Welcome to Chattanooga, Tennessee - a charming town, which is kind of like the lovechild of a Southern belle and a grungy hipster. It's cool, up-and-coming and a little bit edgy but strongly tied to tradition. You'll still find some good ol' soul food, the accents are beyond adorable, and people are particularly polite. It’s a big “yes Ma'am” from me!
As soon as my one year US visa was approved, I booked a ticket to Chattanooga to visit my friend Sophie. I couldnt have picked a better time to visit this pretty little city than November. While it has been called one of the greenest cities in the United States - that certainly wasn't the case when I visited! The entire town was painted in every autumn hue imaginable. The cafés were serving pumpkin pie and all kinds of spiced concoctions, and the streets were lined with leaves. I think I may have "fall"-en in love!
Just two hours from the “big smoke” cities of Nashville and Atlanta, Chattanooga has more of a laid-back pace but there is still so much to see and do. Sophie gave me the ultimate inside look at all of the neatest nooks and crannies around town. Our first stop was the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo, which had just been decked out for the holidays!
The whole town has an industrial-chic aesthetic but Warehouse Row has absolutely perfected it! With brick walls, timber floors and warm lighting - this is a retail complex like no other. It is home to some stunning boutique stores and great places to grab a bite to eat.
Chattanooga is only town I’ve experienced in America so far where there aren’t the same chain store brand names plastered everywhere. There are plenty of local establishments here, so you can forget the franchises! The chilly weather outside meant Sophie and I spent a lot of time cozied up inside many of Chattanooga's local gems. We got our caffeine (and holiday-flavoured syrup) fix at coffee shops such as Milk & Honey, Goodman Coffee Roasters, + Coffee and Rembrandt's Coffee House. We explored Chattanooga's thriving food scene, indulging in Italian at Alleia, pizza at Community Pie, ramen at Two Ten Jack and Southen soul food at Tupelo Honey Café. We parked up in some seriously vibey bars including Frothy Monkey, The Social, Solarium and Whiskey Theif. And when our systems were bursting from all of the food and beverages, we headed to Local Juicery, Sophie's brother's juice bar, to detox. They have the most delicious cold-pressed juices, smoothies and locally-brewed kombucha.
One of the highlights from my trip to Chattanooga was our trip up Lookout Mountain. Sophie and I braved the extreme early-morning chill to get our frozen fingers around a hot coffee at the top of this mountain that watches over the town. We hiked (in high-heels) down to Sunset Rock and played with child-like excitement in heaping piles of leaves.
On my last day in town, I set out for one last look. I explored the Bluff View Art District, which is seriously stunning but you have to have special permissions to take photos there. I guess you’ll just have to go and see how wonderful it is for yourself! This little hub of creativity has beautiful artisan food, interesting sculptures and perfectly manicured gardens. I then crossed the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, over the Tennessee River to explore the quirky shops of the North Shore.