If you follow me on social or watch Life with Lynn Lilly every week on our facebook page, you know that my family and I are big on weekend adventures as we try to create special memories with our sweet Lily. A few weeks ago we took a weekend trip Chattanooga, Tennessee and we loved it! My husband and I had been to Chattanooga before but this was our first time taking Lily. We loved it so much we are already talking about going back. It is the perfect family-friendly destination tucked away in the beautiful Tennessee mountains! I don't usually do travel guides (and these are all iphone pictures... sorry no professional ones on family vacay) but I thought you guys would really love to know more about this quick and fun family destination!
How to Get There
It is a quick 2 hour from drive from Atlanta, 2.5 hours from Birmingham and 2 hours from Nashville or you can fly into Metropolitan airport.
Where to Stay
In the past, we stayed at the Chattanoogan Hotel which we loved but this time I was looking for a hotel that offered suites with a living room, bedroom, and large bathroom. I found a reasonable room at the Westin in the West Village. The Westin is fairly new, it was an old building that was renovated and transformed into a beautiful property. We were so happy with the hotel and the West Village. It is a newly transformed area of Chattanooga that offers great restaurants (I'll get to those in a minute) and street festivals on the weekends. There was a farmers market on Saturday and nighttime festivals on Friday/Saturday night on the street in front of the hotel. We will definitely stay there next time we go!
If you want to stay walking distance to the main attractions I would suggest checking out the Holiday Inn & Suites, The Edwin Hotel or Double Tree.
Where to Eat
When we travel we want to eat really great meals but also find places that are kid-friendly (which can be challenging). I loved that all the best restaurants are so welcoming to kids! Below are my favorites restaurants from the trip!
Old Gilman Grill (West Village, right outside the Westin): This was hands down our favorite restaurant. We loved it so much we ate lunch and dinner there. It was a great open atmosphere with a great patio! My favorites were the French Dip, Gilman Club and the Center Cut Filet. Make sure to get the fries, they are sooooo good!
Alimentari Cucina E Bar (West Village, right outside the Westin), If you are looking for amazing Italian this is your place! I had the pork special but started with the Caprese Salad and it was one of the best. Brennan had the Spaghetti Carbonara alla Roma and it was delish!
Hennen's Steakhouse (Downtown Chattanooga), If you are looking for an incredible steak in a casual atmosphere this is your place. We didn't eat here this time but we have been in the past and it is one of our favorites!
Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant (At the Aquarium Plaza): We ate here right before we went to the aquarium and it was great bar food. Brennan had wings and I had pulled chicken sliders and we were pleased!
Mike's Smokehouse (Broad Street): We discovered Mike's while on our way to the Incline Railroad. It definitely did not disappoint with the stuffed baked potato, homemade pork rinds, ribs, pulled pork, and hashbrown casserole!
Clumpies Ice Cream Co (St. Elmo): We discovered Clumpies while waiting for the Incline Railroad and it was amazing. We are huge ice cream fans and I will say this is in our top 3 favorites of all time (1st is Hilton Head Ice Company, 2nd Come I'Latte in Rome). Make sure to save time before or after the railroad for Clumpies.
What to Do
Tennessee Aquarium: We live in Atlanta with the best aquarium in the country but I still love the Tennessee Aquarium. Lily loved it too! It is set up into two buildings, River & Ocean. Give yourself about 1.5 hours for each building. Ticket purchase is available online if you want to avoid the lines. We went on Labor Day Saturday and it was not crowded.
Incline Railway (St. Elmo): The Incline Railroad is a cool experience as you take a train car up the side of a mountain. I would only allow for an hour as there is not much to see and do when you get to the top. The train could also use a little love as it is pretty run down.
Ruby Falls: We did not visit Ruby Falls this time but have done it in the past and really enjoyed it. There is a lot of walking and it is not baby friendly. We are going to wait to do this until Lily is much older.
Rock City Gardens at Lookout Mountain: We didn't see the gardens this time but we drove up the parkway to Lookout Mountain. I highly recommend taking the drive up, it is beautiful and there are some incredible homes along the way.
Creative Discovery Museum: Lily was a tad too young for this but it looks awesome for kids which is why I added to my list. The museum is filled with hands-on learning exhibits and they have tons of special events and activities.
Chattanooga Riverfront: The riverfront is right behind the aquarium and makes for a beautiful afternoon stroll!
West Village: We stayed here and really LOVED it. Even if you don't stay here I would check their website for their street festival calendar. It makes a great evening to grab dinner at one of the awesome restaurants I listed above and hang out at the street festival. We did this both Friday and Saturday night!
**There are so many more things to do in Chattanooga. Check out Chattanooga Fun for more activities!
I hope this little guide helps if you are planning to go to Chattanooga. If you have other questions about Chattanooga feel free to comment below or message our facebook page and I will do my best answer them!