As a Nashville-based photographer with a lot of miles under my belt, I’ve driven through Chattanooga roughly one thousand times; but I have never stopped to really tour to area. It’s always been, “I should really stop and check out Chattanooga… maybe next trip.”
Enough was enough.
Early one autumn morning in October, I woke up before daybreak and took the beautiful mountain drive down to Chattanooga. While of course a visit to Rock City was in order, for non-touristy spots I enlisted the help of Chattanooga native Beth Kirby of Local Milk and her new husband, Matthew Ludwikowski of Brash Coffee for a local perspective.
The best mountain view in Chattanooga in the early morning can be found in the Wal-Mart parking lot just off I-24. I drove in around 7am and immediately pulled over to photograph; the fog was heavenly and the light cutting through the mountains dazzled my senses.
My first stop was The Chanticleer Inn on Lookout Mountain, just seconds from Rock City, where the innkeepers warmly welcomed me in for breakfast. The tiny stone cottages are cozy with a warm, European feel. I highly recommend spending your first night in Chattanooga here in the bracing mountain air.
After breakfast, I drove to the pinnacle of Lookout Mountain. You can decide for yourself if you want to visit any of the tourist attractions such as Lookout Mountain’s incline railway or Rock City, but either way you can’t miss this view of downtown Chattanooga; on a clear day, you can see for miles.
Lookout Mountain is also home to a charming community filled with tiny restaurants, old service stations and general stores. Leave time to wander the winding roads.
You can check into the Inn, which is within walking distance of downtown with sweeping views of the river.
While the vast Tennessee Aquarium is Chattanooga’s most famous downtown attraction, you’ll also want to stop by the Hunter Museum of American Art to discover traditional and modern art scattered throughout two buildings.
Walk across the bridge to the downtown area, where you’ll find plenty to do. Thanks to Beth and Matthew, they recommend their favorite joints in Chattanooga visit!
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