Enjoy the soul of Bristol
Bristol aerial view taken from The Bristol Hotel
When planning your next trip, do you want an adventure along the trail full of majestic sights or a cityscape full of eclectic shops and cultural experiences? Do you prefer a night on the town or a wide sky full of stars? Do you fancy classic Mediterranean home cooking or food from all over the world? How about a city that can offer everything?
Bridging the Virginia and Tennessee border, Bristol welcomes travelers of all ages and is a place where they can enjoy true Southern hospitality. From historic downtown to the Appalachian foothills, fill your days with excitement and music or find a quiet place to relax and recharge. One city, two places. This is Bristol.
The downtown experience
Bristol city center is a sight to behold at any time of the year. Walk the state line that runs right through downtown as you seek out the best Southern food, sweet treats and entertainment the city has to offer.
A stopover in Bristol must include a visit to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Exhibits, recordings and artifacts celebrate the Bristol Sessions of 1927, considered the “Big Bang” of country music. Plan your visit around one of the museum’s events, including the well-loved Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion music festival. From the museum you can walk to other notable attractions including the infamous Bristol Sign, Paramount Bristol, The Cameo Theater and countless local shops.
Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion – Image taken from the Birthplace of the Country Music Museum
Delve into the long and storied history of Appalachia’s craft beers and spirits with a selection of downtown offerings. The State Street Brewing Company is a popular meeting place with rotating beers on tap and live music. Make a pit stop at Michael Waltrip Brewing Co. for a wide selection of beers, bites and cocktails. Then, of course, there’s the award-winning Lost State Distillery. Enjoy the taste of Tennessee whiskey, gin, rum and canned cocktails distilled on-site.
As you stroll down State Street, the savory flavors beckon you to stop and sample the local cuisine. Bloom has it all, whether you need a coffee to get you going in the morning, a hearty breakfast before a day of exploring, or an evening meal made with the finest ingredients. Maybe you fancy a plate of barbecue and craft cocktails from Southern Craft BBQ or want to try a new dish from the extensive menu at 620 State Restaurant. You might even treat yourself to some delicious homemade fudge from Southern Churn.
You don’t have to walk far for a cozy room close to the action. Two downtown boutique hotels provide the perfect base camp for your adventures. The Bristol Hotel, adjacent to the museum, features a rooftop bar with expansive mountain views, an extensive farm-to-table menu, and thoughtful amenities. At The Sessions Hotel you can sit by the fire pits overlooking the city, relax in the day spa or catch a concert on the lawn. The entire Downtown Bristol experience is at your fingertips.
You don’t have to travel far to find more fun beyond the bright lights and bustling downtown streets.
Just a short drive provides access to one of the South’s premier fishing destinations at South Holston Lake. The largely undeveloped shoreline surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest makes for a tranquil day on the water while casting for bass, walleye, crappie and catfish. Anglers who prefer fly fishing should check out the waters of the Holston River below the Weir Dam, known as one of the top trout fisheries in the country.
Sugar Hollow wetlands
If you’d rather stay on land, head into the National Forest on dozens of hiking trails, including the mile-long Appalachian Trail. There’s more to see and do at several city parks, including gritty mountain bike trails at Sugar Hollow Park and Steele Creek Park. Experience the Mendota Trail, one of Bristol’s newest attractions, with miles of hiking, running and biking. A variety of hotels, inns and campsites in the area make it easy to stay within your budget and explore.
Racing fans shouldn’t miss a visit to the legendary Bristol Motor Speedway, considered one of NASCAR’s loudest and most popular tracks. Take part in a racing weekend at The Last Great Colosseum, experience the thrill of the drag strip or one of several unique events such as a music festival or Christmas light show.
Bristol Motor Speedway and Bristol Casino
If that still isn’t enough excitement, it’s time to check out the brand new Bristol Casino. Behind the doors of Virginia’s premier casino are over 870 slot machines, all classic table games and sportsbook. Between rounds, grab a bite to eat or a drink at the bar before checking out some of music’s most famous memorabilia. Keep an eye out for big events in 2024 when permanent facilities for the Hard Rock Hotel and Bristol Casino are set to open.
Then it’s time to treat yourself to an experience like no other at Nice Wonder Farm and Vineyard. Whether you’re sampling the wines in the tasting room, sampling Appalachian heritage-inspired dishes in Hickory, or booking a night at the luxurious resort, you won’t regret this stop.
It’s time to embrace the dualities a city can offer and let the good times flow. Who knows what you will discover?
To request your FREE Discover Bristol Visitor Guide, visit DiscoverBristol.org.