Chattanooga Girls Trip: Fun Things to Do Beyond the Choo Choo

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Seeing Chattanooga trains is one of the things you can do when staying at the Read House in Chattanooga, Tennessee
There are lots of cool things to do in Chattanooga, including lots of train history. Photo credit: Visit Chattanooga.

If you want the ultimate girl’s trip to the Southeast United States, look to Chattanooga. Sure, Nashville, with its lively nightlife scene, might seem like an ideal choice for a girl’s getaway.

Still, Chattanooga, just 130 miles southeast of Music City, is worth investigating, especially if you’re seeking to build an itinerary that’s more outdoor adventure and culture-focused and less about the party bus and shots. And that’s not to say you can’t enjoy epic bars and cocktails in Chattanooga because you absolutely can.

Here’s a list of fun things you can explore during a girls’ weekend getaway in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

This list of where to eat in Chattanooga includes places inside the Read House Hotel, which anyone can go to.
The historic Read House Hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel in the Southeast. Photo credit: Visit Chattanooga.

1. Explore Walkable Downtown Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a fun, walkable city. Whether you fly in for a city break or visit as part of a road trip, it’s easy to fill your time exploring restaurants, bars, and other attractions that downtown has to offer within easy walking distance of several choice downtown hotels. I recommend the historic Read House Hotel, which has a fun, haunted history if you’re into that vibe. If you stay at the Read House or the trendy Hotel Clemons (formerly the Bode Hotel) just down the street, you can walk just about everywhere.

Downtown Chattanooga has plenty of fun things to explore, such as the Tennessee Aquarium, walking or biking along the riverfront, or taking a stroll across the pedestrian bridge over the Tennessee River. Whether you’re looking for a cute coffee shop to grab a morning latte or an afternoon pick-me-up, a place to grab an ice cream, or a full meal, downtown is full of fun things to discover.

Don’t Want To Walk? Chattanooga Has Options

There’s a free electric streetcar to whizz you around downtown. My experience was that the actual wait times were a bit longer than the posted wait times, so ensure you’re allowing yourself plenty of time to get where you need to be. There’s also a citywide bike rental program with 42 locations to grab bikes or drop them off when you’re done.

Places to eat in Chattanooga include STIR and lots of other fun places inside the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
STIR is just one of the fun places inside the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Explore the Iconic Chattanooga Choo Choo

The famous Chattanooga Choo Choo is not a train but a building. The Choo Choo opened in 1909 as a train station and closed in 1970. Local investors bought the property and reopened the space in 1973 as a hotel and vacation complex.

Today, the space honors the railroad history Chattanooga is famous for alongside fun, modern hangouts, such as the restaurant STIR, American Draft, where you can pour a beer inside a vintage train car, and more.

2. Adventure the Day Away at Lookout Mountain

While Lookout Mountain isn’t technically in Tennessee – it sits at the northwest corner of Georgia and the northeast corner of Alabama, it sits right on the Tennessee state line, and is just a few minutes from downtown Chattanooga.

Rock City Gardens

Start your day at Rock City Gardens. Take in breathtaking rock formations, a 140-foot waterfall cascading down Lookout Mountain, and a viewing deck where you can see seven states on a clear day. While most people find walking easy to moderate, some steps and a few tight spaces exist.

Lookout Mountain Incline Railway

After Rock City, ride the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, the world’s steepest passenger railway. Also known as “America’s Most Amazing Mile,” this short train ride takes you up Lookout Mountain at a 72.7% grade. The ride to the top takes about 10 minutes, and you’ll see spectacular panoramic views of the valley from the train’s roof. The sheer novelty of the super-steep train ride is what makes it fun.

Explore the Top of the Mountain

There’s a gift shop at the top and a selection of historical photographs of the train. Extend your adventure by walking through Point Park, part of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, and take in the beautiful view of Chattanooga from above. If you want more of a workout, there are hiking trails. Check out the Bluff Trail/Sunset Rock on Lookout Mountain.

Take the train back down the mountain when you’re done exploring. Don’t lose your ticket. You’ll need it for the return trip.

Ruby Falls near The Read House in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Ruby Falls in Chattanooga. Photo credit: Visit Chattanooga.

Ruby Falls

Chattanooga is home to America’s deepest commercial cave and tallest underground waterfall open for public view. The highlight of the guided tour, which lasts about an hour, is a 145-foot waterfall 1,120 feet beneath the surface of Lookout Mountain. It’s a great outdoor adventure in the area.

Be sure to make reservations for your guided tour. Ruby Falls is one of Chattanooga’s most popular attractions, and tours sell out. There’s also zip lining available on-site for an extra charge if you’re seeking something a little more adrenaline-charged.

3. Other Active Options in Chattanooga

If you’re into outdoor adventure and want something different than the activities offered around Lookout Mountain, here are some other options.

Kayaking in Chattanooga, Tennessee - a mix of nature an urban attractions
Urban kayaking on Tennessee River in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Photo credit: Yvonne Jasinski

See Bats from a Kayak or Paddleboard

This is a summer activity, and a don’t miss if you’re in Chattanooga in late spring through the summer. Outshine Adventures offers guided excursions to Nickjack Cave at sunset to watch thousands of endangered gray bats emerge at dusk for their nightly feeding. This is perfect for beginners or intermediate paddlers and Outshine Adventures provides all the equipment you need.

Book a Tandem Hang Gliding Session

Flight Park is located minutes from downtown Chattanooga. Book a tandem session that allows you to fly at a high altitude with a certified instructor.

Be warned weather conditions can interfere with scheduled flights, so if you’re set on doing this, book earlier in your visit to give yourself wiggle room to reschedule in case your flight is canceled due to winds or other weather.  

4. Shop ‘Till You Drop

If you and your besties fancy some retail therapy, the Chattanooga shopping scene won’t disappoint. Here are some local don’t-miss spots to check out.

Eros Hat Co.

Eros Hat Co. is Chattanooga’s premier hat bar and permanent jewelry outfitter. Reservations highly suggested.

Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary

Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary makes small batch, hand-blended loose-leaf tea. This is a great stop for anyone who loves tea and homeopathic healing – or both!

Book & Cover

If you need to check out an indie bookstore when you hit a new city, Book & Cover is the place for you. Check out their events page to see what might be happening during your time in Chattanooga.

Good Fortune Soaps & Spa

Check out Good Fortune Soaps & Spa to make and take your own scent creation. There’s also an onsite spa. Make reservations in advance.

The Hot Chocolatier

Hot Chocolate-inspired gifts that include drink mixes, truffles, and other chocolaty delights. The Hot Chocolatier’s products are made without preservatives and should be consumed within 10-14 days of purchase, so keep that in mind for your gift-giving strategy.

5. Learn Something New

Take a class at the Chattery. Classes are available to teach you how to do everything from candle and cocktail-making to outdoor sketching classes held at the lake – and that only scratches the surface of what’s available.

Places to eat in Chattanooga, places to drink in Chattanooga, Read House Bar & Billiards.
You don’t have to stay at the Read House Hotel to have a drink at the bar. Photo credit: Visit Chattanooga

6. Enjoy the Local Cocktail Scene

Although Chattanooga might not have the party reputation as larger nearby cities like Nashville and Atlanta, there are plenty of places to enjoy a drink or two while you’re in town.

Chattanooga Whiskey offers distillery tours, tastings, and opportunities to buy real Tennessee whiskey. Dusk is a fun cocktail space attached to the Bode Hotel. Their a.m. coffee shop is called Dawn, and the two venues share one very Instagram-worthy space. Whiskey Thief is a popular rooftop bar serving various upscale cocktails and small bites. The Read House Hotel also has a fun lobby bar with a speakeasy vibe. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to stop in and enjoy a drink.

Sip Local Beers

Chattanooga has several spots where you can sample brewed-in-Chattanooga beer. In addition to American Draft at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, check out Naked River Brewing Company, Oddstory Brewing Company, or Hello Monty.

7. Take a Ride On the Chattanooga Wine Train

This two-hour dining excursion includes a three-course dinner with specially selected wines from sommelier John McCune. The Chattanooga Wine Train has select available dates, so if you want in on this, you might have to plan your trip around availability.

8. Go to Brunch

A great girl’s trip isn’t really a great girl’s trip without brunch. Ladies who brunch will find lots of great restaurants in Chattanooga.

Hello Monty’s beer and food is on the list of places to eat in Chattanooga.
Hello Monty brews their own beer and is a local Chattanooga favorite. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Hello Monty

Hello Monty’s Brunch Lunch Menu includes a brunch burrito, Monty French toast, and a slew of other delicacies.

One of the places to eat in Chattanooga is in the iconic Chattanooga Choo Choo, STIR.
Fried green tomatoes at STIR can make a light meal if you don’t want something super-filling. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

STIR

Shrimp & grits, chicken & waffles, and a variety of brunch goodies await. Want a mimosa, Bloody Mary, or other brunch drinks? STIR has all of these and more.

Aretha Frankenstein’s

Located in Chattanooga’s residential Northshore neighborhood, Aretha Frankenstein’s has brunch delights such as a customizable breakfast burrito and inch-thick pancakes.

Milk & Honey

Milk & Honey’s brunch offerings are extensive. You’ll find everything from breakfast sandwiches to omelets and healthier options such as porridge and protein bowls. This Northshore spot is famous for its ROSÉ WAFFLES.

This list of fun things to do with your girlfriends will keep you busy and help you explore this eclectic small city.


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