If you can't afford a trip to the Four Corners area of the American Southwest where four states come together, save yourself a bundle by coming to the Cities of Bristol, in Tennessee and Virginia, two hours north of Knoxville Tennessee up Interstate-81. The cities bill themselves as a "Great Place to Live," and I can vouch for that, having lived here with my wife, a native Bristolian, since 1991. Lots of tourists like to have photographs of themselves standing in the middle of State Street with one foot in Virginia, the other in Tennessee, or beneath the famous Bristol Sign with one side pointing to each state -- but be careful of the traffic! State Street is dotted with independent restaurants (a couple of chains like Macado's), most of them well worth the visit (the Blackbird Bakery is among our favorites), and there are many antique shops and crafts stores that can make a half-day pass quickly. The people are Southern-friendly, and the town is also known as the Birthplace of Country Music (the famous Bristol Sessions were held in a recording studio downtown in 1927, the commercial recording debuts of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family [the famous Carter Fold is not far away in Hiltons, Virginia). Bristol is also becoming increasingly important both for its NASCAR-Bristol Raceway ties and the quality and variety of its musical activities (not all of them its country-bluegrass roots).
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