1. Coffee and Ice Cream
Whether you are starting the day with a cup of coffee or ending the day with a scoop of ice cream, Chattanooga offers the best places to indulge in two of our favorite things. If you are looking to hop off the Starbucks bandwagon and find a less mainstream coffee shop, then look no further than Brash, Cadence, and Chattz. All three offer a relaxing environment to socialize while enjoying your coffee. Brash and Chattz can be found on Market Street and Cadence is located on East 7th Street in Chattanooga’s new Innovation District. Now, if you want to satisfy your sweet tooth then The Ice Cream Show, on the south end of Walnut Street Bridge, offers over 17,000 combinations of flavors and freshly made waffle cones. If you find yourself on the other side of the river, then Clumpies is the place for a frozen delight. Every batch of ice cream is made by hand and may be found on Clumpies Cart at events across the city.
2. Spectator Sports
Giving support to local organizations is an important concept to the people of Chattanooga and this includes the two semi-professional sports teams that play their home games in the Scenic City. Chattanooga Football Club (CFC) and Chattanooga Lookouts represent the city in soccer and baseball respectively. Founded in 2009, CFC has enjoyed a short but successful history so far and this success has resulted in a loyal group of supporters, who have dubbed themselves the ‘Chattahooligans’, cheering them on inside the 20,000-seat Finley Stadium. Across town, the floodlights of the AT&T Field can be seen shining over the city’s skyline as the Chattanooga Lookouts attempt to please the home crowd with a victory. The stadium holds over 6,000 spectators and has been home of the Lookouts since 2000. The name, if you were wondering, originates from the nearby Lookout Mountain. Both teams’ schedules can be found on their websites.
3. Theater and Music Venues
Chattanooga is home to some great venues for theater productions and music shows. Known as the “Jewel of the South” the Tivoli Theater on Broad Street has been entertaining locals since 1921. Arguably the center of performance culture in Chattanooga, Tivoli Theater has offered everything from Broadway shows to country music and is home to the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera. A more recent addition to the music scene in Chattanooga is Track 29 which opened its doors in 2011. Here you can enjoy a wide variety of groundbreaking music in a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system. One of the country’s oldest and continuously running community theaters can be found in Chattanooga on River Street. The Chattanooga Theater Centre delivers a variety of performances throughout the year. There is something for everyone to enjoy—musicals, comedies, dramas and children’s plays.
4. Accessible and Affordable
The transport system in Chattanooga has come a long way and continues to progress. Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, located east of downtown, is the best way to get into the city if traveling from distant places. The city is located conveniently at the junctions of I-75, I-24, and I-59, which makes access via car simple. The bike share system is a great way to see the city while getting some exercise at the same time, or if you are feeling less active, the free downtown shuttle will give you a ride to the best spots. On weekend evenings, rent a horse-drawn carriage. Not only is it easy to get around the city, it is also affordable to live here. In an article on Forbes.com Chattanooga was ranked third city in the nation to get a bargain when purchasing a house.
5. Picture Perfect
With the Tennessee River twisting through Chattanooga and the mountains standing tall, overlooking the city, we are privileged to have such a picturesque place to live. The Tennessee River covers 652 miles across four states and is the fifth-largest river in the United States. The surrounding mountains; Lookout, Signal and Raccoon are great places to witness a spectacular view of the city and countryside in close proximity. Then add the architectural delights of the Tennessee Aquarium, Walnut Street Bridge, the Hunter Museum of American Art among many others and the view can only be described as picture perfect.
6. Not too big, not too small
The hustle and bustle of a 24-hour city can be overbearing for some people. At the other end of the scale, small towns in the middle of nowhere could be criticized for having little to do. Chattanooga has the right balance of entertainment and activity, yet doesn’t suffer from overpopulation. The plethora of outdoor activities available for Chattanoogans and their visitors is impressive and the mountains, lakes and rivers are easily accessible. As the Chattanooga CVB says, “Meet Chattanooga. Right Size. Right Attitude."
7. River Cruises
So you have seen the river and are absorbed by its beauty—now you want to experience it. If you don’t plan to paddle or swim in it, look no further than the River Gorge Explorer or the Southern Belle Riverboat as a way to experience it. The Tennessee Aquarium’s River Gorge Explorer ensures the unique experience of seeing “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon,” the Tennessee River Gorge, at its best. Passengers are given an educational tour of the area by one of the Aquarium’s naturalists. The high-tech vessel speeds upriver at 50mph but will also slow down to allow you to experience magnificent landscape and wildlife. Over the course of the two-hour expedition the naturalist will point out significant historical points of interest and you will have access to the observation deck for a closer look at bald eagles and herons in their natural environment. There are also 90-minute Williams Island family adventures. For a more leisurely pace, the Southern Belle Riverboat offers a trip back in time on the river as the authentic steamboat hosts dinner cruises as the sun sets on the Tennessee River.
8. Coolidge Park, Renaissance Park and Tennessee RiverPark
Both situated on North Shore, Coolidge and Renaissance Park cover a combined area of 23 acres. The lush green grass is ideal for picnics, sports activities and biking or walking along the 15-mile public greenway—the Tennessee RiverPark. The RiverPark is celebrating 20 years in 2015. Coolidge Park is named after Charles Coolidge, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient, and is a great place for families. Children can enjoy playing in the fountain and anyone may ride on the 100-year old renovated antique carousel filled with whimsical animals of all kinds. In an attempt to ease the effects of human habitation, Renaissance Park was designed to reestablish natural plants and animals into the river ecosystem. The conservation work at the park is evidence of how the city values the environment.
9. Warehouse Row and Hamilton Place Mall
If you are looking to treat yourself and upgrade the wardrobe then Warehouse Row and Hamilton Place Mall are the places to shop. The adaptive reuse of the historical buildings at Warehouse Row in downtown Chattanooga makes the destination shopping experience unique. A variety of retail stores and popup shops are situated among a selection of popular restaurants. In suburban Chattanooga, the two-story mall at Hamilton Place showcases over 150 stores. 8 Walnut Street Bridge One of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world may be found in Chattanooga! The Walnut Street Bridge is one of the most popular sites in the downtown area. Linking the riverfront to NorthShore, the bridges stretches 2,376 feet across the Tennessee River and provides visitors with the opportunity to run, cycle, or walk their dog across the bridge as they are captivated by the city’s celebrated scenery. A plaque on the bridge identifies Edwin Thacher as the chief engineer of the bridge. It was built in 1890 by the Smith Bridge Company and was the inspiration for much of the historic preservation work that has and is still being done today. It continues to be a focal point of civic and outdoor activity.
10. Bike Chattanooga
The bicycle transit system provides a great way to get around the city and take in the fresh air rather than sitting in traffic worrying about how much pollution you are causing. It’s an affordable choice too! For just $6 you can gain 24-hour access to any of the bikes at the 33 stations located around Chattanooga. All you need is a credit or debit card and then unlock the bike by navigating through the easy to use touch screen machines that are at each station. Once you have your bike you get unlimited 60-minute use between stations. An annual pass is also available for $75 if you plan to use the bikes frequently.
11. Traditional Attractions
It is not hard to believe Chattanooga is one of the most visited cities in the South when you think about three of the top tourist attractions located on Lookout Mountain. Ruby Falls, See Rock City, and the Incline Railway have been destinations for people from all corners of the globe. Ruby Falls, affectionately named after founder Leo Lambert’s wife, Ruby, attracts over 400,000 guests annually. It is the largest and deepest underground waterfall in the United States. Lying 1,120-feet beneath the surface, the waterfall was challenging to access, but Lambert reached the awe-inspiring waterfall in 1928. In 1930 it became open to the public. Rock City has a 4,100-feet walking trail that embraces the rock formations and opulent gardens of the attraction, created by Frieda and Garnet Carter in the 1930s. A standout feature of Rock City is the prospect of seeing seven states on a clear day. If you are looking for a way to get up the mountain then the Incline Railway is one method that will certainly give you a thrill. The 72.7% grade at the top of the 1.6km track makes the Incline Railway one of the steepest passenger railways in the world. And at the top, of course, you are treated to an epic view of Chattanooga as the observation deck is the highest overlook on Lookout Mountain.
Museums usually exhibit significant artistic, historical and cultural displays. The Hunter Museum of American Art is no different in this respect, since its exhibitions include works dating from the colonial period to the present day. It also displays sophisticted traveling collections. However, it is not only what is inside the Hunter Museum, but the museum itself as well as its location on the bluff above the river that makes it extraordinary. The three buildings that form the museum showcase architecture from 1905 to 2005 creating a contrasting view of the old mansion standing in between the modern 2005 structure and the building from the 1970’s on the other side. Additionally, the museum is built on an 80-foot vertical bluff overlooking the Tennessee River. The Creative Discovery Museum, on Chestnut Street, is an interactive museum for families and children that encourages learning through playing. There are plenty of activities here that will keep children entertained for hours and inspire them to find their creative side.
13. Public Sculptures and Murals
Scattered around Chattanooga are many examples of public sculptures that add character to the city. As part of the 21st Century Waterfront Project, a $1.2 million was budgeted to installations that enhanced the image of the city through public sculptures. Many privately funded works have been installed as well. From the blue rhinoceros in Coolidge Park to the statues of baseball players outside the Hunter Museum, to the Four Seasons figures at each end of the Market Street Bridge—all add color and charisma to the city. In addition to the sculptures, there are a variety of exuberant and meaningful murals that are dotted about the city’s streets. Some notable examples are the Martin Luther King Jr portrait on the boulevard named after the civil rights activist and the intriguing paintings that were part of the McCallie Walls Mural Project on McCallie Avenue. The AT&T building on MLK Boulevard is about to get a facelift as well, in its role as part of the Innovation District.
14. University Life
A big selling point for students of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) is the close proximity of the campus to the city center. The university and the city work in harmony to add another dimension so that students from around the world are able to study and socialize in a city that meets their needs. With over 12,000 undergraduates and postgraduates enrolled, the university prepares students to become professionals in Chattanooga and beyond. UTC’s sports teams compete in the NCAA Division One and fans may watch the “Mocs” play football at Finley Stadium. Upriver, Chattanooga State Community College prepares a high-tech workforce for the healthcare industry and Chattanooga’s automotive cluster, anchored by Volkswagen, on its campus situated along the Tennessee Riverpark. Also available to potential students is Southern Adventist University, a private liberal arts university located on a beautiful campus in nearby Collegedale, Tennessee and nationally ranked, University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee.
15. Local Restaurants and Bars
A night out in Chattanooga is going to be lively and entertaining. With a diverse selection of restaurants and bars across the city, it is tough to choose which ones to try, but a few stand out. The Flying Squirrel on Johnson Street offers signature drinks and small plates made with local ingredients. The Squirrel’s award-winning architecture gives it a distinctive look in the Southside district. Neighboring Italian-inspired restaurant Alleia, owned by Chef Daniel Lindley, offers delightful food and valet parking. Go towards town and Warehouse Row restaurants include The Public House, Two Ten Jack and Tupelo Honey. At the other end of town dine at Erik and Amanda Niel’s Easy Bistro for fresh, locally-sourced food with a New Orleans influence. The 212 Market Restaurant near the Aquarium was an early pioneer of downtown revitalization, serving fine American cuisine in a relaxed environment. Just North of the river Terre Nostra Wine and Tapas Bar on Frazier Avenue never fails to satisfy and if you’re looking for Mexican-inspired food try Taco Mamacita on North Market—it will more than fulfill your expectations. The variety of Chattanooga’s original eateries is a perfect complement to its size and verve.
16. Outdoor Chattanooga
It is hard to stay indoors in Chattanooga when there are so many opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Outdoor Chattanooga, located in Coolidge Park, is an organization that implements and coordinates a wide variety of different experiences on land, on the water or even in the air. From camping and caving to hiking and hunting, road biking and rock climbing, the list goes on for things you can do on land. If you don’t mind getting a bit wet, you can try canoeing, fishing, or whitewater rafting. For the adrenaline junkie who doesn’t let the fear of heights get in the way of a good time, there is hang gliding and skydiving.
17. Chattanooga Market
Named by Frommers as one of the “Top 10 Public Markets in America”, Chattanooga Market is the only place you will find such a large selection of produce from area farmers in an open-air setting. In addition to the farmers’ products, the market provides a place for artisans to sell their art, fine craft and other specialties. The EPB stage at the Market has two free weekly shows making it an appealing place for lovers of local culture. The upcoming Peach Festival on July 5th is always popular. The Market operates from the First Tennessee Pavilion, opposite Finley Stadium on Carter Street on Sundays 11am-4pm. Chattanooga Market also offers a number of other neighborhood markets. Go online for days and times of operation.
18. Tennessee Aquarium and Imax Theater
The angular spires of the Tennessee Aquarium add a certain distinctiveness to the Chattanooga skyline. Inside, elaborate exhibitions provide an insight to the local environment and offer visitors a deeper understanding of the Tennessee River and the entire ecosystem. The majestic butterfly garden atop the River Journey building allows guests to see the colorful creatures up close and the Stingray Bay exhibit makes it possible to feel a sting ray glide smoothly over your fingertips. The aquarium’s freshwater conservation program works hard to preserve and sustain the region’s biodiversity. Don’t forget to see conservation efforts showcased in the IMAX Theater as short documentaries, as well as the latest blockbuster movies.
19. Music Festivals
Music festivals allow the community to come together, mingle with out-of-town guests and celebrate the joys of live music. Chattanooga definitely knows how to host a festival! The annual Riverbend Festival has become a permanent fixture on the calendars of those who love live music. Started in 1982 as five-day event, Riverbend now spreads over nine days, entertaining guests with both well-known and new artists. Genres include country, classic rock, urban, and bluegrass by performers on various stages set up across the riverfront. The headline acts perform on the Coca-Cola stage which is constructed on a barge floating on the river. This year Riverbend commenced on June 5th and ended June 13th. Later in the year, 3 Sisters Festival will take to Ross’ Landing to showcase some of the finest bluegrass music to be performed in the Southeast. The festival takes place October 2-3 and is free of charge.
20. Gig City
Chattanooga has claimed innovation and technology as part of its identity. The nickname Gig City refers to its one-gigabit-per-second fiber Internet service provided for businesses and residents. With this statistic, Chattanooga boasts the fastest Internet service in the Western Hemisphere. EPB, Chattanooga’s publicly owned electric power system, has installed the most advanced grid system in the country. The city’s visionary leadership continues to advance ways to use that fact to cultivate an innovative and resilient economy. 20 History Along with its forward thinking mindset, Chattanooga has an important place in American history. The city saw its significance grow during the Civil War as its strategic value was realized. In November 1863, the Battle of Chattanooga resulted in the Confederate Army being pushed back into Georgia. This allowed Union troops to begin their siege on Atlanta. Battle sights can be visited across the city including Point Park on Lookout Mountain and Chickamauga Battlefield in Fort Oglethorpe. Going back further in Chattanooga’s history learn the details of the devastating Trail of Tears, read the plaque and see artwork memorializing the Cherokee at The Passage near the TN Aquarium at Ross’ Landing, where they were forcibly removed from the Southeast by the Federal government.
21. Enterprise South Nature Park
Once a brownfield site owned by the United States Army, hundreds of acres have been conserved as a woodland park with biking and hiking trails throughout. Dogs on leash are welcome and the park is open until sunset every day. The park is within the city limits of Chattanooga and adjacent to the Volkswagen Chattanooga Plant off Interstate-75 south.
22. Bouldering and The Block
The former Bijou Theatre at 200 Broad Street was recently remodeled with the help of the River City Company and now houses a climbing gym and new retail shops and eateries. The Block includes Rock/Creek, Chattz Coffee and Wine Bar and High Point Climbing and Fitness 11,000 square feet inside and 5,000 square feet of functional climbing space on the face of the building, in addition to Kid Zone by High Point, a dynamic kids climbing gym. It is the largest adaptive reuse project in Chattanooga’s history. Only a few miles out of town climbers who prefer a more authentic environment will find a natural bouldering field at Stone Fort also known as Little Rock City. Ask a local how to get there.
23. Stringer’s Ridge
The quickest and most scenic workout Chattanoogans will find is at Stringer’s Ridge. In plain view from downtown the ridge offers over 10 miles of well kept trails for running and hiking with a scenic overview of the city. Stringer’s Ridge is the result of a recent collaboration with the Trust for Public Land, the Tennessee River Gorge Trust and the city of Chattanooga.
24. Cloudland Canyon State Park
This 3,488-acre Georgia state park on Lookout Mountain has wonderful camping amenities and organized activities throughout the summer. The park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and a $5 parking pass is required. With over 50 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails, in addition to a two-mile waterfall trail, Cloudland is one of the area’s greatest treasures.
25. Williams Island
Accessible only by boat, Williams Island State Archaeological Park divides the river channel with a 450-acre tract of land inhabited only by wildlife. From about 1000 to 1650, this area was home to several Native American tribes. It is now managed by the Tennessee River Gorge Trust and has become a haven for birders and naturalists, as well as archaeologists.