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Here’s Why All Eyes Are On Up-And-Coming Chattanooga

Good old Chattanooga is chasing Knoxville’s tail to become Tennesee’s third most populous city and, arguably, the coolest in the entire state. Since 2013, Chattanooga’s mayor, Andy Berke, has been using his platform to change the narrative of his hometown. Once devastated by the decline of its primary industry (steel), the city is confidently growing into its new identity – a fresh, progressive, citizen-focused place to settle down.

Millennials, in particular, are heading to Chattanooga to see what it’s all about. With areas hip enough to rival Chicago’s Wicker Park, a booming technology sector, and abundant gorgeous scenery, it’s no wonder why Chattanooga is among the nation’s top five up-and-coming cities. Head south to see what’s on the must-do list during a visit to Chattanooga.

10 Fall In Love With Ruby Falls

For the most part, people head to waterfalls above ground, feeling the mist cascading over cliff tops and into pools of open water. Mystical Ruby Falls offers a different experience as the tallest, deepest underground waterfall in the United States. Visitors have to plunge 260 feet in a glass elevator and walk through a trail of breathtaking cave formations before reaching the roaring falls. The light show, a blend of blue, white, and red, illuminates the falls and enhances the enchanting views. Special tours offer guests the opportunity to explore by lantern light, paying tribute to how Leo Lambert first discovered the geological wonder in 1929.

9 Appreciate American Art

The Hunter Museum of American Art proves you don’t have to be an artist to appreciate a masterpiece. The three buildings themselves are works of art, each telling a story of the museum’s 70-year history. The outdoor sculpture garden primes guests for the pieces inside. The indoor collections narrate a history of American Art from the 1700s to the present day. The plentitude of media, including paintings, photography, and decorative arts, means there is something for everyone to appreciate. Rotating exhibitions highlight modern life in America and the unique ways our past has shaped our current reality.

8 Take A Whiskey Drink

When early settlers traveled west to the Americas, they brought with them their prized beverage – whiskey. Tennessee takes their whiskey-making very seriously, even setting forth a strict standard of legal guidelines for distilling and manufacturing.

Sip on a bit of history at Chattanooga’s Experimental Whiskey Distillery, the first legal operation in the county in over a century. The owners went to the courts to make their dreams a reality, campaigning to change antiquated laws restricting distilling locations. From its microbrewing infancy to its fully matured operation, the distillery now offers an abundance of home-brewed whiskey drinks to sip on.

Related: 10 Amazing Distilleries You Have To Tour In The Midwest

7 Check Out The Chattanooga Market

Recent years have seen a surge of people looking to support local food growers, with farmer’s markets popping up all over the country. Named one of America’s top ten public markets, the Chattanooga Market features home-grown produce and meats from 50 local farms and crafted goods from over 100 artisans. Weekly live music performances add extra flavor to the shopping experience. The market also hosts several special events, like Oktoberfest, Big Band Day, and holiday celebrations.

6  See The Sights At Lookout Mountain

Adventure lovers will find something special at Lookout Mountain. At 2,392 feet elevation, people will see seven states – Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The mountain is home to one of Chattanooga’s most popular tourist destinations, a 4,100-foot trail entwined through rock formations called Rock City. There are several other routes for hikers who want a longer journey with breathtaking views of caves, waterfalls, and lush forests.

5 Catch A Show At Songbirds

The Songbirds Foundation seeks to connect people through music, focusing on the rhythm that runs through all of us. The location has an acclaimed museum with several rare and vintage guitars, and two stages feature live performances in every genre. Songbirds also started the Guitars for Kids initiative, which focuses on bringing creative outlets back to education with basic lessons and the opportunity to perform and record with national artists. All proceeds from the museum go to fund the initiative, so a visit here is not only a good time but a good deed.

4 Eat, Eat, Then Eat Some More!

An up-and-coming city needs a variety of menus to suit the palates of its citizens and visitors. Chattanooga has so many diverse restaurants to choose from that it’s impossible to single one out as the best. Of course, people can opt for a traditional American barbecue-style meal. However, there’s also an abundance of delicious plant-based options, highlighting Chattanooga’s dedication to progressing with modern eating habits. Similarly, foodies will find nearly every type of world cuisine to tickle their taste buds and fill their bellies with flavor.

3 Explore The Tennessee Aquarium

Both kids and adults enjoy observing animals doing their thing. The public, non-profit Tennessee Aquarium has been open since 1992 and features aquatic wildlife of all kinds. Visitors can delight in the sight of river otters floating on their backs or penguins jumping into pools in their beautiful habitats. Guests marvel at sand tiger sharks in spacious tanks and intelligent octopi undulating through dark waters. Several diverse exhibits highlight why the Tennesee Aquarium is consistently voted one of the top ten in the country.

Related: Why Tennessee Aquarium Is Definitely Worth Your Time (For The Freshwater Exhibits Alone)

2 Ride A Train At The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

Trains are still a form of transportation of goods and people worldwide, but railroads used to be the most popular mode of travel. The history of railroads and their importance to society is on full display at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM). Visitors can learn how railroads shaped culture by observing preserved equipment like old steam engines, passenger cars, and freight trains. The TVRM also offers rides on several trains, including a New Year’s Eve dinner and a holiday lights trip.

1 Visit The Sculpture Fields

Enjoying art while simultaneously surrounded by nature sounds like a magical time, and visitors to Montague Park’s Sculpture Fields can do just that. Contemporary sculptures in all sizes and shapes scattered across the 33-acre park invite people to appreciate artistic expression on a grand scale. Guests can take a self-guided tour that includes audio descriptions of each sculpture or participate in one of the events hosted by Montague Park, like a sculpture burning or an aluminum pour.

Next: Titanic In The Appalachians? What To Expect At The Titanic Museum In Tennessee

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