Chattanooga and the Arts

April 9 – 12, 2016: I sneaked this destination onto our itinerary. Chattanooga, Tennessee is another city I’ve been hearing a lot about and I had it, alongside Asheville, on my ‘possible places to live in the future’ list. Chattanooga has decent weather and is becoming known as an affordable, more liberal, southern city with tech jobs and outdoor activities.

We arrived in Chattanooga in the evening and we first enjoyed a beer at Hutton & Smith Brewing Company, now open for nine months. The beer was all surprisingly quite solid; check them out. We then headed over to Flying Squirrel for some dinner. This place was opened by two guys who moved to Chattanooga to climb. They opened a hostel and then opened this adjoining restaurant and bar. The food was delicious – Michael had the Cubano taco and, in a testament to its deliciousness, he even left a FourSquare tip suggesting you select this dish. I had tofu fried rice which also hit the spot.

The following day was filled with art and I loved it! We first visited the Hunter Museum of American Art. I highly recommend this museum. The exterior is very unique – the museum spans three connected buildings each having a very distinct style.

The interior of the museum is well laid out and covers American art from the Colonial period to today. The museum had just enough art from each period – it satisfied without being overwhelming. The placards and narratives associated with pieces were also written at just the right level of detail. Definitely visit (admission was $15 per person)!

After visiting the museum, we strolled through the River Gallery Sculpture Garden. This garden was small; perfect to stroll whilst enjoying a cup of coffee and a treat from Rembrandt’s Coffee House.

TIP: If you love sculpture gardens also check out Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, Washington, Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town, South Africa, and Hakone Open-Air Museum in Japan.

In addition to the sculpture garden, Chattanooga has an affinity for public art. Whilst walking the city one can enjoy sculpture scattered throughout the streets. I’m a fan; it makes me smile as I walk.

Although we only spent one day in the city, I liked the vibe. It was clean, easy to navigate, and had neighborhoods with cute bungalows and city-chic loft apartments. The free electric shuttle is an added bonus. A nice mix of outdoorsy and city but in a different way than Asheville. Asheville seemed more liberal and hippie. Chattanooga more modern and chic. Both artsy but in different ways. All just my humble initial impressions, of course.

Next time, I’d like to check out the Tennessee Aquarium.

TIP: I also love aquariums! Vancouver Aquarium and Monterey Bay Aquarium are both super.

One of the nearby kitschy attractions that perhaps we shouldn’t have skipped is Ruby Falls at Lookout Mountain – an underground waterfall located within a cave. Apparently Ruby Falls is a well-known Americana icon and tourist destination due to the plastering of signs all over the south in the 1920-1930’s. Songs have even been written about Ruby Falls. Perhaps next time.

Departing Chattanooga late in the day, we made it to a campsite in a state park in Manchester, Tennessee for the night and the next day we visited the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. The tour covered the process of making whiskey by visiting the different areas of the grounds of the distillery where each process takes place.

We then carried on to Nashville, Tennessee. Since we visited Nashville on our 2014 road trip, we didn’t feel the need to stay any longer than one night and simply visited a place we enjoyed last time.


TIP: The HotelTonight iOS app, Android app, or HotelTonight mobile website is great for locating last-minute deals in Chattanooga, Nashville, or other larger cities around the world. Enter the promo code MMELLI for $25 off your first booking!

TIP: If camping isn’t your style, and HotelTonight doesn’t work, check out these accommodation options in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Nashville, Tennessee.

Comments (2)

  • Chattanooga is a wonderful little city. Next time, contact Josh Tabb who lives and works there! He would have loved a visit!

    • Hi Randi! Chattanooga was indeed lovely; Josh must be happy having so much available to him there. Next time we’ll get him to show us his local favorites. Thanks!

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