Chattanooga, Tennessee is a “traveler’s nirvana!” Known for its various tourist attractions like – The Incline Railway, Rock City, Ruby Falls, Tennessee River-walk, Tennessee Aquarium and The Lookout Mountains to name a few, Chattanooga is an excellent vacation stop for tourists. The city lies 120 miles (190 km) north-west of Atlanta, Georgia, 120 miles (190 km) south-west of Knoxville, Tennessee, 135 miles (217 km) south-east of Nashville, Tennessee, 120 miles (190 km) north-east of Huntsville, Alabama, and 148 miles (238 km) north-east of Birmingham, Alabama. It is a growing, vibrant city which is refreshingly unique in its own ways. Tucked between the mountains of Southeast Tennessee, along the beautiful Tennessee River, Chattanooga, undoubtedly is one of America’s most breathtaking cities. Made famous by the 1941 song “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” the city brims with history, culture, new businesses, beautiful outdoor attractions and flavorful FOOD!
Since we both (Me and my Huz) are high on “travel-adrenaline” – Chattanooga was our next destination on the “travel-goals-checklist!” It took us 4 h 53 min to reach our destination from Memphis, Tennessee (Distance covered – 337.0 mi/542.3 km) via I-40 and I-24 E. With some exaggerated bends and picture-perfect scenic views – the drive gets better by the hour. Aptly called the “Scenic City,” the city has so much to offer and sight-see!
Fact – The New York Times has named Chattanooga as one of the “Top 45 Places to go” in the World. Also, Outside magazine named it the best place to live in the country.
Our abode for this trip was The Garden Walk B&B Inn, a-top Lookout Mountain. A perfect, kaleidoscopic lodging space, with themed cabins – The Garden Walk Inn is a perfect place to sit-back, swim (yes indeed, they do have a seasonal pool and a Jacuzzi) and just RELAX! Nestled among the mountain’s 100-year-old pines with a sound of waterfall in the background and surrounded by enticing gardens, this B&B was all that we could ask for! The owners (Ed and Irma) were wonderful and super cordial and the breakfast served was appetizing and yummilicious! (Best part – They take special orders in case of any food allergies and have a choice between vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.)
Out of the 18 differently themed cottages at the property you can pick the one that suits you and your needs the best, depending upon the availability and your budget. Considering that it was a “romantic getaway” for us, we chose to stay at the cottage titled “Summer’s Dream.” Dressed up in yellow and white, with rustic white furniture and floral bed-sheets – the room was summery, pleasant and delightful!
Highlight – Rita, the affectionate dog! (I am a sucker for dogs!Guilty!)
What We Saw –
1 Ruby Falls – Ruby Falls is a renowned attraction in Chattanooga that beckons visitors from all around the world. The nation’s largest and deepest waterfall is located 1,120 feet below the surface and is a pretty sight to see and experience. The 145-foot high waterfall, first opened to the public as a tourist attraction in the 1920s and has been attracting hundreds and thousands of visitors every day since then. The mini trek to get to Ruby Falls involves a one-minute elevator ride below the earth and a half-mile walk through dimly lit caverns adorned with stalagmites and stalactites and mineral rich pools and streams. With astounding and stunning geological formations and curiosities – Ruby Fall is a “must-do” in your Chattanooga itinerary.
2 Rock City – Located atop Lookout Mountain, just 6 miles from downtown Chattanooga, Rock City is a true marvel of nature featuring massive ancient rock formations, gardens with over 400 native plant species and breathtaking “See 7 States” panoramic views. Located at 1700 feet above sea level, with a 100-foot waterfall that cascades down the mountain, Lover’s Leap, and the famous Swing-A-Long bridge that spans nearly 200 feet, a visit to Rock City is both entertaining and exciting. It is a self guided tour, that gives you a birds-eye view from high atop Lookout Mountain. The trail also leads through a variety of unique and bizarre rock formations, including the 1,000 short tons (910t) Balanced Rock and Fat Man’s Squeeze to name a few.
Highlight – The Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village, are rock-caves decorated with black-light-responsive sculptures, turning your walk into a fairy-tale experience in itself!
Fun Fact – Rock City hosts numerous special events and festivals year round. It’s a “not-to-miss” affair whenever you are in town.
3 Incline Railway – The Incline Railway on the historic Lookout Mountain is the world’s steepest passenger railway. In operation since 1895, the Incline is a National Historic site and Mechanical Engineering Landmark that leaves you in a complete awe! The railway is approximately one mile (1.6 km) in length (single-track except for a short two-track stretch (passing loop) at the midway point, allowing operation of two cars at one time), and has a maximum grade/slope of 72.7%. Known as “America’s Most Amazing Mile,” The Incline’s trolley-style cars climb through the natural beauty surrounding historic Lookout Mountain – The experience leaves you enthralled!
Other places to see – With a great deal of historic and scenic attractions to appreciate, experience and visit, you might need more than just two days for Chattanooga. (Sadly, we were short of time. Well, on the brighter side, we’ll be back for more!)
The other famous tourist attractions being – Tennessee Aquarium, Chickmauga Battlefield Museum and Relics, Hunter Museum of American Art, Rock City Trail, Raccoon Mountain, Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and The Chattanooga Zoo. Undoubtedly, there is something for everybody here in Chattanooga!
Where We Ate –
1 The Terminal – It is locally owned and operated business, utilizing local products and services. With a rating of 4.5 on TripAdvisor – The Terminal is known for some of the best beers, burgers, salads and pastas in town. It is a really fun place with great food and a terrific atmosphere (with an option of sitting at the terrace where you can enjoy the view, watch people and dote-on the pleasant Chattanooga weather).
Food/Drinks ordered – Twisted Hummus (Garbanzo mixture tweaked out with black bean and roasted red pepper goodness. Served with tortilla chips and pita wedges), Stuffed Sandwich – The Herbivore (Portobello, button shrooms, onions, and fetta pesto) and Beer Testers!
Fun Facts – The Terminal Station (Choo Choo) opened in December of 1909 and created an immediate need for a nearby hotel to give comfort to the weary travelers. The very next year The Stong building (no that is not a typo) was built next door and The Terminal Hotel came to life soon after. Sometime in the early 1940’s Chester Davis, a porter at the Terminal Station, saved his tips and purchased the Stong building becoming one of the first black business owners in Chattanooga. The building stayed in his family, housing many different businesses, until purchased in 2006 by local raconteur Joe Sliger who immediately began restoring the property. Not long after he found a motley (but dashing) crew interested in this Historic building. This band of visionaries had, coincidentally, a vision for the wonderful old building. The walls and rafters seemed to cry out to these rugged, brilliant men. “Beer” said the walls “amazing food” said the rafters and so, despite being terrified of the talking building, an idea was born. After MUCH struggling and MANY delays The Terminal BrewHouse came alive and there was much rejoicing verily and thusly. (Data Credits for this fun fact – The Terminal BrewHouse)
2 1885 Grill – It is southern coastal restaurant specializing in fresh seafood, quality steaks and southern sides. It has a family‑oriented atmosphere that is fun and comfortable. In their words – “Each meal is prepared with exacting attention to fresh, local ingredients, beautiful presentation, and friendly service.” They boast of an eclectic menu that highlights a little bit of everything – from house‑made stone‑ground grits, coastal fresh catches such as oysters and even the family’s recipe for homemade Spanish rice. Positively, a must visit!
Food/Drinks ordered – Grilled Vegetable Stack (Zucchini, squash, roasted peppers, grilled onion, smoked tomato aioli, lettuce, roasted tomato & pimento cheese served on a Niedlov’s bun) served with slaw, chips or hush-puppies, Roasted Garlic Hummus (Served with grilled pita and marinated olives). For drinks we ordered City “on the rocks” – 1885’s newest margarita, made with Altos Silver, Amaretto Disarranno, fresh lime and cranberry juice
3 Cafe On The Corner – With exposed brick walls, original hardwood floors and the stacked stone fireplace – the restaurant is a classical reflection of a Southern home. Committed to freshness and preparing meals with seasonal locally sourced food – the dishes are flavorsome! Definitely worth visiting as an alternative to the nearby tourist traps. Southern Food. Redefined!
Food/Drinks ordered – Fried Green Tomatoes (corn meal crusted, basil aoli, sweet pepper jam), Seared Salmon (with rice and seasonal vegetables), Panko Crusted Flounder (lemon caper tartar sauce, fries, blue cheese sauce) and the famous Corn Bread. For drinks we ordered – Carolina Brewery’s Sky Blue Golden Ale, draft.
Other Places To Eat In Chattanooga – A foodies retreat, Chattanooga offers a variety of food option for everyone. You’ll find some great alternatives for fine dining, casual lunching or even kid-friendly restaurants in every corner of the city. Read more here.
Travel Tip – While many restaurants offer great Happy Hour specials, be sure to check out The House, an app that shares exclusive offers for some of the best dining spots in Chattanooga. It’s free to download and sign up, and you can claim special offers for you and your party.
So that was our trip to Chattanooga! Chattanooga, clearly, is a city full of adventure, natural beauty, friendly locals and excellent restaurants. It is an especially photogenic city – between the natural landscape, arching bridges, flavorful neighborhoods, and public art, there’s plenty to see and plenty to photograph! Leaving you amazed and flabbergasted, Chattanooga has it’s own ways to entice you, pleading for more. (We are already planing our second trip!) Indeed, our trip to the “Scenic City” was an experience to cherish and treasure!
If you’ve never been to Chattanooga, Tennessee, now is the time to add it to your “cities to see” list!
Here’s to travelling, discovering new places and witnessing history! Cheers!