Visitors to Chattanooga, Tenn., have many options for taking in the sights – by foot from the top of a mountain, by riverboat tour, by car or by train. From the See Seven States Overlook, you can see breathtaking views of parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. This is just one activity that make a visit there special.
Chattanooga sits at the intersections of I-75, I-24 and I-59, but much of the city’s history relates to the pristine river that runs through it. In fact, many of today’s attractions and activities lie along the expansive downtown riverfront.
Downtown is designed to be extremely walkable. Be sure to stroll along the Walnut Street Bridge – one of the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, it spans the Tennesee River – as well as a 13-mile riverwalk. There’s also a free electric shuttle that covers all of downtown. The South’s first citywide bike-share system has 300 bikes at 35 locations throughout the city.
Visit the Hunter Museum of American Art, which is built on a 90-foot limestone bluff overlooking the Tennessee River and showcases 100 years of architecture plus one of the finest collections of American art in the Southeast (www.huntermuseum.org). The impressive Tennessee Aquarium (www.tennesseeaquarium.org) invites you to discover penguins, sharks, alligators, otters and more. There is also a butterfly garden there.
Grab a cup of coffee and meander through the Bluff View Art District (www.bluffviewartdistrict.com). Put on your walking shoes and visit Ruby Falls (an underground waterfall; www.rubyfalls.com) and Rock City Gardens (www.seerockcity.com).
With all this activity, hunger will set in, and you won’t be disappointed at the dining choices available. Enjoy contemporary comfort food at The Blue Plate (www.theblueplate.info) and farm-fresh cuisine at The Feed Co. (www.feedtableandtavern.com). For exciting fine dining, visit Easy Bistro, in the world’s first Coca-Cola bottling plant building. The creative menu options are made with ingredients raised and grown at local farms. Broad Street Grille (www.chattanooganhotel.com/restaurants_lounges), inside the refined Chattanoogan Hotel, offers inventive Southern regional cuisine from local growers and purveyors. Find a seat at the chef’s table for a special dining experience and save room for their OMG! (Oh My Gooey!) dessert.
And think about staying the night at the four-diamond Chattanoogan, in the heart of downtown with spectacular views of Lookout Mountain. The Chattanoogan prides itself on beautiful accommodations and flawless service. Find tranquility at the relaxing day spa, which provides rejuvenating and therapeutic body treatments.
May 7: Chattanooga Craft Beer Festival, First Tennessee Pavilion. Enjoy 30-plus craft beers, live music, local food, and seminars about beer education and appreciation. Admission charged. Details: www.chattanoogacraftbeerfest.com.
May 22: Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga Triathlon, downtown riverfront. The three-sport event leads athletes on a 1.2-mile swim in the Tennessee River, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run on nearly the same course as Ironman Chattanooga (in September). Transitions and finish line are at Ross’s Landing. Free to watch. Details: www.ironman.com/chattanooga70.3.
June 10-18: Riverbend Music Festival, downtown riverfront. Over the past 35 years, this festival has become one of Chattanooga’s signature events – a weekend of music at a riverfront-spanning destination event that draws nearly 700,000 people. Admission charged. Details: www.riverbendfestival.com.
July 3: Pops on the River, Coolidge Park. Bring blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets as you celebrate Independence Day with a concert by the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera Orchestra. There’ll be a fireworks finale over the Tennessee River. Free. Details: www.chattanoogapops.com.