Located in southeastern Tennessee and set along the Tennessee River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga is the 4th largest city in the state. And while it tends to get overshadowed by its larger, sister cities like Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville, Chattanooga is a worthy destination all on its own. With incredible outdoor activities, a booming culinary scene, and beautiful scenic views, everyone should add Chattanooga to their “Weekend Getaway'' destination list. Having lived in Nashville for going on a decade now, we’ve been to and driven through Chattanooga dozens of times, so we thought we would put together what we think is the perfect one-day itinerary for the “Scenic City”! You can obviously modify this itinerary and stretch it out over a weekend, and if you want a little more of a relaxed experience, we recommend it, but if you’re a time-crunched traveler like us and want to do, see, and eat as much as possible on a limited schedule, then this schedule will suit you well!
Looking for accommodations for your time in Chattanooga? See some of our suggestions HERE!
Check out our “One Day in Chattanooga” vlog for a closer look at our visit!
Now, let's get into it!
8:00 am: Coffee/Breakfast
Goodman Expert Coffee Roasters (3913 St Elmo Ave Suite B)
Goodman Coffee Roasters is a no-frills, specialty coffee shop with a “farm to consumer” model meaning that they partner directly with the producers/farmers of coffee to ensure that each cup of coffee is of the highest quality and ethically sourced. In addition to serving one of the best cups of coffee in Chattanooga, they also offer a selection of teas, breakfast sandwiches/burritos, and a modest selection of pastries.
Mad Priest Coffee Roasters (1900 Broad St Suite C)
Mean Mug Coffeehouse (114 W Main St)
9:00-11:00 am: Rock City Gardens (1400 Patten Rd, Lookout Mountain, GA)
Rock City is a botanical garden with over 400 different species of plants, trees, and shrubs, but it’s really more than that. And while it is a touristy place, it’s worth a visit in our opinion. It has incredible rock features, a swinging bridge, spanning views where you can see 7 states at one time and so much more! There are also multiple gift shops and dining options on-site as well. You could easily spend half a day exploring Rock City, especially if you have kids!
11:30 am-1:30 pm: Ruby Falls (1720 Scenic Hwy)
Ruby Falls is one of our favorite experiences in all of Tennessee, and while it is touristy, there is a reason that over a half-million people visit this site each year! It was discovered in 1928 when access to the area (AKA the cave system) was drilled into accidentally while excavating an elevator shaft to reach the Lookout Mountain Cave. The cave tour will take 60-80 minutes and takes you on a half-mile (1-mile roundtrip) walk through the cave system that ends at the base of Ruby Falls. The waterfall is 145 feet high (really 90 feet that’s visible) and is formed by an underground stream that is 1,120 feet below the summit of Lookout Mountain. Needless to say, Ruby Falls is a must-do in our opinion!
2:00 pm: Lunch
Taconooga (Mexican - 207 A Frazier Ave)
Taconooga is a laid-back Mexican eatery serving up authentic Mexican dishes such as tacos, tortas, tamales, & other classics using only the finest and freshest ingredients all at an affordable price. We especially enjoyed the housemade salsas!
Champy's (Fried Chicken & Fish - 526 E M L King Blvd)
Slick's Burgers (Burgers - 309 E Main St)
3:00 pm: Ice Cream at Clumpies Ice Cream Co. (26 Frazier Ave B)
Clumpies has been serving delicious handcrafted ice cream to the Chattanooga community since 1999! And with 3 locations in the city, you’ll never have to travel far to get your Clumpies fix. From their ice cream mix that they pasteurize from fresh milk and cream to their house-made cookies, cakes, chunks, jams, and sauces that they swirl into their ice cream, Clumpies uses only the finest and freshest ingredients that can be found and it shows! Also, their ice cream is churned in small batches (ten gallons or less at a time) which allows them to create a product that is far superior to their large-scale competitors. No visit to Chattanooga is complete without a little Clumpies!
3:15 pm: Explore Coolidge Park (150 River St) with Clumpies
Right around the corner from this particular Clumpies location is Coolidge Park which makes the perfect place to go and enjoy your delicious ice cream! Along with an interactive water fountain, rock climbing, a pavilion, picnic amenities, a military memorial, and a 100-year-old restored antique carousel, Coolidge Park offers incredible views of the Tennessee River, the Walnut Street Bridge, and Downtown Chattanooga.
4:15 pm: Chattanooga Choo Choo (92 Choo Choo Ave)
This train station turned hotel/entertainment complex is a destination experience and beacon of history located in the heart of downtown Chattanooga. It boasts beautiful and comfortable accommodations in unique Pullman Train Cars and traditional hotel rooms as well as two full-service restaurants, numerous bars, a coffee shop, two music venues, a comedy club, a distillery, and various retail outlets.
5:45 pm: Freshen up at Airbnb: Twin Oaks Airbnb
Nestled under the canopy of two giant oak trees, Twin Oaks is a 1920s home renovated by Chattanooga locals...for you to stay like a local! Located within 3 miles of Rock City, Ruby Falls, the Incline Railway, the Chattanooga Choo Choo, and more, Twin Oaks is the perfect home base for a weekend exploring Chattanooga! With a cozy front porch and a large fenced-in backyard with a grilling station and fire pit, this is the perfect place to relax with friends and family or just have a peaceful getaway.
7:00 pm: Walnut Street Bridge (1 Walnut St) for Sunset
Erected in 1891, the Walnut Street Bridge is one of the world's longest pedestrian bridges and while it is a beautiful piece of Chattanooga history today, it wasn’t always so loved and well taken care of. The bridge actually sat in disuse and disrepair for over a decade in the 70s and 80s before being reconstructed and repurposed into the National Register of Historic Places pedestrian bridge that it is now. The beautifully aged blue-painted steel is uniquely Chattanooga and the wooden slatted walkway is reminiscent of the Jersey Shore Boardwalk or the Brooklyn Bridge. The Walnut St. Bridge is a must when visiting Chattanooga!
8:15 pm: Dinner
Public House Restaurant (1110 Market St)
Since 2009 Public House has been a crowd favorite serving up locally sourced, southern fare in a relaxed atmosphere. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here. The food and experience are 4-star but come at a 3-star price making it an incredible value! They also have an impressive bar right next door called The Social that serves on-tap beers, wine, small plates, cocktails, and an impressive offering of Bourbons.
Feed Table and Tavern (elevated comfort grub - 201 W Main St)
Community Pie (Neapolitan & New York-style pizza, craft beers - 850 Market St)
9:45 pm: Night Cap
The Rosecomb (921 Barton Ave)
Opened in the summer of 2022, The Rosecomb is a 21+ Cocktail Bar built in a 1920s Cottage nestled in the historic Riverview neighborhood serving Appalachian-inspired dishes, craft cocktails, unique wines, and ice-cold beers. In the short time that The Rosecomb has been open, they have become known as one of the premier nightlife establishments in Chattanooga.
Unknown Caller (speakeasy-style cocktail bar that also offers beer, wine & cheese boards - 715 Cherry St)
No Hard Feelings (fun, funky atmosphere with creative cocktails leaning towards tropical or rum-based libations - 806 Broad St)
And just like that your day in Chattanooga has come to an end! We hope that this blog has helped you plan your time in this incredible city, and if it has, we hope you’ll consider following us on Instagram and subscribing to our YouTube Channel for more travel content!