Chattanoooooooga. You may be like me and have heard of Chattanooga, but don’t know much about it or if it would be a place worth spending any amount of time on. Maybe you thought it was just a college town? Let me tell you, it is worth a visit, especially if you are into art, being outdoors, American history, living a health-conscious lifestyle, or nature. I couldn’t wait to build a 6-day Chattanooga, TN Itinerary!

Don’t miss my Clean Travel Guide to Chattanooga and Eating Clean in Chatanooga post!

Chattanooga, Tennessee is in the southern part of Tennessee, just north of the Georgia border. It is home to the University of TN Chattanooga and a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. If you visit, you’ll also discover how rich Chattanooga is in American History.

We found ourselves in Chattanooga during the 2020 pandemic with my husband’s family. We booked a quaint bed and breakfast in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia (about 15-20 min south of Chattanooga), and spent 6 days exploring all that Chattanooga had to offer in adventure and wellness, even during a pandemic!

Here’s my 6-day itinerary in Chattanooga, willed with adventure and wellness!

North Chick Blue Hole

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6-Day Chattanooga, TN Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive and settle into accommodations

Dinner Downtown @ Thai Smile

Thai Smile is a great authentic Thai restaurant with gluten-free options (including curries) labeled on the menu. They also include spice levels and did great working with our dietary restrictions.

There is a paid parking lot right next to the restaurant. 

Enjoy the sunset by the Tennessee River

Spend the rest of the evening enjoying the sunset and exploring the lower downtown area near the aquarium and river.

There is a large open area with grass and concrete steps down to the river, near Ross’s Landing next to the bridge, where you can sit and enjoy. 

*This is a section of the “Trail of Tears”, and you can visit the historical marker that resides there today.

Day 2

Drive to Lookout Mountain and visit Rock City

Lookout Mountain is a big tourist attraction in Chattanooga, and is also home to Rock City, Incline Railway, and Ruby Falls.

Out of the three choices, we chose to visit Rock City for the great views, leisurely walking trails, and picturesque spots.

*It takes about 1.5 hours to go through Rock City at a leisurely pace. If you are severely claustrophobic, I would rethink visiting these attractions. 

Even though it was a warm day we felt cool throughout our walk because most of the path is shaded.

Toward the latter half of the trail, you’ll come to Lovers Leap. This is where High Falls is and the Seven State View.

EATING IN ROCK CITY GARDENS

Big Rock Grill – Just inside the main entrance and offers sandwiches & burgers.

Café 7 – The “7 state view” café has a larger menu with gluten-free and vegetarian menu labels.

Cliff Terrace – Near Lover’s Leap inside the park and offers pizza, hot dogs, & snack foods.

Starbucks – Right outside of the main entrance.

  • *If you avoid non-organic coffee or altogether, go to Milk & Honey (10-minute drive) before or after for organic coffee or a great coffee alternative!

Grab Lunch @ Milk & Honey and Eat @ Coolidge Park

Milk and Honey was one of the places I was looking forward to eating at the most! They have a great menu with some organic options, labeled vegetarian/vegan dishes, and can cater to a variety of dietary preferences. 

Milk & Honey is a fairly small place, so grab your food to-go and drive (5 minutes) to Coolidge Park on the North Shore for a picnic on the river!

Coolidge Park is a public park with walking & bike paths, benches, picnic tables, and grassy areas to spread out and relax in the sun. Here you will find amazing views of the river and Chattanooga’s famous Walnut St. Pedestrian Bridge. There is even a splash pad for kids in the summertime! 

*Parking at Coolidge Park is metered, and they have extremely nice free public bathrooms. 

Go Apple Picking @ Wheeler’s Apple Orchard & Vineyard 

1 hour northwest of Chattanooga, into the mountains, is a family-owned apple orchard & vineyard. 

The owners gave us a tour of the orchard and told us about their history, sustainability, and farming practices. Since gaining an organic certification is so expensive – and they are a small family-owned farm – they opted to not get a certification, but still use organic practices. 

Their barn is home to a local market with goods and art from local farmers and artisans.

They also sell their seasonal homemade apple cider, local honey, and refrigerated apples if you want a cool one to eat on your way back into town or while you’re picking! 

*Wheeler’s also advertises a local Farmers Market on Saturdays

Picking reservations can be made on their website but they also welcome walkups during business hours.

1 hour of picking costs $3 and there is an additional charge for however many apples you pick – a bushel, or a peck!

Dinner Downtown @ Two Ten Jack

Two Ten Jack is a Japanese Tapas restaurant in Warehouse Row. This was one of the nicer/more expensive restaurants that we ate at.

I was a little hesitant about this restaurant with our dietary restrictions, but the menu just looked so good that I couldn’t resist. Our server worked with us wonderfully and made it one of the best meals we had on the trip!

Walk to Clumpie’s for Dessert!

Just a few blocks north of Two Ten Jack is Chattanooga’s locally handcrafted ice cream.

There are even dairy-free options. We skipped out, but the family said it was great!

Day 3

Breakfast @ Rembrandt’s for a local coffee and baked goods

Visit the Chattanooga River Market

Tennessee Aquarium Plaza, 1 Broad Street – Chattanooga, TN

The Chattanooga River Market happens on Saturdays from 10 AM-5 PM (seasonal & opens mid-March). They have live music, arts, crafts, eats, and free yoga by the river!

Tennessee Aquarium & IMAX

If it’s not Saturday for the market, then check out the Tennessee Aquarium! This is highly spoken as a great attraction with a wide variety of ocean and river wildlife.

We didn’t end up having time to check it out, but it’s definitely on the list for next time!

*Buy tickets ahead of time due to limited capacity!

Visit Bluff View Art District

Bluff View is a historic, family-owned neighborhood with local art galleries, restaurants, a coffee shop, and one beautiful view of the river from the sculpture garden.

This area has got a unique, European small-town feel, which was one of the reasons it was a favorite spot of mine in Chattanooga. 

Bluff View Inn is one of my “Stay” recommendations and Bluff View Art District is the main reason why. You are central to everything but still in a quaint part of town that feels quiet and slow-paced. 

Bluff View Bakery in Bluff View Art District

The Hunter Museum of American ArtWalnut Pedestrian Bridge are great local attractions to visit and easily walkable from Bluff View.

Shop @ Warehouse Row Shops & Grab Lunch @ Public House

Warehouse Row is a historical building dating back to the Civil War. It has now been transformed into a destination for shopping and eating.

There are local boutiques and several name-brand stores like Lululemon, Anthropologie, and J.Crew. 

*Park in Warehouse Row parking lot & get validation from any of the shops or Public House.

Public House has a designated gluten-free menu. Although they did not offer a lot of options for our dietary restrictions on AIP, they did cater well to menu adjustments. 

Walk to Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel

The Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel is a historical landmark where the first railway station in the South was opened in 1909. It has since been redone into a hotel and a hub for several other popular Chattanooga activities!

Choo Choo Highlights 

Comedy Catch stand-up comedy is one you don’t want to miss! *Check showtimes and book tickets in advance! 

Train themed Escape Room 

Station Street is right next to the Choo Choo and is home to parties, outdoor concerts, and street festivals 

Frothy Monkey is a great café open for breakfast, lunch, & dinner. It\’s a great place to grab a coffee, tea, beer/wine with a light snack and relax in Glen Miller Gardens behind the hotel.

STIR is open for lunch, dinner & brunch on the weekends. This place has an amazing menu that is locally sourced, and has an Oyster Bar! 

*Don’t miss the photo-op under the large lit-up Chattanooga sign on the back side of the hotel lobby!

Stop into Wildflower Apothecary 

Wildflower was a trip highlight for us! It’s right across from the Choo Choo & one of my favorite finds in Chattanooga.

They sell local health and wellness goods, tinctures, & tonics; and they also serve organic loose-leaf teas.

Their menu has teas for wellness and functional purposes, taste, and enjoyment! They had several different sweetening options depending on your preference. This place is seriously the best. 

Shop & Explore Northshore/Frazier Avenue

Drive down Market Street and cross the bridge over to North Shore and Frazier Avenue.

Park at Coolidge Park or metered parking along the road (if you can find a spot). Walk along Frazier Avenue, and pop into local shops. 

Frazier Avenue Highlights

Homegrown Adornments – sells local pottery, jewelry

Blue skies – sells different local artisan gifts

Locally Made – local candles, food, t-shirts

Cashew – local plant-based vegan eatery with dairy-free, gluten-free, and paleo options

Zi olive – sells olive oil & balsamic (not organic)

Stone Cup Café – locally roasted coffee shop (not organic)

Winder Binder Bookstore *Trip Highlight!

In all of my travels, I always try to find local bookstores. These are a dying breed and it\’s one thing I try and do to help. Discovering and spending time in them is one of my favorite things to do. 

This particular one is a fantastic bookstore! One of their quirks is that they sell books wrapped in paper with a description written on the front, so you don’t know what book it is. Such a fun idea and adds a little excitement and mystery to your purchase. 

Dinner Downtown @ Flying Squirrel

Flying Squirrel has a tapas-like menu with local meats and seasonal produce. They have a great menu for gluten-free, paleo, and vegan options.

*Tip – be very clear with your wait staff as to what your dietary restrictions are. We ended up with bread crumbs in our green beans and cheese crumble on one of our other dishes (these were not listed ingredients on the menu).

<ALTERNATIVE DAY OPTION>

Southern Belle River Cruise

If this day includes way too much shopping and walking for your taste, then catch a ride on the Southern Belle River Cruise!

They have morning or afternoon tours and you can hear more about the history of Chattanooga and see the sites from the river! 

*The cruise lasts 1.5 hours and is $30 per person

Day 4

Shop & Explore The Chattanooga Market

First Horizon Pavilion, 1826 Carter Street – Chattanooga, TN

The Chattanooga Market is open Sundays from 11 AM-4 PM (seasonal & opens mid-late April). They sell local food, art, & often have live music!

*If it’s not a Sunday and the market isn’t open, head to South Cumberland State Park early and hit some of the other trails near Foster Falls!

Lunch @ The Chattanooga Market or The Local Juicery + Kitchen

The Local Juicery has an extensive menu of juices, kinds of milk, snacks, smoothies, smoothie bowls, and coffee drinks.

This place is perfect for breakfast, or a lighter lunch. Unfortunately, their menu is not organic; but they do try to source from local farmers. 

Hike & Swim Foster Falls

Foster Falls Rd – Sequatchie, TN (40-minute drive Northwest of Chattanooga)

Foster Falls is a beautiful 60-foot waterfall in the South Cumberland State Park.

When you arrive at the trailhead, there is a nice paved parking lot with bathrooms and a detailed trail map. There are several hiking trails in the park, including the popular Climber’s Loop, that are worth exploring.

If you are shorter on time (like we were) and value time swimming in the waterfall (like I do), then you may stick to just hiking down into the gorge to the Falls. 

To get to the Falls, go to the left when you get to the first lookout point and you will see a sign at the entrance of the trail, which will be to your right.

The hike down to the waterfall is about 20 minutes in and 10 minutes out. Even though it is a moderate hike, I saw several people do it with children, a dog, and a couple of older adults.

It is manageable if you go slower and take your time, especially at tricky spots. The reward is the incredible 60-foot waterfall that pours out into a large natural swimming hole.

We went on a Sunday in mid-September and it was not very crowded, but the water was quite chilly! 

*Be sure to bring a swimsuit, water shoes, and a towel. 

Dinner Downtown @ Bantam & Biddy

Bantam & Bitty is a gold mine for gluten-free comfort food. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and a great to-go option if you are feeling a cozy night in. 

Day 5

Hike & Swim North Chickamauga Blue Hole

297 Montlake Road – Soddy Daisy, TN (20-minute drive Northeast of Chattanooga)

*The North Chick Blue Hole trailhead has a small gravel parking lot with no bathrooms. So, make sure you stop at the Circle K on the corner before Montlake Road to go potty!

The North Chick Blue Hole is about 1.5 miles down the trail and there is a river crossing to get there so make sure and wear some water shoes!

Once you arrive, it’s pretty spectacular. There is plenty of space to spread out on the rocks and sunbathe, picnic, or hang out for a while.

This is a very popular spot – especially in the summertime! So, it’s usually good to get there in the mornings to beat the crowds.

*Be sure to bring a swimsuit, water shoes, water, and a towel!

The massive rock formation jutting out over the natural swimming hole is easy to climb onto and jump off of into the crystal-clear water. But, make sure the water level is high enough!

The trail to Blue Hole follows the river and along the way, there are several paths down to the river’s natural swimming holes created by boulders and rock formations. These were crystal clear, quieter, and more private than the Blue Hole.

Lunch @ Southern Squeeze 

Southern Squeeze is my top non-toxic food find of the trip (and it was not an easy find)!

The menu is 100% organiccompletely dairy-free & gluten-free, and labeled for oils and nuts!! It’s revolutionary.

*There is a great grab-and-go section you can take advantage of for a hike or adventure day trip! 

Kayak the Tennessee River with L2 Outside Downtown 

*$25/hr for a single kayak – including transport of your kayak down to the launchpad

The river current is pretty strong in the downtown area depending on the day and season. Half of your paddle will be against the current. All in all – not a leisurely paddle, but fun!

Several companies provide water activities in different areas of the river. We stuck around the Downtown/Northshore area and kayaked with L2 Outside because of their availability and hours during the pandemic.

Date Night @ St Johns 

We always make an effort on our family vacations to take a night away for ourselves. These nights we “treat ourselves” and like to try a local upscale restaurant.

The chef was overly accommodating, and the food was truly amazing. Their menu is seasonal and locally sourced.

*Be sure and make a reservation!

Day 6

Hit any missed spots or revisit favorites before you travel home!

Say “Bye” (for now) to Chattanooga and Travel Home

My Top Clean Eats & Activities in Chattanooga

  1. Southern Squeeze – 100% organic, dairy free, gluten free, no refined sugar, and tons of paleo & vegan options! No ‘bad’ oils are used and they label for oil and nut exposure.
  2. Wildflower Apothecary – 100% organic loose-leaf teas (no toxic bleached or plastic tea bags), functional and wellness tinctures and tonics, and organic dark chocolate.
  3. Milk & Honey – organic coffee, house-made latte syrups (many sweetened with only honey), dairy free milk alternatives.
  4. Hike & Swim North Chick Blue Hole – I couldn’t stop thinking about this beautiful place after we left. Get outdoors for some vitamin D, fresh air, and to move your body! This naturally boosts your immune system, stimulates endorphins, and assists your natural detox pathways through movement, breathing, and sweat.

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