I shared with you all how we ended up finding the perfect last minute getaway from Atlanta and took a girls only Chattanooga day trip to for Spring Break, as well as just some of the reasons we loved it so much. Yes, there’s the convenience of a nearby city and a chance to create some memories with my girls. However, surprising to many, Tennessee also plays host to a number of different tourist attractions including ambient parks, historical sites and museums, opulent restaurants, wedding venues and natural sceneries. Chattanooga, to be specific, plays host to different tourist attraction hotspots that will always take your breath away.
For us, Chattanooga offered far more than just a place to visit, but a truly welcoming experiencing that made us all feel right at home, even for just a day. Of course there are many fun things to do there, but here’s a quick guide to a day trip to Chattanooga on a budget:
Getting Around Downtown Chattanooga
Getting around downtown Chattanooga is not only far easier than I imagined, but completely FREE on the Chattanooga Electric Shuttle. We were staying at the Marriott downtown, which was near the convention center and pretty much the start of the downtown area. The shuttle stopped right outside our hotel and had many convenient stops taking you to the many attractions downtown Chattanooga has to offer.
It’s not just for tourists at all and part of the highlight of riding the shuttle is meeting some of the very nice Chattanoogans who are happy to share some insider secrets about where to go and what to do!
Where to go in Downtown Chattanooga
Tennessee Aquarium IMAX theater
We started off our Chattanooga day trip at the Tennessee Aquarium. No, I’m not suggesting the Tennessee Aquarium is the most budget friendly thing to do there – though if you’re going to splurge on something during your day trip, I’d highly recommend the Aquarium for several hours of fun, intrigue and an interactive experience for the family.
However, even if you decide to pass on the Aquarium experience, a more budget friendly option is a visit to the IMAX Theater for one of their spectacular shows.
The Carousel in Coolidge Park
From the Aquarium, you can take the North Shore shuttle for free to an area called Coolidge Park. That was home to a lot of cool and quirky restaurants, gift shops and a historic playground like no other. Once there, you can’t miss taking a ride on the legendary Antique Carousel. It was hand carved in 1894, but more recently restored. Best of all, it’s only $1 a ride so the kids had a fun time between the carousel and the park and it cost me under $5.
Walnut Street Bridge
Apart from offering great view of the vast Tennessee river, you will be able to enjoy an ambient view of the Coolidge Park and probably find some great instagrammable moments. One unique thing about the bridge is that it’s a pedestrian only bridge and as you enjoy your walk along the bridge, you can enjoy delicious foods from different stands as you walk between Bluff View Art District or North shore.
The Read House
The Read House was an unexpected delight and actually our last stop out on our Chattanooga day trip. I’d simply heard about the Read House and it’s incredible ambiance from a fellow shuttle rider and wanted to see for myself. This historic hotel strategically located at the heart of Chattanooga city is one of the most luxurious experiences you’ll find in downtown Chattanooga and home to the beautiful Silver Ballroom that feels like it’s fresh out of a Disney film!
Chattanooga Choo Choo
Another historic hotel worth seeing is the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Based on the 1941 song by Mark Gordon, the Chattanooga Choo Choo has grown by leaps and bounds from a railway station to becoming one of the most converted hotels in the whole of Chattanooga. Apart from the delicious food, the hotel offers historical insights about the city of Chattanooga.
Where to Eat in Downtown Chattanooga
It was actually a really pleasant surprise how many great eats we were able to find in Chattanooga for pretty cheap. We started out at the City Cafe Diner right by the Marriott and were delighted by the big portions and plentiful options for every meal. I thought that would become the only restaurant we’d eat at while there, but here were a few more to check out!
Are we the family who visits a new city and opts to eat pizza? Yes. Yes, we are that family. I’m not alone in believing that Lupi’s Pizza offers the best pizza in the whole of Chattanooga, if not Tennessee. Ranging from Lasagna, Caprese salad to all sorts of glorious Pizza, Lupi’s Pizza will ensure that you have your fill as you enjoy your stay in Chattanooga.
River Street Deli
The River Street Deli is another Chattanooga gem to dine at. I literally heard about this local spot from numerous people during our shuttle rides and had to make it over there. It did not disappoint at all. 2 words – Cuban Sandwich!
When it comes to pancakes, there is no better place to indulge your taste pads like the world renowned Aretha Frankenstein’s. The name sounds hilarious, which was one way I couldn’t forget it. This small historic café offers out of the world breakfast deals including insane waffles! It’s a little further out of the way, but worth the trek to get there.
Chattanooga is only two hours away from Atlanta, so you can make the trip there and back in only a day with plenty of time to enjoy some of the attractions that the city has to offer!