In the southeastern corner of Tennessee along the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is Chattanooga: an underrated town just two hours away from Nashville. I recently snuck away for a few days with my friend Suzie (who comes here often with her husband and kiddos) to see what all it has to offer. I knew it was charming, but it had been years since I visited (I used to come as a kid, but it’s been a while since I paid a proper visit). I honestly didn’t expect to as impressed as I was. Between its natural beauty, blossoming food scene and family attractions - Chattanooga has something to offer for everyone. If you’re planning a trip (which I highly recommend!) Here’s what I’d advise adding to the itinerary.
We came to Chattanooga by invitation of The Read House: a luxury hotel conveniently located in the heart of downtown (and also voted #1 hotel in Chattanooga on Trip Advisor!) They recently underwent a 28 million-dollar renovation, which boasts a lush, Gatsby-inspired ambiance we were swooning over. With jazz music softly playing, romantic dim lighting and gorgeous Art Deco interiors, this place was speaking my language. We walked to so many attractions (again-that location is prime!) and the staff really did go out of their way to ensure we felt spoiled and had a great time.
They also have an incredible restaurant in-house: Bridgeman’s Chophouse which features USDA Prime Beef and Chops. While the menu offers an extensive steak selection, they also feature the freshest seafood in Chattanooga, including a grand seafood tower, raw oysters, and a variety of fresh fish. We ate like queens for dinner here (I adored the Prime Dry Aged Ribeye, the white truffle mac & cheese, the lobster bisque and basically everything else that was set in front of us). Suzie is an incredible cook herself and has a very refined palette (she’s also British, so I know by now that when it comes to food- she states her honest opinion!) She was very complimentary of the food and even boxed up what we didn’t eat to take home (so you know it’s good!)
A few other hotel highlights I loved: the plush bed (honestly was one of the most noticeably comfortable I’ve slept in), the Bar & Billiard’s Room (which boasts a speakeasy tone), an in-house Starbucks which is great for convenience, and it’s worth mentioning again: the accommodating staff (everyone from the bellmen to the concierge). We had an incredible stay and I would highly recommend this spot to anyone coming to Chattanooga!
Two days is not nearly enough time to sample all the culinary flavors Chattanooga has to offer, so I’m going to report on a bit more than I got to experience (again- Suzie comes a lot with her family and gave me a laundry list of great places to try, as did one of my sorority sisters who is a local!) I’ll start with what we did try:
We had dinner at Alleia our first night, and I was so pumped for this meal going into it. Suzie told me that this was the original restaurant from the chef at 5th & Taylor (which is one of my favorite Nashville spots). It absolutely lived up to my expectations: everything from the decor + ambiance to the food + drink was fantastic. Highly, highly recommend adding this to your list for dinner one night!
We also did brunch at The Daily Ration, which I really loved - both the coffee + food were fantastic (don’t miss the smoked pork hash!)
We ate so much at brunch we weren’t really hungry for lunch and opted to grab a light nibble at happy hour at Alimentari (which I now wish I had more of an appetite for- the bruschetta was wonderful!)
As I mentioned earlier, we had an incredible dinner at Bridgeman’s Chophouse - which I thoroughly enjoyed (but ate way too much!)
On our last day we tried breakfast at 2 Sons Kitchen & Market which had really delicious breakfast rancheros and was set in a cozy little brick building. We also grabbed some baked goods for the road on our way out of town at Niedlov’s Bakery - which was so darling and both the pastries/ coffee were great!
Here is a more complete list that includes some other great places to try to squeeze in during your stay:
COFFEE + BREAKFAST
WHAT TO DO
There’s loads to do in Chattanooga that, again, can’t all be conquered in two short days (especially because I was also having to do some work while traveling…) Yet once again, Suzie shared some great suggestions of things we could do since she and her family frequent Chattanooga. Here are some highlights to try to fit in if you can!
CHATTANOOGA CHOO CHOO: A former train station turned iconic landmark that’s a hit with locals, this spot features restaurants, bars, music venues, a comedy club, a distillery & various retail outlets. (FUN FACT: I actually lost both of my two front teeth here as a kid!)
TENNESSEE AQUARIUM: I came here as a kid and remember always loving it. It’s definitely an ideal spot to bring your family (Suzie and her husband got a membership for their kiddos + they love it).
SCENIC VIEWS: Most people think of Rock City, but Suzie and I opted for Lookout Mountain Civil War Battlefield (which still provided beautiful views with a much cheaper price tag and laid back ambiance). Regardless of where you decide to go, find someplace to take in the beautiful views from one of the many vantage points!
WALNUT STREET BRIDGE: This pedestrian area is such a fun little spot to stroll across the river + browse all the local shops (we also loved grabbing a cocktail at Whiskey Thief: a rooftop bar overlooking this bridge)
It was a short trip, but such a fun one! Hopefully these recommendations give you enough inspiration to plan a visit of your own.
Thanks to The Read House Hotel for hosting our stay and for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.