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22 Top Holiday Hotspots in Bristol

If you’re on your way to Bristol for the holidays, you’re in for a treat because there’s a sleigh full of fun in your future!

Bristol has plenty to keep you busy, whether you like to chill and take it easy or prefer a bit more action. To make it easy for you to plan your outings, we’ve made our very own Christmas List of the Top 22 Holiday Hotspots for Your Visit to Bristol.

The Pinnacle Speedway In Lights – This is one of Bristol’s proudest and longest-running traditions. The region’s premier holiday light show features a four-mile trek around Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway. You’ll enjoy 3 million lights, dozens of animated light displays, a drive around the BMS oval, and a visit to Christmas Village in the infield. Best of all? Proceeds benefit Bristol Speedway Children’s Charities, which raises funds for kids’ agencies in the region. The show runs nightly through Jan. 6, 2024.

A Classic Christmas in Historic Downtown Bristol – Downtown Bristol is a wonderful place to spend some time – especially during the holidays! Be sure to venture downtown to check out a new Bristol holiday tradition, which features dozens of brightly decorated lighted trees, holiday lights, Christmas Ornament Selfie Station at Anderson Park, a new Bristol Sign Selfie Station outside the Birthplace of Country Music Museum near Cumberland Park, and a new holiday photo areas at the Downtown Center and Country Music Mural.

The Pinnacle – If you need to finish your Christmas shopping, there’s no place like the region’s largest retail experience. Not only can you shop and dine at The Pinnacle, which is loaded with dozens of shopping and dining options, but you can also enjoy Just Jump’s trampoline experience or enjoy a movie at Pinnacle 12 by Marquee Cinemas, which features two 71-foot Marquee Extreme Cinemas with Dolby Atmos sound and wonderfully comfortable recliners!

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol – Win BIG this Christmas at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol! Featuring over 870 of your favorite classic and trendy slots, gift shop, two restaurants, sports bar, and live music and entertainment throughout the holiday season.

Union 41 – Looking for unique dining experience this holiday season? Dine inside the life-sized and fully edible gingerbread house at Union 41 Bristol! Former Hell’s Kitchen television contestant Chef T and team have built this gingerbread house that is large enough to seat 8 people! Or, you can check out their heated, outdoor igloos on the patio! Reservations are required, and are phone only, (276) 285-2202.

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro – Bring the kids and enjoy the magic of the holidays at Bass Pro at The Pinnacle. Now through Christmas, kids can get a free photo with Santa and mail their letters to Santa. There are also free giveaways while supplies last, and families can enjoy the store’s wonderful aquariums and wildlife displays

Downtown Bristol has a little bit of everything – and it’s a whole lot of fun. There are great locally-owned and unique shops like L.C. King, Serendipity, Cranberry Lane, Wm. King Clothiers, Cheap Thrills Records, BoHo Collective, The Boxwood, Grand Antiques, Hollerhouse, Misty Mountain Designs, Willow Creek Antique Mall, Wiseman’s Western Store, and Blakley-Mitchell, a historic theater – Paramount Bristol where you can catch some great live entertainment. If you’re looking for some local cuisine, there are a number of great restaurants, including The Angry Italian, Eatz Uptown, Machiavelli’s, Bristol Bagel & Bakery, Stateline Bar and Grille, 620 State, Delta Blues BBQ, Southern Craft, The Corner, Bloom, Quaker Steak & Lube, Shanghai Chinese, Union 41, Vivian’s Table, the historic Burger Bar, and more, while there are some fantastic breweries and distilleries. Explore the rooftop bars at The Bristol Hotel and Sessions Hotel, both offering holiday experiences throughout the Christmas season. Be sure to check out duckpin bowling at Pins & Friends, and axe throwing and arcade at The Axe and Ale House. You can also visit The Escape Room for a great activity with friends and family. And near downtown are two other great options for the holidays: The Traveling Bear Indoor Mini Golf and Mother Chuckers axe throwing and lounge! 

Visit Believe in Bristol for more information about historic, Downtown Bristol!

How Sweet It Is – The holidays are a great excuse to forget the diet – and so is a trip to Bristol, where you’ll find some incredible treats. If you love fudge, ice cream, and old-style candy, The Southern Churn is calling your name. And if you’re in the mood for some fantastic donuts and other pastries, Blackbird Bakery simply can’t be beat, while Blended Peddler offers up acai bowls, smoothies, coffee, and more!

Holiday Libations – A great brewery or distillery can take your adventure to an all-new level, and fortunately, Bristol has several excellent choices. If you want to enjoy some incredible drinks and delicious holiday flavors, venture out to State Street Brewing, Cascade Draft House, Lost State Distilling, Michael Waltrip Brewing, and Elderbrew

Tri-Cities Airport Ice Rink at Bristol Motor Speedway – If you want to grab some time on the ice, Bristol Motor Speedway is the place to be! Kids and adults of all ages love the chance to do a little skating on one of the only rinks in the region. You can bring your own skates or rent a pair and then show off your moves. The rink is open daily through Jan. 14!

Bristol Sign – Regardless of the time of the year, a visit to the historic Bristol Sign must be on your itinerary. The sign, which lets you know that Bristol is “A Good Place to Live,” spans State Street, with half of it in Tennessee and the other in Virginia. Since it was erected in 1915, it’s been a favorite photo spot for visitors.

Birthplace of Country Music Museum – The Smithsonian-affiliated Museum pays homage to Bristol’s place in history as the Birthplace of County Music and tells the story of Bristol’s musical roots and the famed 1927 Bristol Sessions. The 24,000-square-foot facility offers visitors theater experiences, special exhibits, interactive displays, artifacts, and much more. The museum also has an excellent store, filled with handmade items that would look great under the Christmas tree!

Paramount Theater – This multi-use performing arts center features music, dance, comedy, film, theater, and family entertainment. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the beautifully restored theater opened in 1931. Shows coming up during the holidays include Abuse Alternatives Presents: A Holiday Showcase with Lewis Black (Dec 1), The Nutcracker (Dec 8-9), Mickey Guyton, Runaway June, and Church Band Revival (Dec 13), Cherry Poppin’ Daddies Christmas Canteen (Dec 15), Soultown to Motown – Tribute to Motown (Dec 16),

The Falls – Another shopping destination you can explore is The Falls, located off of I-81 at Exit 5 in Bristol, VA. Anchored by Hobby Lobby, Lowe’s, and Texas Roadhouse, there are a variety of shops and dining options to choose from.

L.C. King Mfg. – This incredible company was established in 1913 and still operates out of its original factory in Downtown Bristol. The family-owned operation, founded by Landon Clayton King, who also created the “Pointer Brand,” is now run by his great-grandson Jack King, the fourth generation of Kings to head up the business. The company makes clothes – jeans, shirts, coats, bags, hats, etc. – designed to last, and there’s a store on the premises, so you do your holiday shopping!

Kil’n Time – This is one of the largest paint-your-own pottery studios in the South and the perfect place for kids, young and old, to create wonderful gifts that have a personal touch. They offer a selection of ready-to-paint ceramics, as well as fused glass, mosaics, and weekly classes. Holidays classes include Fused Glass Ornaments, Gingerbread House Canvas Class, Snowman Kid’s Class, Red Nosed Reindeer Class, and many others!

AR Workshop – AR Workshop is your destination for all things DIY! Their charming boutique studio offers hands-on craft classes, group activities, private parties, and a curated selection of gifts and on-trend home decor.

Theatre Bristol – Theatre Bristol, originally established in 1965, is a community theatre focused on reaching children performers and audiences. During the holidays, you can enjoy the timeless classic, “A Christmas Carol” at The Paramount through Dec 17.

Bristol Ballet – The Bristol Ballet, established in 1948, will have three performances of The Nutcracker coming up on Dec. 8 and 9, at the Paramount Bristol.

South Holston Dam – An excursion to South Holston Lake and Dam is a must for some of the best views in Tennessee and Virginia. The earth and rockfill dam spans 1,600 feet across the South Fork Holston River, is 285 feet high, and affords visitors an incredible view of the lake and valley, making for a tremendous photo opportunity. The lake sits on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains and is bordered by Cherokee National Forest, covering 7,589 acres.

Steele Creek Park Nature Center – If you’re looking for a great indoor “outdoor” activity, the Nature Center offers up a lot of fun. The two-story, 8,000-foot educational facility, which showcases the natural history and beauty of the Southern Appalachians, houses live animals and educational displays. Guided hikes and educational programs are offered year-round.

Mendota Trail – A winter hike along the Mendota Trail, a 12.5-mile hiking and biking recreational corridor, spanning tranquil countryside, forests, and creeks on gentle grades between Bristol, Virginia and Mendota, Virginia.