Surrounded by blue peaks, Bristol is a twin city separated by the Tennessee/Virginia state line running down its main street. Part of the Tri-Cities (together with Johnson City and Kingsport), the town has a rich musical heritage and abundant lake recreation nearby. Twice a year this small town swells to one of the largest cities in the state when over 150,000 fans flock to town for NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Bristol earned the moniker "Birthplace of Country Music" when some of the first country music recordings (by legends Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family) were cut here in 1927. A downtown mural commemorates the recordings. Near downtown is the childhood home of Tennessee Ernie Ford, who got his start on radio here.
Renovation and restoration are rampant in Bristol's downtown where original store fronts are visible again and newly-finished lofts upstairs are being rented as residences. Paramount Theatre, a renovated 1931 movie house, is home to live theater and musical productions. Unique restaurants such as the Feed Room, located in an old department store, are popular.
Once an Indian "hide-out", Bristol Caverns, southeast of town, is open year-round. Outdoor recreation spots include TVA-created South Holston Dam, one of the largest earth structures in the world. Man-made South Holston Lake is popular for fishing; Lake Park Observation Knob offers camping. Go paddle boating at Steele Creek Park or try a hike or 9 holes of golf.
High-banked Bristol Motor Speedway, the shortest NASCAR track, hosts other events throughout the year in addition to its mammoth spring and fall races. A museum and exhibits are also located at the track.
Bristol is located on the Tennessee/Virginia state line in the eastern end of the state about 115 miles northeast of Knoxville off I-81.