Visitor Guide: Bristol

The “Birthplace of Country Music” and the home to the “Bristol Motor Speedway”.
On the border of Tennessee and Virginia, where rivers flow and mountains whisper, a city is about to be birthed. Joseph Anderson, a man with vision in his eyes and a fiddle clutched in his hand, lays claim to this land, christening it Bristol. Little does he know, this name will one day echo with the twang of guitars and the rhythm of hearts beating to a country beat.

Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Downtown Bristol

Introduction to Bristol

The year is 1852, and a song, not yet born, whispers in the wind between two states. On the border of Tennessee and Virginia, where rivers flow and mountains whisper, a city is about to be birthed. Joseph Anderson, a man with vision in his eyes and a fiddle clutched in his hand, lays claim to this land, christening it Bristol. Little does he know, this name will one day echo with the twang of guitars and the rhythm of hearts beating to a country beat.

Fast forward to today, and Bristol stands tall, a tapestry woven from threads of history and heart. Stroll down State Street, a vein pulsing with life. On one side, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum hums with tales of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, their voices dancing on exhibits and in the laughter of children huddled around a vintage record player. Across the street, the Paramount Center for the Arts, a grand dame in Art Deco finery, beckons with the promise of symphony or Shakespeare, depending on your whim.

Step back in time at the Birthplace of Bristol, the corner where Joseph Anderson’s dream took root. A simple brick building whispers of beginnings, of dusty streets and the clang of the first hammer hitting steel. Then, zoom forward to the Bristol Motor Speedway, where thunderous engines roar and NASCAR heroes are born, the asphalt singing a different kind of country song.

But Bristol is more than just museums and monuments. It’s about stepping off the beaten path and letting your heart be your guide. Delve into the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where Appalachian Caverns weave a spell of glistening stalactites and hidden waterfalls. Paddle the emerald waters of South Holston Lake, feeling the cool spray on your face and the sun warm your back.

In the evening, find solace in the music that still lingers in the air. Catch a show at the Barter Theatre, where Shakespeare meets moonshine and laughter spills out onto the cobblestone streets. Or belly up to the bar at a local brewery, savoring the hoppy tang of craft beer and the warmth of friendly conversation.

As the night deepens, walk the line that divides two states, yet binds them together. Stand under the neon glow of the “Bristol” sign, a beacon of dreams and shared history. Listen to the whisper of the Clinch River, and you might just hear the echo of that first country song, waiting to be written.

Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia, a city where history hums like a fiddle string and every corner holds a story waiting to be told. So come, wander its streets, feel its heartbeat, and let its magic become your own. You might just leave with a song in your heart and a dance in your step, forever touched by the spirit of this unique, two-state gem.

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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