Good ol ‘Chattanooga is chasing Knoxville to become Tennessee’s third most populous city and arguably the coolest in the state. Since 2013, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke has been using his platform to change the narrative of his hometown. Once devastated by the decline of its primary industry (steel), the city is growing confidently in its new identity – a cool, progressive, and citizen-driven place to settle.
Millennials, in particular, come to Chattanooga to see what it’s all about. With areas hip enough to rival Chicago’s Wicker Park, a booming tech sector, and gorgeous, lush scenery, it’s no wonder Chattanooga is among the top five most promising cities in the country. Head south to see what makes the must-see list while visiting Chattanooga.
ten Fall in love with Ruby Falls
For the most part, people make their way to the above ground waterfalls, feeling the mist cascading over the tops of the cliffs and into the pools of open water. Mystical Ruby Falls offers a different experience as America’s tallest and deepest underground waterfall. Visitors must dive 260 feet in a glass elevator and travel a trail of breathtaking cave formations before reaching the roaring falls. The light show, a mixture of blue, white and red, illuminates the falls and enhances the enchanting views. Special tours offer guests the chance to explore by lantern light, paying homage to how Léo Lambert first discovered the geological wonder in 1929.
9 Appreciate American Art
The Hunter Museum of American Art proves that you don’t have to be an artist to appreciate a masterpiece. The three buildings themselves are works of art, each telling a story of the 70-year history of the museum. The outdoor sculpture garden prepares guests for the indoor rooms. The interior collections tell a story of American art from the 1700s to the present day. The plethora of media, including paintings, photography, and the decorative arts, means that there is something that everyone can enjoy. Rotating exhibits highlight modern life in America and the unique ways our past has shaped our present reality.
8 Have a whiskey drink
When the first settlers traveled west to the Americas, they brought with them their prized drink – whiskey. Tennessee takes its whiskey making very seriously, even spelling out a strict standard of legal guidelines for distillation and manufacture.
Sip a bit of history at the Chattanooga Experimental Whiskey Distillery, the county’s first legal operation in over a century. The owners have gone to court to make their dreams come true, campaigning to change the archaic laws restricting places of distillation. From its beginnings as a microbrewery to its full maturity, the distillery now offers an abundance of house whiskey drinks to sip on.
seven Discover the Chattanooga market
The past few years have seen a wave of people seeking to support local food producers, with farmers’ markets popping up across the country. Named one of America’s ten best public markets, Chattanooga Market features local produce and meats from 50 local farms and artisan products from over 100 artisans. Weekly concerts add an extra touch to the shopping experience. The market also hosts several special events, such as Oktoberfest, Big Band Day, and the holiday season.
6 View locations at Lookout Mountain
Adventure seekers will find something special at Lookout Mountain. At an elevation of 2,392 feet, people will see seven states – Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The mountain is home to one of Chattanooga’s most popular tourist destinations, a 4,100 foot trail entwined through rock formations called Rock City. There are several other routes for hikers who want a longer trip with stunning views of caves, waterfalls and lush forests.
5 Catch a show at Songbirds
The Songbirds Foundation seeks to connect people through music, focusing on the beat that runs through us all. The location has an acclaimed museum with several rare and vintage guitars, and two stages feature live performances across genres. Songbirds also launched the Guitars for Kids initiative, which aims to bring back creative outlets to education with foundational lessons and the opportunity to perform and record with national artists. All proceeds from the museum go towards funding the initiative, so a visit here is not just a good time but a good deed.
4 Eat, eat, then eat again!
A booming city needs a variety of menus to satisfy the palates of its citizens and visitors. Chattanooga has so many diverse restaurants to choose from that it’s impossible to pick just one as the best. Of course, people can opt for a traditional American barbecue style meal. However, there is also an abundance of delicious herbal options available, underscoring Chattanooga’s dedication to advancing with modern eating habits. Likewise, foodies will find almost any type of cuisine in the world to tickle their taste buds and fill their tummies with flavor.
3 Explore the Tennessee Aquarium
Children and adults alike enjoy watching animals do their jobs. The Tennessee Public Nonprofit Aquarium has been open since 1992 and features aquatic life of all kinds. Visitors can revel in the sight of river otters floating on their backs or penguins jumping in the pools of their beautiful habitats. Guests marvel at sand tiger sharks in spacious pools and intelligent octopuses rippling in the dark waters. Several various exhibitions show why the Tennesee aquarium is regularly voted one of the ten best in the country.
2 Take the train to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
Trains are still a form of transporting goods and people around the world, but railways were once the most popular mode of transportation. The history of railroads and their importance to society is fully on display at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM). Visitors can learn how railways shaped culture by viewing preserved equipment like old steam locomotives, passenger cars, and freight trains. TVRM also offers multiple train rides, including a New Years Eve dinner and a holiday light trip.
1 Visit the sculpture fields
Enjoying art while surrounded by nature feels like a magical moment, and visitors to Montague Park’s sculpture fields can. Contemporary sculptures of all sizes and shapes scattered throughout the 33-acre park invite people to appreciate artistic expression on a large scale. Customers can take a self-guided tour that includes audio descriptions of each sculpture or participate in one of the events hosted by Montague Park, such as a sculpture engraving or aluminum casting.
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