Bristol is a fairly small city in Sullivan County, Tennessee. It is the twin city of Bristol, Virginia, which lies just across the state line. The two cities share much, from the main street, which acts as the border between two states, to the downtown district and the reputation as The Birthplace of Country Music. While the museum is located in Bristol, Virginia, it showcases the role of both Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia’s role in the birth and development of country music as a new music genre. Bristol is also the home of Bristol Motor Speedway, a legendary NASCAR short track and one of the biggest motorsports facilities in the country. Tennessee Ernie Ford was born in Bristol and his birthplace is today a house museum that can be visited.

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1.Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol Motor Speedway

Constructed in 1960 and located in Bristol, Northeast Tennessee, Bristol Motor Speedway, known before as Bristol International Raceway, is a famous NASCAR short-track. It is popularly called The Last Great Coliseum for its Roman-like architecture and epic battles. The track is known for its steep banking, two pit roads, concrete surface and stadium-like seating that fans and participants love. Capable of accommodating almost 162,000 spectators, the speedway is one of the world’s largest sporting venues. Besides the speedway, Bristol also has a quarter-mile drag strip used for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, NHRA annual event. The drag strip is popularly known as Thunder Valley because of its scenery and location.

151 Speedway Blvd, Bristol, TN 37620

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2.Steele Creek Park

Steele Creek Park
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Steele Creek Park in Bristol is one of the largest municipal parks in Tennessee. Opened to the public in 1964, the park covers the area of more than 2,000 acres and has miles of hiking trails, a 52-acre lake, nine-hole golf course, a nature center and nine shelters that can be rented for private events. There is a lodge with a party room, kitchen and conference room, 20 picnic tables scattered around the park, large multi-use playing field with soccer goals, exercise trails and stations, kids’ playground with a swing set, horse-shoe pit, Steele Creek Express – a bright red replica of a real steam engine, paddle boat rentals and a splash pad.

4 Little Ln, Bristol, TN 37620, Phone: 423-989-5616

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3.South Holston Dam

South Holston Dam
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Located on the South Fork Holston River in Sullivan County, Tennessee, South Holston Dam was built in 1940 for flood control and production of hydroelectric power. It is one of three dams on the South Fork Holston. In 1950 the valve gate closed and accumulated water created South Holston Reservoir. The dam today impounds the 7,550-acre South Holston Lake, which stretches across the Tennessee-Virginia border. About 60 percent of the lake shoreline is bordered by Cherokee National Forest. There is a footbridge below the dam that leads to Osceola Island with a one mile long loop wildlife trail. The lake is very popular with fishermen, for smallmouth bass fishing. It is also is known as a fly fisherman’s paradise. It is also great for boating, water skiing and nature observation.

Holston View Dam Road, Off Highway 421, Bristol, TN

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4.Ernie Ford House

Ernie Ford House
© Ernie Ford House

Ernie Ford House is a small white clapboard house in Bristol, Tennessee, a birthplace and home of world-renowned musician and entertainer Ernie Ford. The nicely restored house features artifacts that portray his illustrious career and can be visited by appointment through Bristol Historical Society. Ford started his 50-year long illustrious carreer as a successful radio personality, which led in1949 to signing with Capitol Records. Until 1976 he released eighty-three albums on the label and scores of single records, including his famous version of Merle Travis’ anthem to the working man, “Sixteen Tons.” The record was the fastest selling single in Capitol’s history. During his career, Ford has sold over 90 million records worldwide. He was best known for gospel, hymns and spirituals.

1223 Anderson St, Bristol, TN 37620, Phone: 276-466-9116

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5.Cafe Alona

Cafe Alona
© Café Alona

Café Alona in Bristol, Tennessee, is an Italian restaurant with a twist. Spacious, bright and unpretentious restaurant has a basic menu of Italian classics and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening offers its guests a culinary trip around the globe. Every week the destination is different country and its unique, special cuisine. What is on menu? It is a surprise. Chefs Alona Kennedy and Jeff Smith prepare unique dishes that best represent each country, with appetizer, entre and dessert. If you are not adventurous, you can still get your meal from their regular menu. Café Alona is open for lunch from Tuesday to Friday, also offering take-out lunches. They are also popular caterers for big and small celebrations and events.

1154 TN-126, Bristol, TN 37620, Phone: 423-574-3333

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5 Best Things to Do in Bristol, TN