Bristol is built on sound: engines revving, fiddles singing and the silence of the outdoors. The downtown buzzes with live music and the outdoors quietly await just beyond. Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains and surrounded by scenic South Holston Lake and the Holston River sits Bristol – The Birthplace of Country Music and home of the “World’s Fastest Half Mile” – Bristol Motor Speedway.
Any first-time visitor’s journey to Bristol should start downtown at the state line on State Street. Tennessee and Virginia are divided by brass markers and double yellow lines and are the ultimate photo opp. Historic downtown Bristol has been “A Good Place to Live” since 1856 and proof of that is the historic Bristol Sign, which has spanned State Street since 1915. Other downtown gems that can’t be missed include the Bristol Train Station, built in 1902, the Paramount Center for the Arts, which opened in 1931, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, and an array of locally-owned restaurants, shops, and art galleries.
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, opened in 2014 and honors Bristol’s musical roots, which began with the historic 1927 Bristol Sessions. The museum tells the story of the Sessions recordings, explores how evolving technology shaped their success and highlights how this rich musical heritage lives on in today’s music. One of the premier music festivals in the southeast, Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, takes place downtown each September. The annual three-day festival features more than 150 artists the third weekend of September and draws in excess of 50,000 music lovers.
As the gateway to the region’s outdoors, Bristol is home to world class fly fishing waters, mountain bike trails and hiking year-round. South Holston Lake, one of the most visited lakes in the region, is perfect for swimming, boating, fishing or waterskiing. The bass fishing on the lake is top-notch and the Holston River is considered one of the top fly fishing waters in the country. Sugar Hollow Park is a multi-purpose sports complex with plenty of trails and picnic shelters. Bristol is also home to a minor league baseball team: The Bristol Pirates, a feeder team to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Home to many locally owned and chain restaurants, Bristol has some of the best BBQ and burgers you can find. The famed Burger Bar is among Bristol’s top locally-owned eateries, with other favorites including Southern Churn and Blackbird Bakery. Bristol boasts mouthwatering craft beer at Studio Brew and Bristol Station Brew & Taproom.
Stay in or near our downtown to enjoy live music any night of the week and during the day, get lost on the lake or on a trail and shop at our locally owned stores. Discover Bristol!