Since its humble beginnings as a landing on the Tennessee River, the city founded by Cherokee leader John Ross has seen tremendous growth in both size and population. Each district of the city has its own history and atmosphere. From the tourist-friendly plazas of the Downtown Riverfront to the breathtaking beauty of Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga is home to several distinct communities, each of which contributes to the personality and character of this sleepy Southern town that suddenly grew up.
Unlike many cities in the United States, Chattanooga's downtown enjoys a vibrant nightlife. More and more people are returning downtown to live, work and play, and with good reason. Deluxe accommodations, more than 100 shops and restaurants, dozens of music venues and museums, and extensive public transportation combine to make the area between the Riverfront and Lookout Mountain attractive to visitors and residents.
The catalysts for this resurgence of tourism and economic growth downtown are the Riverfront and the
A visit downtown isn't all about fish and 3D movies, though. The famed
Art lovers will enjoy a visit to the
Nearly as familiar as the Choo Choo is the little red barn with the words 'See Rock City' painted on its roof. Appearing all over the United States, these painted barns have proven to be effective advertising campaigns for more than five decades.
Chattanooga's North Shore is the latest in a string of local success stories. Once a forgotten industrial site filled with warehouses and shipping yards, the area has been transformed into a tourist Mecca with specialty shops offering everything from caviar to kayaks. In its new home on the North Shore,
Not long ago, the Hamilton Place area consisted mostly of failing farmland. Today it is Chattanooga's fastest growing suburban neighborhood and the site of Tennessee's largest shopping experience. The transformation began when
The Glen Miller Orchestra immortalized Chattanooga in the 1940s with their swinging tune 'Chattanooga Choo Choo'. The Choo Choo isn't making any more trips these days, but the old railroad terminal has become a popular tourist attraction. Specialty stores and gift shops, museums, gourmet restaurants, deluxe accommodations and horse-drawn carriages make up the city's entertainment complex.
Museums and Galleries
For a medium-size town, Chattanooga has more than its share of museums. The Hunter Museum of American Art and The Houston Museum of Decorative Arts Museums display fine art by local, national and international artists. The International Towing and Recovery Museum proudly commemorates the fact that Chattanooga was the first city to operate a tow truck. The Chattanooga Regional History Museum chronicles the history of the Scenic City and its people over the last one-and-a-half centuries, while the Chattanooga African-American Museum provides a look at the contribution black Americans have made to this city. Civil War history buffs will enjoy a visit to the Battles for Chattanooga Electric Map and Museum, where miniature soldiers on an electric map reenact historic battles.
There is no substitute for the excitement of live sporting events, and Chattanooga is home to a number of college and professional sports teams. College football fans cheer on the University of Tennessee, each fall as the Mocs take on their Southern Conference rivals. The new stadium, along with the team's winning record, has spurred renewed interest in the UTC program. Come winter, the basketball Mocs to take the Court in McKenzie arena. In 1997, the Mocs advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament, a first for UTC.
Baseball fans can take in a game at AT&T Field, where the Chattanooga Lookouts take the field. The Chattanooga Lookouts are the AA affiliate of the major league Cincinnati Reds.
Nashville may be known as the Music City, but Chattanooga is no lightweight when it comes to audio entertainment. Each year, people turn out in the hundreds of thousands to attend the Riverbend Festival. Now in its 20th year, Riverbend is a nine-day festival that showcases top musical acts, both young and old. Alabama, Chicago, George Clinton, Gloria Estefan, Soul Asylum, Chuck Berry, LeAnn Rimes, Al Green and many others have all taken the main stage at the festival. More than 100 acts appear on seven stages, while vendors sell food, souvenirs and handmade crafts. Billed as "Chattanooga's Family Reunion," Riverbend is the city's biggest and best music festival.
Nightfall Concert Series provide a summer of free music on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively. Lesser-known acts and local bands perform at these events, which are held at the Miller Plaza and Cricket Pavilion. The crowds don't seem to mind the lack of big-name talent, as tens of thousands of music lovers attend each summer.
Chattanooga is often referred to as the River City due to its location on the banks of the Tennessee River. The river and the nearby lakes play a big part as far as local recreation goes. River excursions aboard the Southern Belle Riverboat transport passengers back to what feels like a distant era when times were simpler. The Chickamauga Dam and Reservoir provides a large swimming area and beach for summertime fun, while the many nearby creeks and streams are perfect for canoe trips and kayaking.
Chattanooga is filled with many things to keep visitors busy. Take a trip to the top of Lookout Mountain, explore the Tennessee Aquarium or walk around the Warner Park Zoo.
Chattanooga Choo Choo Since this east Tennessee city is forever linked with Glenn Miller's 1940s big band standard, The Chattanooga Choo Choo is as good a place as any to begin a visit to the area. Have a pastry at Greyfriar's, then visit the nearby Chattanooga African-American Museum. Learn more about the city at the Chattanooga Regional History Museum or take in the work of some of the country's best artists at the Hunter Museum of American Art.
Lookout Mountain Take the Incline Railway for the nearly one-mile trip up to the top of Lookout Mountain. Before you get on board, eat at Jade Palace. Chief among Lookout Mountain attractions are Ruby Falls and Rock City. Near the top of Lookout Mountain is Rock City Gardens which provide incredible views. Lookout Mountain Flight Park offers hang gliding via a tandem flight with a licensed instructor from an altitude of 2,000 feet.
Raccoon Mountain Grab lunch at Phat Wraps downtown. Then check out Raccoon Mountain, located just west of Chattanooga. You can also take a guided tour of Raccoon Mountain Dam, the top offers a spectacular view. Just a short drive from Chattanooga, is the Lost Sea, a four-acre subterranean lake, or take a trip south to the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the site of the Civil War's longest battle.
Tennessee Aquarium In Coolidge Park on the riverfront, ride the 100-year-old carousel with hand-carved horses. Spend the afternoon at the Tennessee Aquarium, the largest freshwater aquarium in the world. On Chattanooga's north shore, amble through the Bluff View Art District, where you can view and purchase fine art and sculpture, stroll through the sculpture garden or hang out at Rembrandt's Coffee House.
Walnut Street Bridge Connecting downtown to the city's north shore is Walnut Street Bridge. Erected in 1890, the half-mile bridge is the longest pedestrian walkway in the world. The Bessie Smith Hall pays tribute to her life and features live performances by local and national artists. The revitalized downtown area also offers several night spots for music lovers, including the Cafe Tazza. The Creative Discovery Museum and the Warner Park Zoo are also nearby.
Consulting a professional tour company is a good way to be sure your trip ends up on the right track.
Walking Tours Chattanooga Tours ( +1 800 713 7581/ http://www.chattanoogatours.com/ )
Bus Tours Chattanooga Coach LLC ( +1 423 855 9171/ http://www.chattanoogacoach.com ) Royal Charter and Tour Inc ( +1 423 479 5473 ) D & M Charters and Tours ( +1 423 267 4300 )
Train Tours Tennessee Valley Railroad ( +1 423 894 8028 )
Boat Tours Chattanooga Tours ( +1 800 713 7581/ http://www.chattanoogatours.com/ ) Chattanooga Ducks ( +1 423 756 3825 ) Chattanooga Riverboat Company ( +1 423 266 4488 ) Chattanooga Star Riverboat ( +1 423 265 4522 ) Southern Belle Riverboat ( +1 423 266 4488 )
Bike Tours Bike Tours Direct ( +1 423 756 8900 )
With all that there is to see and do in Chattanooga, you will want to make yourself at home during your stay. Fortunately, you will be able to find comfortable and convenient accommodations throughout the Scenic City, whether you are visiting on business or for pleasure.
If you have plans to attend a convention or conduct other business in the downtown area, you will find an abundance of lodging options. The Chattanooga Trade and Convention Center hosts hundreds of seminars and conventions each year, and attendees can stay close to the action at the Residence Inn Chattanooga Downtown. The Days Inn Rivergate provides similar convenience at a low price.
The Chattanooga Choo Choo provides historic lodging, allowing guests to stay on board one of the 'sleeper cars' or in the luxury hotel on-site. Guests can catch the shuttle to any of the downtown attractions or ride in style in a horse—drawn carriage. Also worth noting are the Choo Choo's unique gardens and museum.
If you want to be closer to the Tennessee Aquarium and all of the Riverfront attractions, try the newly constructed Residence Inn, which provides business travelers with ample workspace and business-related services. Meanwhile, bed and breakfast fans have two choices, Bluff View Inn overlooking the Tennessee River offers exquisite service and breathtaking beauty along with all the quiet Southern charm that typifies life in Chattanooga.
East Ridge and Lookout Mountain
There are a number of hotels in East Ridge, each of them accessible from Interstate 75 South. The Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel is a large hotel with over-sized luxury rooms and plenty of meeting space. The Super 8 Motel provides clean, comfortable rooms at low rates for budget-minded travelers. Extended Stay America rents large, fully furnished suites at affordable weekly rates
From the top of Lookout Mountain, you can see the world—well, at least the city. The view is spectacular, and there is no better way to enjoy it than to spend your downtime above the clouds. Several hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns call this rocky bluff home, and they invite you to do the same. The Baymont Inn and Suites is an excellent choice. Settle into one of the cottages of the Chanticleer Inn, or rest in the luxurious comfort of The Lookout Inn, among many other options. The Adams-Hilborne Mansion in the historic Fortwood District is another unique lodging option.
There are more than 50 hotels located within a few minutes of the airport, and since the airport is only a few miles from Hamilton Place Mall, that means you will be staying minutes from the largest shopping experience in the southeastern United States. Business travelers are fond of the Wingate Inn, a hotel designed specifically with them in mind. It has large, comfortable suites and several amenities in place to help you be more productive; in addition, a fitness center and spa are there to help you unwind after a long day.
A convenient airport shuttle is provided. If you are planning an extended stay, there are several locations nearby. The efficiencies at InTown Suites are directly across the street from Hamilton Place Mall.
Many national chains have come to the Chattanooga area, including Wingate Inn, Country Suites, Courtyard Chattanooga Marriott and the Fairfield Inn Chattanooga.