Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery

These are the places you need to see at least once. 

June 10, 2017

While Chattanooga frequently flies under most travelers' radar, this small city is eager to prove there's more to Tennessee than Nashville. Its official nickname is Scenic City, which is hardly a surprise when you consider it's framed by the Appalachian Mountains, Chickamauga and Nickajack Lakes, and neighboring Cumberland Plateau.

Naturally, Chattanooga has no shortage of secret fishing spots and hiking trails from which travelers can admire the stunning landscape. But this charming southern town has become a decidedly hip outpost in Appalachia, thanks to a flurry of new coffee shops, art galleries, and an impressive line-up of live music performances. Whether you want a dose of culture or an outdoor adventure, these are the points of interest in Chattanooga you don't want to miss. 

Signal Point

For great views of the Tennessee River and downtown Chattanooga, visitors often head straight to Signal Point. Preserved by the National Park Service, this high point was controlled by Union Troops in 1863, during the siege of Chattanooga. Serious hikers can also pick up the Cumberland Trail from here.

JJ’s Bohemia

This small music venue is a favorite with locals, who head here for live music, open mic nights, and comedy shows almost every evening during the week. Its close proximity to downtown makes this an easy stop during your visit to the city.

Chattanooga Riverwalk

This 23-mile car-free corridor links inner-city Chattanooga with its surrounding suburban neighborhoods, giving people a quiet place to cycle, jog, or walk. Recently, a bridge was constructed to link the Riverwalk with the South Chickamauga Greenway trails, creating an even wider network of pedestrian pathways. 

Prentice Cooper State Forest

This state forest, located just west of Chattanooga, consists of nearly 25,000 acres of land available for hiking, camping, and fishing. More than 30 miles of hiking trails take outdoor-enthusiasts over bridges, past waterfalls, and through virtually untouched forest. Superstitious visitors can try to glimpse a ghost at one of the state forest’s three cemeteries, which are rumored to be haunted.

Rock City

This iconic tourist destination is located on top of Lookout Mountain, and features native gardens, unusual geological formations, caverns, and walking trails with panoramic views. Be on the lookout for special events, like their Summer Music Weekends.

Nightfall

Every Friday between May 5 and August 25, this free outdoor concert series takes place in Miller Plaza, located in the heart of downtown Chattanooga. Both local and touring bands can be found at these concerts, making it a great place to explore new music and mingle with members of the community.

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

This interactive museum is a great place to learn about a time in our nation’s history when rail was the central mode of transportation. Admire the pristine vintage trains and explore the region’s distinct heritage.

Lula Lake Land Trust

This land trust preserves the Chattanooga region’s Rock Creek watershed, and offers visitors access to its 8,000 acres of land during the first and last Saturdays and Sundays of the month. A monthly event on the grounds, known as River City Sessions, features local musicians, libations, and food.

Raccoon Mountain

Located across the river from Signal Point, Raccoon Mountain is the lesser-traveled option of the viewpoints. Explore the nationally recognized cave system atop the mountain, or stay at the nearby park and campground that offers impressive views of Lookout Mountain.

Songbirds Guitar Museum

This recently opened museum is located in the up-and-coming Southside neighborhood of Chattanooga, and features vintage guitars and focuses on the development of the instrument over time. The museum is located in the historic Terminal Station, which also has a lounge, comedy club, and a live music venue.

Clumpies Ice Cream Co.

You can't visit Chattanooga without grabbing a scoop from Clumpies Ice Cream Co., the city's local artisanal ice cream chain. Founded in 1999, Clumpies' flavors range from traditional (vanilla bean, cookies and cream) to the distinctly southern: butter pecan, pralines and cream, and sweet cream.

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