Street with big bristol sign

Bristol, Virginia:
A Good Place to Visit

“A good place to live.”  That’s what the sign says when you drive into Bristol, Virginia…

“A good place to live.” 

That’s what the sign says when you drive into Bristol, Virginia–but it should also say “A good place to visit,” because Bristol is the perfect place to spend a few relaxing summer days.

While beach towns may be the traditional summer vacation spot, Bristol is a hidden gem nestled in the Appalachian mountains against the Virginia-Tennessee border. When you walk down main street, Virginia is on one side and Tennessee is on the other–the sign lets you know which side is which. People are friendly on both sides. The food is good too.

Bristol used to be a booming town. Then, like so many American towns, it wasn’t anymore. With the help of a generation of millennials that left and returned, the pieces are being picked back up. New breweries, bakeries, and boutiques line the streets, and in the center of it all is The Bristol Hotel.

The Bristol Hotel sits just off Main Street. It used to be a historic office building, first constructed in 1925. The hotel kept the history, but blended it with modern comforts. They did such a good job with the renovation that Bristol locals booked dozens of rooms on its Grand Opening night, staying in rooms that had previously been their grandfather’s office space many years ago. 

Each room is thoughtfully designed to pay homage to the city’s history. The rolltop curtains are reminiscent of old railway cars, and the printed carpet mimics train tracks. Flashback photos line the hotel lobby–a reminder that the city once was thriving, and soon will be again. 

The hotel also hosts Lumac, Bristol’s only rooftop bar. With specialty cocktails, live music, and gorgeous views, it often gets so busy that entry becomes a one-in-one-out situation. Thankfully there’s another bar downstairs in the hotel restaurant, Vivian’s Table. 

Vivian’s Table is another local affair. A friendly neighbor brings by batches of locally grown mushrooms, featured in several menu items. Another makes sure that every table has a mason jar full of fresh flowers. It’s a cheerful reminder that the hotel staff is happy you’re visiting, and the residents of Bristol are too. 

Though for awhile Bristol has been seen as a stop on the way, there’s enough in walking distance of the Bristol Hotel for the city to be a destination in itself.

Check out our weekend guide to Bristol, Virginia below.

A Weekend in Bristol:

Friday Night