I'd say it sounds like you want to live in West Hartford. Depending on what part of Bristol, and what part of WH, the commute could be anywhere from 10 - 25 minutes, but it's a reverse commute, so when all the traffic is heading east toward Hartford in the morning, your husband would be heading west.
A lot of Connecticut is, sadly, really car- and cul-de-sac- centered, but West Hartford seems to have bucked that trend pretty well, probably because its neighborhoods were established long enough ago. We love that we can walk just about anywhere (not as many sidewalks on the north and far west fringes)
WH also has a great town center, and you could easily find a home in the price range you mentioned, I'd think, within walking distance of the center. It took us a while to get used to the fact that the town center was so . . .upscale, having come from another part of the country, but hey, this is Connecticut. So there are jewelry stores and places to store your furs (!) But also, the main library (currently under renovation) is right there, as well as the town offices, post office, banks, drugstore, various ice cream shops, awesome restaurants, a variety of boutiques and specialty shops including a great toy store and the wonderful Papaya Patch, a store for parents and young children that supports natural family living. There are two chain and one local establishments you might call coffee shops (unless you are from the Pacific Northwest, where there's an independent coffeeshop brewing locally roasted fair-trade beans on every corner): a Bruegger's Bagels, with decent coffee options, a Starbucks, and Front Street Sweets, who sells Seattle's Best brand coffee along with their amazing scones and sandwiches.
2 or 3 blocks from the Center is Whole Foods. Another block or so is the Children's Museum (or is it the Science Museum? sorry - I'm pregnant, not a parent yet)
There are great parks in town, and great homes - most of them older rather than younger - in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes, most of them charming! McMansions - not very many of those. There are some real mansions, actually, (or stately old homes that fit my definition of mansion) in a pocket or two.
I know you said it was just a possibility of moving to the area, but I had to speak up - I actually registered today and this is my first post - in favor of WH.