When you think of Tennessee, you may automatically picture Nashville or Memphis, but there’s another lesser-known Tennessee destination you must move to the top of your bucket list for your next day trip out of Atlanta. With numerous museums, culinary choices, outdoor attractions and shopping opportunities, there is much to explore in this “Scenic City” only two hours outside Atlanta. Chattanooga, nicknamed the “Scenic City,” was named in Lonely Planet’s “Best in the U.S.” and “10 U.S. destinations you need to see,” as well as the New York Times “Top 45 Places to Go” in the World. If you’re craving a quick escape, Chattanooga makes for an easy day trip from Atlanta, and we’ve gathered a few tips for making the most out of your visit to Tennessee’s vibrant and quirky city.
If you’re anything like us, you will want to eat, see and do as much as you can in a day. To give you a boost for the adventures ahead, start your day with coffee and breakfast as soon as you arrive in Chattanooga. For breakfast, we recommend starting the day in Downtown Chattanooga’s Bluff View Art District at Rembrandt’s Coffee House, located at 204 High Street. Named one of Chattanooga’s favorite coffee shops 12 years in a row, try out one of their signature drink specials like the Peanut Butter Pie Latte or Sweater Weather and pair it with a homemade, freshly baked pastry. Enjoy your breakfast on the scenic outdoor patio for the perfect start to a wonderful day ahead.
After you’ve fueled up with a cozy and delicious breakfast stop, we recommend exploring the attractions at Lookout Mountain, which is less than five miles from Rembrandt’s Coffee House. The most popular attractions at Lookout Mountain are Ruby Falls, the Incline Railway and Rock City. Start with a trip up Lookout Mountain via the Incline Railway, nicknamed “America’s Most Amazing Mile.” At an incline of 73% grade, the Incline Railway is the world’s steepest passenger railway, making for a breathtaking view to the top. This attraction sells out fast, so buy tickets ahead of time at ridetheincline.com.
After enjoying the ride on the Incline Railway, explore one of Lookout Mountain’s most popular attractions, Ruby Falls. While Ruby Falls may be touristy, there is a reason over half a million people visit each year. Discovered in 1928, historic Ruby Falls is the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States! You’ll descend 26 stories into the cavern hidden within Lookout Mountain. All tickets are timed-entry and can be purchased online at rubyfalls.com. A quick 10-minute drive from Ruby Falls will bring you to Rock City—the perfect ending to your day at Lookout Mountain. If the weather is just right, you’ll be able to see seven states from the top.
Hours of exploring Chattanooga’s most popular attractions will likely work your appetite back up, and the next stop on our itinerary will surely satisfy your tastebuds. Our lunch recommendation is Taco Mamacita specializing in “funky-fusion tacos,” fresh housemade guacamole and amazing margaritas in Chattanooga’s trendy Northshore District. Northshore’s tagline says it best: it’s “Where Hip Meets Historical.” After indulging in the world’s best duo—tacos and margaritas—the Northshore offers the perfect atmosphere to conclude your trip. Explore Coolidge Park and stroll across one of the world’s largest pedestrian bridges, the Walnut Street Bridge, walk along the Tennessee Riverwalk, a beautiful 13-mile greenway along the Tennessee River, or simply enjoy the green space. Before hitting the road for home, get a treat for the road from Clumpie’s Ice Cream Co., where each batch of ice cream is made by hand.
With lively attractions, breathtaking views and delicious food, the Scenic City awaits. The next time you crave a quick escape from Atlanta, Chattanooga has you covered.