Just a quick two hour drive outside of Atlanta lies the perfect little weekend getaway for foodies, beer snobs, and outdoorsy folk alike. Set against the foothills of the picturesque Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga is a city rich in history and full of fun. If you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle, look no further than this Tennessee gem.

Where to Eat in Chattanooga

One of the things I was most excited for was— you guessed it!— eating. I’d heard great things about Chattanooga’s dining scene and I compiled a list of must-try places before we’d even booked our AirBNB.

Stir

I like all kinds of food, don’t get me wrong. BBQ, pizza, sushi, and tacos are all staples in my diet, but nothing will ever hold a candle to the way I feel about breakfast. Except brunch. The combination of sweet and savory flavors paired with a (preferably bottomless) alcoholic beverage is next to holiness to me. Stir is a step above the rest, let me tell you. The worst part of dining out is having to wait for your food, but Stir’s got you covered. They have an appetizer buffet laid out that you can get your grubby little paws into from the moment you sit down. It includes fruit, pastries, cinnamon buns, and cookies, because why the hell not?

Feed Co. Table & Tavern

This is one of those restaurant experiences that can only be likened to divine intervention. We grabbed a late dinner at Feed Co. after driving in from Atlanta. I hadn’t heard of this place before and it was a decision made based on the fact I was starving and the place we were trying to go, Clyde’s, had a long line of college kids out front. Feed Co. has a laidback sports bar meets hip gastropub atmosphere and they serve a drink called the Sloshed Housewife, so I had high expectations from the get-go. They were surpassed. I’m not sure what possessed me to order the chicken parm sandwich, but I’d do it again and again. The band was just setting up when we sat down and about three sips into a tasty cocktail (extra tasty since I’d been stuck in the car for two hours prior), I spot… AN FSU FLAG. Of course this awesome restaurant roots for the Seminoles. It all makes sense!

Pickle Barrel

I FREAKING LOVE PICKLES. I’m not sure how to describe this more eloquently, but just know that I put pickles on a pedestal that will never be reached by most other things in life. OF COURSE I was gonna beeline it straight to the restaurant bar in Chattanooga that celebrates all things pickle, specifically to order their acclaimed pickle martini. Here’s the thing about pickles. You’re either disgusted by the fact they exist or you’re obsessed with them. There is really no happy medium. So while this may not be a must-do for everybody, if you’re a pickle person comme moi, you won’t wanna miss this. Bonus points: the actual building itself is really cool. No, it’s unfortunately not shaped like a pickle.

What to Do in Chattanooga

Chattanooga Choo Choo

While we elected to stay in an AirBNB during our time in Chattanooga, we had to check out The Chattanooga Choo Choo, a hotel that is so much more than a hotel. Originally opened in 1909 as a fully operational train station, the last train left in 1970. However, in 1972, it was reborn as what it now considered a unique destination experience. You can even stay in one of the 48 original Pullman cars that have now been transformed into hotel rooms! We loved exploring the grounds and learning about Chattanooga’s history. Next time, we definitely want to check out the Station House restaurant, famous for its singing servers!

Breweries

As a Florida State University graduate, you could say I know a thing or two about drinking. Thankfully, my taste in beer has come along way since my Natty Light college days, which is part of why visiting Chattanooga was such as treat. Even though we only had 24 hours, we made the most of our time by fitting in not one, not two, but three breweries: Chattanooga Brewing Co., Oddstory Brewing, and Hutton & Smith. Each one had something unique to offer and there are still others left for us to explore next time!

Rock City

First off, yes, I’ve been singing it to the tune of Rack City too. Rock City is described best on its website: a marvel of nature. It features massive ancient rock formations, gorgeous gardens, waterfalls, and a view where you can literally see seven states at once. It’s absolutely breathtaking and a great way to trick yourself into exercising without realizing you actually are. One of my favorite parts was Lover’s Leap, named for the Cherokee legend of two lovers from feuding tribes, who met untimely deaths: Sautee the brave the captured and thrown to his death and his beautiful maiden, Nacoochee, jumped off that very cliff because she was too distraught to live without him. Nothing like a good Shakespearean tragedy to lighten the mood of walking 4,100 feet. There are also the Fairyland Caverns, made up of scenes from European fairytales. While they are absolutely fantastical to walk through, I’m on the fence due to my crippling fear of Hans Christian Anderson as a child. I mean, that was one creepy dude. Overall, Rock City is a definite must-visit and is definitely one of the best things to do in Tennessee.