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How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga has quickly become one of my favorite cities to visit in the U.S. It really is a hidden gem that doesn’t seem to be on many people’s radar, but it should be! From great hikes to amazing restaurants and bars, Chattanooga has something for everyone. I first visited as a kid while on my annual summer road trip to visit family, and always enjoyed stopping in for a day or two. After college one of my best friends ended up moving to Chattanooga, so I’ve had a great reason to visit, and I love it even more as an adult! This guide will give you everything you need to know in order to have the perfect weekend in Chattanooga.

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The best time to visit Chattanooga

Chattanooga has pretty mild temperatures year-round, so you really can’t go wrong! That being said, my favorite times to visit are spring and fall. They do receive a lot of rain in the winter months, but not much snow. Summers can get hot which isn’t ideal for walking around the city or hiking. I do love that Chattanooga has four distinct seasons, which isn’t something I get to experience in New Orleans. Here are the average temps by season to help you decide when to spend your weekend in Chattanooga:

Spring: March-May 75/55
Summer: June-August90/70
Fall: September-November72/52
Winter: December-February55/35

How to get to Chattanooga

If you’re not within driving distance of Chattanooga, you have a few options to get there. You can fly into the Chattanooga Airport which is just outside downtown. However, it’s a small airport so it might be difficult to find good/inexpensive flights from your area. Your other options are flying into Nashville or Atlanta (both around 2 hours away) and driving to Chattanooga.

Once you arrive you’ll want to rent a car for your weekend in Chattanooga, especially if you plan to do any hiking. Downtown Chattanooga is walkable but spread out, so driving is ideal. Parking is easy enough to find, although you may need to pay the meter in certain areas.

Rental bikes are available too if you’d rather take that route. Prices are $10 per day or $20 for a 3-day pass.

Where to stay during your weekend in Chattanooga

Budget : Staybridge Suites If you’re trying to keep spending low but still want a good location downtown, this is a nice option. It’s a block off Main Street and within walking distance of restaurants and bars. They offer free breakfast, a pool, a fitness center, and are dog-friendly.

Midrange : Moxy Hotels I’m a huge fan of Moxy Hotels and have had nothing but wonderful experiences with them. Their rooms are simple with trendy decorations, and I love that the lobby has a fun cocktail & coffee bar, as well as a large area to hang out that doesn’t feel like a hotel. Their Chattanooga location is downtown which makes it easy to get around. They’re also dog-friendly (and even serve pup cups at the coffee bar) which is wonderful!

Luxury : Read House Hotel If you’re down to splurge, this historic hotel is absolutely beautiful and has rave reviews. Along with their convenient location downtown, they offer an indoor pool, fitness center, high-end restaurant, speakeasy, and even a Starbucks! Read House Hotel has dog-friendly rooms, but requires a non-refundable pet fee.

Things to Do in Chattanooga

Downtown Chattanooga

Walk the historic Walnut Street Bridge. One of the world’s longest pedestrian-only bridges (erected in 1891) connects the Northshore with downtown Chattanooga. I highly recommend walking across at sunset; you just can’t beat the views of the river surrounded by mountains.

Take a photo at the “What Lifts You” Mural. This is by the same artist as the very popular/similar mural in Nashville, where I’ve seen videos of people standing in line for hours to take a photo. Thankfully that’s not the case in Chattanooga and you can walk right up. You’ll find this on Main Street outside of Eggman Bagelry. Of course, Finn needed his own photo here because he’s an angel 🙂

Northshore Chattanooga

Explore Coolidge Park which features a historic 100-year-old carousel, a large interactive fountain, and plenty of open spaces along the waterfront. Grab some ice cream at Clumpies before you explore the park, then head over to the Walnut Street Bridge and walk across to downtown Chattanooga. *Pets aren’t allowed in the park, unfortunately.

Grab something new to read at the cutest little bookstore cafe, The Book & Cover. You can grab coffee and a pastry while you peruse the shelves or check out the cute merch they have available. They’re also dog friendly which is always a plus in my book!

Lookout Mountain

See Ruby Falls. While it’s probably the most “touristy” attraction in Chattanooga, Ruby Falls is worth seeing. I went here for the first time as a kid and still remember how much I enjoyed it because it was unlike anything I’d seen before. This tour takes you down 260 feet via a glass elevator into a cave where you’ll see crazy formations, and of course a huge waterfall. It does get chilly down in the cave so bring a light jacket when you visit. Tickets cost $26 adults/$16 kids and can only be purchased online. They also have a zipline and climbing tower which you can buy separate tickets for here. Plan for 2-3 hours when visiting Ruby Falls (not including the zipline) *No pets allowed.

Ride the Incline Railway. This funicular railway has been running for the past 125 years and takes you on a mile-long ride up to Lookout Mountain. The trip takes approximately 20 minutes, however, the wait can be longer. The train doesn’t have AC so I wouldn’t recommend going during the summer. The incline is very steep, so if you have a fear of heights this might be one to skip. Tickets cost $15 adults/$7 kids which I would get in advance. Plan for 1 hour here (depending on the crowds) *No pets allowed.

Visit Rock City to see a 100-foot waterfall cascading down the side of Lookout Mountain. You can also walk on the Swing-A-Long bridge, check out the viewpoint where you can see 7 states, or visit the Fairyland Caverns. Tickets cost $30 adults/$20 kids. Plan for 2-3 hours when visiting. *Pet-friendly!

The best hikes for your weekend in Chattanooga

One of the things I love most about Chattanooga is the access to so many great trails, a lot of which are just a short drive from downtown. These are some of my favorite nearby hikes to do while spending a weekend in Chattanooga. If you’re willing to drive further outside the city, you can check out more amazing hikes worth doing here.

Edward’s Point is on the more difficult side, but totally worth it for the views. The trail itself is pretty rocky and has a lot of inclines. I’d recommend going earlier in the day because it would be tough coming back down around dusk or later. This trail is dog-friendly but might be difficult for smaller/older pups.

North Chickamauga Creek is easily my favorite area to hike in Chattanooga. I highly recommend spending an entire day out here if you can because it’s beautiful! There are so many areas to swim in this clear water, as well as a few blue holes to jump into, which is a refreshing break during your hike. If your dog loves water this is a great hike to bring them on! The trail itself is very long, but you won’t need to go far to get to a nice spot. You will have to cross the river to get to the blue holes though. I’d say the best time to visit would be summer or early fall.

Glen Falls is a fairly easy hike near Lookout Mountain with a few different waterfalls. This hike is great if you don’t have a ton of time since it’s on the shorter side (2-ish miles) and not far from downtown Chattanooga. The parking lot along the road by the trailhead is very small, so get an early start here. Be very cautious when getting in & out too since it’s on a steep curve in the road. The trail is dog-friendly and would be fine for kids as well.

Sunset Rock Viewpoint isn’t much of a hike, but it’s totally worth stopping by for a beautiful sunset. This area is located in a neighborhood and the parking lot only has around 10 spots, so get here early. It’s dog-friendly, but make sure your pup is on a leash for safety.

Where to eat in Chattanooga

You won’t have a hard time finding a good meal during your weekend in Chattanooga. Despite being a smaller city, the food scene is on point. The restaurants below consistently bring their A-game and always have me excited to go back for more. All of these spots have dog-friendly patios too 😊

Breakfast

Niedlov’s Bakery Y’all, I’m not lying when I say this is the best bakery I’ve ever been to. So much so, that I go there for breakfast multiple times whenever I’m in Chattanooga. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but my favorites are the bagel sandwich, avocado toast, the banana bread muffin (which is more like monkey bread in the shape of a muffin) and their lattes. They are CLOSED on Sundays, so be sure to check them out Friday or Saturday morning. I promise you don’t want to miss it!

Mean Mug This is another good breakfast spot that has multiple locations across the area. They have a yummy avocado toast and salmon + lox bagel.

Lunch/Dinner

Main Street Meats If I could only choose one spot to recommend for your weekend in Chattanooga, this would be it. They source directly from local farms, so the food quality is amazing. The menu changes often, but the options are always delicious. The star of the show for me is their burger, which is definitely the best one I’ve ever had. They always have a nice charcuterie board option and great wine pairing recommendations for your order.

Flying Squirrel Another favorite of mine, with so many delicious options for food and drinks. The menu changes seasonally, but truffle fries are always available and a must when you go! They have great cocktails (also seasonal) as well as one of my favorite desserts-more on that below. They’re only open for dinner and I suggest making a reservation to get a table during the weekend.

Alleia This Italian restaurant is a great date night spot, with candles and ambient lighting to set the mood. The ricotta bruschetta with honey is SO good to start, with lots of options-house made pasta, pizza, & more-to follow it. Be sure to make a reservation here and check out the amazing candle display at the back of the restaurant.

Dessert

Clumpies Ice Cream Co. If you love ice cream this place is for you! They have a ton of unique flavors that rotate seasonally and multiple locations across downtown. If it’s a nice day I recommend walking across the Walnut Street Bridge to the Northshore location to grab a few scoops, then checking out Coolidge Park while you enjoy your ice cream.

Flying Squirrel I know I mentioned this above, but if for some reason you don’t make it here for dinner, it’s worth going to get dessert. I dream about the carrot cake which is unlike any I’ve had elsewhere. It comes out warm with melted icing and a crumble on top that is just SO good.

Fun places to grab a drink in Chattanooga

Unknown Caller I love this speakeasy in downtown Chattanooga. The entrance to the bar is through a phone booth. Upon entering you’ll see a payphone where you have to dial a given phone number to be let in. The inside is beautiful, with exposed brick walls covered in fun art, a huge selection of spirits, and cozy, candlelit booths. I would recommend getting cocktails here because they’re great, however, they serve beer and wine too. *No pets.

Whiskey Thief This is the only rooftop bar in Chattanooga, and its location overlooking the Tennessee River easily gives it the best views in the city. It’s perfect for a date night and serves up great cocktails, along with a huge selection of whiskey. Try to grab a table on their outdoor patio to catch a stunning sunset. They don’t take reservations so I’d recommend going on Sunday evening to get a good spot. *No pets.

Oddstory Brewing If you’re looking for beer or a more laid-back vibe, this brewery is super cute and spacious. They have a huge taproom with lots of plants and seating, as well as a large outdoor area to hang out & play games. It’s easily the most aesthetic brewery I’ve been to and the perfect place to grab a cold one after a hike. Dogs (and kids) are welcome too.

Stir In case you couldn’t tell, I love a good cocktail, and this is another nice spot to get them. Both the inside and outside have a great vibe, but my vote is for the patio on a nice night. (Dogs are welcome on the patio too.) My favorite drink here is the Aviation, which is a simple but delicious gin cocktail. They also have a large selection of oysters here if you’re feeling snacky.

Play Wash Pint One of my favorite things about Chattanooga is how dog-friendly it is. If you plan to bring your pup along on this visit, you have to take them to this dog park bar! They have a pretty large selection of beers, ciders, and seltzers to sip on while your pup enjoys playing in the yard. A day pass is $10, but be sure to bring up-to-date vet records with you. You can also bathe your dog here for $10-$15 depending on their size, which is a great option if you’ve been on a hike and they need a good wash.

I hope this guide helps you plan the perfect weekend in Chattanooga! There’s so much to see and do here, so if you’re able to stay longer I highly recommend it.

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