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Postcard from Bristol Tennessee/Virginia

Did You Know ... Bristol is one of the destinations along Sunny Side Trail, a Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways.

Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, Bristol is anything but typical. Situated along the borders of Tennessee and Virginia, the destination, known as the "Twin Cities," is recognized as the birthplace of country music and home to Bristol Motor Speedway. It also offers plenty of outdoor activities, arts, history and more, making Bristol a well-rounded getaway.

Learn more about the pivotal 1927 "Bristol Sessions" and its importance to music heritage at Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Through exhibits, interactive displays and more, the museum brings to life the stories of the early recordings, the people behind them and their roles in shaping country music.

The museum further honors Bristol’s role in the music scene with the annual Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, held on the third weekend in September. The three-day music festival features over 150 artists playing on stages, venues and spots throughout downtown.

Pick up a self-guided walking tour brochure at the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and hit the pavement exploring historic downtown Bristol. View murals, historical markers and more in between checking out boutiques, local shops and art galleries. Of course, don't leave without getting a photo of being in two places at once on State Street and the Bristol Sign.

When hunger strikes, Bristol has it covered. Among the many options include Cootie Brown's that has something for every type of eater. Be sure to try a slice of their key lime pie. For those who want a little lore with their burger, check out Burger Bar, said to be the last place Hank Williams, Sr., was seen alive. Give in to temptation with a treat (or two or three) from Blackbird Bakery.

Make an appointment to visit Tennessee Ernie Ford Birthplace and Home. The singer, best known for his version of Merle Travis' "Sixteen Tons," was born in the dwelling's backroom on Feb. 13, 1919. In 1991, the Bristol Historical Association acquired the house and oversaw the extensive restoration to preserve its history. Today, the home is used by the association for the group's needs.

Bask in the outdoors at South Halston Lake. Considered one of the top two lakes in the state, it's home to South Holston Dam, the third-largest earthen dam globally. The lake offers plenty of recreational opportunities and places to relax.

Spend time underground by exploring either Bristol Caverns or Appalachian Caverns in nearby Blountsville, or both.

Known as "The Last Great Colosseum," Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) holds the honor of being the second-most visited attraction in the state. The massive structure, built in 1961, is regarded for its half-mile oval track. BMS hosts a handful of top NASCAR races during the season. Learn more about Bristol Motor Speedway with a track tour.

A short distance from Bristol Motor Speedway is Bristol Dragway. Situated in the valley between the mountains, it has earned the moniker "Thunder Valley" and is a must-do for those who enjoy drag racing. It is home to the fan-favorite Thunder Valley Nationals held on every Father's Day Weekend.

Experience life in 1791 at Rocky Mount Historic Site in Piney Flats. The living history museum features period-costumed guides highlighting the daily activities of those living in the frontier. Tour the home and outbuildings, and hear stories of what it was like in the area during that time. Finish up by exploring the grounds that include an heirloom garden, a blacksmith shop and a barn.

Check-in at The Bristol Hotel. The boutique property, adjacent to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, offers 65 rooms, the city's first and only rooftop bar, an on-site restaurant and other amenities.

photos are personal collection, for the exception of Bristol Caverns, courtesy of Bristol Chamber of Commerce and room at Bristol Hotel, courtesy of Quinn PR and The Bristol Hotel.


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