Of course, if you want to go swimming, there’s Bristol Town Beach, which has great waters. Just make sure you check the weather before packing your swim suit!

Unlike many beach parks, they regularly have summer camps that come here, tour groups, and sports teams during the whole year. There’s even a sign (see picture below) for those types of dads we all know.

Tips on Visiting

Fortunately, this park has plenty of space, so there’s no need to worry about social distancing or any other overcrowding concerns. We’ve been to this park at least twenty times and it never felt overly crowded.

How to Save Money

Now, we did promise a free trip to this lovely park, and we’re not backtracking on that. However, if you want to park close to the water, you will have to pay a parking fee.

Luckily, you can avoid this entirely by parking behind the soccer field, which will be on your right side after entering the park grounds. It’s a dirt parking lot with a quick walk through the soccer field and playground for access to the beach.

If you have a lot of equipment for a barbecue or you want to be closer to the car, you can always pay for parking. However, there are almost always free spots available, even during the peak season.

Best Time to Visit

If you’re not planning on swimming, then we highly recommend off-season visits, as you will find the least crowds and still have plenty to do. The trails, playground, and sports fields can keep you entertained from early spring to late autumn without losing the stunning ocean views.

Whether you want to go swimming or not, peak season is still very enjoyable. If possible, we recommend going on a weekday, as you will get the most enjoyment away from the crowds.

See For Yourself

Now that you know about Colt State Park, we suggest taking a day trip as soon as possible. As the weather warms up, more people will follow suit, so grab your barbecue equipment and enjoy!

Stay up to date with our latest reviews in your area and feel free to contact us with any questions!

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