Take a trip to Chattanooga
Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains right at the Georgia border, our southern neighbor is the perfect getaway.
Written By: Kristin Luna
With Nashville’s entertainment scene enough to keep your schedule packed, it’s easy to forget all about our southern neighbor, Chattanooga, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains right at the Georgia border. But there’s no better time for a day trip to the Scenic City than these balmy fall months, when the leaves are starting to turn and the weather’s perfect for all the outdoor adventures on tap.
Chattanooga is 133 miles south of Nashville on I-24.
The riverside city is brimming with active pursuits, from rock-climbing to hang-gliding to standup paddleboarding. At Raccoon Mountain, you can get your workout on 18 miles’ worth of biking trails—or test your wits and head into the darkness on a Crystal Cave tour via the network of underground waterfalls and caverns (warning: these aren’t for the faint of heart).
If breaking a sweat isn’t your thing, Chattanooga’s high-end retail development Warehouse Row—housed in a revitalized century-old building—is an indoor alternative and chock-full of shopping experiences. Amanda Pinson specializes in pretty jewels and custom stones, Revival stocks unique home items that will have you longing for a house makeover, Shadowbox Paperie is a paper goods lover’s dream store, and Onward Reserve debuts this month as the 295,000-square-foot facility's first men's clothier.
Every Sunday, the Chattanooga Market is abuzz with food and crafts vendors peddling their wares from booths inside the First Tennessee Pavilion, and there’s also a new weekly Wednesday Market from 4 to 7 p.m. on a smaller scale.
Flying Squirrel, a tapas bar–meets-gastropub, is the newest hot spot in town thanks to its funky interior and eclectic menu that changes with the season (past dishes include quail egg crostini, lamb lollipops, and duck tacos). The creative cocktails, like a watermelon old-fashioned, are on point, and the restaurant features a lengthy roster of brews, too. Carnivores—or those seeking a more casual ambiance—will be drawn to Urban Stack, which offers a full-on burger menu alongside other Southern favorites like fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese dip.
North Shore’s Coolidge Park could keep you occupied for hours with its curiosity shops and indie boutiques, but it’s also brimming with food and beverage offerings galore. If you’re over that way, grab a bite at Good Dog—a hot dog joint that’s full of local flavor—and save room for dessert at Clumpies, which keeps Chattanoogans cool in hot months with frozen treats like apple pie floats and sweet orange cream soda, both made with local Pure Sodaworks products.
A former brothel, The Honest Pint is a three-story Irish bar with an airy, open layout where patrons spend hours throwing darts and bumping cues at the pool table. If you want a swankier, lounge-type atmosphere, try the bar at Public House in Warehouse Row called The Social for its skilled mixologists’ creative libations.
The Chattanoogan is the city’s most upscale hotel option and boasts a sleek, modern aesthetic, a convenient downtown location right across from the Tennessee Aquarium, and views of the Tennessee River. Rooms start $159 a night.
There are few places in the world where you can spend the night in a historic rail car—well, at least a 1900s, Victorian-style one—but at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, you have your pick of 48 train cars. Sure, the hotel is kitschy, but it’s also a historic property with a legacy spanning a century—and the accommodations will definitely appeal to children, young and old. Train cars start at $180 a night.
Photos courtesy Kristin Luna and Chattanooga CVB