You bet your sweet tea that there is such a thing as the perfect day in Chattanooga. For anyone who hasn’t located this vibrant city on a map, it is pretty much on the border of Georgia and Tennessee. Just a short 2-hour drive from Atlanta AND Nashville.
What’s so great about ‘Nooga you might ask? Well, it has southern charm, big city feel without it being overwhelming and lot’s of indoor/outdoor activities! Honestly though, anywhere in Northern Georgia/Tennessee is just beautiful. You can’t beat the crisp air overlooking the mountains.
For Labor Day Weekend, my boyfriend and I decided to take a day trip up to explore the town (no dogs this time!) Here is how YOU can have a perfect day in Chattanooga!
Breakfast at Maple Street Biscuit Company
Get ready for some literal, heart stoppin’ food. Name a place that does biscuits and gravy better than the south?? I’ll wait….
To have the perfect day in Chattanooga, you gotta get some energy, and Maple Street Biscuit Company is the place to do just that! Sure, the line was as long as the eye could see, but this ain’t their first rodeo. From smothered sausage gravy biscuits to smokey mountain mac n cheese, your taste buds (and arteries) will be exploding with joy!
With a conversational dining hall feel, rustic decor and cute outside seating area, you are bound to enjoy an amazing breakfast while striking up a conversation with others. The cutest little spot to jump-start your day.
Souvenirs at Moon Pie General Store
Oh, the nostalgia of Moon Pies. After school I used to eat those until I was blue in the face, then my mom would stop buying them and I’d have to go to my friend’s house to eat theirs. Good times.
Just a hop & skip away from Maple Street BC, you can find a quaint little general store selling everything from hot sauces, moon pies (big and small), souvenirs and a display of candy galore! I was in HOG HEAVEN. Since I had just stuffed my face, I opted for a shot class and small moon pie. Here you can grab any sort of take-home trinket you like to remember how perfect of a day you had in Chattanooga!
Kayaking the Tennessee River
So, you don’t necessarily have to kayak, you can do any water sport like paddle boarding or canoeing. I suggest you do at least one of these though, especially if the weather is nice! By giving you a different perspective on the city, it’s the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful Tennessee River. An hour is really all you need.
Personally, I rented from L2 Outside which I highly recommend because their customer service is phenomenal! I had to call their office close to 5 times to schedule, reschedule and then ask for a million directions. Kat was so patient even though I kept having to call! Which brings me to my next point…
Travel Tip: L2 is located under the Market Street Bridge across the river from the Aquarium. When you look at the river, there are like 4 bridges so just make sure to ask so you don’t get lost like us!
If you rent the kayak, there is an island you can get off on and explore. Definitely nothing special about it, so don’t feel bad if you don’t dock and look around. There isn’t much. If you do, however…
Travel Tip: Make sure to wear a bathing suit/shoes! Your butt will get wet and if you go on the island, you will need shoes. It’s not a little sandy beach, it’s rock and roots.
Grab a sweet treat at Julie Darling Donuts
YAS GIRL. Go get you a donut! You totally deserve it after you slaved away at intense outdoor activities for hours. HA, unless you were like me and let your boyfriend do all the paddling while you complained the whole time…you still deserve one.
Travel Tip: GO EARLY! Don’t wait to do this later in the day. We made this mistake and all the ones I wanted to try were gone 🙁 They make certain ones each day and once they are finished, that’s it. DONUT WAIT! You’ll be sorry.
I wanted the Oreo one, but since they were out of that and all the others I wanted to try, I got the glazed chocolate with chocolate filling. REALLY GOOD, but basic. Make sure to grab yours before they’re gone!
Stroll the Walnut Street Bridge
Yes honey bun, you gotta walk that donut off now. Hate to do it to ya, but you gotta make room for more food later on 😉 Just lookin’ out! Take a nice stroll down the Walnut Street Bridge!! You will get another angle of the city while experiencing some local talent on the streets.
We even saw a wedding happening here! A quiet getaway from the busy streets and it connects you to the glass bridge! Not all that I thought it would be, but still cool to walk across. The fresh air and lack of construction noise is a nice substitute for the normal annoyances of larger cities. You can even set your ass on a bench because no place in this city has a bad view 😉
Go Brewery Hoppin’
No perfect day list of mine is complete without some alcohol. I’m surprised I waited this long! Chattanooga has no shortage of local watering holes, so pick a couple and enjoy the afternoon brewery hoppin’ around town.
Oddstory Brewing Company: This indoor/outdoor garage style with modern flare brew house just screams for you to enjoy a beer in. Black cabinets, open shelving, bare wood, and exposed piping made me feel like a newly renovated space from HGTV (fav channel everrrrrr). TVs scattered throughout so you could catch a Saturday/Sunday football game, but the beer was pretty eh.
Before I get stoned to death, you know I love anything sweet. Like ciders and such so none really appealed to me. My boyfriend who likes the complete opposite of me still was not a fan. Maybe go in for a quick beer and head to the next one!
Chattanooga Brewing: How these people came up with such a unique name? The world may never know! This place was massive! A huge open warehouse type gig with board games and an outdoor patio area overlooking the football practice field. I was excited to continue the brew tour around the city.
By this time we were starving…we ordered another flight, the beers being much more diverse and delicious while scarfing down some wings. OMG, THE WINGS. If you go there, you have to get them. Seriously, so damn good. After our inhalation of food, we decided to skip the other breweries and opt for some more outdoor activities. Plus, if you read my Asheville, NC Breweries post, you’d know we had a day filled with hoppin’ (get it) around town there drinking our weight in alcohol!
Explore Rock City
Just a short 20-minute winding drive from downtown Chattanooga, you will find the cutest little town of Rock City. Sina and I explored this area when we first moved to Georgia 3 years ago, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t excited to go back and revisit! When you arrive in Rock City you have some options on what to do:
- Incline Railroad
- Ruby Falls
- Lookout Mountain
If you have the time, I highly suggest doing all 3! Lookout Mountain boasts views spanning over 7 states! You get to walk through enchanted gardens through rocks and caves, balance on suspension bridges and even walk through Fairyland! Great if you have annoying screaming children :
Ruby Falls is a 145-foot underground waterfall. Yes, you read that right, it’s underground! Awesome right? You get to journey through a paved walkway, learning about geological formations along the way.
The Incline Railway gives you the perfect angle to see the city from yet another point of view! It takes you all the way the side of Lookout Mountain! You’re able to see panoramic views from the train and up on top, while it stops at each location. You can take microbreweries tours, indulge in some ice cream, buy a couple of candles, pick some fresh flowers…there is something for everyone!
This trip, we opted for simply going back to Lookout Mountain since there was a specific picture I wanted to recreate. If you have the time, money and energy after a long day to conquer these three then definitely take your chances!
Dinner at Urban Stack
To me, Chattanooga isn’t about gettin’ all fancy and dressin’ up for a white linen dinner. Here, you will enjoy the backyard BBQ vibe. A very friendly and casual city. Hit up Urban Stack for the most delicious burgers stacked high to the sky with every topping imaginable. You might feel like a loaded baked potato afterward, but that’s what the good southern cookin’ will do to ya.
Nightcap at The Flying Squirrel Bar
Don’t get me wrong. It seemed to me that all the restaurants, bars, pubs, eateries in and around Chattanooga had mouth-watering food. Maybe it’s the fat girl inside of me talking but I don’t care. You literally cannot go wrong anywhere. Flying Squirrel has its extensive list of choices, uses a shit ton of local ingredients, and overall is just a cool spot to hang out at. Have a cocktail (or 5) and pat yourself on the back for the action-packed day you had!
Some extra tips for your perfect day in Chattanooga
- Everywhere for the most post, you have to pay to park. If you go sort of in the order I told you too, most stuff, in the beginning, will be within walking distance! Saving you time and money for having to move your car back and forth.
- When visiting Rock City, the lines for Ruby Falls etc can be upwards of an hour or two waits. Call ahead to see the best time during that particular day to visit so you don’t waste time.
- Go with an open mind and take in the beautiful scenery, you cannot go wrong anywhere in the city!
Where ever the southern tides take ya, you should without a doubt visit Chattanooga. It’s rare to visit a place where you can enjoy the great outdoors, some amazing scenery, the sprawling landscapes, and good ol’ southern cookin. Honestly, the south is my favorite place to visit. I guess I’m a little bias from growing up here, but all you gotta do is visit and see for yourself!
Have you visited Chattanooga? Is there anything I’m missing from my list? I’m sure I’ll be back soon for some more adventures but until next time…