Crisp, clean, walkable streets, warm southern hospitality and an unexpectedly striking scene for foodies — these are just the first few things you’ll notice exploring around small town Chattanooga, TN, and likely before you’ve even left the downtown!
I seem to find myself more of a city girl: Miami, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, but just before Christmas, I took a long awaited trip to visit one of my college roomies Sam in Knoxville, and couldn’t help but ask her to make the short drive with me to check out what all the buzz in small town Chattanooga was really about.
Y’all, I may have been single-handedly converted. Chattanooga is just jam-packed with charm.
It’s a Major Basecamp for Outdoor Adventure
Don’t let the popular spots fool you, Chattanooga has so many “tourist-y” natural destinations because the surrounds are a booming outdoor mecca of the SE, especially for climbers.
The guys at The Crash Pad (a crisp boutique hostel dedicated to outdoor enthusiasts) tipped me off that Roots Rated is the local go-to for finding trails, but Cravens House Loop trail is a good start for most trail seekers and some of the best motorcycle routes in the country stem out of TN to NC: Highway 129, Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, 64 towards Ocoee, 30, and 165 — basically, you can take off in any which direction from Chattanooga and be in view-chasers heaven.
If the pre-paved path is more your style, dozens of popular spots like Lookout Mountain, Rock City Gardens, Ruby Falls, 7 States View or the Incline Train have you covered for natural feels.
And, you can prep for the great outdoors Spider Man style by climbing up the side of a high rise rock wall looking over the city (and the Aquarium) at High Point Rock Gym!
Leisurely Afternoon Strolls are a Serious Thing
Chattanoogan’s love to stroll, so much so that this tiny little town created the world’s largest pedestrian bridge to connect the North Shore and it’s downtown area.
On the afternoon we walked, families, photographers, and people simply taking breaks from work strolled across the Walnut Street bridge, taking in views of the Tennessee River on either side and listening to the tunes of casual street musicians (no, they weren’t asking for money).
The Glass Bottom bridge, Chattanooga Pier and Point Park are also testaments to this “afternoon recharge.” What’s not to love?!
That Local Southern Hospitality
The American south is one of the friendliest places on earth, and that locally-grown hospitality just seeps through everything.
The people are kind, signage is small, food is sourced from nearby, shops are owned by families and many of the products are homegrown (not that there isn’t great shopping — Warehouse Row definitely has you covered for labels).
Each of Chattanooga’s crisply clean streets, neatly laid between the mountains and rivers around, are just oozing of charm and whimsy.
Striking Scene for Foodies
Saving the best for last — the thing that struck me most about charming Chattanooga was it’s striking scene for foodies!
From micro-breweries and whisky warehouses, dozens of delicious restaurant concepts and some seriously tempting sweet treats, Chattanooga’s food scene has got it going on.
There are so many spots it was hard to choose where to dine during our short 3-day trip, but starting with the Monen’s family’s delicious + spot-on ambiance quadruple-threats: Milk + Honey, Taco Mamacita, Urban Stack and Community Pie, to the quaint and view-full: Tony’s Italian, Back Inn Cafe and Rembrandt’s Coffee of BluffView, to cocktail and tapas crowd-drawing Flying Squirrel near the hostel, sweet-tooth savoring The Hot Chocolatier, and local southern chain (yes, I’m recommending a chain restaurant — it’s that good) Tupelo Honey Cafe, the options are endless.
Boat House on the water, Bar Louie, Lamar’s, Sitar and Canyon Grill were also all highly recommended to us, but unfortunately three days only allows for so many eats!
Here are a few more snaps from our long weekend around town:
Where to Stay:
Sam and I enjoyed our three nights in town at the Marriott Springhill Suites, Chattanooga’s only riverfront hotel, complete with slow nights by the fire pit on the outdoor patio, fresh breakfast in the mornings, spacious rooms and riverfront views.
For more information about travel to Chattanooga, visit ChattanoogaFun.com.
What about you: are you more of a city person or a small-town gal (or guy!)?
currently exploring was welcomed as a guest of Visit Chattanooga. All opinions and experiences are my own.