PLACES OF INTEREST/ATTRACTIONS
Our Tri-Cities region is rich in history and home to countless attractions and places of interest. You can click on these links for interesting information about East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
Following are links to just a few of the nearby attractions and places of interest that add to the pleasure of living in our Tri-Cities region.
More than 225 years old, Abingdon is a quaint little town with a 20 block historic district. Located just 15 miles from Bristol in Southwest Virginia, Abingdon is home to the Barter Theatre, the Martha Washington Inn, the Highlands Jazz Festival, the Summer Concert Series, and the Virginia Highlands Festival. The Wall Street Journal, Southern Living, and other publications have brought national attention to this wonderful place to visit or, even better, live.
Abingdon’s Veteran's Memorial Park
Located at the corner of Cummings Street and Cooke Street in Abingdon, Virginia, this memorial honors the area's veterans from the Revolutionary War through the Iraqi War.
Built in 1950 by Ruth and Harvey Brooks, this prime example of Georgian architecture was willed to the city of Kingsport in 1969.
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
Our 17th President, Andrew Johnson went from tailor to President. His 2 homes, tailor shop, and his gravesite have been preserved here.
The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail runs nearby crossing both East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. With elevations that range from a low of 124 feet to more than 6,600 feet, it is our nation's longest marked footpath. Stretching over 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia, it touches a total of 14 states and crosses 6 national parks.
This favorite tourist destination in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is a place you must visit. Well known as home of the world famous Biltmore Estate, Asheville offers many more interesting sights and recreational opportunities. You will find just about everything anyone would want in this beautiful mountain area.
It was during the 1930’s depression actor Robert Porterfield founded Virginia’s State Theatre, the Barter Theatre. Its name comes from the time when admission was “40 cents or the equivalent in produce”. It is said its first season netted “$4.35 in cash, 2 barrels of jelly, and a collective weight gain among the actors of more than 300 pounds”. Professionally done and entertaining productions are presented year round. Ernest Borgnine, Hume Cronyn, Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, Ned Beatty, Gary Collins, Barry Corbin, Kevin Spacey and Jerry Hardin are just a few of the talented actors who have performed there.
Bays Mountain Park
This is a beautiful 3,000 acre nature preserve owned by the city if Kingsport. With a nature center/museum that houses a planetarium with a dome 40 feet in diameter, the park’s programs serve as part of the curriculum of local students. With a 44-acre lake, 25 miles of trails, a vast array of wild flowers, and abundant wild life, the park is a pleasure to visit year round.
Few people come to Asheville without visiting the world famous Biltmore Estate. It was built by George Vanderbilt in 1895 and, with 250 rooms, is North America’s largest private residence.
Birthplace of Country Music Alliance & Museum
In 1998, Congress officially designated Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia as the “Birthplace of Country Music”. The historic 1927 “Bristol Sessions” recordings launched commercial country music and the careers if the Carter Family (“First Family of Country Music”), Jimmy Rogers (“Father of Country Music”), and others. Bristol was the home of Tennessee Ernie Ford. The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of our region’s rich musical heritage.
Blowing Rock, NC
A trip to this quaint mountain town is an absolute must. At a 4,000-foot elevation and literally hanging over the Johns River Gorge some 3,000 feet below, this “Crown of the Blue Ridge” offers views you must see to believe. With top-notch shops, restaurants, and places to stay, Blowing Rock is a place you will long remember.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The most visited site in the national Park system, the Blue Ridge Parkway winds some 469 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains through North Carolina and Virginia - from Cherokee, just outside the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, to southern end of the Shenandoah Valley. There are many historic attractions and points of interest all along the Parkway. Whether it’s a drive along part or all of the Parkway, the trip will be rewarding.
Just down the road from Blowing Rock and Linville, Boone is “In the Heart of the High Country”. Home to Appalachian State University, and with four ski resorts in the immediate area, it is a thriving little city, attracting visitors year round.
Bristol Motor Speedway
This is the world’s fastest ½ mile track and one of the nation’s three largest arenas. More than 165,000 race fans attend NASCAR events. The Bristol Dragway is also part of the facility where weekly bracket drags are held in addition to regional and national events.
Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion
Every third weekend in September, State Street in historic Downtown Bristol, TN/VA is amped to the beat of Appalachia’s past, present, and future. It digs down deep into the roots of traditional Appalachian sound and lifts its branches to new heights–and it all happens in the heart of The Birthplace of Country Music. Nashville may be country music’s capitol, but Bristol is the birthplace. It was on State Street in 1927 that talent scout Ralph Peer made the very first country music recordings with The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest Stoneman, and others, for the Victor Talking Machine Company. The recordings known as The Bristol Sessions are recognized internationally as the “Big Bang” of country music. The first festival took place in October of 2001 with just a couple thousand people in attendance. By its 10th anniversary in 2010, 45,000 people from 8 foreign countries and 34 states descended upon Downtown Bristol to celebrate the music.
Bristol’s Veterans Memorial at Cumberland Square Park
This is a memorial honoring those who have fought for our nation’s freedom. Five life-size cast bronze statues recognize all of our military branches. In addition there is a Cobra AH-1F combat helicopter and an eternal flame and water feature.
Carrol Reece Museum At ETSU
Located on the campus of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN, this museum features our region’s history and pioneer settlement.
Carter Family Memorial Music Center
The Carter Family Memorial Music Center honors the legendary Carter Family and celebrates old-time country and folk music through the presentation of weekly performances at the Carter Family Fold, in Hiltons, Virginia. Known as “first family of country music”, their first recordings in 1927 are said to been the start of commercial country music. You can also visit the Carter Family Museum and the cabin where A. P. Carter was born.
Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, is a driving route through our Appalachian region connecting heritage music venues like the Blue Ridge Music Center, Birthplace of Country Music Alliance, and the Carter Family Fold. Here is where our traditional bluegrass, gospel, and mountain music was handed down from generation to generation and lives on today.
Sycamore Shoals is where the first permanent settlement outside the original 13 Colonies, and the Watauga Association, the first majority rule system of American democratic government, was formed in 1772, four years before Tennessee became a state. Sights of interest in Elizabethton include the Doe River Covered Bridge, built in 1882, and the Carter Mansion, the oldest frame house in Tennessee. Built around 1775, over 90% of the Carter Mansion’s interior materials are original. Elizabethton should be on your “places to see” list.
The Exchange Place functions as a living history farm preserving 19th century agricultural life. This Kingsport landmark was built between 1816 and 1851 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge
Surrounded by the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area provides one with more festivals, entertainment and attractions than you can count. There is truly something for all ages. Hundreds of unique shops and galleries, the 1.3 million gallon Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, the country's largest aerial tram, and the country's largest gathering of independent artisans are but a small sample of the diverse entertainment available.
At an elevation of 5,964 feet Grandfather Mountain’s Calloway Peak is the highest point in the Grandfather Mountain is the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountain range. The “Mile High Swinging Bridge” is a 228-foot suspension bridge giving visitors access to 360 degree views from the mountain’s Linville Peak. A globally recognized nature preserve, the mountain is home to the world’s largest natural population of the rare and endangered pink-shell azalea. In addition to the phenomenal views, visitors can also enjoy a Nature Museum and 12 miles of maintained hiking trails.
Great Smokey Mountains National Park
Straddling the Tennessee-North Carolina border, the “Smokies” are one of the largest protected areas in the Eastern United States. This vast wonderland has over 800 miles of trails and attracts more than 9 million visitors every year.
In Kingsport, TN, this fully restored late-Victorian house is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hands on Regional Museum
In Johnson City, TN, the Hands On Museum provides ever-changing programs, festivals, and interactive exhibits that make learning fun for all ages.
Historical Society of Washington County
A library staffed by volunteers, the Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia is located in the Old Abingdon Train Station at Depot Square. It is a leading center in the region for genealogical and historical research including local and regional history.
Hungry Mother State Park
Located in Southwest Virginia, Hungry Mother State Park is a beautifully wooded with a lake and facilities for swimming, boat rentals, camping, and cabin rentals. There is also the park systems first conference center, Hemlock Haven .
International Storytelling Center
Located downtown in Historic Jonesborough, the International Storytelling Center has exhibits, performances & seminars that celebrate the art of storytelling. It holds the National Storytelling Festival the first full weekend in October.
Jonesborough is the oldest town in the state of Tennessee. Andrew Jackson started his law practice in Jonesborough, later became a judge, and then President. More than 30 years ago, it was here the first National Storytelling Festival brought attention to the art of storytelling, now celebrated nationwide. With storytelling events taking place all the time, Jonesborough calls itself the storytelling capital of the world.
Linville’s claim to fame is peace, tranquility, and first-rate mountain golf - in spades. Things to do are near enough in Blowing Rock and Boone but you may not want to leave once you’ve settled in for a stay at the rustic Eseeola Lodge, built in 1926. It will be peace, tranquility, and golf you will never forget.
Martha Washington Inn
Just across the street from the Barter Theatre, this historic landmark began as a private residence when built by a Virginia General named Frances Preston in 1832. It was sold and in 1858 became Martha Washington College, a college for women. Used as a hospital during the Civil War, it later became a hotel and today, after an eight million dollar renovation a few years ago, this beautiful piece of history serves as a romantic upscale inn.
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Some 120,000 acres at 5,700 plus feet within the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests.
New River Trail State Park
Located in Southwest Virginia, this 54 mile long park parallels the scenic New River for 39 miles. This historic river is the second oldest river in the world and one of only a few that flows north. There are two tunnels, 135 & 193 feet long, three major bridges, 670, 951 & 1,089 feet, and almost 30 smaller bridges. The park features some 57 miles of continuous trail.
Paramount Center for the Arts
Built in 1931, the Paramount Theatre’s Art Deco style was typical of the movie houses of that era. A major renovation in the 1080’s restored its original grandeur. Renamed the Paramount Center for the Arts, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Seating 765, it is today a home to performing arts, presenting performances by local organizations as well as films and a wide variety of touring shows.
Rocky Mount Museum
Rocky Mount is a living history site in Piney Flats, Tennessee. Constructed by William Cobb in 1772, it is the oldest original territorial capital in the United States.
Roan Mountain State Park
At an elevation of 6,285 feet and in full bloom around mid-June is the world’s largest display of Catawba rhododendron. Even without the display of rhododendron, a trip to the top of Roan Mountain is reward enough.
Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park
Housed in an 1880's mansion in Big Stone Gap, some 35 miles northwest of Kingsport, Tennessee, the museum features a collection of more than 20,000 pieces, chronicling the exploration and development of the area during the coal boom time of the 1890's.
Steele Creek Park
Steele Creek Park is conveniently located in Bristol, Tennessee. A nine-hole golf course and a beautiful lake on over 2,200 acres make for a perfect spot for picnics and family outings. With a half-mile train ride, hiking trails and fishing, there is something to entertain every age group.
Sycamore Shoals State Park
Open during daylight hours, the park has facilities for picnicking and a 2-mile trail that goes along the Watauga River. There is also a Visitors Center with historic displays and a theatre.
The Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia
With headquarters in the historic Duncan House in Jonesborough, the Heritage Alliance only began in 2001. It was born of a merger of three previously existing organizations that were dedicated to different aspects of historic preservation and heritage education. They were the Jonesborough Civic Trust, the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum, and the Historic Jonesborough Foundation, each of which dates back to the 1970s.
Virginia Creeper Trail
An old mountain railroad climbing steep grades with sharp turns and crossing 100 bridges and trestles, the Virginia Creeper was aptly named. Unprofitable since the Great Depression, its last train ran on March 31, 1977. Now maintained by the Virginia Creeper Trail Club, a private non-profit corporation, this 34-mile railroads bed is one of the most beautiful trails anywhere. Bike rental and shuttle services make it easy to enjoy this beautiful gem.
Virginia Highlands Festival
This annual happening has grown from a small event in 1949 to a 16 day festival noted as a must see by National Geographic Traveler. Vendors display arts, crafts, antiques and other goods in open-air markets. First rate musical and performing arts events are presented in the historical Barter Theatre, tents, and other places. Add living history portrayals, puppet shows, literary events, home & garden tours, plus hiking, biking and other outdoor excursions, and you literally have something for everyone from grand children to grandparents.
Warriors’ Path State Park
This 950 acre park is located on the shore of the Patrick Henry Lake is a very popular destination. There are 135 campsites for camping, 12 miles of hiking trails, 8 ½ miles of biking trails, an Olympic size swimming pool, riding horses at the park stables, plus a marina and launching ramps for fishermen and boaters.
William King Museum
Abingdon's William King Museum is a partner of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and one of only about 750 museums nationwide that is accredited by the American Association of Museums. There is a museum store, studios, and museums with changing exhibits. Their program includes lectures, classes, and workshops.