Chris I were sitting around our firepit at 9pm on a Friday night and on a whim Chris just decided he wanted to take me away for the weekend. If you’re local to the Huntsville, AL area, Chattanooga is a great weekend getaway because it’s only an hour and a half drive away. The best part, they’re is plenty to do if you’re taking a last minute trip and all the main tourist attractions are already booked. We hopped in the car Saturday morning with no plans but to have a good time.
Stop #1: The Hotel
We booked a nights stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Chattanooga. It was within walking distance to everything we wanted to be at so we stopped there first to drop off the car. If you plan to go with kids, this hotel is right beside the children’s museum (you don’t even have to cross the street). If you’re going without kids, the hotel has an in house bar but it does close at 10pm.
*TIP* If you come to Chattanooga before check in, just tell the valet that you have a reservation for that night and they’ll let you park before checking in. This way you can avoid paying for street parking downtown.
Stop #2 Chattanooga River Market
This market is right in front of the Chattanooga aquarium from 10am-5pm on Saturday’s. They have all kinds of handmade crafts, jewelry, soaps, woodworking, etc. It’s the perfect spot to stroll through downtown and start off your weekend.
Stop #3 Puckett’s
If you’ve been to the Chattanooga aquarium, chances are you been to or at least considered going to Puckett’s. It’s literally right at the end of the aquarium plaza, just past the market. They had live music and a fun atmosphere for both kids and adults. We sat at the bar to avoid a long wait for a table and enjoyed the music.
*TIP* Most restaurants with a bar serve the full menu at the bar. If you’ve only got 2 people this is a great option to get a fast seat
*TIP* We love trying new things, so each bar we went to on this trip, we would either try something new from they’re cocktail menu or tell the bartender to make us something based off of what we typically like.
Stop # 4 Hunter Museum of American Art
We totally stumbled upon this museum while walking down by the water. We had no idea what this beautiful building was, but Chris was obsessed with the architecture and wanted a closer look. So we climbed the stairs and what do ya know! It was an art museum. There was a wedding being set up when we stumbled across it but they still let us go in. It’s not free, but 100% worth the money (and that’s coming from someone who typically gets bored by art).
Stop #5 The Walnut Street Bridge
The Walnut Street Bridge is a Chattanooga staple. Coming out of the art museum, there is a walkway that goes across the street and comes out directly at the Walnut Street Bridge. It’s a great spot for photos, to get a quick run in, or to just watch the boats down below. It’s also near an ice cream shop and a couple upscale hotels.
Stop #6 Big River Grill & Brewing Works
By this time we had worked up an appetite for lunch and made our way over to another restaurant. We sat at the bar again to avoid the wait for a table. I ordered the Nacho’s which I loved! Chris ordered the chicken wings and said they were the best he ever had! This restaurant was also family friendly but geared more towards adults. If you’re into rock climbing, this restaurant is across the street from a huge rock climbing wall! We didn’t check it out but we want to at some point (if I ever get over my fear of heights that is).
Stop #7 Back to the hotel
At this point it was late enough to check into the hotel, and we wanted to take a bit of a break. We checked in and spent some time on the balcony of our room. Changed into some warmer clothes and then headed out to our next spot which was recommended by the hotel receptionist.
*TIP* Always ask your hotels staff or restaurant workers what they’re favorite spot is in town. You’ll always end up somewhere great!
*TIP* Adults need to take afternoon breaks too, not just toddlers. Don’t overdo it and try to pack everything in. Take time to relax with your family or spouse so you don’t go home tired.
Stop #8 Southside Social
This was probably our favorite stop of the whole trip. The downside, it’s not within walking distance. We took the bus half the way, and walked the rest. We highly recommend just getting a Uber. It’s still close enough that the Uber should cost less than $20.
We walked in, expecting it to be a bar, but it was so much more. There was a bar, there was seating inside, there was seating outside with lawn games, there was an arcade upstairs, but the best part: it had a freaking bowling alley! We saw it and looked at each other like “let’s do it”!
The atmosphere was great for a family fun night, date night, or getting together with friends. They bowling lane’s all had big couches with huge coffee tables, great for ordering lots of drinks and food (which of course we did)! There were several families with kids bowling in there so it was not just a typical bar. Of all the places we went, we recommend this one the most!
*TIP* The public transit is free, but also very clean and covid restrictions were in place. If you take the bus anywhere, double check what time they quit running. The day we were there, they quit running at 6pm. After that we used an Uber.
Stop #9 Carriage Rides/Ice Cream
We took an Uber from Southside Social back to the aquarium. In front of the aquarium are a couple different companies that give carriage rides. Some you can find a phone number online to call and book an appointment. We just showed up and gave the lady our phone number. She planned to text us when her next horse was available.
Naturally instead of waiting we went across the street for ice cream, and then came back for our ride. They took us around downtown and it was beautiful at night. The drivers typically don’t talk much (most people want a quiet romantic ride) but we asked ours lots of questions about how she started doing this and about the horse and she was happy to tell us all about it! Chattanooga Carriage Company and Chattanooga Horse Trams are two companies that were there that day.
*TIP* If you’re set on having to have a carriage ride, we recommend trying to call and book it in advance. Most people were waiting an hour or more for a ride.
Back to the Hotel, with a side of Dinner
We were exhausted so we walked back other to the hotel and got a drink at the in-house bar. By that point we realized we were starving but didn’t want to walk to a restaurant so we ordered some Taconooga and had it delivered to our door! We used Grubhub, but you can always call the restaurant to see what other delivery services they use. Probably the best taco of my life. Either that or I was really, really hungry.
Stop #10 Brunch at The Daily Ration
I’ve never been a huge fan of breakfast food. And I especially didn’t want to mix fried chicken with waffles and maple syrup, but BOY WAS I WRONG. The Daily Ration was recommended to us on Facebook so we hopped in the car Sunday morning and drove the short distance across the River (not within walking distance but still only a short drive). They had your typical brunch beverages along with some specials. I tried something new from their drink menu with the Chicken & Waffles and Chris had a Kimchi Rice bowl with a Bloody Mary. When I say it was amazing, it was freaking amazing. I would go back to Chattanooga just for this same brunch. It was amazing. I can’t express to you enough… EAT HERE!
After lunch we drove back over the bridge and headed home. We didn’t know we needed a weekend getaway together until we did it. It may seem like all we did was eat and drink, but what you don’t see in the pictures and blog is the quality time we spent together. It’s hard to be distracted by phones, chores, tv, etc. while you’re walking down the street with your husband experiencing new things and places together.
There were plenty of things that we saw and wanted to do and didn’t get to. We wanted to go to the aquarium but it was booked, and there is an indoor rock climbing wall downtown, as well as so many other popular tourist attractions. Chattanooga is so close that we could literally go on a Saturday morning and come home the same day.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Chatanooga, TN? Anything that most people might not know about? Let me know in the comments!