Bristol, Virginia is the epitome of a small Southern city, with a population that barely reaches 18,000. However, the locals love it that way, as most everyone knows everyone else. It’s the definition of what a little town should be, complete with tall tales, generations-old families, and a rich historical background.
In big cities, you would expect nightclubs and bars galore, with a vibrant nightlife scene that rocked until the wee hours. However, Bristol is peaceful in comparison. This is the Southern city you would come to for quiet, with a more personal, close-knit vibe that encompasses the whole town. Sure, there are a few bars, but last call is usually around 2 a.m. and the dance floors are accompanied by, more often than not, old-fashioned, quarter-powered jukeboxes.
Seated right on the state line between Virginia and Tennessee, Bristol is a bit of both. The line separates State Street, cutting the city in half, so Tennessee has a Bristol (population 27,000) and Virginia has a Bristol. But both cities are both, essentially, the same geographic town. One day you could opt to stay in Virginia. The next day you could jump the line to Tennessee. Or, you could straddle the line and be in two places at once. It’s pure, wholesome, family-friendly fun at its finest.
Aside from exploring the quirks and small-town charms of Bristol, adventurers, nature lovers, families, and travelers have their pick of activities. Bristol Caverns, for instance, is a network of underground caves, with stone stairs and loads of natural beauty. The caverns are largely untouched, so explorers get the full effect of nature with tremendous rock formations, innate gemstones, underground ponds, and nocturnal wildlife.
Bristol Caverns networks from one side of Bristol to another, which means part of the caves are in Virginia while the other half reside in Tennessee. This is another Bristol attraction that blurs state lines. Professional tour guides take you back through the woods on a mini hike to the caverns before you descend underground. Be sure to listen up during the tour, as the guides are knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions.
Other area attractions near Bristol include The Appalachian Trail and the Bristol Motor Speedway. Host of two major NASCAR events each year, and home to the Bristol Dragway, home of NHRA racing, spend some time exploring the beautiful towns of Bristol should you come for an event. The Highlands Festival in nearby Abingdon and Bristol's Rhythm and Roots Festival are also worth attending.
Bristol has long been dubbed the beginning town for folk and country musicians. So, it comes as no surprise that the Birthplace of Country Music Museum is a big hit with music lovers. The museum, albeit small, is packed with country music history, such as authentic memorabilia from Jimmie Rogers and other music legends.
The museum tour is self-guided, so walk at your own pace, but be sure to check out the informative videos of live performances by country music’s most beloved musicians. For an extra dose of fun and information, talk to one of the many volunteers, as TripAdvisor reviewers have nothing but great things to say about the stories the volunteers tell.
Considered a Southern state with soulful cuisine options, Bristol is home to well-over 60 restaurants
One of the most popular eateries in Bristol is the Burger Bar, located on Piedmont Avenue, within walking distance of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Ranked the best restaurant in this small town, this eatery is famous for their homemade onion rings, custom hand-pressed burgers, and hand-spun milkshakes.
It’s said to be the last place Hank Williams ate, and there are numerous plaques, autographs, and pictures of country musicians enjoying a juicy burger and baskets of golden fries. Plus, the burgers have wild names that coincide with popular country signs, like “Howlin’ at the Moon,” and “Cold, Cold Heart.”
Eatz is another favorite among locals and is located on Moore Street in Bristol's historic downtown and arts district. Serving up a variety of dishes, the cozy restaurant offers entrees like ribs, Jamaican jerk chicken, fried catfish, fried chicken and a mix of fresh southern style veggies on the side. Be sure to try the fabulous homemade banana mousse pudding for dessert.
There are plenty of great hotels in Bristol—take your pick!
Hilton Garden Inn
Located on Village Circle, the Hilton Garden Inn is well-known as the number-one hotel in Bristol. This Virginia favorite is always well-priced, spacious, clean, and accommodating. The staff is friendly and reliable, the rooms are well-tended and well-equipped, and there is plenty for a guest to do on the grounds and in close proximity of the hotel.
Feature-wise, the hotel delivers awesomeness via hot, made-to-order breakfasts, a heated, indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi, free high-speed internet, room service, and an on-site bar and lounge. Perfect for business travelers, this Bristol hotel boasts 4,000 square feet of meeting space. Too, well-kept grounds with nature paths wind toward the shop-lined sidewalks of downtown Bristol.
Find your Starbucks fix just one mile away, and if you are a golfer, the nearest golf course and driving range are just 3 miles away. There is also a walking track, bicycling, a playground and bowling within the three mile radius.
The Days Inn Bristol
The Days Inn Bristol off of Old Airport Road is among one of the pleasant Bristol hotels to rest your head for a night or two in Virginia. Features-wise, this hotel is basic and simple, offering homey accommodations that bring comfort and security to your stay. Notable accommodations include room service, free hot breakfasts, a swimming pool, dry-cleaning services, and free high-speed internet. The hotel is conveniently located next to numerous attractions, shops, and restaurants, so guests have their pick of boredom-banishing activities.
The Courtyard on Linden Drive is a big hit in Bristol as one of the best hotels in the city. Affordable and open year-round, the hotel offers deals and specials for members, as well as budget-friendly prices for everyone else.
Room-wise, each unit has their own top-notch HVAC system, as well as queen-sized beds, free high-speed internet, free movie channels and basic cable, a comfy, well-furnished sitting area, and a spacious stand-in shower with great water pressure.
Other accommodations, hotel-wise, include an on-site bistro, laundry and dry-cleaning services, room service, a business center with meeting and conference rooms, a fitness center, and a heated, indoor swimming pool and hot tub. When you have downtime and need a brew, tour Bristol Station Brews and Taproom to try free samples of local beers. You'll also find at least five chain restaurants nearby, making this a nice location for a hotel in Bristol.
The Motel 6
The Motel 6 on Clear Creek Road is a no-nonsense, no-frills Bristol, VA hotel where guests receive the comforts of home for a pleasant, restful night’s sleep. The rooms are well-equipped with fresh, fluffed towels, clean linens, and complimentary toiletries, as well as comfy double beds, a mini fridge, microwave, counter space, and a spacious bathroom with top-notch water pressure.
For a bite to eat before bed, head over to the Mellow Mushroom for a slice of delicious pizza with your choice of fresh, local ingredients.
Holiday Inn Bristol Conference Center
One of the Bristol VA hotels perfect for small scale conferences is the Holiday Inn Bristol Conference Center located at 3005 Linden Drive. Catering to business travelers, this Bristol hotel offers 20,000 feet of meeting space, printing and copying services, a 24-hour business center and free self parking.
The ten story 226-room hotel features clean and comfortable guest rooms offering a sofa sleeper, coffee and tea maker. When staying a few days, consider opting for a suite with a kitchenette, dining table and separate living space. This Holiday Inn features an on-site restaurant, outdoor pool, fitness center and gift shop.
Ready to explore Bristol at its finest? Will it be in Virginia, Tennessee, or both? Book now. Save Now. TravNow!