Chattanooga Travel Guide: How to Spend 72 Hours in the Destination

Where to Eat, Shop, and Stay
Ann Taylor Weekend
Skirt: Ann Taylor Weekend Ivory Denim Skirt {I chose the petite sizing} | Sweater: Ann Taylor Weekend Chunky Collared Stripe Sweater | Top: Chambray Button Down Shirt | Watch: Citizen Silver Tank Watch | Bag: Chloé Nile Bracelet Bag | Shoes: Castañer Canvas Espadrilles | Earrings: Lisi Lerch x Belle of the Ball Carolyn Earrings

Recently, we decided to visit Chattanooga, Tennessee for the first time. Have you visited before? If so, you know it’s a very unique destination with a lot to offer different types of travelers. Today, I wanted to delve into Chattanooga Travel Guide including tips for where to eat, where to shop, what to do, and of course – what to pack.

Specifically, we’re sharing advice for what to do over a long weekend – especially since we had less than 72 hours in the destination.

Best of all, countless of you shared recommendations with us. Special thanks to @mekeesha, who went out of her way to share detailed advice. Your insights were invaluable. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

We sincerely tried to integrate as many of them into our itinerary as possible. 72 hours flies by, though, but we were thrilled to experience several highlights.

Jennifer Lake Hotel Chalet Choo Choo

Chattanooga Travel Guide

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all of the places you want to visit and options? Not to mention, between our full-time jobs, we have very limited free time to do so. Therefore, we take each leisure trip seriously and try to evaluate all options.

In the past (and to be very transparent), Chattanooga wasn’t a destination that immediately came to mind for us. But the past couple of years, Visit Chattanooga started sending us a lot of updates, news, and announcements.

What really stood out were a couple very sweet personalized emails to invite us to the destination. While we didn’t work with tourism board for this trip, we sincerely hope to return again soon and experience even more.

Their ongoing communication got our attention. After all, there’s something special about a hidden gem that feels like it deserves more shine.

So enter Chatt (short for Chattanooga). The secret is slowly getting out about how fabulous this city is – gorgeous views, very friendly people, and vibrant neighborhoods. One minute you can be in the mountains of Southeast Tennessee or the Tennessee River, and the next you’re in a dynamic neighborhood with culinary delights at every turn.

From hiking to kayaking, antique shopping to delicious cuisine, in my humble opinion – Chattanooga may be one of America’s most underrated cities.

Where to Stay – Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo

By now, you may have seen that we chose to stay at the newly re-opened Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo, who were kind enough to host us in their MacArthur Suite. The hotel was the main reason we chose to visit the destination, and we’re so glad that we did.

My full hotel review delves into our thoughts about the property and also some tips/advice to keep in mind. After a $19 million renovation, the property is an innovative and fun take on travel. Who wouldn’t want to stay overnight in a restored 1920’s Pullman train car? So cool.

I want (and need) to extend our sincere thanks to Trestle Studio, the entire Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo, Elsie’s Daughter teams and their agency teams for their generous hospitality. We loved every minute of our stay!

Hotel Chalet Chattanooga
Skirt: Ann Taylor Weekend Chino Midi Skirt (I went with petite sizing) | Top: Ann Taylor Weekend Stripe Knit Pullover | Sweater: Sail to Sable Cableknit Sweater | Watch: Citizen Silver Tank Watch | Bag: Ann Taylor Weekend Stripe Tote | Earrings: Tuckernuck Navy and Pearl Earrings | Eyewear: Céline Tortoise Sunglasses | Shoes: Castañer Canvas Espadrilles

Where to Eat in Chattanooga

One of the most delightful, and delicious, I might add, surprises of the destination was the FOOD. Here are some of our top recommendations based on where we ate.

Elsie’s Daughter: This is the on-site restaurant of The Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo, but I’d honestly recommend it for locals and travelers alike. First, get the chilaquiles and french toast at brunch. Heavenly! Keep in mind, weekend brunch starts at 11, and nearly every table was filled during our stay. Therefore, I strongly recommend reservations. Dinner was also delicious! You really can’t go wrong here. Our fave dinner dish was the smoked trout dip (which is also available during brunch.

The Rosecomb Bar: Several people recommended The Rosecomb to us – a 21+ bar and restaurant. The menu is curated and small, and reservations are recommended. It wasn’t until we did more research that it became clear why they were tapped to lead the menu at Elsie’s Daughter (the on-site restaurant of Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo).

Ann Taylor Navy Stripe Tote

Il Primo: We didn’t get a chance to eat here, but this popular Italian neighborhood restaurant & bar is just down the street from The Rosecomb. If we get the chance to visit again, this restaurant is at the top of the list.

The Daily Ration: Talk about a fun set-up and brunch! This Chattanooga gem serves breakfast and lunch all year round, and they feature both interior and exterior spaces. We loved enjoying dishes from this casual restaurant and coffee shop. Bob ordered the Kimchi Rice Bowl, which was the star of the show. I got the B.Y.O Avocado Toast – also delicious.

Ann Taylor Chino Midi Skirt

Additional restaurant recommendations include:

Ann Taylor Blue Stripe Shirtdress
Dress: Ann Taylor Weekend Stripe Shirtdress (I went with petite sizing) | Jacket: Ann Taylor Weekend Pink Quilted Jacket | Watch: Citizen Silver Tank Watch | Bag: Mark & Graham Rattan Clutch | Eyewear: Céline Sunglasses | Shoes: Castañer Canvas Espadrilles

Where to Shop in Chattanooga

One of my favorite aspects of our stay was the SHOPPING. Oh gracious, I wish we had more time to shop all of the phenomenal antique stores. We ended up buying A LOT of small accessories for the lake home. I’m so glad that we did! Here were our top three:

Dirty Jane’s Antiques: What a brand name, lol. Sadly, we arrived at the store with only 30 minutes to shop. Frankly, I wish we had a couple hours, since there were so many booths. It’s a huge space! You’ll find furniture, home décor, and so much more.

The Refindery: Wow, what a cool space! The exterior is also deceiving as it has a ton of square footage. We really enjoyed our time here, and picked up several vintage books, antique brass candlestick holders, and beyond.

Lastly, here are few other antique and home store picks that were on our list. We didn’t get the chance to visit, but again – we can’t wait to return and check them out if we get the opportunity.

Jennifer Lake Ann Taylor Pink Quilted Jacket

What to Do

Feeling a bit more active? Chattanooga is known for incredible hiking, kayaking when the weather is nice, the world class Tennessee Aquarium, Rock City Gardens, and the Incline Railway. You really can’t go wrong!

Additionally, if you like breweries, several people recommended both Oddstory Brewing Company and a distillery tour of Chattanooga Whiskey. Sadly, there wasn’t enough time (nor warm enough) for us to do any of the above. However, we can easily see there are endless amounts of activities during every season.

Jennifer Lake Ann Taylor Stripes

Chattanooga Travel Guide – What to Pack

We visited Chattanooga in February, and the high was in the high 50’s and the evenings were low 30’s. Therefore, layers are very important for your trip. I decided to pack several timeless and classic pieces, including this striped sweater that got a ton of compliments. Moreover, this navy cable knit sweater continues to travel the world with me. I’m a fan!

Also, this pink quilted jacket that’s currently on sale. It served me well througout the day – especially at restaurants if I was getting too cold.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of all things espadrilles, and these new neutral ones are going to be my go-to all season along (including several trips coming up!).

Chattanooga Travel Guide

Chattanooga Travel Guide – In Closing

Thankfully, we’ve had the opportunity to visit some of the best domestic and global destinations. For the past 20 years, I’ve worked in travel communications and marketing. It’s at the very core of what we love to experience (and visit).

In departing Chattanooga, I a bit at a loss for words of exactly how to describe it. You aren’t expecting me to, of course. But there’s a lot that’s hard to put my finger on in this Chattanooga Travel Guide.

The food? Amazing. The antique shopping? Fantastic. The new hotels? Epic. Plus, there were countless murals, street art, and other unique things that made it stand out.

But like any city, there are also things that make you want (and need) to take a second look.

Overall, Chattanooga is a great destination for families, Midwest travelers, couples, and those seeking something unexpected. I leave feeling rested and intrigued… and waiting to return.

Skirt: Ann Taylor Weekend Ivory Denim Skirt {I chose the petite sizing} | Sweater: Ann Taylor Weekend Chunky Collared Stripe Sweater | Top: Chambray Button Down Shirt | Watch: Citizen Silver Tank Watch | Bag: Chloé Nile Bracelet Bag | Shoes: Castañer Canvas Espadrilles | Earrings: Lisi Lerch x Belle of the Ball Carolyn Earrings

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