What's New in Chattanooga, Tennessee: 2018-2019
The Chattanooga area is continuously growing and boasts many new experiences and places to stay, eat, drink, and explore. There’s never been a better time to visit the city New York Times names one of the “52 Places to Visit in the World” and TripAdvisor says is one of the “7 Rising U.S. Cities That Should be on your 2019 Travel Bucket List.”
The only company in the world that offers this selection of technology, Adventure Sports Innovation brings the latest inventions and innovations for outdoor experiences to Chattanooga. ASI provides water, land, and virtual reality opportunities. Adventure seekers can play on the Tennessee River on an e-paddleboard, e-surfboard, e-bodyboard, or waterbike; stay on land and ride an e-spider off-road vehicle, hovershoes, e-skateboard, and a unicycle; and try the VR experience of hang gliding! (July 2018)
Experience Chattanooga offers specially curated outdoor adventures that showcase the natural beauty of Tennessee and the local tastes of Chattanooga. Experiences are designed for small groups of all skill levels and include: transportation to and from the scenic destinations, guided hike/drive, incredible views, photos of the group throughout the adventure, and a coupon to one of the local partner restaurants which include Tony’s Pasta & Trattoria, Rembrandt’s Coffee House, Milk & Honey, Community Pie, and Urban Stack. (Sept. 2018)
The Chattanooga Choo Choo, located in the Southside District, has been undergoing $20+ million in renovations. Additions include Songbirds Guitars, Songbirds North & South Stages, Frothy Monkey, STIR, American Draft, Regan’s Place, Westbound Bar, Back Stage Bar, and The Comedy Catch and the Backstage Bar. Renovations include upgrades to the lobby, Glenn Miller Gardens, and Building 1, along with conversion of Buildings 2 & 3 into apartments. Station Street, formerly an alleyway, was renovated to become pedestrian friendly, provide patio access to the restaurants and entertainment venues, and provide an outdoor space for events. Station Street recently became the 11th street nationwide to allow on-street consumption of alcohol. Across the street, there’s Terminal Brewhouse, Chattanooga Whiskey, Hot Chocolatier, Wildflower Tea, Blue Orleans, and more.
Ruby Falls, an 88-year-old attraction, completed Phase I of a $20 million expansion and renovation. Phase I included: new entrance and ticket atrium, self-service kiosks, accessible Blue Heron Overlook, open-air dining, Village Gift Shop, and the outdoor Village Plaza for live music, etc. (seasonal). Ruby Falls used more than 40 LEED strategies in the design of the new venue which included additional solar panels, LED lighting, and an 8,000-gallon rainwater collection system for irrigation. Phase II includes expanding food services, creating more spaces for guests to relax, and converting the former gift shop into an event venue space. (June 2018)
River Drifters Chattanooga is a one-stop-shop for food and outdoor recreation. Located just minutes from downtown Chattanooga, River Drifters offers single kayak, tandem kayak, and stand-up paddle board rentals; direct access to the water; and an onsite restaurant, River Drifters Grill, that features pimento crostini, paninis, salads, bison burgers, locally crafted beer, and much more. The launch site across the street is located on the Tennessee River in the Tennessee River Gorge, one of the most incredible places you can experience water activities. (July 2018)
Escape Experience Chattanooga opened their latest escape room, the Runaway Train Transport, at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. With help from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, the inside of the actual traincar mimics the sights, sounds, and feel of an out-of-control train creating a truly unique escape room experience. Additional Escape Rooms include The Bunker, Vaccine, The Inheritance, and the C-Block Prison Break. (June 2018)
FreightWaves, in partnership with major participants in the trucking industry, will open a trucking Haul of Fame connected to their new corporate headquarters at 412 Market Street. The 10,000 sq. ft. museum will highlight well-known companies from the Golden Age of Trucking and regional companies and will include Freight Alley with thousands of diecast trucks, a truck-driving simulator donated by U.S. Xpress (NYSE:USX), videos, photographs, and much more. (April 2019)
Sweet Magnolia’s offers new customized walking tours highlighting Chattanooga’s neighborhoods, history, arts and culture, and more. The 90-minute tours take you to several points of interest including the Bluff View Art District, Northshore, Southside, Walnut Street Bridge, Coolidge Park, Renaissance Park, and along the Tennessee River. Special themed tours include Chattanooga’s Influential Women, Chattanooga’s Great African American Inspirations, and more. (June 2018)
The Signal is Chattanooga’s newest live music venue located in the Southside District. With a standing room capacity of 1,300, the industrial-chic warehouse is perfect for live music, receptions, corporate events, video shoots, trade shows, and conferences. Operated by Marathon Music Works out of Nashville, TN, the venue hosts all genres of music with artists such as Gramatik, Corey Smith, George Clinton & the Parliament Funkadelic, X Ambassadors, and more. (Feb. 2018)
Songbirds Guitars expanded into the 14,000 square-foot space below them with Songbirds South Stage. The renovated space can hold 500 guests and features a brand new listening experience, new sound system and lighting, VIP seating, two full bars, lounge, and an atmosphere that ties into the collection of rare, vintage guitars and fretted instruments that can be found upstairs. Songbirds Guitar’s North Stage, located upstairs, provides a full bar and an intimate listening experience for up to 200 guests. (Feb. 2018)
The Chattanooga Tennesseer, an open-top conversion van, provides 60-minute tours of Chattanooga for up to 10 people at a time. Each tour includes learning about Chattanooga’s history and stops at AT&T Field, Brabson home, underground Chattanooga, Tivoli Theater, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Warehouse Row, Bessie Smith Cultural Center, Bluff View Art District, and Coolidge Park. Tours are offered Friday-Saturday, March-November. (June 2018)
The new 10-mile Summit Knobs Equestrian Trail is the newest area that can be explored at Enterprise South Nature Park. Along with the new horse trail, Enterprise South has 9 hiking trails, 5 biking trails, and 4 drivable routes within the 2,800-acre park. The new 10-mile trail feature waterless bathrooms, posts to take breaks and rest with animals, an information kiosk with trail maps, 2 water-trough stations, and a 40,000-square foot parking area. (June 2018)
Miller Park, located in downtown’s Innovation District, completed a $10 million major renovation which included elevating the park to street level, climbable rock outcropping, more green space, an enclosed pavilion with restrooms, and a stage for entertainment (with a moveable glass partition). Additional $5 million improvements around Miller Park include: connecting Miller Park & Plaza, adding trees to the median on MLK Blvd., making the area more pedestrian friendly, and more. (Sept. 2018)
Songbirds Guitars offers a rock & roll experience with an unparalleled collection of 500 of the world’s rarest and most vintage instruments, as well as the stories and artists that brought them to life. The main exhibits are self-guided and the All Access Tours include a guided tour and access to the Green Room and the Vault, where some of the most exclusive guitars are displayed (requires advance registration). Programming includes workshops and regular live music at their North and South Stages. (March 2017)
FESTIVALS & EVENTS
The annual Moon River Music Festival moved to Chattanooga’s Coolidge Park in 2018, created in 2014 by musician Drew Holcomb in Memphis, TN. The festival features 20 national acts, 2 stages, local food and beverage vendors, VIP options, and more. The two-day festival is family-friendly and highlights the music and culture of Tennessee. The 2018 lineup included The Avett Brothers, The Head And The Heart, Drew Holcomb And The Neighbors, and more. Founded. (2019 dates TBA)
Chattanooga received the Levitt AMP Grant Award for the third year, making it possible to host the Levitt AMP Chattanooga Music Series in 2019. The matching grant program is made possible by the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, a national creative placemaking funder dedicated to strengthening the social fabric of America through the power of free, live music. The 10-week series is held on the Bessie Smith Cultural Center lawn and features a diverse lineup of artists, local food vendors, and special activities. (Thursdays, Aug.-Oct.)
After 17 years, competitive whitewater paddling has returned to the Upper Ocoee River in 2018. The Ocoee River Championships, a three-day whitewater event, features multi-class competitions in slalom, freestyle, downriver, boatercross, SUP, duckycross, and raft slalom. People can compete in more than one competition. In 1996, the Upper Ocoee was redesigned for the Olympic whitewater slalom competition which allowed for a narrower and deeper waterway that’s ideal for competition. (Aug. 24-26, 2018)
The Chattanooga Airport added five new direct flights in 2018: (1) American Airlines added a 3rd round-trip daily flight to Dallas/Fort Worth; (2) American Airlines added a 2nd daily round-trip flight to Chicago/O’Hare; (3) Delta added a daily nonstop flight between Chattanooga and NYC/LaGuardia (United Airlines currently offers 2 roundtrip daily flights to NYC/Newark); (4) Allegiant Air added a 3rd weekly departure to St. Pete/Clearwater (seasonal in June & July); and (5) United Airlines began 2 daily departures between Chattanooga and DC/Dulles.
RESTAURANTS, BREWERIES, & DISTILLERIES
- Dec. 2018: Gate 11 Distillery (in the Choo Choo complex), Southside District
- Nov. 2018: Bar Moxy (inside Moxy hotel), Downtown District
- Nov. 2018: WanderLinger Brewing Co., Downtown District
- Nov. 2018: Naked River Brewing Co., Southside District
- Nov. 2018: Starbucks @ The Block, Downtown District
- Oct. 2018: Bridgeman’s Chophouse (inside Read House Hotel), Downtown District
- Oct. 2018: Bar & Billiards Club (inside Read House Hotel), Downtown District
- Sept. 2018: Whitebird (inside The Edwin hotel), Riverfront District
- Sept. 2018: Whiskey Thief (inside The Edwin hotel), Riverfront District
- Sept. 2018: Bantam + Biddy (inside Market City Center), Downtown District
- Aug. 2018: State of Confusion, Southside District
- July 2018: Kenny’s Southside Sandwiches, Southside District
- June 2018: Starbucks @ 10 North Shore, North Shore District
- June 2018: Scottie’s on the River, Riverfront District
- March 2018: Solarium (inside Dwell Hotel), Downtown District
- Dec. 2017: Chattanooga Whiskey Distillery & Event Hall, Riverfront District
- Dec. 2017: Alimentari Cucina e Bar, Downtown District
- Oct. 2017: Sidetrack, Hixson
- Oct. 2017: Rodizio Grill, Hamilton Place
- Oct. 2017: Hana Steak & Sushi, Hamilton Place
- Oct. 2017: Pinkberry, Downtown District
- Sept. 2017: Alchemy open-air bar (inside Westin hotel), Downtown District
- Sept. 2017: Dorato Lobby Bar (inside Westin hotel), Downtown District
- Sept. 2017: Edley’s BBQ, North Shore District
- July 2017: Lass & Lions Distillery, Chattanooga
- April 2017: Mad Knight Brewing Co., St. Elmo
ACCOMMODATIONS & MEETING VENUES
Chattanooga-based Vision Hospitality Group introduced their newest boutique hospitality brand, “Humanist,” which focuses on enhancing the guest experience with meaningful human interactions throughout vibrant communities. The inaugural property will be a Kinley, debuting in Cincinnati (94 rooms & suites) in late 2019, followed by Chattanooga (64 rooms) in 2020. The OH property will include the Watercress restaurant which was developed in partnership with James Beard Award finalist and PBS’ Mind of a Chef host Edward Lee. The brand will include The Grady Hotel (51 rooms) opening in 2019 in Louisville, KY, featuring Wild Swann, an intimate and moody speakeasy steeped in Louisville history. VHG is a leading, family-owned and operated hotel management and development company formed by President & CEO Mitch Patel in 1997 and boasts a portfolio of 34 premium-select and full-service hotels affiliated with Hilton, Marriott, and InterContinental brands. (Announced Nov. 2018)
- NEW/Nov. 2018: Moxy Chattanooga Downtown, a boutique hotel with the social heart of a hostel, opened in the Downtown District across from St. John’s Restaurant. The four-story property includes 102 rooms, free wifi, cushy beds, stylish design, great food, in-room storage (big enough to fit a bicycle), vibrant communal spaces, and the Bar Moxy where guests check in and receive a complimentary cocktail. The communal spaces are filled with special events so there’s always something going on. Property by Chattanooga’s 3H Group.
- RENOVATION/Oct. 2018: Historic Read House, located downtown, completed the $27 million Phase 1 of major renovations to create a modern version of the hotel’s original grandeur. It included: redoing 141 guest rooms on the historic side of the building with luxury furnishings and amenities, transforming the lobby and ballrooms, renovating the full-service Starbucks, and enhancing the architectural details. Added: 10th floor Penthouse, upscale Bridgeman’s Chophouse, and the Bar & Billiards Club with a speakeasy tone. Phase II started Nov. 2018 and includes renovating the remaining 100 rooms and more. Property by Avocet Hospitality Group.
- NEW/Sept. 2018: The Edwin Hotel, an upscale, five-story boutique hotel, opened downtown at the South end of Walnut Street Bridge and offers panoramic views of the city. The hotel name celebrates Edwin Thacher who led the development of the iconic Walnut Street Bridge in 1891. This 90-room property includes Whiskey Thief rooftop bar, Whitebird restaurant, 100+ pieces of incredible local art, and 1,650 square feet of meeting space. Property by Chattanooga’s Vision Hospitality Group.
- NEW/Nov. 2018: Hampton Inn Chattanooga East Ridge opened at I-75/Exit 1 in East Ridge. The 88-room hotel includes an outdoor pool, state-of-the-art fitness facility, business center, and more. Hotel is a part of the 50-acre Jordan Crossing development that will include 300,000+ sq. ft. of retail, dining, and accommodations at the entrance to Camp Jordan Park, one of the largest sports recreation parks in Tennessee. Property by Chattanooga’s Vision Hospitality Group.
- RENOVATION/May 2018: RiverView Inn opened on Lookout Mountain with new bathrooms, updated furnishings, new amenities, updated fire pit and outdoor heated pool. Property provides breathtaking views of the Tennessee River and is conveniently located minutes away from hiking trails, restaurants, and Rock City, Ruby Falls, Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, and more. Owned and operated by Rock City.
- NEW/Dec. 2017: SpringHill Suites North/Ooltewah opened off Exit 11/Ooltewah, TN with 106 rooms, Creekside Bar + Grill, swimming pool, fitness center, meeting rooms, complimentary internet, and 1,900 square feet of meeting space with in-house catering. Property by D&S Builders of Sevierville, TN.
- NEW/Dec. 2017: Westin Chattanooga, located in the West Village, 260 luxury guest rooms, 15,000 sq ft of versatile indoor event space, Alchemy skybar, Dorato Lobby Bar, fitness studio, and an outdoor heated pool. The hotel is part of an $88+ million project that features pedestrian-friendly cobblestone streets, festival & event space, Peet’s Coffee, Pinkberry, Citron del Sol, Old Gillman Grill, and Alimentari Cucina e Bar. Property by Chattanooga’s DeFoor Brothers Development.
Chattanooga implemented the world’s first 10 Gig Internet service! The city is known as “Gig City” for being the first in the United States (Sept. 2010) to build a community-wide fiber-optic network capable of delivering 1 gigabit Internet speeds to every home and business in a 600 square-mile area. Chattanooga’s municipal utility, EPB Fiber Optics, is now offering the world’s first 10 gigabit Internet to the same service area (Oct. 2015). This pioneering new solution is the world’s most advanced ultra-broadband technology. EPB also constructed the Smart Grid, a next-generation electric system that includes communication capabilities designed to reduce the impact of power outages, improve response time and allow customers greater control of their electric power usage.
The West Village Chattanooga is the newly revitalized area between W Martin Luther King Blvd. and 7th Street and Chestnut and Pine Streets, immediately off of Exit 1A. The district brings a European-style experience with cobble-stone streets and offers public art; eateries including Dorato, Alchemy, Alimentari Cucina e Bar, Pinkberry, Peet’s Coffee, Innside Restaurant, and Citron et Sel; shopping at Antibes and Elea Blake Cosmetics; and the Westin Chattanooga. The West Village hosts a weekly free street festival throughout the year with live music from local bands, cocktails, beer, food trucks, laser light show, street market, and plenty of activities for kids. (Jan. 2018)
The historic Martin Luther King/Big 9 Neighborhood sits in the city’s central Innovation District and occupies five blocks between Houston and University streets. The community is listed on the National Register as an area of great historical significance. The MLK area is the birthplace of noted jazz figures Bessie Smith, Yusef Lateef, and Lovie Austin, and has been an area of African American history and commerce for more than 100 years. The neighborhood boasts the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, free Levitt-Amp Chattanooga music series, JJ’s, Camp House, Bitter Alibi, The Fix Lounge, CoinOp, Barley, ODDStory and Hutton & Smith breweries, and public art including the 42,000 sq. ft. “The M.L. King Mural: We Will Not Be Satisfied Until” by world-renowned artist Meg Saligman. Created in 2016, the mural is the largest in the Southeast, one of the five largest in the nation, and the first to wrap an entire city block. [Location: From 3rd to 10th Streets, between Georgia and Central Avenues.]
Chattanooga was the first mid-sized city to establish an Innovation District and remains one of the few cities of its size to have this type of dedicated area. Located in the heart of downtown, the district aims to be the driver of Chattanooga’s creative, entrepreneurial 21st century economy. This dense and walkable area contains tech startups, coffee shops, warehouse row, public art, eateries, pubs, parks, two live music series, EPB, Tomorrow Building (micro-living apartments), bike share racks, free electric shuttle access, and more. The Edney Innovation Center, a 10-story, 90,000 square foot building, anchors the District and serves as a catalyst for the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. It offers innovative co-working office and event space, accelerator programs, tech and business incubators, and a rooftop access for amazing views of the Scenic City.
Updated: December 2018