So if you don’t follow me on Instagram, this weekend Stephen and I drove an hour and a half north for a quick little getaway to celebrate our anniversary. In case you‘re new, we do quick weekend getaways a lot. I like to put together mini-travel guides once we return to talk about what we did, saw, and ate. You can check out other guides under the “travel” tab on my menu.
So this weekend was all about Chattanooga, Tennessee. I actually have been to Chattanooga many times. Growing up in Atlanta, we went to Chattanooga as our 5th grade field trip, I went with my parents as kids, and even made a day trip here and there. However, Stephen has never been so I wanted him to get the full experience.
If you’re in Atlanta, Chattanooga is the perfect distance away for a weekend trip. We left after work on Friday and were still there in time to eat dinner. We also had plenty of time on Sunday for activities and were back at a reasonable hour on Sunday.
So let’s jump right into this.
Where we stayed:
It’s been on my bucket list for a while now to stay at a classic bed and breakfast, and this trip was the perfect opportunity. We stayed at the charming Garden Walk Inn on Lookout Mountain. Every suite has a different theme, and we stayed in the “Out Of Africa” room that was tastefully decorated after the movie. Every little detail was well planned and adorable. We also had a Jacuzzi in our suite. It was the most charming little cottage and we couldn’t have been more thrilled.
In addition to being totally adorable, breakfast was perfection. One of the owners, Erma, is a fabulous cook and makes breakfast for the guests every day. The first morning we had chocolate chip pancakes and the second was a delicious peach bread.
Also, most importantly, the bed was so comfortable. I slept like a baby both nights and woke up totally refreshed. If you are looking for unique accommodations in Chattanooga, this place was perfection.
What we did:
We jam-packed our weekend and hit all of the major stops. First up was the Tennessee Aquarium. I LOVE this aquarium. I live in Georgia and even having the massive new Georgia Aquarium, I think Tennessee’s is the best. I really think you get a fabulous experience and are exposed to so much marine life. The highlight for me was the penguin exhibit. I legitimately jumped and skipped the bottom three steps of the escalator to get to see those precious little guys swim and waddle around.
We also did the IMAX while we were there and saw Our Blue Planet in 3D. I am so so glad we did this. I could have watched this movie with Kate Winslet narrating all day. It was one of my favorite things that we did.
After the aquarium, we headed across the street to board the Southern Belle River Boat for the “Fall Foliage Tour.” This is a 3 hour tour (yep just like Gilligan) down the Tennessee River. This is a great experience for sightseeing. We listened to a live band, drank a beer, and looked at some beautiful scenery.
Sunday was a fun day too! After breakfast, we headed to the classic Rock City for “Rocktoberfest.” I love Rock City because it’s so charming. Yes, you can see seven states at once, but you also get there with a touch of whimsy. I love the Fairyland Caverns, swinging bridge, and garden gnomes. We did the classic trail and watched the “Birds of Prey” show, but then stayed for a bit of “Rocktoberfest.”
This fun event included live German music, polka lessons, German food, specialty beer, and characters in costume. They do this at Rock City to honor the founder, Frieda Utermoehlen Carter.
After a bratwurst and beer cheese soup in a bread bowl, we headed to our next destination: Ruby Falls. If you haven’t heard of Ruby Falls, it’s the largest commercial underground waterfall. This one is a guided group tour, which I don’t always love, but our tour guide Jordy was great. He was hilarious and full of dad-jokes. Our group on the other hand, was full of “characters.” I guess that’s just the luck of the draw.
Regardless of the obnoxious people in our group, the cave was totally awesome. We learned a lot going through, and the waterfall was spectacular. Ruby Falls is fabulous at presentation. When you enter the portion with the waterfall, the lights are off. It is timed so every person in your group has time to enter, then the LED lights come on with majestic music. It’s impossible not to say “ooooh, ahhhh.” LOL.
ALSO: pro tip. Don’t take pictures right next to the waterfall, go about 20 feet back for the best view.
What we ate:
We asked for recommendations on Instagram and y’all delivered! When we got in Friday night, we went to Food Works. This is great southern cuisine. I had shrimp and grits and the grits were in a grit cake. I am a big shrimp and grits snob and this was one of the best dishes I’ve ever had. I was also a huge fan of the cocktails.
Afterwards, we went behind Food Works to Heaven and Ale Brewery for a beer. This beer is fabulous! We both loved what we picked. Cloudgate is my personal favorite if you need a recommendation. It is a New England IPA and totally refreshing and delicious.
Saturday, we ate breakfast at the Inn and had a snack on the boat, but for dinner we went to Bluewater Grille in Chattanooga. Y’all. This. Was. Life. Changing. I started with a coconut mojito and after that I was totally sold. We split a crab and artichoke dip for an appetizer. Then I had lobster and shrimp mac n’ cheese, and Stephen had seafood stuffed grouper. Man alive, this was good. If you like seafood, this is a must-stop on your Chattanooga trip.
Sunday we ate a snack at Rocktoberfest, but after our day at the city and the falls, we went to Lupi’s Pizza. This is the coolest little place. You can build your own pizza or use one of the combinations they put together if you’re indecisive like me. You are charged by the topping and it’s so so good. Plus it’s a cool atmosphere. There is a lighted tree in the middle of the restaurant.
There you have it—a weekend getaway guide for Chattanooga. Have you ever been? What is the best thing you did?