The VanWickle family designed Blithewold to entertain and delight their guests. We honor our founding family’s long-standing tradition of gracious hospitality on Narragansett Bay by welcoming groups (8 or more) of friends, family, alumni associations, school groups, garden clubs and seniors.
Create Your Experience
Your group tour can be self-guided or build a custom, guided tour. Docents tell the story of the Van Wickle/McKee family, the orginial owners of this beautiful seaside garden estate. Visitors experience breathtaking views of Narragansett Bay and see the Mansion decorated with original furnishings just as it was when the family lived here. The guided tour continues through the grounds where magnificent trees and a variety of colorful gardens demonstrate Blithewold’s prominence in horticulture.
Feel free to further customize your group's experience from the options below:
Special Tours: tree walks, gardens, mansion, or our new Heart of Bristol tour
Interactive Workshops: art classes, gardening, yoga or flower arranging
Lectures: gardening or Blithewold history this season’s topic “Celebrate Summers on the Bay”
Additional charges and lead time may be required depending on the options you choose from the custom experience list. Click here for more information.
Blithewold Food Options
Wrap or sandwich, pickle, side of the day, chips, cookie and beverage. $15 per person
Beehive Café Box lunches
Sandwich and fork lunches with side dish, cookie and beverage. $18 to $25
An assortment of sandwiches with pasta salad and cookie squares with water,and iced tea. $20 per person
Chicken salad made with a light lemon dressing and Granny Smith apples, scallions, and apricots; an assortment of homemade breads; green or rice salad and dessert squares. Water and iced tea. $25 per person
Special blend tea with scones, jam and butter and an assorted dessert and savory plate served on china in the Dining Room or on the porch overlooking Narragansett Bay. $20 per person
This package includes guided tours of Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum and The Herreshoff Marine Museum, lunch, and a private sail aboard the Kestrel. Steeped in several centuries worth of rich cultural history, Bristol, Rhode Island, is a quintessential New England waterfront town. This coastal community is a blend of outdoor beauty and an abundance of cultural pleasures. A unique way to enjoy it all is with The Heart of Bristol tour.
Your day will begin with a guided tour of Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum, one of New England’s finest garden estates, that will explore diverse gardens, specimen trees (the arboretum), and a 45-room English-style manor house filled with antiques and artwork, that chronicles the rich social history of one family over a span of 80 years.
After enjoying lunch at one of Blithewold’s spectacular vantage points, you will go on to The Herreshoff Marine Museum. During a special guided tour, you will learn about the town’s maritime heritage and the story of America’s finest yachts from, construction to competition, at the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. To complete the day, you will enjoy a private harbor cruise aboard Herreshoff’s 1927 Fishers Island 31 Kestrel.
*This tour group is limited to 6 people.
For more information or to book this unique Bristol experience, please call 401-253-2707
Tips for an Enjoyable Visit
Comfortable walking shoes and weather appropriate attire are highly recommended for touring the gardens and grounds. Also note that the house is not air-conditioned but on warm days the breeze off the bay keeps the mansion quite comfortable.
The combined house and garden tour averages about 1 hour and 30 minutes and can be adjusted to accommodate your schedule. You may want to allow additional time to enjoy the gardens and grounds after the tour.
The Gift Shop is located next to the parking lot, in the Visitor Center. It offers a variety of unique gifts, books, souveniers and garden related items.
Group Tour Hours & Rates
Reservations may be made for group visits daily from mid-April thru mid-October from 9 am to 3 pm. Holiday tours may be booked in November and December. Reservations are subject to availability. Two hours will allow ample time for the tour and a visit to the Gift Shop.
Advance reservations and a minimum of 8 people are required to qualify for the group rate discount of $8 per person. Tours may be either guided or self-guided. Guided group tours are an additional $50 (per 20 people) plus the $8 per person group rate. Complimentary admission is extended to one group leader or tour director and the motor coach driver. Discounts and memberships do not apply for group tours.
A non-refundable deposit of $35 is due 30 days prior to the tour date. The balance may be paid in advance or upon the group’s arrival. Cash, check, Visa or MasterCard are accepted. Please be prepared to make one payment on behalf of the group.
There is onsite parking for cars and motor coaches.
The first floor of the Mansion is accessible to the physically disabled. Gravel pathways lead to the Mansion, and through the gardens. Benches are located throughout the grounds.
Making Your Reservation
For additional information, or to make a reservation, please contact:
Kathy Humm, Tour Coordinator
(401) 253-2707 ext. 24 Fax: (401) 253-0412
Tuesday, June 03
- Thursday, August 28
Yoga in the Garden
Wednesday, July 02
- Wednesday, October 08
Wednesday 1pm Walk-Around, a Guided Tour of Blithewold
Wednesday, July 02
- Wednesday, October 08
Wednesday 2:30 pm Walk-Around, a Guided Tour of Blithewold
Thursday, July 24
Artist Workshop: Allison Newsome - Shell Grotto Tile Workshop: Sculpture Embraces Horticulture
Friday, July 25
Family Fun Friday - Toe Jam
Monday, July 28
- Friday, August 01
Camp Sequoia - Beach Week
On formality and fine tuning
(Jul 18, '14)
Mother Nature dumped almost three more inches of rain on Blithewold this week and the gardens responded by growing with an exuberance bordering on, and even crossing over the line to loose, lush informality. I have a hard time defining formality when it comes to gardens though I’m sure I know it when I see […]
(Jul 11, '14)
The gardens are going through a bittersweet transition from June’s hurrah to a mid-summer huzzah, and although we sometimes experience a “July gap,” the shift seems pretty seamless this year. Delicate oxeye daisies gave way almost overnight to beefy Shastas, echinaceas, and rudbeckias. Sturdy summer phlox are taking over, as we speak, for the elegance […]
(Jul 11, '14)
It is very hard to believe that a month has passed since my last post, Getting it done. Even more incredulous are the vast changes the garden has seen since that time. For instance, the peas went from looking like this… To being a week past due for pulling out! I had been hoping they […]