If you’re planning to travel more in 2019, there’s one city that absolutely must be on your travel list—Chattanooga, Tenn.
I’ve lived in Chattanooga—affectionately called the Scenic City—for almost four years, and each year, I find more reasons to fall in love with it. Whether it be food, drink, a music festival, soccer, a farmer’s market or anything in between, there’s always something fun to explore and experience. When I have visitors in town, I can’t wait to take them to my favorite places. And in my time as a Chattanoogan, I’ve got a pretty solid list of favorite places.
If you visit Chattanooga in 2019, here are nine things you absolutely can’t miss.
I’m 100% not sorry that a food establishment is first on this list (though I promise the rest is in no particular order). Clumpies is my go-to “treat yourself” spot in town. Their ice creams are handcrafted with the freshest milk, cream, and house-made cookies, cakes and fillings. Cookie dough and French silk are my usual picks, but I love tasting their rotating seasonal flavors—like white chocolate peppermint, campfire, Irish coffee and mint julep.
It’s the country’s longest pedestrian-only bridge, and it comes with quite a view. Stroll from one side of the city to another, and back again, all while watching boaters, kayakers, paddlers and river cruisers go by below.
Chattanooga earned the “Scenic Soccer City” nickname thanks to the Chattanooga Football Club, an amateur-turned-professional NPSL club founded in 2009. They play at UTC’s Finley Stadium and entertain crowds of thousands every summer. This year, CFC will participate in the NPSL Founder’s Cup, which will lead into their first season as a professional club in 2020.
4. The Great Outdoors
Downtown Chattanooga is blessed with public green spaces. Coolidge and Renaissance Parks sit right on the north banks of the Tennessee River and offer ample space for enjoying the outdoors. Miller Park also got a complete makeover recently. With Lookout and Signal Mountains close by, you can be on a hiking trail in 10-15 minutes, depending on where you’re staying. If water sports are your thing, get out on a kayak or paddle board on the river.
5. Main Street Meats
If anyone tells you there’s a better burger in Chattanooga than MSM’s burger, they’re wrong. It’s tender, juicy, and topped with thick-cut bacon, gruyere cheese, and caramelized onions. They also have a fabulous cocktail program and a delectable cheese and charcuterie board.
Shameless plug: I happily hosted the owners of Main Street Meets, Erik and Amanda Niel, on my podcast back in September. They’re fabulous. Check out the episode here.
6. Local Craft Brews
Beer enthusiasts will love exploring more than 10 craft breweries that call Chattanooga home. Whatever your beer preferences are, you’ll find something you love sipping on at least one brewery. Two new breweries just opened in late 2018—Naked River Brewing Co. and WanderLinger Brewing Co.—and rumor is there’s another coming in 2019.
If you’d like a unique beer experience, check out American Draft at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. It’s the nation’s first pour-your-own beer room in a refurbished train car, right in the Glenn Miller Gardens.
7. “Train”ing Day
Speaking of the Chattanooga Choo Choo, the former train terminal turned hotel has boomed into its own dining and entertainment hub. It’s home to a comedy club, world-class guitar museum, the famous Choo Choo itself, and my favorite restaurant in the city, STIR.
8. Bluegrass Grill
You may have to wait for a table if you don’t come at just the right time, but trust me, a Bluegrass biscuit is well worth the wait. All bread is homemade, and their unique biscuit recipe makes them some of the best in Chattanooga. They’re also only open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Saturday, so plan accordingly.
9. Live music
Whether you’re heading to a concert at The Signal, Songbirds South or the Tivoli Theater, or catching an open mic at a restaurant or bar, you’ll be hard-pressed to not find good live music in Chattanooga. While we do bring in some pretty awesome acts from around the country, we’re proud of our local acts and love showing them support.
If you travel to Chattanooga in 2019, let me know what you decide to eat, see and do. Check out my blog A Thought and a Half for more recommendations.