Bristol and Abingdon
Looking for an unforgettable three-day weekend? Escape to one of the most underrated parts of the Virginia and explore Bristol and Abingdon in scenic Southwest Virginia.
Where to Stay
The Black Dog Inn: Named for the inn’s four-legged resident, Hadley, this is a historic restored property in the heart of downtown Abingdon. Featuring beautiful woodwork and antique furnishings, the renovated inn also has plenty of modern amenities.
Creeper’s End Lodging: This unique Abingdon property consists of two charming cottages that hold seven apartment-style suites. Each room has its own unique layout that caters to every type of guest, from families with small children to solo travelers.
Hilton Garden Inn: This property in Bristol offers comfort, convenience and affordable accommodations just a few miles from the downtown area.
The Bristol Hotel: Opening in October 2018, this historic boutique hotel in downtown Bristol is conveniently situated just off State Street and will offer a rooftop bar, gourmet restaurant and stunning rooms at affordable rates.
Begin Friday with the drive out to Abingdon and make a quick stop at The Marketfor lunch, a true hidden gem in Southwest Virginia that sources all of its ingredients from local farms and distributors.
After lunch, go to the Virginia Creeper Trail Bike Shopwhere you can rent mountain bikes to ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail, a 34-mile rail-trail that runs from Whitetop Station inside Mount Rogers National Recreation Area to downtown Abingdon, ending just blocks from the bike shop. The trail is a leisurely downhill ride, but you’ll have the option to choose a shorter bike route if 34 miles seems a bit daunting. The bike shop also provides a shuttle service that ferries you and the bikes back to the shop after the ride.
As the sun sets, start your evening at Wolf Hills Brewingwith a flight to get a taste of their excellent brews. Abingdon has tons of noteworthy restaurants(funfact: there are more restaurants per-capita in Abingdon than in San Francisco), so narrowing it down for dinner is no easy task. Try dining at either 128 Pecan(upscalesouthern fare) or Morgan’s(finedining, specializing in hand-cut steaks).
After dinner, stroll over to the Barter Theatreto catch a show. The official state theatre of Virginia, the Barter Theatre has been a staple of the community since 1933. Grab a drink after the show at the Martha Hotel, located just across the street from the Barter Theatre. The elegant historic hotel blends old southern charm with modern luxury. The on-site restaurant and bar is the perfect place to end your first evening in Southwest Virginia.
Wake up early on Saturday for breakfast at Blackbird Bakeryin Bristol. Then, head west for Adventure Mendota River Outfitters. They’ll get you geared up and ready to explore the North Fork of the Holston River in kayaks. After floating on the Holston, you’ll exit the river to the waiting Mendota staff, who shuttle you back to their shop. Head back towards Bristol and grab lunch at the Burger Bar. Legend has it that country music star, Hank Williams Sr., ate his last meal at Burger Bar.
Next up, pay a visit to the iconic Birthplace of Country Music Museum, just a short walk from Burger Bar. The museum traces Bristol’s history in country music back to 1927 when the famed Bristol Recording Sessions brought together some of the most important acts in country music, including the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers.
Round out the evening with a stop at Bristol Station Brews & Taproomfor a tasting, followed by a few brews with dinner at nearby Studio Brew. This artisan craft brewery typically has over 15 brews on tap that you can pair with a wood-fired sandwich or pizza for an incredibly tasty(andfilling) dinner.
Kick-start your Sunday at White Birch Juicein downtown Abingdon. Besides a handful of healthy breakfast entrees, the restaurant blends up an array of smoothies, cold-pressed juices and wellness shots using simple, locally sourced ingredients. After breakfast go explore downtown Abingdon’s shops, then pick up a picnic lunch from Zazzy’s Coffee Roasters and get back on the road for Grayson Highlands State Park, about an hour east of Abingdon, where you’ll park at the base of the Rhododendron Trail inside Grayson Highlands. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot the resident wild ponies along the short quarter-mile hike to the top of the trail. Once there, you can connect to the Appalachian Trail to further explore the mountains or head back down the trail to start your trip back home.
This story was made possible by the Virginia is for Lovers team at the Virginia Tourism Corporation.