Living in a city like Chattanooga means that one thing is certain: Your friends and family will always want to come visit you. After all, you’re a resident of the place that was named “Best Town Ever” twice. And while folks who live elsewhere might worry about how to entertain out-of-towners, the biggest problem you’ll face is figuring out how to squeeze all the must-do activities into their visit.
Read on for just a few ideas for what to see and do when company calls in the Scenic City.
1. Explore Outdoor Art
Chattanooga is known for its eclectic pieces of art—and some can be found in unexpected places. Check out the nature-inspired sculptures in Renaissance Park and the array of pieces throughout the Bluff View Art District. Wander downtown to discover Passageways, a project that’s transforming alleyways into beautiful decorative spaces. Visit the towering installations at Sculpture Fields at Montague Park and, finally, don’t miss these fantastic murals.
2. Show Off the Views
It’s called the Scenic City for a reason, so show your guests just how apt that name is. Head to the top of Lookout Mountain to soak in the infamous 7 States View at Rock City or head to one of the easy-to-get-to overlooks like Sunset Rock, Signal Point, and Stringer’s Ridge.
3. Enjoy a Classy Cocktail
Impress your visitors with an evening at one of Chattanooga’s most spectacular bars. Sit down at Alchemy or Whiskey Thief for dramatic views of downtown. Sip on something while you enjoy the modish ambiance at Matilda Midnight, or head for the open, lively atmosphere and fantastic house cocktails at the Flying Squirrel.
4. Have Fun with the Kids
The great thing about Chattanooga’s kid-friendly activities is that they’re equally fun for adults. Take the kiddos to marvel at the Tennessee Aquarium, to scale the rock walls at High Point, and to experience all the fun at the Chattanooga Zoo.
5. Take on the Walking Bridge Trifecta
Everyone who visits Chattanooga knows to check out the Walnut Street Bridge, but the best way to experience the scenery of North Chattanooga and the Tennessee River is to explore all three of the walkable bridges. Walk Veteran’s Bridge for a unique perspective of Northshore and Maclellan’s Island, then head downhill to the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge for a classic Chattanooga experience amidst the lively goings-on. Finally, stroll across the Market Street Bridge for a great view of Coolidge and Renaissance Parks.
6. Go on a River Tour
There’s hardly a more scenic way to experience downtown Chattanooga and the beautiful Tennessee River than on a guided boat tour. Book a ride on the amphibious Chattanooga Ducks, or take a slightly more luxurious excursion on the Southern Belle Riverboat. If you have a larger group, you can even book a private boat tour.
7. Sample the Local Beer
If your visitors are craft beer lovers, they’ve certainly come to the right place. Take them on the full tour of Chattanooga’s up-and-coming brewery scene: The Terminal, Big River, Oddstory, Chattanooga Brewing Company, WanderLinger Brewing Co., and… that’s probably enough beer for one trip.
8. Catch a Free Show
Finding free music in Chattanooga is almost too easy. Enjoy live performances every first Thursday of the month on Station Street at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, and Noontunes at Miller Plaza each Wednesday at lunchtime. Additionally, there are the Levitt Amp Music Series and the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival each fall, as well as the Nightfall concert series each Friday in summer.
9. Run or Watch a Trail Race
There are few things more “Chattanooga” than trail running. Show your guests a good time by signing your group up for one of Wild Trails’ or Rock/Creek’s annual races. If your group isn’t necessarily into running, cheering or volunteering at a trail run is arguably an even more fun way to experience a race.
10. Visit all the Different Neighborhoods
Each corner of this city has its own claim to fame, and all of them are worth showing off to your visiting friends or family. Do some shopping in fun and funky Northshore, admire beautiful homes and winding streets in Riverview and sip craft beer on MLK. Enjoy a night out on the Southside or in West Village, and spend a casual, family-friendly afternoon in St. Elmo.
11. Go for a Paddle
Show those out-of-towners what Chattanooga is all about by taking them paddling on the Tennessee River. Rent stand-up paddleboards at L2 Outside in Coolidge Park for a beautiful-yet-urban adventure, or head into the exquisitely scenic river gorge for kayak rentals from River Drifters.
12. See a Concert
13. Dine at a Great Restaurant
Delicious local food is a no-brainer when you have guests. Take them to Alimentari or Il Primo for an upscale atmosphere, or to the Chatterbox Cafe or Community Pie for something a little more low key. If your group is feeling adventurous, try out the Latin cuisine (and the tequila bar!) at Mayan Kitchen, one of downtown’s newest additions. Be sure to save room for dessert and enjoy a scoop or two of hand-crafted ice cream from one of Clumpies Ice Cream Co.'s scoop shops.
14. Explore the Riverwalk
This unique car-free path stretches from St. Elmo to the Chickamauga Dam and is a great way to get outside and experience some of Chattanooga’s best scenery near downtown. Take your guests for a walk or a run, or rent bikes from Chattanooga’s bike-share program to explore the Riverwalk’s many miles.
15. Go to the Markets
Visit one or several of the local markets for crafts, produce, live music, food, and more while your visitors are in town. There’s the Main Street Farmers Market on Wednesdays, the Chattanooga River Market and West Village Market on Saturdays and the Chattanooga Market on Sundays. Plus, your guests will adore the Holiday Market that pops up at the Convention Center each weekend in December as well as the Collegedale Christmas Market November through December.