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East Tennesee Visitors Guide

East Tennessee Visitors Guide

Visitor Guide: Bristol

The “Birthplace of Country Music” and the home to the “Bristol Motor Speedway”
Bristol offers a variety of things to do for any traveller.

Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Downtown Bristol

Introduction to Bristol

“Birthplace of Country Music”

The U.S. Congress declared Bristol to be the “Birthplace of Country Music”, according to a resolution passed in 1998, recognizing its contributions to early country music recordings and influence, and the Birthplace of Country Music Museum is located in Bristol.

In 1927, record producer Ralph Peer of Victor Records began recording local musicians in Bristol, to attempt to capture the local sound of traditional “folk” music of the region. One of these local sounds was created by the Carter Family, who got their start on July 31, 1927, when A.P. Carter and his family journeyed from Maces Spring, Virginia, to Bristol to audition for Ralph Peer, who was seeking new talent for the relatively embryonic recording industry. They received $50 for each song they recorded. That same visit by Peer to Bristol also resulted in the first recordings by Jimmie Rodgers.

Since 1994, the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance has promoted the city as a destination to learn about country music and the city’s role in the creation of an entire music genre. The alliance is organizing the building of a new Cultural Heritage Center to help educate the public about the history of country music in the region. On August 1, 2014, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum opened in Bristol, Virginia to commemorate the historical significance of the Bristol sessions. The museum features a 24,000-ft building that houses core exhibits, space for special exhibits, a performance theater, and a radio station.

Every year, during the third weekend in September, a music festival called the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion takes place. The festival is held downtown, where Tennessee and Virginia meet, and it celebrates Bristol’s heritage as the birthplace of country music.

Bristol is also the site of Bristol Motor Speedway, a NASCAR short track that is one of the best-known motorsports facilities in the country.

Source: Wikipedia

History of  Bristol

It is the twin city of Bristol, Virginia, which lies directly across the state line between Tennessee and Virginia. The boundary between the two cities is also the state line, which runs along State Street in their common downtown district.

Before 1852, Bristol was owned by Reverend James King. His son-in-law, Mr. Joseph R. Anderson, bought 100 acres of the plantation, and named it Bristol.  The G.W. Blackley House, one of the oldest houses in Bristol, was constructed in 1869.

Events & Best Time to Visit

Weather Forecast Every Month

Month High / Low(°F)
January 46° / 26°
February 51° / 29°
March 61° / 36°
April 70° / 44°
May 77° / 53°
June 84° / 60°
July 87° / 64°
August 86° / 63°
September 81° / 57°
October 70° / 45°
November 59° / 36°
December 49° / 29°
Stateline Bar & Grill
Stateline Bar & Grill
Stateline has proudly served downtown Bristol since 2002 with great food and beverages in a comfortable atmosphere. We have a multifaceted restaurant serving a full menu from 11am-10pm daily. Upstairs we have a private room and cater regularly.
Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway, formerly known as Bristol International Raceway and Bristol Raceway, is a NASCAR short track located in Bristol, Tennessee. Constructed in 1960, it held its first NASCAR race on July 30, 1961. Bristol is among the most popular tracks on the NASCAR schedule because of its distinct features, which include extraordinarily steep banking, an all-concrete surface, two pit roads, different turn radii, and stadium-like seating. It has also been named one of the loudest NASCAR tracks.
Downtown Bristol
Downtown Bristol
Going back more than 150 years, Bristol has a proud heritage of being both a fun place to visit and “A Good Place to Live”. Bristol’s “Main Street” is called State Street as it is divided by the state lines of Virginia and Tennessee and is highlighted as The Birthplace of Country Music. It was on State Street in 1927 that talent scout Ralph Peer made the very first commercially produced country music recordings with The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and others, for the Victor Talking Machine Company. The recordings known as The Bristol Sessions are recognized internationally as the ‘Big Bang’ of country music.
Borderline Billiards
Borderline Billiards
Fun for the entire, 9′ Brunswick Gold Crown Tables, ping pong, darts, corn hole, and TV’s. Full bar and menu available. Private party rentals & catering.
Kil'n Time
Kil'n Time
We are downtown Bristol’s contemporary ceramic studio-walk in with friends or schedule an event!
Blackbird Bakery
Blackbird Bakery
Located just off State Street in historic downtown Bristol, Virginia, Blackbird Bakery opened its doors in the summer of 2008. Since then, it has become a favorite bakery shop for the locals in Bristol and the Tri-Cities area.
Cranberry Lane
Cranberry Lane
We are the Tri-Cities largest country decor store featuring home decor as well as a full line of furniture covering such styles as Americana, Primitive and Colonial. You can also find that perfect item to reflect your unique personality among our extensive selection of framed art, lighting and curtain designs. Need that special touch that only a perfectly designed floral arrangement can offer? We have an in-house floral designer that can create the perfect arrangement for any decor.
The Southern Churn
The Southern Churn
The region’s best fudgery, located in beautiful Historic Downtown Bristol, Tennessee & Virginia. The Southern Churn is located in beautiful Downtown Bristol, Virginia, mere steps away from the state’s border with Tennessee.

Southern Churn’s vintage vibe and nostalgic atmosphere is a gentle step back in time where you’ll find your favorite candies in bulk, vintage bottled sodas, forty flavors of Jelly Belly, Bristol-themed souvenirs, hand-dipped ice cream, homemade gourmet fudge, roasted nuts, and a warm invitation to our shoppe.

Unwind Vacation Rentals
Unwind Vacation Rentals
We have a number of unique rental properties available, including gorgeous, upscale lofts in Downtown Bristol on State Street, condos across the street from iconic Bristol Motor Speedway, and a stunning cabin close to Boone Lake.
Bristol Caverns
Bristol Caverns
Beautiful and majestic Bristol Caverns!

Far below the earth’s surface, in the timeless beauty of Bristol Caverns, a strange and exciting experience awaits you.

Paved, well lighted walkways wind through the vaulted chambers and along the banks of the ancient Underground River that carved these remarkable caverns from the hard core of the earth 200 to 400 million years ago. In the frontier days, Indians used the Underground River as an attack and escape route in their raids on settlers. Stealing into the area by way of the Underground River and the caverns, they swooped down on unsuspecting families, then disappeared as if swallowed up by the earth.

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