The weather is warming up and everyone in their mamma is looking for something fun to do! Vitamin D really brings the best out in people…
As you know, I have been somewhat obsessed with the west coast lately, but today I thought I would bring you guys a little closer to home and tell you about Chattanooga, Tennessee.
I live about 30 minutes south of Chattanooga, and I have quickly become accustomed to the ways of this artsy city. I’ve worked in that area for almost three years, and there is never a dull moment!
Chattanooga has a very artsy vibe… Dare I say liberal? Everyone in Chattanooga loves nature, dogs, and a great cup of coffee. I may be biased, but Chattanooga is in my top three favorite cities, and I think you should check it out!
There are so many things to do in Chattanooga. It was hard to narrow the whole city into my top 5 favorites, but I want you all to hear about the best of the best!
Walnut Street Bridge
Like most cities, Chattanooga is defined by one famous icon: The Walnut Street Bridge. This bridge spans over 2,000 feet and connects the north and south shore of the Tennessee River. This is a pedestrian bridge only. You can walk, ride your bike, or bring your four-legged friend along for an incredible view.
Regardless of which shore you’re coming from, you’re bound to find something magical on the other side.
On the South end, you have the Hunter Museum of American Art and the Tennessee Aquarium. Even if you don’t go inside either of these buildings, at least take the change to marvel at the architecture.
You will find amazing restaurants and eclectic shopping on North Shore. This is my favorite part of Chattanooga. It’s almost cut off from the outside world and fosters this really unique culture filled with quirky (I can say that because I’m one of them), like-minded people.
One of my favorite restaurants, Cashew, lives on North Shore. It’s one of the only plant-based restaurants in town and their food is amazing! Don’t mind all of the hipsters.
If you plan to walk the bridge then you should head over to Coolidge Park first. This massive expansion of land is seated under the bridge. When the weather is nice you can expect to see families and doggos all over the place!
There is a ton of space to picnic, play fetch, or enjoy being in nature! My advice would be to get there in the early evening and spend some time in the park before crossing the bridge at sunset! Then you can head over to North Shore for an amazing dinner!
Bluff View Art District
The Bluff View Art District is filled with beautiful sculptures, winding gardens, and amazing views of the river! This tiny section of the city only occupies 1.5 blocks and sits atop the bluff for a dramatic view of the water below.
Despite how small it is, there are plenty of things to keep you busy. You can explore the gardens and count how many sculptures you find or take advantage of the amazing photo ops!
One thing that you cannot go without is a trip to Rembrandt’s Coffee House. This little cafe is packed with culture and some of the best coffee you’ve ever had! They roast their beans locally right down the street!
My favorite way to enjoy the Art District is to take my time exploring the gardens and hidden gems before heading to Rembrandt’s for a coffee on their gorgeous patio!
Saint Elmo Historic District
Okay, so I know I said that North Shore is my favorite part of Chattanooga, but Saint Elmo comes in as a close second. Saint Elmos sits on the southernmost corner of Chattanooga at the foot of Lookout Mountain.
I love driving through Saint Elmo because the houses are INSANE. First of all, they’re everywhere. Little houses, big houses, abandoned houses all packed in there together! The property value is skyrocketing here!
Some of these houses are hundreds of years old while others are fairly new. The two come together in a way that really speaks to how Chattanooga has changed over the years.
Once you’ve driven through all of the houses you’ll head into the downtown area of Saint Elmo. Here you will find an ice cream shop, several restaurants, coffee shops, and a yoga studio.
What you really want to see is the Incline Railway.
The Incline Railway is a train that takes you straight up the side of the mountain. When I say straight up, I mean literally. You climb into the train car and watch as the city below you falls away. You ride for several minutes before getting off at the top of Lookout Mountain. Which brings me to my next point… Pardon the pun.
Point Park is located at the top of Lookout Mountain, and the best way to get there is through the Incline Railway! See above.
Point Park is technically a Civil Way military park. You can walk through ruins and see actual canons used in the war. I’ll be candid with you by saying that you don’t come to Point Park for the history lesson.
You come for the incredible view and can see almost all of the city from the park. You have an amazing panorama of the river bend below, and if you don’t snap a picture we can’t be friends.
I feel that this is truly the best way to see Chattanooga as a whole! This is a super romantic spot and is often visited by couples who are there to get engaged.
The Incline Railway and Point Park are a two in one experience that you can’t miss if you love nature! Or trains, or potential engagements…? Either way, don’t miss out on Point Park, because it’s packed with adventure!
Look Out Mountain
Technically, Look Out Mountain is in Georgia, but it sits right on the Tennessee state line. Chattanooga has basically claimed it as their own, and both counties work very closely making it a big attraction for both states!
No matter what you’re into. you’ll find it on Lookout. You can chase waterfalls, hand glide, rock climb, or visit Rock City.
Rock City is one of the top tourist attractions in the Chattanooga Area. It’s been around for generations under the ownership of one family. I’m not crazy about most tourist attractions, especially if they’re close to where I live, but Rock City is the exception.
You can literally see seven states from Rock City Gardens. No kidding, it’s a once and a lifetime opportunity to see Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, and Virginia all in one go.
Go ahead and cross those seven states off the list because you’ve seen ‘em! …I’m just kidding, you should definitely go explore, but you get what I’m saying!
The view from lovers leap is equally awesome and also houses a waterfall directly adjacent to the lookout.
My favorite part of Rock City is Cafe Seven. They opened a few years ago, and it sits right on the ridge. You can have lunch with your favorite people with a truly wonderful scene of the valley below. Plus, they have veggie burgers for my plant eaters out there!
If you plan to be in the area around Christman time, Rock City is a must see! They go all out with their Enchanted Garden of Lights, and people come from all over to witness it.
Also, you can bring your pet. Like any pet. Dog, cat, chicken, goat, they don’t care. Someone even brought their snake once! You never know what you’re going to see. So, your best bet is to check it out!
So, I feel like there are so many more amazing parts of Chattanooga that I could touch on, but I can’t list them all here. You will have to visit Chattanooga to find the best hidden-secrets for yourselves and trust me, there are plenty.
I’ve lived close to Chattanooga my entire life, and I am still finding new things to appreciate all the time! Despite the growing population the community is close and actually cares about the city. It’s a uniquely special place and it’s growing in popularity!
With that being said, get here before everyone else does! Chattanooga is a much see addition to any southeastern vacation! If you have questions about the city feel free to reach out in the comments below or find us on Instagram!
Happy travels, friends!