Girlfriend Getaway in Chattanooga
Cyndi Lauper said it best – girls just want to have fun. And when a girl becomes a woman, that means taking a breather from spouses, bosses, kids and housework. Prepare the mixed tape, make a honey-do list and set the GPS for Chattanooga. It’s road trip time.
First stop, The Chattanoogan Hotel.
Unpack your things and get ready for a girl’s weekend in style. As the only full-service hotel in town to earn AAA’s Four Diamond Rating, The Chattanoogan has taken it to the next level with sweeping renovations in the rooms and throughout the property.
Once settled it’s crucial to set your priorities: shopping, food, wine and chocolate (not in any particular order). Happily, you can find all of these just a short walk away.
Historic Main Street was once the financial hub of Chattanooga. Today it’s known as the cultural center of the city, where street art is as prevalent as the old warehouses that are now converted into restaurants and shops.
IMAGE: Public art in front of Alleia Restaurant
Shopping on Main Street always unearths funky little treasures, like these Same Sky bracelets at Planet Altered, which are crocheted by hand using hand-blown glass beads.
Created to help African women recover from the Rwandan genocide, Same Sky is a fair trade company that’s made quite a splash in Hollywood, spotted on the wrists of Meryl Streep, Fergie and Chelsea Clinton. You can also pick something up for the little ones…
Fair trade baby blocks, sock monkeys and tooth fairy monsters can be found at Planet Altered.
Or, for $2 you can do Planet Altered’s weekly art project, with a different theme each week.
And the fair-trade shop/art gallery is just one of many notable shops along Main Street. Area 61 is an artist’s co-op that offers one-of-a-kind furniture, paintings, sculpture and jewelry by area artists.
And then there’s the HART Gallery, a non-profit that allows homeless or other non-traditional artists a chance to create and sell their artwork, such as these hand painted eggs by Jim McNeese.
After all this do-gooding, you deserve a treat. Time to head to Chattanooga’s first urban winery, DeBarge. Yes, you read that right – a winery…in Chattanooga.
Source: Debarge Winery
Housed in a building from the early 1900’s, DeBarge is taking it back to the old school. As in before prohibition, when Georgia was the 7th-largest wine producing region in the U.S. The launch of Chardonooga is a step in the right direction, made from a blend of Chardonelle and Cayuga grapes grown on the owner’s Pigeon Mountain, GA farm. All varietals are cultivated onsite in large steel tanks, but traditional blends – Chardonnay, Reisling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Syrah –are made from imported West Coast grapes.
Tastings are free, and bottles range from $15-28. DeBarge also offers a selection of local breads, meats and cheeses.
Better yet, make a preliminary stop at The Hot Chocolatier to see which truffle pair best with each wine.
A graduate of The French Pastry School in Chicago, Wendy Buckner now blesses her hometown with fine chocolates and pastries, creating confections that are almost too pretty to eat.
Source: The Hot Chocolatier
Yeah, I said ALMOST. Some must-trys are the Hottie truffle – dark chocolate ganache with ancho, chipotle and cayenne peppers – and Orange Blossom truffle – dark and milk chocolate infused with orange flower water, fresh oranges and a splash of extra fine orange liqueur.
Last but certainly not least, Main Street offers a cornucopia of yummy restaurants. Bluegrass Grill, Conga Latin Food and Niedlov’s Bakery are all great lunch choices. For dinner, Alleia is an Italian concept by local restaurateur and James Beard Nominee, Daniel Lindley. With sky-high ceilings, velvet curtains, foxed antique mirrors and minimalistic furnishings, you feel like you’re walking into a swank Manhattan eatery.
The food, however, transports you to Tuscany…particularly the wood-fired pork shoulder with gala apples and balsamic glaze.
Of course, Main Street isn’t the only place in town where shopping and food live in harmony. Warehouse Row – a new development downtown – boasts a collection of upscale boutiques for home, kids, clothes, shoes and everything in between. Get happy feet when you walk into Embellish shoe store, with brands such as Kate Spade, Tory Burch, Claudia Ciuti and Rupert Sanderson. Stop by Amanda Pinson Jewelry to see unique fine and fashion jewelry.
There is also a select group of nationwide stores, like J. Crew, Anthropologie and lululemon athletica that will complete your retail therapy for awhile.
Whatever your fancy, shop ‘til you drop – literally – into a booth at The Public House.
White walls, curtains and booths greet you at this upscale Southern bistro, and the menu is as fresh as the décor. Specialties include their Southern fried chicken with macaroni and cheese and their pimento cheese, grilled sourdough and fried pickle appetizer.
After all this indulging, it’s time to detox at The Chattanoogan’s Spa. Designed to evoke the wonders of Chattanooga’s natural beauty, the walls are covered with artfully arranged sticks, grasses and seed pods in frames.
Relaxation Lounge and treatment room
Treatments follow this theme, such as the Ruby Falls Hydrating Body Treatment and the Mountain Mud Masque and Massage. Be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes early to soak in the whirlpool or enjoy the sauna, and make time to lounge afterwards on the Spa Terrace, where food and drinks are served.
Yep…it’s true. Girls just want to have fun. But women…they just want a vacation.
WHERE TO STAY:
The Chattanoogan Hotel
WHERE TO DINE:
Conga Latin Food
WHERE TO WINE:
WHERE TO SHOP:
Anywhere in Warehouse Row
WHERE TO AHHHH:
Chattanoogan Hotel Spa