Thursday, June 26, 2014

(Re)Discover Chattanooga - How I show off our town

I love Chattanooga.

When I moved back in 2011, the 10 years I spent in Clemson were very good to this town.  It seemed like everywhere I turned, there were new things to see, and the familiar spots had all improved with age.  I was trying to get into blogging, and the (Re)Discover Chattanooga series was born.  There was a time when I considered making the series the main focus of this blog, or it's own thing entirely.  In the end, I decided that I don't have the time to dedicate to doing that job well without getting paid for it.  My posts have shifted to gardening in Chattanooga, but that doesn't mean I don't love my town, or I'm not finding new things to do and see and eat.  I'm just lazy, and have a bad habit of dumping the photos off my phone before I upload them to blogger.  Oops.

Recently, I had company for Riverbend, and I thought I'd share how I showed off the town.
 FYI: My friends had visited once before, and we had already done the aquarium.  I don't care how old your visitors are, that is always the first stop.  We had also eaten at Alleia. Now you know where my priorities are.
I'm not a typical tour guide, and my friends are not typical tourists.  Other than Riverbend (which was the main reason they came) we stayed away from crowds, and only hit up locally owned shops.  In Chattanooga, this is not hard to do.

Here is how our itenerary played out:

Saturday:  First stop, blanket seating for Riverbend.  This is the best kept, unadvertized, secret at the festival.  For an extra $10 you can set out a blanket at the base of the Coca Cola Stage, and actually make eye contact with the main act.  Yes the stage is high, and you can only see the front of the stage, but this is as close as you can get without shelling out some major mulah.  You also have access to your own bathrooms and concessions.  Depending on the show, you'll either have plenty of room to lay out on your blanket, or room to dance around.  If there is a main act that you really want to see, and you want to be around people who are there for the show, not the festival, blanket seating is the way to go.  You get a wristband, so you can come and go as you please.  So we dropped off our blanket, and proceeded to stuff our faces with all sorts of so-bad-it's-good festival food.  Side note: we had a blast in the rain, and the $10 parking in the garage above Hennan's was a great call.

Sunday: This was our most relaxing day.  (Which I needed after a whirlwind trip to Charleston for a wedding.)  We slept in, ate brunch on my porch, lounged for a while, then headed downtown.  We ate dinner at Terra Nostra, and multiple rounds of tapas on their patio perfectly suited our laid back attitude for the day.  Bacon wrapped dates, lobster ravioli, spicy shrimp, and a cheese plate, wine, and a good server were just some of the highlights of the meal.  After the meal, we walked across the Market Street bridge and set out our blanket in general seating for Buddy Guy.  He's 77, and he was great.  I've heard a few musicians live who might be considered past their prime (Bob Dylan), but Buddy Guy was smooth, his voice was clear, and he was having a good time.  Robert Randolph joined him onstage, and it was a fanstastic.

Monday:  This was where my tour guide skills jumped into high gear.  We got up early and hit the road, making a circle around town.  Our first stop was the Barn Nursery (my review) and the Pottery Shoppe.  It just so happened there was a Riverbend Sale going on, and we spent a good amount of time ogling over pots and plants.  My friends are garden lovers, and they left with 5 really cool pots and a shrimp plant.  The next stop was Main Street Meats aka Link 41+more meat (my Link 41 review).  My friends love to cook, and Link 41 was my favorite small business for a long time.  They picked up two types of bacon, some sausage, and a Sequachie Cove Blu Cheese.  We also had lunch, but that's an experience deserving it's own post.  After lunch we headed to the North Shore where we hit up BoneAppetite, Beast & Barrel, Clumpies, and All Things Groovy. My friends really loved BoneAppetite.  I don't think they had ever seen house made dog treats, the fill your bucket kind, or the cookie cutter kind.  The staff was super friendly, and they ended up with treats for their dogs, and their dog sitter's dogs.  My favorite stop was Clumpies, strawberry ice cream for the win!  They wanted to compare Lake Chickamauga to Lake Harwell, so we drove across the dam on our way to Southeastern Salvage.  Southeastern Salvage may sound like an odd choice for Chattanooga tourism, but this was their second trip to Chattanooga and Southeastern Salvage, and this time they brought a truck :)   Monday night was the Bessie Smith Strut, and another favorite of my visitors.  The food is way better than the food at the rest of the festival, and we really enjoyed struttin down MLK.  We also made the mandatory stop at Champy's, and it did not dissapoint.

So there you have it.  This is how I showed off Chattanooga to my friends from Clemson.  The only thing we missed was Seigler's Craft Beer and Cigars in East Brainerd.

If you're hosting guests in Chattanooga, my advice is this: pair something 'very Chattanooga' with something off the beaten path.  There is so much going on in Chattanooga it's easy to share one of your favorite things, or something new that fits your guest's personality and lifestyle.

Need even more help?  Here are some suggestions:

Typical Chattanooga
  • TN Aquarium
  • Coolidge Park
  • Any of the restaurants within 3 blocks of the Aquarium
  • Rock City & Ruby Falls
  • Incline Railway
  • Discovery Museum
  • Big River
  • Track 29
  • Riverbend, Southern Brewers Festival, Wine Over Water
  • Chattanooga Lookouts

Off the beaten path
  • Happy Hour on the Delta Queen (if it's open??)
  • Sushi Nabe - the secret sushi menu
  • Main Street-ish - Main Street Meats, Neidloves, Crash Pad, Flying Squirrel, Alleia, The Terminal, Urban Stack, Hot Chocolatier my friends at the new e-bike shop!
  • Tony's Pasta, Rembrandts Coffee shop & The Sculpture Garden at Bluff View
  • Champy's Fried Chicken
  • 1885 Grill
  • Rock Creek
  • Riverwalk
  • Farmers Markets (downtown, or local)
  • Chickamauga Battlefields
  • Community Pie
  • Sluggos
  • Nightfall
  • Seiglers Craft Beer & Cigars
  • A trip up or down the W road.
  • Tremont Tavern
Did I leave your favorite spot out?  Let me know!

1 comment:

  1. Hello Emily,

    Just found your blog. As a Chattanooga resident, I'm enjoying the (Re)Discover Chattanooga posts, a bit of vicarious living. I love this city, but haven't found the time to explore. The 'Off the Beaten Path' suggestions sound like a great place to start when I do have free nights though. :)


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