Stokes Croft is Bristol's cultural quarter. It is the city's epicentre of counterculture and alternative nightlife, and it's filled with creativity and unique places to explore.
Stokes Croft is only a short stretch of road, however, that area is compact with some of the best independent bars, clubs, shops, and restaurants in Bristol. You can find this area just off The Bearpit (St James Barton Roundabout) and before the stretch becomes Cheltenham Road/Gloucester Road.
Stokes Croft has an identity of its own. It's arty, a bit rough around the edges, surprising, and proudly independent.
In this short stretch of road you'll find incredible independent restaurants such as Caribbean Croft, ethical tapas bar Poco Tapas Bar, family-owned Jamaica Street Stores, The Viet Kitchen, and Sri Lankan restaurant Nadu.
Stokes Croft is an artistic hub with a unique identity that is made by the street art, independent businesses, and community spirit. Here are just a few of the many amazing things to be found and do in the area:
1. History of rum tasting at Nadu
In the heart of Stokes Croft, Nadu serves authentic Sri Lankan cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. Their extensive range of hand-selected rums from across the globe is shared in this delicious and educational experience. The awesome folks at Nadu have made this experience into a bit of a game (great for friends that like a bit of healthy competition), so after you've tasted your way through popular styles of rum (Jamaican, French Caribbean, Cuban, and modernist) you'll be tested on your knowledge. The winner gets a bespoke cocktail with their favourite rum and the group gets a round of fresh daiquiris.
2. Say 'hi' to Jeff from Big Issue
There are two Jeffs that rule the hearts of Bristol. Big Jeff is a legend in the Bristol music scene for being one of the most king and enthusiastic gig-goers and Jeff from The Big Issue is the friendliest face you'll see on Stokes Croft (if not further). Jeff from The Big Issue can be found near The Canteen (The Canteen has free music every night and serves amazing food), and he's been the subject of photography, art, and murals.
It's not a visit to Stokes Croft without seeing Jeff. He's a well-known and beloved character who you'll often see near The Canteen. He always has time for a friendly hello and a fist bump. He's a local legend that has celebrity status in Bristol.
📍 Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft, St Paul's, Bristol BS1 3QY
3. Clay and Play: Pot Head workshop
Okay, this one isn't technically Stokes Croft, but it's nearby. A short walk off Stokes Croft and you arrive in the leafy oasis that is St Werburghs. Here you can join artist Tasha Bee and create a Pot Head, a ceramic being that loves nothing more than having a funky houseplant hairdo! Although this experience isn't right on Stokes, it's got Stokes Croft energy for sure!
4. Traditional Afrikan dance (for beginners and intermediates)
Pre-pandemic you'd often hear the sounds of African drums dancing along with the summer breeze. It was a surefire sign that you'd arrived in Stokes Croft. Born in Jamaica and raised in St Pauls, Rubba is a master of the healing art of Afrikan dance and has found joy and freedom in this indigenous art form. This energetic and rhythmic style of dance is as enlightening as it is freeing. This is a dance class that feels like tonic for the soul and can now be found in the leafy embrace of St Werburghs.
5. One of Banksy's first street art paintings
What's a visit to Bristol without seeing a Banksy painting? The Mild Mild West is the first known large wall mural of Banksy’s. It's an important piece of the artist's history and was painted in the late 90s following clashes between Bristol's rave community and the police. It's a symbolic representation of Stokes Croft and of the piratical nature of the area. You'll often find people doing things in Stokes Croft that go against the grain of commercialisation, government, and the law (a sofa here, a bonfire there, a couple of hammocks between traffic lights), so this mural is very in keeping with some of Stokes Croft's more rambunctious activities.
📍Jamaica St, St Paul's, Bristol BS1 3QY
6. Boob pot workshop with Get Ya Pots Out
Just off Picton Street (near The Bristolian and Pipe & Slippers) is Picton Lane. It's here that you can make ceramic jugs with... well... jugs (boobs)! These stoneware pots are glazed to be food-safe and washable, so you can transform them into mugs, plant pots, pencil pots, and more. This is a relaxed experience that's great for unusual birthday parties, hen dos, a cheeky date, or simply because these pots are so chic and instagrammable and just have to be in your home!
7. Here Gallery and Bookshop
This little Aladdin's cave of illustrated wonders is a must-visit if you like independent zines, art prints, cards, and beautifully illustrated books. I literally cannot go into this shop without buying myself something achingly beautiful. There's an incredible selection of printed work in here, and you can find some seriously cool children's books (that I would totally own as an adult).
📍108 Stokes Croft, St Paul's, Bristol BS1 3RU
8. St Werburghs City Farm
This one truly is a hidden gem. You would never imagine finding a small, tranquil farm at the centre and heart of a city. Well, here you go! St Werburghs City Farm is home to all sorts of animals and is a great place to visit with kids and adults alike. When I have visitors they are delighted by this unexpected treat. You can also find a hand-carved wooden cafe (that looks like a hobbit home) with seasonal and ethically sourced produce and a kid's play area. Just around the corner, you will also find The Farm pub which has an excellent beer garden.
📍 Watercress Rd, Bristol BS2 9YJ
9. Intro to bread making and sourdough
Good for the gut microbiome and delicious when slathered in butter, join professional baker Dave from Little Wild Catering at the farm to bake the finest loaves. Just to confirm, it's the bread that is good with butter- not Dave. Sourdough is one of Bristol's favourite breads, and you will find it everywhere from the high-end cafes to the rustic, community eateries.