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Activities & Things to do

Things to go around Bristol Virginia - Tennessee & Surrounding Area.

  • South Holston Lake & Dam:

    South Holston Reservoir is on the South Fork Holston River in northeast Tennessee. It extends 24 miles east of the dam into Virginia. Construction of the dam began in 1942 and was completed in 1950.

    South Holston is operated for several purposes, including flood damage reduction, power production, aquatic ecology, and augmentation of the flow of water during drier periods.
    The South Fork Holston River is home to an annual spring migration of white bass. Locals say that when the serviceberry and dogwood bloom, the white bass run.
    A footbridge from the parking lot below the dam leads to Osceola Island and its one-mile-loop wildlife trail. Early in the morning or late in the evening are the best times to sight waterfowl, deer, and other wildlife. The Dam is 285 feet tall and 1,600 feet long. The reservoir is 10,053 acres with a shoreline of 160 miles and 8 miles of island shoreline. South Holston Lake is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Much of the reservoir is in Tennessee, but the Virginia portion of the reservoir offers anglers more than 1,600 surface acres of water.
    South Holston offers good fishing for a variety of species. Black bass, crappie, walleye, sunfish, and catfish are a few of the most sought after species. Predatory fish have diverse and abundant forage in the form of alewives, gizzard shad, threadfin shad and shiners. The lake's shoreline habitats offer anglers a good diversity of structure including rock bluffs, shale banks and flat clay points. Anglers who prefer trolling will also find a good selection of open water structure ranging from mud flats to river channel drop-offs to submerged islands.

Boating & Marinas: Bring your own boat or you may be able to rent a boat or a pontoon. Locates on the banks of South Holston Lake, During the Summer weekends, these marinas are a good place just to drop-in and have a meal, a drink or just to listen to live music & just for relax on the lake.

 Laurel Marina & Yacht Club : 191 Shady Ford Road Bristol, Tennessee 37620. Phone: (423) 878-3721

Sportsman's Marina: 23511 Sportsman Dr, Abingdon, VA 24212. Phone: (276) 628-2850

Painter Creek Marina: 766 Painter Creek Rd. Bristol, TN 37620. Phone: (423) 878-5775

  • Carter Family fold: 

    The legendary home of the Carter Family. Fabled Clinch Mountain, celebrated in countless country, folk, and bluegrass songs, rises directly behind The Carter Family Fold and all the homes and places that are part of the history of this remarkable musical dynasty.

The Carter Family Fold is a musical performance and concert venue located near Hiltons, Virginia. It is dedicated to the preservation and performance of old time country and bluegrass music. It is named in honor of the original Carter Family, A.P., Sara, and Maybelle, who were among the earliest recording artists in country music, with their first records on RCA Victor being released in 1927. The Fold was founded by Janette Carter, daughter of A.P. and Sara Carter, in 1979.

The Fold presents weekly concerts. To stay true to musical preservation, no electric instruments are allowed (although this rule was often set aside for performances by singer Johnny Cash, a Carter family in-law). Smoking and drinking are prohibited in the venue.
Most of the participating performers at the Fold are not famous outside the communities of bluegrass and old-time country music. However, Johnny Cash performed at the Fold many times, and played his last concert there on July 5, 2003, a few months before his death. Cash's wife, June Carter Cash, was a daughter of Maybelle Carter.
The Fold has a dance floor where Appalachian clogging, a local form of folk dancing, is seen weekly.
The concert venue, the "Fold," is the centerpiece of the Carter Family Memorial Music Center, Inc., a non-profit organization. This includes the 1880s cabin where A. P. Carter was born. The cabin was moved from its original location to a site next to the Fold, refurbished and rededicated before Janette Carter's death in 2006. Singer Marty Stuart, formerly a member of the Johnny Cash band, was instrumental in raising funds for the cabin's relocation and restoration.
The Carter Store, built by A. P. Carter and friends in the late 1940s and where he conducted daily business, is the site of the Carter Family Museum. This building was renovated in September, 2009. After the renovation, part of the large collection of Carter Family memorabilia that it had housed was moved back and redisplayed. A large crowd witnessed the rededication of the museum, which featured the cutting of a ceremonial red ribbon by Rita Forrester (daughter of Janette Carter) and Marty Stuart, who later performed at a special concert with his band, the Fabulous Superlatives.
Also in 2009, the organization purchased property across the road, which includes a three bedroom house that will be converted to office space. The accompanying grounds will be used for additional parking.
The Carter Family Fold and Museum is located in the Poor Valley region of southern Virginia at the foot of Clinch Mountain, in a settlement once known as Maces Spring. Maces Spring was home to A.P. and Sarah Carter's family, as well as Ezra and Maybelle Carter and their daughters. Since Maces Spring no longer has a post office, it is considered part of the area of Hiltons.

Capacity at the Fold is 842 seats. Those wishing to attend a Saturday night show will usually find ample seating. However, for gospel and other special shows, it is advisable to request tickets well in advance.

Address: A P Carter Highway,  Hiltons, VA 24258     Tel:(276) 386-6054    More info....


  • White's Mill:

    on Whites mill rd, Abingdon : White's Mill has long served the neighboring community. Since the late 18th century, the mill provided meal and flour for the farm and kitchen, as well as a gathering place for sharing news and views. The Mercantile, formerly the Cumbow Store, provided those store-bought essentials and extras that any home needs.

    When White's Mill began milling grain with its overshot wheel, waterpower provided the only stable mechanized energy. Over the years, improvements in technology were added, progressing with the times to provide for local needs. Visitors to the mill can see the old equipment, as well as contemporary upgrades. 
If you like history, this is an interesting side trip. The mill is attended by a young man who explains a bit of the history and then you can visit the "Old country Store" adjacent to the mill. Nice gifts and sundries. More Info...
  • Parks Mill BBQ & General Store:

    21405 Parks Mill Rd, Abingdon, VA 24211. Phone (276) 628-9191 A working mill, the owners still grind corn meal here.  They've built a smokehouse in which they cook the BBQ and a General Store.  You order your food in the store, and can sit inside (one or two tables anyway), on the porch, or in the backyard alongside the river. A favorite BBQ eatery for the locals.

  • Ridgewood Barbecue:

    One of the locals favorite BBQ's. Ridgewood’s pork is as good as it gets. Hickory-cooked hams are sliced and souped with a tangy, dark-red, slightly smoky sauce (available by the pint and quart near the cash register) and served as a platter, under a heap of terrific dark-gold French fries, or in a giant sandwich that spills out all sides of the bun. Located at 900 Elizabethtown Highway, Bluff City, TN -Phone (423) 538-7543


  • Natural tunnel (8th wonder of world) State Park: 

    Natural Tunnel, called the Eighth Wonder of the World by William Jennings Bryan, has been attracting sightseers to the mountains of southwestern Virginia for more than 100 years. Today it is the focal point of Natural Tunnel State Park, a park which offers visitors not only spectacular sights but also swimming, camping, picnicking, hiking, a visitor center, an amphitheater and interpretive programs.

    The creation of Natural Tunnel began more than a million years ago in the early glacial period when groundwater bearing carbonic acid percolated through crevices and slowly dissolved surrounding limestone and dolomite bedrock. Then, what is now Stock Creek was probably diverted underground to continue carving the tunnel slowly over many centuries. The walls of the tunnel show evidence of prehistoric life, and many fossils can be found in the creek bed and on tunnel walls. More Info...
  • Backbone Rock Recreation Area:  

    Backbone Rock is located in the Cherokee National Forest near Damascus, VA and Shady Valley, TN. It is located on State Rd 133. Backbone Rock is one of the most unusual rock formations in the world. It is a long, narrow stone ridge that extends from adjacent Iron Mountain. "The rock" stands approximately 75 feet high and 20 feet thick. Beautiful Backbone Rock Falls is located just across the road! The Backbone Rock Recreation Area features the rock itself, the adjacent Backbone Falls, swimming and fishing in Beaver Dam Creek (the small river that flows past and around the rock), hiking trails, and camping facilities (with water and restrooms).
    Address: State Road 133, Cherokee National Forest, Shady Valley, TN.   More info...


  • Hidden valley lake wildlife Management Area

    Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area is located in Southwest Virginia's Washington County, and is bordered by Russell County along the area's northwest boundary. This 6,400-acre property is mostly forested mountain land with the exception of a number of small openings, developed and maintained to enhance wildlife habitat. Two thousand feet at its lowest elevation, the area's highest elevation exceeds 4,000 feet, indicating the rugged steepness of the area. Logged in the early 1900s when much of the area was virgin forest, the predominate forest is now mature, mixed hardwood. Hidden Valley Lake is situated at the head of the valley, from which flows Brumley Creek.

A variety of game is available on the area. Deer, bear, turkey, squirrel and grouse are the most widely hunted species. Regulations for deer and bear vary from the general regulations for Washington County. Habitat quality for early-successional forest species like grouse and deer is poor.
Hidden Valley Lake invites anglers to fish for smallmouth bass, rock bass, bluegill, northern pike and walleye.
Other Activities
With its network of closed roads, Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area is excellent for hiking. Here, also, is the opportunity to view wildlife and photograph some of this area's unique mountain scenery.
There is a boat launching ramp and parking on the north side of Hidden Valley Lake, accessible through Low Gap from Route 690.
Directions: Access to the area is from U.S. Route 19, between Abingdon and Lebanon, on State Route 690. Consult map for greater detail. More info...
  • Breaks Interstate Park:

    Breaks Interstate Park, also referred as the "Grand Canyon of the South", is located in southeastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia at the northeastern terminus of Pine Mountain. It is administered as a state park by the states of Virginia and Kentucky, and is one of two interstate parks in the United States.

    The Breaks is the deepest gorge east of the Mississippi River,[3] through which the Russell Fork river and Clinchfield Railroad (now the CSX Transportation Kingsport Subdivision) run. It is accessed via Virginia State Route 80, between Haysi, Virginia and Elkhorn City, Kentucky, and passes through the community of Breaks, Virginia east of the park.
    American frontiersman Daniel Boone is credited with being the first person of European descent to discover the Breaks, which he first saw in 1767. Address: 627 Commission Cir  Breaks, VA 24607 Phone: (276) 865-4413
    More Info...
  • Laurel Bed Lake (Clinch Mountain Wildlife Area):

     Laurel Bed Lake area is dominated by mountains rising steeply from narrow valley floors. Due to difference in elevation a unique forest had developed. Tree species from both southern and northern forests are found. Elevations range from 1600 feet to 4700 feet atop Beartown Mountain. There is considerable water on the area; a 330-acre man-made lake, one major stream and several tributaries. The land that forms Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area was virgin forest until the late 1800s. Evidence of the narrow gauge railroad used during logging can still be seen, and some of the old rail bed is now part of the management area's present road system. Address:Route 2, Marion, VA  24370 Directions: Reached from I-81 and Chilhowie via state route 107. In Saltville, turn left onto route 91 (1/4 mile); then right onto route 634; bear left onto 613 and proceed 3 1/2 miles; then right onto route 747 to the area. Phone (276) 944-3434 / (276) 944-5024
    More info...

  • Damascus, Virginia - Trail Town, USA

    Damascus, Virginia, is a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just an 1/2 hr drive from our cabin, and is the gateway to the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.

    It is traversed by the Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail, the Trans-America National Bicycle Trail, the Iron Mountain Trail, the Daniel Boone Heritage Trail, the Crooked Road Musical Heritage Trail, Virginia's Birding and Wildlife Trail, and lies within a short distance of hundreds of miles of other hiking, horse, and biking trails.
Appalachian Trail: The Appalachian Trail is one of the longest continuously marked footpath in the world, measuring roughly 2,180 miles in length. The Trail goes through fourteen states along the crests and valleys of the Appalachian mountain range from the southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia, to the Trail’s northern terminus at Katahdin, Maine.
Known as the “A.T.,” it has been estimated that 2-3 million people visit the Trail every year and about 1,800–2,000 people attempt to “thru-hike” the Trail. People from across the globe are drawn to the A.T. for a variety of reasons: to reconnect with nature, to escape the stress of city life, to meet new people or deepen old friendships, or to experience a simpler life.
The A.T. was completed in 1937 and is a unit of the National Park System. The A.T. is managed under a unique partnership between the public and private sectors that includes, among others, the National Park Service (NPS), the USDA Forest Service (USFS), an array of state agencies, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and 31 local Trail-maintaining clubs.
The AT goes through Damascus main street . Damascus also have the good fortune to be known as "the friendliest town on the trail". Don't be surprised if you're invited to share beans & cornbread, or Sunday Services, or maybe even offered a ride to Fox Creek. Take lots of pictures and leave only footprints - just like you do on the trail. Be warned! Many say that one of the hardest things about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is leaving Damascus.
Virginia Creeper Trail:The Virginia Creeper Trail is a multiple-use trail connecting Abingdon, Virginia with the Virginia-North Carolina line 1.1 miles east of Whitetop Station, Virginia. The total trail length is 34.3 miles. Walkers, bicyclers and horses are welcome on the trail -- but anything motorized is taboo. Bicycle rental and shuttle services are available for those who wish to do a long one-way ride. The Virginia Creeper Trail began as an Indian footpath. Later, the European pioneers, as well as the early explorer Daniel Boone, used the trail. Shortly after 1900, W.B. Mingea constructed the Virginia-Carolina Railroad from Abingdon to Damascus. In 1905 the Hassinger Lumber Company extended the line to Konnarock and Elkland, North Carolina. In its day, the line hauled lumber, iron ore, supplies, and passengers. It got its nickname, Virginia Creeper, from the early steam locomotives that struggled slowly up the railroad's steep grades and/or from the Virginia Creeper Vine that grows along the trail. The Virginia Creeper engine and tender are now on display at the Abingdon Trailhead. A "spur line" engine and a caboose are on display at the Damascus Town Park.
With 100 trestles and bridges, sharp curves, and steep grades, the Virginia Creeper was the quintessential mountain railroad. Train crews faced wash-outs, rock slides, and other hazards, but it was economics that sounded the line's death whistle. Having failed to turn a profit since the Great Depression, the Creeper ran its last train on March 31, 1977.
Less than a century after the railroad arrived, the Virginia Creeper once again became a quiet trail. The circle was complete.
Between Abingdon and Damascus, the trail right-of-way belongs to the two towns. Please note that although the public legally has the right to use the trail, most of the actual land between Abingdon and the Iron Bridge east of Damascus is privately owned. Stay on the trail, close gates, respect property owners and livestock, and be courteous to landowners and other trail users. Please abide by the “Rules of the Trail!”
The 15.9 miles of trail between Iron Bridge (Mile 18.4) to the state line are part of the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area in the Jefferson National Forest. Except for a short stretch through Taylor's Valley, the public owns both the right-of-way and the actual property.
This part of the trail runs though some of the most rugged and picturesque country in the East and is widely lauded as one of the most beautiful trails on the continent. Bike rental and shuttle services are available.The 17-mile “easy” portion of the Virginia Creeper Trail begins in Whitetop and runs back down to Damascus — a drop in elevation of about 1,500 feet and suitable for almost any age rider. Shuttle leaves almost every hour to Whitetop and for Bike rentals and shuttle service  information, Visit here...
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area: A 200,000-acre mountain recreation wonderland within the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests. The area offers: self-auto tours; seven campgrounds; 4 horse camps; 3 cabins and hundreds of miles of hiking, biking, horse back riding and cross-country ski trails; two lakes and 50 miles of streams; historic sites; wildlife viewing; hunting. Visitor center has information on recreation opportunities. Many activities are available in the area including camping, picnicking, sight-seeing, bird watching, trout fishing, hunting, hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and swimming.  There are over 500 miles of trails in the area, including 60 miles of the Appalachian Trail, 18 miles of the Virginia Creeper Trail, and 67 miles of the Virginia Highland Horse Trail.  Over one million visitors come to Mount Rogers every year. Address: 3714 Highway 16, Marion, VA 24354 Phone: (276) 783-5196. More Info...
  • Barter Theater: 

    With its unique beginnings during the Great Depression, Barter Theatre, one of this nation’s oldest professional non-profit theatres, is located in beautiful historic Abingdon, Virginia. Barter Theatre is a theatre of firsts: one of this nation’s first professional regional theatres, the first professional theatre to be designated a state theatre – The State Theatre of Virginia and more. Today, Barter offers a variety of musicals, classics, comedies, dramas and new southern and Appalachian plays performed February – December yearly on two stages: Barter Theatre and Barter Stage II. Barter Theatre continues to be one of the nation’s most vibrant and exciting professional theatre experiences. ADDRESS:127 West Main Street, Abingdon.
    PHONE: 276-628-3991 More info...


  • Bristol Motor Speedway & Dragway:

     formerly known as Bristol International Raceway and Bristol Raceway is a NASCAR short track venue located in Bristol, Tennessee. Constructed in 1960, it held its first NASCAR race on July 30, 1961. Despite its short length, Bristol is among the most popular tracks on the NASCAR schedule because of its distinct features, that include extraordinarily steep banking, an all concrete surface, two pit roads and stadium-like seating. Recently it was named one of the loudest NASCAR tracks. In addition to the speedway, there is a quarter mile dragstrip that hosts an annual NHRA event each year. Bristol Dragway hosts all 3 nationally-touring NHRA series, plus the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Racing Series, NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League, AHDRA, and the Super Chevy Show. Bristol Motor Speedway holds annual major NASCAR events in March & in August.

Track Details:
Completed: 1961
Distance: .533 miles
Shape: Oval
Banking: 36° turns, 16° straights
Frontstretch: 650 feet
Backstretch: 650 feet
Seating: 160,000
Address: 151 Speedway Boulevard  Bristol, TN 37620.  Phone: (423) 989-6960              More info...
  • Birthplace of Country Music Alliance

    August 1927, downtown Bristol hosted two weeks of recording sessions for the Victor Recording Company. The music recorded in those two weeks influenced generations of country, bluegrass, gospel, and rock and roll musicians. In Bristol, Victor talent scout Ralph Peer discovered Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, and Ernest "Pop" Stoneman. These recordings, now known as the "Bristol Sessions," have been heralded by scholars as "The Big Bang of Country Music," and by musicians like Johnny Cash as "the most important event in the history of country music."  Bristol was the location of the first country music recordings made for national distribution. And in 1998, Congress made it official! Visit Birthplace of Country Music Alliance Museum for exhibits and artifacts on traditional Appalachian music and performers from the region. Live music every Thurs. evening. 

Address: 500 Gate City Hwy. Bristol, TN 24201 Phone: (276) 645-0035       More info...

  • Bristol Caverns

    One of the largest and most beautiful caverns in the Smoky Mountain region. A journey through caverns will take you through millions of years of timeless beauty. Far below the earth's surface, in the timeless beauty of Bristol Caverns, a strange and exciting experience awaits you. Paved, well lighted walkways wind through the vaulted chambers and along the banks of the ancient Underground River that carved these remarkable caverns from the hard core of the earth 200 to 400 million years ago. Address: 1157 Bristol Caverns Highway  Bristol, TN 37620 Phone (423) 878-2011        More info...

  • Magna Vista Farm

    Tour an 1878 farm house used as B and B. Outside there are barnyard animals--ducks, rabbits, chickens, cows and sheep, and a miniature horse that does tricks. Harvest or plant the garden. Four miles of horse trail go through 470 acres of meadow and woods offering a spectacular view. They also board horses and offer lessons, arena, and cross country course. Call for appointment. Address: 585 Thomas Rd. Bristol, TN. Phone: (423) 878-2831             More info....


  • Golf: 

Big Hollow Par III (Golf): Challenging nine-hole, lighted, par 3 walking course. Snack bar, practice green and free club rentals. The 18-hole "Big Hollow" course at the Big Hollow Par 3 facility in Blountville, Tennessee features all the hallmarks of Tennessee golf. Big Hollow golf course opened in 1999. Address: 1901 Highway 394, Blountville, TN  37617. Phone: (423) 323-6615 

Steele Creek Golf Course: The 9-hole "Steele Creek" course at the Steele Creek Golf Course facility in Bristol, Tennessee features 2,779 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 35 . The course rating is 34.2 and it has a slope rating of 110.  Designed by Kenneth Messeroled, the Steele Creek golf course opened in 1967. Nine-hole course, driving range, chipping area and putting green. Address: 20 Little Ln, Bristol, TN  37620. Phone: (423) 764-6411

  • For more Bristol area attractions, Visit these links: