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An Ideal Fall Day in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Updated: Dec 24, 2023

Chattanooga, Tennessee is the place that will make fall your favorite season. Situated in the Tennessee River Basin, Chattanooga and its brightly colored leaves and beautiful blue bridges that rest across the Tennessee River are reasons to visit the city itself. Fall activities are plentiful in Chattanooga, and Chattanooga makes it really easy for visitors to have a good ole time with its countless outdoor adventures, restaurant scene, arts district, and more. I had the pleasure of visiting the Scenic City through Visit Chattanooga #visitchatt and I loved the sense of adventure I experienced exploring such a special city, while also feeling relaxed and "at home" in a familiar Southern setting. The "y'alls" were plentiful in Chattanooga, which is just how I like it.

To start the day off on a good note:

  • The Exchange at The Kinley Chattanooga: Whether you're in Chattanooga for work or play, start the day off right by enjoying coffee and brunch at The Exchange, which offers made to order baked goods from local pastry chefs each morning. I snagged a caramel latte and their Southside Eggs plate. The Exchange has a great bar where you're able to post up at the beginning (or end) of a busy day to fuel up for your next Chattanoogan adventure.

  • Other coffee shops in the area to add to your itinerary: Rembrandt's Coffee House, Mad Priest Coffee Roasters, Velo Coffee Roasters

  • Hunter Museum of American Art and the Houston Museum of Decorative Arts: These two museums located in the Bluff View Arts District are some that you can't miss out on during your trip to Chattanooga. The Hunter Museum of American Art is home to the most complete collection of American art in the Southeast, and houses exhibits such as Gilded: Contemporary Artists Explore Value and Worth, and Art Deco Glass from the David Huchthausen Collection. This museum even has an interactive space for kids, and offers art making classes and camps. The Houston Museum of Decorative Arts is located across from the Hunter Museum in a gorgeous Victorian house, and is home to Anna Safely's collection of art glass, furniture, and antiques. Every room is different and is curated to evoke a sense of wonderment as you admire each piece in Safely's collection, while the light from outside perfectly illuminates the colorful glass. (P.S. Ask for Tim Barnett and he will give you a great tour!)


  • Nic and Norman's Chattanooga: Nic and Norman's in Chattanooga is conveniently located in the Southside area right next to the Hotel Chalet, which is a hotel where you can sleep in restored 1920's sleeper train carriage. Nic and Norman's is co-owned by The Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus and director/producer Greg Nicotero. Personally, Nic and Norman's is where I'd want to be if a zombie apocalypse was upon us. The restaurant offers a hearty selection of starters such as fried pickles, gourmet burgers, flatbreads, and they even have $10 lunch specials from 11 am - 2 pm Mon-Fri. The vibe of the restaurant led me to believe that this place should be featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, with grunge music playing in the background and motorcycles and stunning black and white photographs lining the walls. Guy Fieri, get yourself down to Nic and Norman's!

  • Hello Monty: Hello Monty has a cool, green vibe sprinkled throughout the entire restaurant. It's a neighborhood spot located on a corner in Southside with a wood-fired menu. And the coolest part: it has a beautiful onsite brewery distillery called Dynamo Brewing and Beverage that offers ales and lagers, as well as non-alcoholic draft beverages. It also has a great porch that you can relax at in the summer months. This restaurant is perfect for lunches with coworkers and catching up with neighbors and friends. Order the caesar salad and thank me later!

Hello Monty

Afternoon Activities:

  • Tennessee Aquarium: The Tennessee Aquarium is the perfect activity for the kids to explore, and it's also such a nice addition to the city's already kid-friendly activities. The aquarium is located at the banks of the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga. The aquarium is home to two sections River Journey and Ocean Journey. Personally, I checked out River Journey where I got to explore exhibits such as Turtles of the World, Rivers of the World, Ridges to Rivers, Tennessee River, and more. Seeing the river otters be their playful selves putting on a show for the visitors was definitely one of my favorite parts. The aquarium even has an IMAX theater down the street, with showings while I was visiting such as Deep Sky, Secrets of the Sea 3D, and Ancient Caves 3D.

  • Classic Arcade Pinball Museum: This pinball museum is the place where you go to have some good ole fashioned fun playing any pinball game that your heart can think of while tapping into nostalgic kid dreams. Admission is $20 for adults and $16 for children 10 and under.

  • Rocket Fizz: I thought I was dreaming when I walked into Rocket Fizz, cleverly referred to as a soda pop & candy shop. It's somehow the most unassuming candy shop there is, and is only a short walk down from MoonPie General Store. When I say that you can get every candy that you've ever dreamed of here I mean it - trust me when I say that you should pace the kids (and especially yourself) when exploring this mecca of candy, soda pop, and fun, or else you'll end up with more candy than you know what to do with.

  • Ruby Falls: Ruby Falls is home to the tallest underground cave waterfall open to the public in the U.S. A man named Leo Lambert discovered the cave and waterfall in 1928 and named it after his wife Ruby (take notes boys) and opened the attraction to the public in 1929. One of my favorite parts of the Ruby Falls experience? Hearing my hilarious tour guide narrate the various rock formations, which have very cheeky names that you'll enjoy. When you reach the waterfall itself, be prepared for a magnificent display of a natural wonder backlit by colorful lights. Ruby Falls even offers specialty tours such as a lantern tour and holiday-themed tours!

  • Incline Railway: Take a ride on the Incline Railway! The Incline Railway is the perfect way to admire Chattanooga's fall colors as you glide up the side of Lookout Mountain. The Incline Railway has been in operation for over 125 years, and has carried millions of residents and tourists up in its fashionable red and yellow railcars. When you get to the top, make sure to visit the observation decks to see Chattanooga from a birds-eye view.

To end the night:

  • Clumpies Ice Cream: Clumpies is THE ice cream spot in Chattanooga. There are four locations in Chattanooga: Southside, Northshore, St. Elmo, and a Clumpies food truck. Clumpies lives up to its name from, you guessed it, the clumps of cakes, cookies, chunks, jams, and sauces that are swirled into every batch of ice cream. They even have featured flavors for the fall, such as banana bread, brown sugar and walnut brittle, chai spiced donut, maple pecan pie, and more. I had to ask the person who worked there what her favorite flavor was, because I genuinely couldn't decide. While I don't think that you can go wrong with any flavor, the pumpkin cheesecake was all that I wanted and more.

  • The Kinley Chattanooga: The Kinley in Chattanooga is the perfect place to unwind after a full day of Chattanooga fun. And you didn't hear this from me, but this Southside hotel is home to Company, a speakeasy that nods to Chattanooga's history as a spirit-producing powerhouse in the early 1900s and the growth in this space post-Prohibition. Finish the night off at Company and enjoy an innovative cocktail with a Southern flair. Afterwards, reward yourself with sleep in the The Kinley's fashionable rooms and suites, adorned with an exquisite collection of art exclusively from female artists.


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