At the heart of the city since Anglo-Saxon times, Bristol’s buzzing Harbourside is a hive of activity and (especially in the warmer months) is a gorgeous part of town to explore. In the three years I’ve spent getting to know Bristol, a trip down Park Street to wander the Harbourside has always proved to be worth the journey. Here are a couple of my favourite Harbourside haunts that I would recommend checking out on your next visit.
First things first, COFFEE: Sip a latte on the terrace at the Mud Dock.
Above an award winning cycle works, selling bike related goodies and providing bike related knowledge, is one of my favourite Harbourside cafes. The airy and rustic warehouse feel is perfectly complimented by the dangling greenery (and bicycles) and beautiful big windows looking out over the Harbourside and some of bristols famous coloured houses. The real treasure though, is the large South facing balcony, where you can catch come rays, drink some great freshly squeezed orange juice and enjoy the views of the Harbourside.
Mud Dock Cafe, 40 the Grove, BS1 4RB.
Open: Monday 10am – 5pm. Tuesday – Friday 10am – 10pm. Saturday 9am – 10pm. Sunday 10am – 5pm.
Americano – £2.00 (Hazelnut latte £2.80)
Check out one of the Harbourside cultural attractions: Learn about Bristol at M Shed.
As museums go, I would say that M shed is up there with the most creative, imaginative and engaging. Objects and pictures are incorporated together, things are hung from the ceiling, carefully placed on top of each other and overlooked by enormous buses, bikes and bits of buildings, all to tell the tale of Bristol – of the history of the places we know and love, and the stories of the people who lived there. It gets interactive points too, there are leavers to pull, buttons to press, hats to put on and props to play with – not forgetting the huuuuge map of Bristol on the floor (use one of the magnifying glasses to spot your house!). Pick up a First World War trail at the entrance for a focused trip around the galleries (including a visit to the freestanding Anderson Shelter where you can kit yourself out in WW1 gear and listen to the sound of the sirens – really evocative and medium scary!) to find out stories and facts about the people and places of Bristol and their involvement in the First World War.
Hungry? (And thirsty?) Grab a pizza and try some cider at The Stable.
The stable has a reputation for being good at two things – seriously good pizza, and a seriously large amount of cider, and my friends, these two things are up next in my harbourside highlight tour. If the weather is kind, grab a seat on one of the picnic benches alongside the water (budge up next to some strangers if space is short, don’t be shy!) and enjoy great views of the boats (and swans) whizzing past, as well as the fountains in the centre. It’s especially atmospheric at night with fairy lights strung along the walkway and buskers providing the soundtrack (expect a couple of token renditions of Wander Wall). The pizza is fantastic. The locally sourced toppings are on sourdough bases, and the selection is fab. My favourite is Billy the Kid (£12) ft. goats cheese, caramelised onions, mushrooms, spinach, tomato, mozzarella and hazelnuts. Delicious. The cider here is also pretty great, and I feel like any day trip in Bristol ought to include at least a pint or two of the apply goodness. For those of you with Menu anxiety or who might be overwhelmed by the choice of over 60 ciders, the stable offer a tasting board of 5 third-pints (£7.50). My friend Olly and I opted for this and, as well as leaving a lot merrier than when we came, decided that they were all “pretty apply”. Give it a go and tell me your reviews.
Watch a film you might not otherwise at the Watershed (and then review it)
Trips to the Watershed always feel like a really special experience, as not only was the film itself a little bit of a gamble (they tend to show more ‘artsy’ stuff than the type found in Screen 1 at the Odeon) but also the cinema was gorgeous. There are three cinema screens at the watershed and each is much smaller than the average cinema experience, and so much more intimate. Plus, the seats are deliciously comfortable and raised for perfect view. You are encouraged to bring drinks and snacks from the bar (a small glass of wine £3.10) and then to leave thoughts and feedback on the review board – like an IRL twitter feed. Grab a bite to eat at the Watershed’s cafe and bar where they sell organic, seasonal, local food all week – as well as late night snacks until the cinema closes at 23.00.
Watershed, 1 Canons road, Harbourside. Bs1 5tx.
Box office: 01179275100
Tickets for films before 16.00 – £5.50 full price. £4.00 students.
Tickets for films after 16.00 £8.00 full price. £6.50 students.
More cider?? Yes. All aboard the Apple, Bristol’s waterborne cider house.
Now the cider has transformed into the pre-drinking location of choice for my arch&anth friends and I, so I can tell you from experience, it can get a litttttle busy here, especially in the evenings when the queue for a pint can initially seem a little daunting.. But hold fast, it’s worth the wait. There is a brilliant choice of over 40 different ciders and other apply drinks – and student prices available Mon-thurs!! Most popular is undoubtedly the Old Bristolian – at a whopping 8.4% it is sold by the half-pint, but is especially appealing due to costing only £1.50. Grab a glass and a seat on the deck or on the quayside terrace and laugh about ridiculous exam questions while looking out over the harbour. Perfect.
You should now be feeling medium buzzy. SO time to get your groove on in Thekla – the nautical nightclub.
Thekla was created as a ship-based theatre in 1982 by Ki Longfellow (married to Vivian Stanshall from the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band) and it is now a nightclub/music venue on a cargo ship moored in Bristol’s Floating Harbour. Keep an eye out for acts and ‘nights’ that are put on. I inadvertently found myself dancing away to Gorgon City one night at Thekla and another time (during Bristol’s Dot to Dot Festival) managed to catch a performance by James Bay (just months before he got ‘big’). Thursday nights are ‘Pressure’ nights, when photos are black and white with flashes of red, indie and alternative tunes are boomed out and drinks are two for the price of one. Stumble up and down the warned of stairways to various decks, peer out the griming portholes and find your way to the deck/balcony overlooking the lower dance floor. Further note: they’ve redone the toilets. They are class.
Thekla, The Grove, East Mud Dock, BS1 4RB.
Get there from 10pm – but beware. The later you leave it, the longer the queue. It closes around 3am.
I think, depending on who’s playing/what night you’re doing to, entry is something like £4.00 with a student card and nearer to £6.00 without one.
DON’T WEAR HEELS.
I think a can of Red Stripe costs about £3.50??
The details at this establishment are pretty blurry to be honest. They once also had a slushy alcohol drink. That went down a treat but also probably has something to do with the preciseness of these ‘deets’.
@Theklabristol And so concludes this mini-tour of my Harbourside highlights. Have I missed anything? Recommendations eagerly received! And don’t forget to check out my other Bristol-based blog posts!