Attention snugglebunnies – Autumn is upon us! My fave season of them all, packed with events round the bonfire, crunchy leaves underfoot, and the excuse to stay wrapped up in cosy jumpers for months as the Winter chill starts creeping in. I always love to visit new cities at this time of year, snuggled in a chunky hat and scarf and ready to explore in the super pretty Autumn light. Summer can suck it – it ain’t got nothing on pumpkin and fireworks! I’ve kicked off the season discovering a couple of new places, as well as an old fave, so here’s the highlights if you’re an Autumn Adventurer too!
Living relatively close to Bristol is an absolute dream, as it’s one of my favourite cities ever. With such a vibrant arts and music scene there’s always something going on, whether you’re strolling the streets on the hunt for a classic Banksy piece or catching an upcoming band at one of the many music venues. I’m a regular at Thekla, an old ship gutted out to become the breeding ground of insane talent – it’s become my happy place for sure! Not only does the city cater for all your cultural needs, but it’s a foodies haven, boasting everything from a coffee shop with rope swings for seating (how that concept passed health and safety is a mystery) and market stalls cooking up quick culinary delights, to fine dining on barges in the harbour.
The perfect weekend?
Stay: In one of Brooks Guesthouse’s quirky Rooftop Rockets (gleaming airstream trailers on the rooftop of a hotel with a fantastic view of the Old Town), right next to St Nick’s Market. Cosying up in the caravan never sounded so glam!
Eat: While in the area grab a roast veg and pesto bagel with sweet potato fries from the delicious Bagel Boy, or dig into some yummy local produce from the variety of stalls on offer in St Nick’s Market. Also worth checking out are Goldbrick House, The Glassboat, and The Stable.
Do: Hike up to the colourful Clifton Village and pick up some artsy gifts from Clifton Arcade, grab an indie glossy mag from Papersmiths and a sneaky slice of cake from Anna Cake Couture (for re-fuelling purposes), before a leisurely walk over to the majestic Clifton Suspension Bridge (with a quick stop at The Paragon) to gaze out over the city of Bristol bustling away below you.
And in the evening? Catch a gig at any one of the cracking music venues (Thekla, Exchange, Bierkeller to name a few!), bowl over your weekend buddy at The Lanes, sing-a-long to a show at The Hippodrome, or snuggle up next to the fire at a pub close to the river for the rest of the night.
Who doesn’t love a bit of Harry Potter in the run-up to Christmas?! Much of my colder months are spent re-watching The Boy Who Lived do his thang against nasty Volders in my comfiest PJs – admittedly whilst scoffing all the chocolate in the house – so why not go one step further and take a trip to Hogwarts itself? Okay, it’s not the magical castle of dreams that we all fantasise getting whisked off to on the back of Hagrid’s motorbike (just me?), but standing in the actual Great Hall where the filming went down is nearly just as good as munching a Pumpkin Pasty in your Quidditch robes at one of those long tables yourself, amiright?
The perfect weekend?
Stay: For the full Olde English experience, check out the Oxford Thames Four Pillars Hotel set in a medieval barn, or the beautiful Old Bank Hotel in the heart of the city.
Eat: Navigate the maze of stalls selling gifts and knickknacks in The Covered Market to Pieminister (pies locally made in Bristol, so you can check it out there too!) and indulge in an autumnal classic that’ll really warm your cockles: pie and mash. I highly recommend the Matador (chorizo lovers) or the Blue & Moo (Stilton fanatics). Turl Street Kitchen is also worth a gander!
Do: Release the inner Potter-head with a tour of Christ Church College, where you can peek inside the Great Hall used for filming and pace the staircase outside – just watch out for pesky Peeves! If you visit at the right time of day (check the website for deets) you can also check out the impressive Cathedral, before getting serious university envy at the rest of the grounds. Walk through town to find the iconic Radcliffe Camera, just a short walk away from the Bridge of Sighs, and you’ll be feeling like you’ve earned your Hogwarts robes in no time.
And in the evening? Soak up aaaall the knowledge at the Ashmolean or any of the collection of museums on offer, before catching an indie flick and burying your head in a vat of popcorn at Phoenix Picturehouse. Music lovers can head to the o2 Academy to see who’s rocking Oxford!
OHHHHHHHHH I do like to be beside the sea- … Wait, in the cold?! Yes, that’s right, I’m a sucker for the seaside in the colder months! Number one: it’s empty. Number two: there’s nothing like a brisk sea breeze to clear away the cobwebs! Plus seafood is my absolute fave and there’s no fresher place to chomp away than next to the sea itself. So grab your scarf and warmest coat and head off on your own Jolly Boys’ Outing to Margs this Autumn, even if it’s just to puke your guts up from spinning round on the Waltzers at Dreamland.
The perfect weekend?
Stay: Book yourself a balcony room at The Walpole Bay Hotel to wake up to a sublime view of the open ocean with your morning cuppa (plus plenty of squishy armchairs in the lounge to curl up with a book before dinner), or splash out on The Reading Rooms if you’re a fan of a roll-top bath… which gets a big fat YES from me.
Eat: You haven’t lived until you’ve sunk your teeth into Roost‘s chorizo and crayfish hot dog, believe me. Super, super scrummy. Get there in time to snap up a window seat and grab the binoculars provided to spot some ships out at sea, to pass the time between your main and your pecan and chocolate brownie for dessert. Dinner. Is. Served. The Diner and The Cupcake Cafe are great alternatives if you fancy something nearer to the town centre.
Do: Hit up the rides at the pastel perfect pleasure park Dreamland before indulging in some vintage retail therapy in Margate’s Old Town, making sure to stop off at Fox & Spindle and Paraphernalia for quirky prints, jewellery, and the most gorge velvet chairs. Venture into the mysterious Shell Grotto, a small maze-like structure underground completely covered with local shells which – get this – nobody knows how, by who, or why was ever built, or simply grab a pint at Britain’s smallest pub at the Old Kent Market on the seafront.
And in the evening? Get down to the beach and watch the sunset with your choice of beverage in hand!
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