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Water-Bound Thrills in Bristol, TN/VA

Bristol offers an abundance of breathtaking mountain views, gorgeous lakes and rivers, and scenic hiking and biking trails. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, the waters of South Holston Lake and Steele Creek are particularly interesting to those who relish hitting the water and paddling their way around Bristol’s picturesque settings.

A Lake Getaway

South Holston Lake, which sits on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains and is bordered by Cherokee National Forest, covers more than 7,500 acres in Tennessee and Virginia. It features a stunning earth and rock-filled dam, some of the best fishing in the Southeast, and boating and paddling opportunities aplenty. There are numerous locations around the lake where you can canoe, kayak, or engage in stand-up paddleboarding. And on any given day, regardless of the season, you’ll find paddling devotees, regardless of age and expertise, enjoying their time on the water. 

If you’re interested in dropping a line, South Holston Lake is also filled with smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, trout, crappie, and catfish. Fly Fishing is the name of the game at the weir dam, a nationally recognized trout fishery, while trout fishing is always good in the tailwater below the dam. 

For a smaller, more intimate paddling excursion, Steele Creek Park features a 52-acre lake that paddling lovers adore. The park offers paddle boat rentals for those who prefer to explore the lake by water. To purchase your own watercraft, long-time Bristol staple, Mountain Sports Ltd, is a fantastic spot to find everything you’ll need for your next kayaking, canoeing, or paddling adventure. Bass Pro Shops at The Pinnacle, the region’s largest shopping development, also has a tremendous selection. 

Solid Fun on Solid Ground 

If you prefer staying on solid ground, Bristol offers an array of hiking and biking trails near South Holston Dam, including Steele Creek Park, Sugar Hollow Park, and the Mendota Trail. For climbers, the Appalachian Bouldering Center is the region’s top spot.

Explore Bristol’s unique charm, with its main street, State Street, dividing Tennessee and Virginia. Don’t miss an iconic photo op straddling the state line and a visit to the Bristol Sign, boasting the city as “a good place to live.” Dive into Bristol’s historic downtown, brimming with locally-owned eateries like Burger Bar, Eats, Union 4, and more. Savor craft brews and spirits at Cascade Draft House, Elderbrew, Lost State Distilling, and Michael Waltrip Brewing, or enjoy rooftop vibes at The Sessions and The Bristol hotels. If the kids are craving ice cream or fudge, there’s nothing like a visit to Southern Churn. If you’re looking for the perfect pastry, Blackbird Bakery has many delicious offerings.

Family-friendly activities abound downtown, from Pins and Friends Duckpin Bowling to Tri-Cities Escape Game. Kids will also enjoy Just Jump at The Pinnacle, which offers visitors various shopping and dining opportunities and the region’s premier theater, Pinnacle 12 by Marquee Cinemas. 

#5: Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Valvoline

Don’t miss Bristol’s gems like the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and the world-renowned Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway. And for a taste of excitement, check out the Bristol Casino – Future Home of Hard Rock Hotel, offering more than 900 slot machines, 29 tables, a sportsbook, and some fantastic restaurants.

Whether you are exploring by boat or by foot, Bristol offers an unforgettable two-state getaway.

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