Chattanooga (Tennessee, USA), what are the highlights?

Chattanooga is the fourth largest city in the US state of Tennessee. It is located in southeastern Tennessee on the Tennessee River near the border with the state of Georgia. Chattanooga is a small city (167,000 inhabitants in 2016) but it is an attractive tourist attraction. In 2009, the city invested in a new infrastructure for the internet. Internet speed of one gigabit per second is available to every home and business in the city. This has attracted start-up companies and made Chattanooga boom; the local commerce and restaurants are busy and benefit from the city’s popularity. Chattanooga sheds its industrial past and has turned into an innovative city full of impressive bars and restaurants. The young generation of residents ensures that the characteristic southern hospitality is preserved.

The history of the city

The first inhabitants of the Chattanooga area were Native Americans. The name is composed of two different native words, namely Chato (which means stone) and the suffix Nunga (which means dwelling place). Others claim that the name Chattanooga is derived from a native name meaning The Big Catch, because of the good fishing on the nearby Tennessee River. The first members of the Cherokee settled there around the year 1776. In 1838, however, the tribe was forced – together with many other Indian tribes – to leave this area and move towards the current state of Oklahoma. The place where Chattanooga is now located was used by the European occupiers to settle emigrants. The city grew rapidly and took advantage of its ideal location on the river. When a railroad was built in 1850, growth accelerated. There was heavy fighting in Chattanooga during the American Civil War. There are many parks and monuments in the city that commemorate the war.

Five reasons to visit the city

Local whiskey and beer

Chattanooga comes alive at night with the help of some unique spots nearby. Opposite the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel is the Terminal Brewhouse, a building from 1910. The interior has been renovated and decorated like a classic bar, they serve their own brewed beer. In the center there is a bar with a very special atmosphere, Clyde’s on Main. There are colored leather sofas, tables in the shape of pinball machines and retro neon advertising lighting that begs to be put on Instagram. The bar is open from dinner time until about 1:30 on weekends. Across the street is The Feed Co., one of the newest bars and if you visit the bar ask for a Jonny Be Good cocktail, made with Chattanooga Whiskey, and their award-winning artichoke dip chips. Don’t miss the chance to go behind the scenes at the Chattanooga Whiskey Distillery, where the local spirit is produced. A tour lasts 45 minutes, costs $12.00 (in 2016) and starts every hour on the hour. The tour takes guests through the distilling process and ends with a tasting. Taste the flavors of the day, served in four cocktail glasses and two shot glasses and enjoy the smooth taste of the whiskey.

The cuisine of the south

If you would like to discover the cuisine of the South, Chattanooga is the right place. There are plenty of restaurants, many serving authentic southern cuisine with an innovative twist. Start your day at the Bluegrass Grill, a long-time popular restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch to Chattanooga residents, with fans lining up every day to eat here. You can have lunch in the Urban Stack, the portions are large. A long list of burgers to choose from, sandwiches, it doesn’t matter what you order, just enjoy it on the cozy terrace. When it comes to dinner, Easy Bistro is an option, serving simple dishes with a French twist.

Underwater life

Plan to spend part of the day at the Tennessee Aquarium. It is a large complex on the river with two separate buildings; the freshwater River Journey and the saltwater Ocean Journey, with a total of 12,000 animals. In the Ocean Journey, the Secret Reef, a tank filled with almost two million liters of water with sharks, sea turtles and hundreds of colorful fish, is a feast for every eye. After getting an up-close look at the marine life, board the River Gorge Explorer, a custom-built speedboat that takes visitors on a two-hour tour of the Tennessee River Gorge, also known locally as the Grand Canyon of Tennessee. There is a guide on board who will talk about the ecological sights of the area. There is also a large IMAX cinema with special nature films.


With a history of not being the destination but being the connection between America’s largest cities, Chattanooga has a train depot that is over a hundred years old. A trip to Chattanooga isn’t complete without a ride on the rails that made the city great. About a 15-minute drive from downtown Chattanooga, there’s the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum where you can go back in time on an hour-long train ride to Missionairy Ridge in an old locomotive. The beautiful journey full of mountain vistas is 10 kilometers long and takes you past the outskirts of Chattanooga before arriving at a fully operational train station. Passengers can watch the locomotive turn around on a plateau to return to the starting point.

Wide views

The tourist attraction that surprises with authenticity and charm is Rock City, an essential part of any visit to Chattanooga. Fun for the whole family, it is an adventurous hiking trail through narrow openings in the rocks, past caves and over bridges in the Lookout Mountain area. You will see impossibly beautiful views of seven states halfway along the hiking trail, which takes about an hour to hike. There is a snack stand at the viewpoint and there are chairs where you can enjoy the view. Along the walking path is also a cave full of Disney-like representations of fairy tales, perfect for children of all ages.

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