In southeastern Tennessee, you find Chattanooga, filled with small town charm and big city offerings. Located just over the Georgia border, Chattanooga is under a 2 hour drive from downtown Atlanta. It is often overlooked and underrated when people are looking for a weekend getaway from Atlanta for better known cities including Nashville, Charleston and Asheville, but I must say for those who haven’t been to Chattanooga….don’t sleep on this city. Chattanooga offers a fantastic food scene, natural beauty, various attractions and is an important piece of history.
WHERE TO STAY
As a (generally) loyal Marriott Bonvoy member I decided to take advantage of status and points by staying at the Westin Chattanooga. Located in the West Village, the Westin was great for its walkability factor with tons of great spots to go in the blocks surrounding the hotel. The Westin has two restaurants within the hotel: Paloma Tapas Bar on the top floor with a skybar and Alimentari Cucina e Bar located in the lobby with a lovely, large outdoor patio. We stayed in king studio room and really enjoyed the size of the room, but most importantly the mountain views. The staff at the hotel was lovely and accommodating. Overall, we had a great stay at the Westin and would recommend the hotel.
The Read House is also located in the West Village and was voted the best hotel in Chattanooga by TripAdvisor. The Read House has a Gatsby inspired style and honestly looks like an amazing place to stay. The hotel was recently renovated and really gives off that luxury feel. I am tempted to give this hotel a try next time I am in town. Who could resist?
Bode is an interesting option for those who are looking for more of an apartment type feel. Bode offers 1-3 bedroom units depending on your group size and needs. There is a loft aesthetic and walkable location.
WHAT TO EAT & DRINK
There are so many great spots to eat and drink in Chattanooga that there is no way you can hit them all in one weekend. We were able to visit quite a few spots, but there are plenty more that are on my list!
We had dinner at Alleia the first night we were in Chattanooga and we were very impressed! First off, the atmosphere welcoming and decor within the restaurant is stunning. The outdoor porch was lovely as well. Chef Lindley has received five nominations by the James Beard and its easy to understand. The dishes we ordered were delicious and the cocktails were great as well. We had the fried calamari, braised veal pappardelle and mushroom truffle pizza. Next time I am determined to try the antipasto alleia because it looked SO GOOD. If you are looking to dine here on a weekend night I would suggest making a reservation on Resy.
Public House is listed time and again as a top restaurant in Chattanooga. I made a reservation on OpenTable for Saturday night, but unfortunately received a notification 10 minutes before the scheduled time that my reservation was cancelled due to an issue with the water heater causing them to close. They were kind enough to offer me a gift card to use next time I am in town. Great service as this was definitely not an expected gesture, but I am excited to try Public House next time I am in town.
We were looking for a lunch spot on Friday and the front desk suggested we go to STIR. Located in the Chattanooga Choo Choo station you don’t want to miss this spot. STIR is famous for their cocktails and they even freeze and carve 300-pound blocks of artisanal ice for said cocktails. The food was good and I really enjoyed the chicken chop salad. This would be a great spot for brunch (they have $1 mimosas….need I say more?)
Frothy Monkey has a lovely patio for a coffee or drink. This would make a great breakfast spot or mid-afternoon pick me up. If you need to get some work done while in Chattanooga this would be a perfect location to make you temporary workspace.
This is the tapas bar located in the Westin hotel. The views are lovely and the tapas were delicious. We had the fried calamari, pan con tomate and tortilla de papa with shaved chorizo on top. All of these options were delicious.
Here are some other spots that are on my list that are highly rated.
THINGS TO DO
This former train station boasts various fun spots including restaurants, bars and retail. Additionally, this landmark is filled with Instagram worthy spots.
Located atop Lookout Mountain on the Georgia side there are gardens and views for days. Most people probably recognize the lookout from which you can see seven states, but Rock City has so much more to offer than that.
This is the place to go for great views, interesting history and less people. It overlooks the Lookout Mountain Battlefield and the city of Chattanooga
The Incline is one of the steepest passenger railways in the world. Although it is a short trip, it is a cool experience. The observation deck provides great views, but with the price tag I would say it isn’t a must visit if you are planning to get views in elsewhere such as Point Park.
The West Village has so many great restaurants and shops. Definitely be sure to stop by Umbrella Alley to get a photo.
Walnut St. Bridge is one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges and it connects downtown Chattanooga to the north shore. Take a stroll along the bridge and then grab a drink at Whiskey Thief while taking in views of the bridge.
Warehouse Row was the Old Stone Fort during the Civil War and is now a retail center. If you are coming from Atlanta it will remind you of a mini Ponce City Market.
A great spot for the whole family located right by the river.
Disclaimer: I feel like I have to throw this out there since Ruby Falls is so heavily advertised. I did not enjoy my experience and personally would not recommend visiting due to the lack of COVID restrictions taken at Ruby Falls. The waterfall itself was nice, but not worth it in my opinion. The tour schedule is not managed efficiently so it ends up taking over an hour plus everyone is so close together.
I hope this inspires you to take a trip to Chattanooga. It really is an awesome city and I plan to go back very soon.
P.S. Whenever I am visiting a new city I try to check out their local tourism site. Find even more information about visiting Chattanooga here.