A short flight from Baltimore, Chattanooga represented another starting place to spread my wings during the heinous Covid-19 pandemic season of thwarted travel. Lucky for me, I have a few friends who are usually up for an adventure, and this road trip with just that. My friend and I flew from Baltimore to Chattanooga, hopped in our rental car, and enjoyed a week in Tennessee, northern Georgia and North Carolina. I’d do it all again and recommend you give this itinerary a go!
[PRO TIP: We visited in October and it was LOV-E-LY weather.]
Just over 24 hours, I spent enough time in Chattanooga to know that I’d like to go back and get to know the city better. With a gorgeous waterfront, Volkswagen’s only US factory, the only city in the world with 10-gigabits per second internet, incredible natural beauty and history, Chattanooga is a worthy destination all its own.
From the airport we drove straight into town following the signs for the Chattanooga Choo Choo. I mean, how can you miss that? The Terminal Station opened in 1909 as the first railway station in the South, designed in the Beaux Arts style, is now a hotel. There are some lovely shops and restaurants around as well. We stopped for a cocktail at Gate Eleven Distillery (try one with their Absinthe!).
We pre-booked a room at the RiverView Inn, with a view from Old Wauhatchie Pike. A short drive into town to explore, the hotel is also just around the bend from Ruby Falls, where we had booked a cave walk tour the following morning.
Walnut Street Bridge
One of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges since 1890, the Walnut Street Bridge spans the Tennessee River and connects downtown Chattanooga to what is known as the North Shore.
Chattanooga Walking Ghost Tour
We pre-booked Chattanooga Ghost Tours Murder & Mayhem Walking History Tour—their most popular tour, is at night, and super spooky! A great way to explore the city on foot and learn some local history.
[PRO TIP: The entrance to the building is NOT on Market Street or East 5th, but accessed from Cherry Street from behind. Take their phone number with you and call if you are confused, like we were! Street parking in the area is free after 6pm and all day Sunday.]
After enjoying our hotel breakfast with a view, we headed to Ruby Falls [1720 South Scenic Highway] for our pre-booked Cave Walking Tour. This was my favorite, and if you only have a little time, I’d recommend you keep it on your list.
Accidentally discovered in 1928 by Leo Lambert, Ruby Falls named for his wife, is 260 feet deep inside historic Lookout Mountain. It is the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open in the US and seeing the geological formations is truly unforgettable. The outdoor viewpoint also offers spectacular views of the Cumberland Plateau.
When you get hungry try family owned Niedlov’s Breadworks [215 East Main Street] for breakfast of lunch. Absolutely delicious and fresh daily. Vegetarian and Gluten-free available.
For Next Time…
There were many things we didn’t have time for, but these are on my list for the next visit to this charming and historic city.
- We had hoped to eat dinner at Tony’s Pasta Shop & Trattoria [411 East 2nd Street] but it was totally booked, so I wish we had pre-booked a table.
- On our walking ghost tour we learned of the ominous history at The Read House hotel [107 West MLK Blvd.] and would stay there next time for ghosts, a touch of luxury and location.
- There are loads of activities along the waterfront and I would have loved to have spent at least an afternoon in The Hunter Museum.
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