Chattanooga, TN is a hidden gem located in the heart of the Southeast, and I make it a point to visit this beautiful mountain town as often as possible. Over the years, I have embarked on countless day and weekend trips to Chattanooga, and I’ve put together the perfect itinerary for your next visit. Note that this guide is geared more towards young adults than families, but there are tons of kid-friendly activities in the city as well!
Where to Stay
If you’re looking for a peaceful mountain getaway, I suggest The Terrace at Tiny Bluff, a gorgeous Airbnb located on Lookout Mountain. This cabin is the perfect size for a couple or a small group of friends, and the views from the wraparound deck are simply stunning. We loved the midcentury decor and while the accommodations are simple, they have everything you need. The Airbnb is about a 20-30 minute drive from downtown Chattanooga, but is the perfect option if you want to unwind after a long day of exploring.
For those who prefer to stay within the downtown area, I recommend Bode Chattanooga, a super hip hotel in a great location. The 2-bedroom option is perfect for a group of 4, and the vibe of the hotel is very modern and industrial. We enjoyed this option because we had the flexibility to walk or Uber around the city rather than drive, and having a full kitchen meant we didn’t have to eat out for every meal.
What to Eat
— Breakfast —
Frothy Monkey is a really cool space located in Chattanooga Choo Choo, a former train station turned shopping area with restaurants and a boutique hotel. Frothy Monkey has all kinds of interesting tea and coffee concoctions (I recommend the Lady Lavender Latte), and their bacon is exceptional.
Niedlov’s Bakery & Cafe offers a variety of breakfast options that center around their fresh-baked breads and pastries. Their avocado toast is simple but delicious, and the lox and bagel is an awesome twist on the classic breakfast dish.
Maple Street Biscuit Company is a Southern chain restaurant, and though locations tend to get packed, it’s for good reason. They offer a ton of unique twists on the classic biscuits and gravy dish, and my personal favorite is The Iron Goat which is topped with goat cheese and sautéed spinach.
— Lunch —
Sugar’s Ribs is an unassuming, but absolutely incredible, barbecue spot located on the outskirts of town. Not only is the barbecue itself amazing, but the sides hold their own as well. If you’re looking for a hole-in-the-wall spot with some of the best barbecue you’ll ever have, Sugar’s is the place to go.
El Embargo, an authentic Cuban restaurant, is a rare find in the South, and they offer a delicious menu for those looking to branch away from typical American fare. You can’t visit a Cuban restaurant with ordering Yucca fries, and I like to opt for the Tostones Nachos as my main entree.
Poblanos Mexican Cuisine is one of many Mexican restaurants in Chattanooga, but they’re one of the best in my opinion. They offer a massive menu and even have some breakfast dishes which is a fun option. I was also really impressed with their selection of vegan tamales, as those are a rare find.
— Dinner —
Tony’s Pasta Shop is a great option if you’re looking for something a little more upscale or romantic. They have a solid selection of pastas and Italian dishes, and the restaurant itself is located in a beautiful shopping area that makes for an intimate dining experience.
Taco Mamacita is a fun dinner spot that specializes in, you guessed it, tacos! Their appetizer sampler is a great start to your meal, and they have lots of taco options ranging from traditional to vegan to Southern-inspired.
Urban Stack is a spectacular burger joint with a massive selection of vegetarian, classic, and more high-end sandwich options. Aside from your typical beef patty they also offer house-made vegetarian patties and Beyond meat, as well as ground turkey, fried chicken, and Wagyu beef.
— Dessert —
Clumpie’s is my all-time favorite ice cream spot in Chattanooga because they offer tons of flavors that are all insanely delicious. Aside from the classics you can find anywhere, they also feature unique and seasonal flavors, such as malted peanut and strawberry rhubarb crisp.
The Ice Cream Show is another fun ice cream spot that lets you build a completely customizable flavor. They have seemingly infinite toppings and flavor combinations so you can really go all out and create your perfect ice cream.
— Coffee —
Stone Cup Cafe is my favorite coffeeshop in Chattanooga because of its location and, of course, the coffee. I recommend grabbing a drink to go and then taking a stroll on the iconic Walnut Street Bridge.
Mean Mug Coffeehouse is another great option for a cup of coffee – we love the Nortshore location for its relaxed vibe and cool decor.
— Bars —
The Leapin’ Leprechaun is a classic Irish pub with good drinks and some food options as well – it tends to get crowded on the weekends but is still a more low-key option than some of the other bars in town.
Unknown Caller is a really cool speakeasy-style bar that you enter through a phone booth. The decor is really fun and stylish and they offer some delicious signature drinks, as well as all the classics.
What to Do
Lula Lake Land Trust is an incredibly beautiful property with lots of hikes and some stunning waterfalls. The only catch is that the preserve is open during select weekends, so you have to plan in advance and prepare for some crowds.
Walnut Street Bridge is a well-known spot for a casual stroll or jog, and you can also explore the bridge on bike. The bridge will give you some stunning views of the entire city, and is beautiful in all seasons.
Sunset Rock is a hidden gem of a park on Lookout Mountain that will give you views of the entire city. The drive up itself is also gorgeous, winding you through the forest and some stunning, regal homes.
High Point Climbing and Fitness offers a physical challenge for those wanting to get some rock-climbing in during their visit. The gym is a great size and offers lots of options for kids or more experienced climbers.
BONUS: for an outdoor climbing option, Stone Fort is the place to go. This world-renowned climbing area is one of the best in the Southeast and features tons of climbs for all experience levels.
Winder Binder is an awesome little bookstore that also sells vinyl records. Frazier Avenue in general has some great shopping options, and Winder Binder is a casual spot that is great for browsing.
One of the best parts about Chattanooga is how walkable it is, and there are so many different pockets to explore. I recommend taking the time to stroll through Bluff View Art District, Coolidge Park, and the Tennessee Riverpark.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoy some of these spots next time you find yourself in Chattanooga.
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