Noted as one of the most revitalized cities in America, Chattanooga is the only city on the planet to receive Outside magazine’s Best Town Ever designation twice. Chattanooga has also been recognized internationally as a top travel destination by Parade, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, Southern Living, Men’s Journal, and (if you couldn’t tell by reading this article on our site) yours truly.
Whether you’ve been to Chattanooga before, or you’re planning your first trip, it’s never been a more exciting time to visit the Scenic City. Located on the banks of the Tennessee River and surrounded by mountains, Chattanooga offers something for everyone.
Here are the top seven reasons that make Chattanooga the Best Town Ever:
1. Vibrant and walkable downtown
The city is nestled on the banks of the Tennessee River and surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. The Downtown District is vibrant, compact and walkable. Once here, you can park your car and navigate the city easily on foot, the free electric shuttle, or by using the public bicycle transit system available 24/7. (Sorry Uber, I get to keep my money for once).
2. Endless Fun
The city is filled with world-class attractions such as …
- The top-rated Tennessee Aquarium
- River Gorge Explorer
- Creative Discovery Museum
- Hunter Museum of American Art
- Bluff View Art District
- Chattanooga Zoo
- Southern Belle Riverboat
- Coolidge Park
- Walnut Street Bridge
But it doesn’t stop there (because of course it doesn’t). History can be experienced aboard a train at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum or at The Passage. Plus, just about any weekend throughout the year, you’ll find a plethora of diverse events (pssst … check out the calendar of festivals, concerts, and more here).
Staying downtown? Less than 15 minutes from downtown, you can enjoy Rock City, Ruby Falls, Zipstream Aerial Adventure, Incline Railway, and Lake Winnepesaukah (say it five times fast, we dare you).
As if that wasn’t enough to fill every weekend of the year, we’re just getting started …
3. Keeping it fresh
Chattanooga is always growing. This year, visitors can enjoy National Geographic’s traveling exhibition, Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants; expansion of the Tennessee Riverpark; Songbirds Timeless Guitars, a rare collection of vintage guitars; revamped Station Street; upgraded Battles for Chattanooga experience; world-renowned sculptures at the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park; as well as many new hotels and restaurants.
4. Great outdoors
The mountainous terrain provides hundreds of miles of outdoor opportunities. Some of our faves for outdoor enthusiasts (and novices) to indulge in?
- Hang gliding at the nation’s largest hang gliding park
- Whitewater rafting
Local’s Tip: Ease yourself into it by starting out at High Point Climbing & Fitness before heading out to the mountains.
5. Incredible dining
Chefs throughout the city know how to create incredible (incredible) dishes that you can enjoy at St. John’s, Hennen’s, Easy Seafood, Terminal Brewhouse, The Flying Squirrel, Boathouse, and Urban Stack Burger Lounge.
Warning: After viewing a sample of Chattanooga’s food offerings, drooling may occur. Licking the screen is discouraged.
6. Music and entertainment
The city is scattered with numerous live music & entertainment venues. Try kicking it with the locals at one of these spots:
- The Comedy Catch
- Track 29
- Memorial Auditorium
- Revelry Room
Plus you’ll find more than 15 restaurants with regular live music. You know you can hear that ice cold (locally brewed) beer and live jams calling your name.
7. Interesting places to sleep
Looking for your favorite hotel brands? Done. But if you’re looking to crash somewhere outside of the box, you can sleep in a tree house at Treetop Hideaways (tell your inner kid we said you’re welcome), a train car at the Chattanooga Choo Choo (tell your actual kids we said you’re welcome), or at the Crash Pad, a boutique hostel (yes, you are cool enough for this).