Town of Bristol

Interested in knowing about the town of South Bristol instead?  Just go here.  

In 1788, settlers from Bristol County, Connecticut, inhabited land west of Canandaigua Lake and named the area Bristol. These early residents and their descendants established grist mills and lumber mills, they raised sheep and made candles from the tallow, they grew hops for beer, and they built a lot of churches.

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Today, Bristol’s rural and pristine environment, shaped by forested hills that explode in autumnal color and winding country roads that lead you through breathtaking vistas, is a great place to embrace nature in all its splendor. No wonder so many artists and outdoor enthusiasts have made Bristol home.

History thrives in Bristol, whether it be in its Revolutionary War-era cemeteries, its popular archaeological dig sites, its active historical society and its large genealogy library, the legacy of late Bristol Town Historian Helen Fox.

An interesting natural feature of the town is Burning Springs, which are underground gas springs that bubble up to the water's surface and can be ignited into a wondrous tree of fire. In 1669, the French explorer Robert de la Salle was one of the first Europeans to witness the Burning Springs aflame.

Bristol is also home to Parsons Pipe Organ Builders, a family-owned business whose early roots stretch back several generations. Parsons restores old pipe organs and custom builds new ones using three-dimensional computer modeling.

A Bristol itinerary must include a stop at Wizard of Clay Pottery, famous for its unique leaf imprints on its handmade works; a tasting at Noble Shepherd Craft Brewery, located next door to the Wizard, and a meal at Cafe Sol, a warm and inviting eatery featuring local ingredients, creative cooking and small town charm.

Levi Corser Memorial Park is a popular place for family reunions, picnics and weddings, as well as an outdoor fitness center for people who like to run and play basketball, tennis and other sports.

For overnight accommodations, pitch your tent or park your RV at Bristol Woodlands Campground, which offers breathtaking views of the Bristol Hills. Or make a reservation at the AAA Four Diamond 1795 Acorn Inn, a luxury bed and breakfast renowned for its rich history and hospitality.

Bristol Fast Facts

The town of Bristol was settled in 1788 and then incorporated a year later.  It was named after Bristol County, Massachusetts, where these original settlers came from.

2.315 (2010 Census)

36.8 square miles

The town of Bristol is a "land-locked" town located between Canandaigua and Honeoye Lakes. It is a short 15 minutes from Canandaigua. Major arterials are Route 20A and Route 64.

Bristol is a town of hills. Mud Creek runs through it.

Key industries

Manufacturing: Parson's Pipe Organ Builders designs and builds custom pipe organs. Bristol Valley Hardwoods provides domestic and imported hardwoods and millwork services. 

Energy: Honeoye Gas Storage Corp. operates an independent gas storage facility. Solar and Wind FX provides consultation and design for anyone interested in renewable energy. 

Small businesses: There are a variety of service-oriented small businesses that thrive in Bristol, from auto repair to pet grooming. 

Agriculture: Small family farms grow a variety of crops.


Town of Bristol students are served by several school districts, depending on where they live: Honeoye Central School District, Bloomfield Central School District, Naples Central School District, and Canandaigua City School District.

Key landmarks and attractions

Levi Corser Memorial Park: This 8-acre park, located on Route 20A, has a running track, children's playground and courts for volleyball, picnic area, tennis and basketball. The fields are suitable for baseball and soccer, and there is a pavilion that can be reserved for reunions and other special events.

Patriot Park: This 12.5-acre park on County Road 32 offers hiking trails along Mud Creek and an area for picnics.

Burning Springs: In 1669, the French explorer Robert de la Salle was led by residents of a nearby Seneca village to these springs where flames would often erupt due to escaping natural gas. Burning Springs appeared on one of the first maps made of the region. The springs are on private property, but visitors can drive on Case Road to see the historic marker.

Bristol Town Hall: Over the years, this historic building has served as a Grange Hall, farm supply store and a dance hall. Now it's where Bristol government is seated.

Wizard of Clay Pottery: Handmade pottery is known for its trademarked Bristoleaf motif, which uses leaves from surrounding trees to make decorative impressions.

Noble Shepherd Craft Brewing: This microbrewery has an ever-changing lineup of craft beers on tap. It is next door to Wizard of Clay.

Cafe Sol: This is the only full-service sit-down restaurant in Bristol. It offers locavore cooking and often features live music on the weekends.

1795 Acorn Inn: This AAA Four-Diamond resort has five exclusive guest rooms. Guests can enjoy the gardens and gourmet breakfasts.

Bristol Woodlands Campground: This 100-acre campground offers stellar views of the Bristol Hills as well as wilderness trails. Bring your tent, trailer or RV or rent a cabin.

4-H Camp Bristol Hills: More than 120 acres that include fields and meadows, fishing pond, gorge for hiking, cabins to accommodate up to 225 people, a dining hall, swimming pool,and more. Part of the Cornell Cooperative Extension system. Available on a rental basis.

Key Events

Bristol Fun Day: On a Saturday in mid-June, Bristol Fun Day is a community celebration with live music, library book sale, antique car show, arts and crafts sale, a pie booth,  chicken barbecue and parade.

Community Resources

Town of Bristol: 


Town of South Bristol

Small yet tall.

That is one way to sum up South Bristol, the smallest town in Ontario County by population and the one with the tallest hills. Standing at the Jump Off point at Ontario County Park at Gannett Hill, you may think you are at the top of the world. But look west at Frost Hill, and you'll see the highest peak in Ontario County at 2,290 feet (about 698 meters).

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The town of South Bristol is also revered for its lush forests, year-round outdoor recreation, serene vineyards and stunning views of Canandaigua Lake, which serves as the town's eastern boundary.

While farming and forestry have been the historic backbone of this community, today, South Bristol's key industries are tied to recreation and tourism, some agriculture, and small businesses or at-home workers that operate through the high speed fiber optic Internet ring.

In the 1960s, snowmaking technology allowed Bristol Mountain Ski Resort to become a premier Finger Lakes skiing and snowboarding destination. Its 1,200 foot (about 366 meters) vertical is the tallest between the Rockies and the Adirondacks. Once the snow melts for good, thrill seekers head to the summit for Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures, a tree-to-tree ropes course with various elements such as ladders, swinging bridges and ziplines. Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures includes a Canopy Zipline Tour and Kids Adventure Park.

South Bristol has many other ways to spend time with Mother Nature every season of the year. Cumming Nature Center offers hiking in the warm weather, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter. The Stid Hill Wildlife Management Area (which stretches into the town of Bristol as well) is a haven for birdwatching, mountain biking and hunting. A portion of the Finger Lakes Trail System, the Bristol Hill Trail, runs through the town of South Bristol. 

Need scenic water views? How about a day on a Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course that overlooks Canandaigua Lake? That's part of the amenities at Bristol Harbour Resort, a fine hotel, restaurant and spa with four-season appeal. Or launch your boat at the Woodville Fishing Access Site Boat Launch.

If you just want a pretty spot to pull over and take some pictures, you can't do better than the County Road 12 Overlook and adjacent Carolabarb Park, especially at sunrise.

Arbor Hill Grapery is a great wine-tasting stop with specialty food shopping benefits. And right behind it is Brew & Brats at Arbor Hill, a casual beer and sausage eatery.

Town of South Bristol Fast Facts

South Bristol was originally part of the town of Bristol, but formally separated in 1838.

1,590 (2010 Census)

42.1 square miles (including 3 square miles of water)

Geographic location
The town of South Bristol is in the southern part of Ontario County, about 15 miles south of Canandaigua and about 40 miles southeast of Rochester. Major north-south arterials are Route 64 and Route 21. It borders the southwestern end of Canandaigua Lake.

South Bristol has the tallest hills in Ontario County. Mud Creek and Mill Creek run through the town, forming north-south valleys.

Key Industries

Tourism: Bristol Mountain Winter Resort provides skiing; Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures and Canopy Zipline Tour offers various outdoor adventure exoperiences on the summit of Bristol Mountain. Arbor Hill Grapery offers wines and gourmet foods. With 31 rooms and an Adirondack-style lodge, Bristol Harbour Resort has an award-winning Robert Trent Jones golf course and is a popular place for weddings. 

Small businesses: Timber Frames Inc. builds timber frame homes. Other small businesses in the town are dedicated to milling and agriculture.


South Bristol students can attend Naples Central School District or Honeoye Central School District.

Key Landmarks and Attractions

County Road 12 Overlook and Carolabarb Park: Great spot for pictures and picnics, with view of Canandaigua Lake and surrounding hills.

Ontario County Park at Gannett Hill: This county park has picnic tables, pavilion, camping, hiking, mountain biking and softball fields, basketball and an ADA-accessible fishing pond.

Woodville Fishing Access Site Boat Launch: Located on the southwest end of Canandaigua Lake in the hamlet of Woodville, this is a good spot for fishing, including ice fishing in winter. 

Cumming Nature Center: Run by the Rochester Museum & Science Center, this nature center has year-round activities and event, as well as trails for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Bristol Mountain Winter Resort: Premier Finger Lakes skiing and snowboarding mountain with more than 35 trails.

Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures: Three adventures at one location. Aerial adventure park with seven courses, a Kids Adventure Park with two courses, and a Zipline Canopy Tour.

Gell Center: This unique retreat and conference center, localed in the woods, is idea for small group retreats and team-building getaways, includes the Gell House, the Gleason Lodge, the Tree House and the Thoreau Cabin. It is owned and operated by Writers & Books in Rochester.

Arbor Hill Grapery and Brew & Brats and Brew & Brats at Arbor Hill: Arbor Hill makes award-winning wines and has a tasting room inside a gourmet foods store. Behind Arbor Hill is a carriage house that has been converted to a fun, casual eatery specializing in Brew & Brats own beer and locally produced sausages.

Stid Hill Wildlife Management Area: Straddling the towns of Bristol and South Bristol, this 847 acre-tract was once used for sheep and cattle grazing, but is now used for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, bird watching and mountain biking.

C.E.K. Mees Observatory: Part of the University of Rochester, the Mees Observatory is devoted to research, teaching and public instruction. The location, where newspaper mogul Frank Gannett was born, is free of light pollution, which makes it an ideal place to observe the night skies, especially during summer months. Friday and Saturday night tours are offered in June, July and August. Check the website for more details. 

Key Events

Highlander Cycle Tour: Annual charity bike ride that includes challenging hills and great views. The ride starts and finishes at Bristol Mountain Winter Ski Resort.

Bristol Mountain Fall Festival: This annual Saturday in October features great fall foliage, sky rides to the mountain and other family-friendly activities.

Community Resources

Town of South Bristol: