June 10, 2021
WanderLove: Strike A Chord In Bristol
Love Country Music and want to connect with the pioneers of the genre? Make Bristol your next road trip destination!
WanderLove is about doing what you love with the people you love. Experience a rich musical heritage, welcoming small-town vibe, and hidden gems in our community. Plan your next road trip at DiscoverBristol.org.
No matter where you are driving from, you’ll know you’ve arrived in Bristol when you behold the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and find a street in the middle of historic downtown that straddles the state lines of Tennessee and Virginia.
Since 1998 Bristol has been officially designated as the “Birthplace of Country Music” by the United States Congress. This title wouldn’t be possible without the 1927 Bristol Sessions.
With the help of record producer and music publisher Ralph Peer, 19 regional performers recorded dozens of songs over a two-week period that became known as the “Big Bang” of Country Music.
To deeply immerse yourself in the musical history of Bristol, here are several points of interest to take in while visiting this quaint border town.
Birthplace of Country Music Museum
A music discovery trip to Bristol would not be complete without visiting the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum details the 1927 Bristol Sessions and how the recordings helped deliver country music into the mainstream.
The content of the museum covers all the bases while being both educational and entertaining. Thanks to an abundance of text, artifacts, theater experiences, interactive displays, and performances, the museum makes the history of Bristol come alive.
Having a home base for your musically inspired Bristol trip is a necessity, and there is a beautiful property that stays in line with your themed itinerary.
Thoughtful decorations and furnishings include a vintage Victrola record player, Victor-brand record label room signs, lights resembling vintage microphones, and round “do not disturb” signs cut out of Gibson acoustic guitars.
Other amenities include a restaurant, salon and day spa, outdoor music venue, and a rooftop bar and lounge.
The Sessions Hotel sings Bristol’s song.
Bristol offers a wide variety of tasty dining options, but only one place has a historical connection to another legend in the Country Music world.
The Burger Bar is a classic diner that has been in operation since 1942 and is the last place country music star Hank Williams Sr. was seen alive on New Year’s Eve in 1952.
The menu offers classic items like mouth-watering burgers, chili cheese fries, floats, and milkshakes.
The interior fixtures and decor of the diner stay true to its beginnings when it was known as the Snack King. Several of the most popular items on the Burger Bar’s menu are named after Hank Williams songs to pay tribute to the musician.
LOVE Sign In Bristol
A great way to document your trip to Birthplace of Country Music is to snap a photo or take a selfie in front of the LOVE sign.
The Bristol version uses instruments (fiddle, guitar, washboard, etc.) to create the LOVE letters made famous by Virginia Tourism.
The LOVEwork pays homage to Bristol’s musical heritage and the Carter Family. You can find the art on the building at 629 State Street in downtown Bristol, which is part of The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.
Visitors are encouraged to take photos with the LOVEworks sign and share them on their favorite social media channels using the #LoveVA hashtag.
Carter Family Fold & Museum
The Carter Family, affectionately known as the First Family of Country Music, recorded six songs during the 1927 Bristol Sessions, including Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow and Single Girl, Married Girl.
From Downtown Bristol, you can take a short drive (25 mi.) to Hiltons, VA, along State Street and US-421/US-58 to visit the Carter Family Fold.
The property includes A.P. Carter’s old general store, which serves as the Carter Family Museum, The Carter Fold musical performance center, and the log cabin that is the birthplace of A.P. Carter.
The museum houses the collections of A.P. Carter, his wife Sara, and her cousin Maybelle. Visitors can see photos, books, musical instruments, show clothes, and other items that belonged to the family.
On Saturday nights, patrons can take in a show at the Carter Family Fold concert venue. Old-time and Bluegrass music are the staples, which pay homage to the musical style made famous by the Carter Family.
A trip to Bristol wouldn’t be complete without taking in some of the natural beauty this area offers, and the Mendota Trail is a perfect place to experience that!
The Mendota Trail is a rails-to-trails project that will connect Bristol, VA to Mendota, VA. More than 7 of the 12.5 miles are currently open for visitors to walk, jog, and bike the scenic trail.
The original railway has a history dating back to the 1890s and ceased operation in the 1970s. Historians say this line could have played a role in bringing some of the 1927 Sessions musicians to Bristol.
Spending time on the Mendota Trail not only allows you to stretch your legs and get some fresh air but also serves as another way to connect to the musical heritage of our region.
Are you feeling the itch to discover more? That’s your WanderLove calling, and we have you covered! Find out more about what there is to see and do in Bristol by visiting DiscoverBristol.org. Happy travels!