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View of Downtown Chattanooga, TN, Looking Across the Tennessee River

15 Things to Know About Living in Chattanooga

Compared to larger Tennessee cities like Nashville and Memphis, Chattanooga tends to fly under the radar. But don’t be fooled by that! Scenic City is full of gems. From its secret foodie scene to its gorgeous hiking trails, Chattanooga has tons to offer residents! If you’re thinking about moving to Chattanooga, here are 15 things you need to know.

Affordable Living in the South

Chattanooga is one of the most affordable places to live in Tennessee, thanks to its cost of living being 9% lower than the national average. The median home price in Chattanooga is $152,000—which is about $30,000 less than the national average—and median monthly rent is around $765. On top of its affordability, Chatt’s prime location on the Tennessee-Georgia border gives residents quick access to several southern cities. It’s within three hours of Atlanta, Nashville, Knoxville, Birmingham, and Huntsville! The Chattanooga metro is also home to over half a million people and has been growing in population over the last 10 years. Plus, there have been more young professionals and families moving to Chattanooga because of its affordable housing market for young home buyers, great job opportunities, and plentiful outdoor activities!

Pursue Your Career

Exterior Photo of the Erlanger Health System Building. Photo by Instagram user @erlangerhealth

Photo via @erlangerhealth

Looking for jobs in Chattanooga? Scenic City has many top employers, including Erlanger Health System, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Hamilton County Schools, Tennessee Valley Authority, Volkswagen Group of America, and more! You can find job opportunities in a variety of sectors from automotive to healthcare. In fact, one of Chattanooga’s top healthcare employers, CHI Memorial Hospital, is recognized as one of the best hospitals in Tennessee! Chattanooga is also one of the best places to work remotely, which has attracted work-from-home employees from companies like Netflix, Spotify, and Stripe. With new developments and new business opportunities, it’s no wonder people are making Chattown their home!

A Growing Tech Hub

Front Desk at Bellhops HQ Office in Chattanooga. Photo by Instagram user @bellhopmoving

Photo via @bellhopmoving

The Gig City was the first U.S. city to roll out a citywide gigabyte network that provided fast and cheap internet access to every resident. This innovative infrastructure and fast internet speed appealed to tech companies and startups looking for a cheaper alternative to New York City or San Francisco, which has turned Chattanooga into a hot spot for technology. With emerging companies like Branch Technology, FreightWaves, and Bellhop rising from the Chattanooga startup scene, as well as startup support through the Hamilton County Business Development Center’s INCubator, the city will continue to appeal to tech entrepreneurs.

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Earn Your Degree

Entrance Sign at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Photo by Instagram user @utcfacilities

Photo via @utcfacilities

Thinking about pursuing a college degree? You can attend The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC), one of three universities in the The University of Tennessee System. This public institution located near the Tennessee Riverfront has an undergraduate enrollment of over 10,000 students and allows you to choose from over 40 different degree programs in business, education, engineering, computer science, and more. Beyond UTC, there are other options for furthering your education in Chattown. You can earn a degree in aesthetics, cosmetology, dental assistance, or practical nursing at Chattanooga College, or you can enroll in one of Chattanooga State Community College‘s associate degree programs with concentrations and certificates for every interest, including culinary arts and drone technology.

Explore the Outdoors

Person at Lookout Mountain Standing at the Edge of a Cliff. Photo by Instagram user @hope.maum

Photo via @hope.maum

All around Chattanooga are hiking trails, campgrounds, and other outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts of every skill level. Walk one of the seven trails in the Big Daddy Loop on Lookout Mountain. Navigate waterfalls, rapids, and rock formations on North Chickamauga Creek’s Cumberland Trail and camp at the Stevenson Branch campsite while you explore. Traverse nearly six miles of underground cavern passageways at Raccoon Mountain. Soar over treetops on a 700-foot zipline at High Point ZIP Adventure. Scale sandstone rock formations at Deep Creek or take a dip in the swimming hole. Or visit one of the top paddling destinations in Chattanooga so you can paddleboard down the Tennessee River.

Chase Chattanooga Waterfalls

One major benefit of Chattanooga’s abundance of rain is the city’s numerous waterfalls. Hike the Lula Lake Land Trust to see Lula Falls, a 110-foot waterfall that cascades into the lake. Take in the views of two waterfalls, Laurel Falls (80 feet) and Snow Falls (35 feet) on the six-mile trail at Laurel Snow State Natural Area. Explore Greeter Falls Loop Trail at Savage Gulf, where you’ll find Greeter Falls, which cascades over three separate ledges throughout the trail. Or descend 260 feet to an underground cavern where Ruby Falls, the nation’s tallest and deepest underground waterfall, is hidden beneath Lookout Mountain.

Stroll Along the Riverwalk

Photo of the Riverwalk Bridge in Downtown Chattanooga. Photo by Instagram user @gagetucker_

Photo via @gagetucker_

The Chattanooga Riverwalk stretches over 16 miles along the southern banks of the Tennessee River. With dozens of access points located throughout the downtown area, the path is the perfect way to explore the city. Take a stroll along the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge. Rent bikes from the Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System. Uncover local gems in the Bluff View Art District, a historic district tucked along the river with restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, and museums. Grab a cup of house-roasted coffee from Rembrandt’s Coffee House. Wander through the sculpture garden at River Gallery. Immerse yourself in American art at the Hunter Museum, and munch on fresh bread from Bluff View Bakery. Order crab cakes for lunch at Scottie’s On The River. Or stop in for a Snoopers Sour at Tanasi Brewing & Supplies.

Get Your Fill of Thrill at Lake Winnie

View of the Amusement Park Rides at Lake Winnie. Photo by Instagram user @coastercuzzies

Photo via @coastercuzzies

Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park, one of the best amusement parks in Georgia, is located just south of Chattanooga across the Tennessee-Georgia border. The 85-acre park has 38 different attractions, including rollercoasters and water slides. Brave one of the park’s thrill rides, where you can spin upside down on the Fire Ball or shoot 140 feet in the air on the OH-Zone! There are family-friendly rides as well, like the Ferris Wheel and Tilt-a-Whirl. You can also cool off on a warm summer day at Lake Winnie’s SOAKya Water Park, where you can race down the Winnie 500 waterslide or enjoy the afternoon floating down the Crazy River.

There’s Fun for the Whole Family

Exterior of the Creative Discovery Museum in Downtown Chattanooga at Golden Hour. Photo by Instagram user @downtownchatt

Photo via @downtownchatt

Looking for fun activities to keep your little ones entertained? There are lots of things to do in Chattanooga with kids! Play a game of oversized chess, build a 3D sculpture out of recycled materials, or get your hands dirty working in the rooftop garden at Creative Discovery Museum. Watch classic childhood fairytales come to life at Fairyland Caverns in Rock City. Stand face-to-face with a sand tiger shark at Tennessee Aquarium or feed a giraffe at Chattanooga Zoo. Go horseback riding at Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park. Ride an antique carousel at Coolidge Park. Ascend Lookout Mountain at a 72.7% grade on the Incline Railway. Scale a rock wall at High Point Climbing & Fitness. Or hunt local ghouls on a Chattanooga Ghost Tour.

Watch Local Performing Arts

If you love music, film, and other theatrics, look no further than Chattanooga’s theaters for your entertainment! Catch theatrical productions, comedy shows, and community events at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Auditorium. Attend concerts and popular Broadway musicals like Cats and Les Miserables at the historic Tivoli Theatre. Watch plays like The Scarlet Letter and The Tempest performed by a local cast at Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga. Take the family to Chattanooga Theatre Centre for kid-friendly productions like A Wrinkle in Time, Mary Poppins, and Charlotte’s Web. Or pack some blankets and pillows to cozy up with while you watch a movie under the stars at the beloved drive-in Wilderness Theater.

Explore Downtown Chatt

Downtown Chattanooga is brimming with restaurants, shops, and more! Get around downtown easily by riding on CARTA’s free Downtown Electric Shuttle. Visit Chattanooga Market for local crafts, homemade baked goods, locally grown flowers, kids activities, live music, and more. Spend an afternoon shopping and supporting local businesses like Blue Ivy Flowers, Rivercity Apparel, Belle Rive Boutique, or K: A Boutique by Katherine Roberts. Check out the Chattanooga Choo Choo to explore the Glenn Miller Gardens and grab a cocktail on Station Street. Grab everything from authentic Mexican food to Korean cuisine in Food Truck Alley. Enjoy a carriage ride to view holiday lights. And don’t forget to make your way to West Village, a recently revitalized downtown block that’s full of shops, restaurants, and the famous umbrella art installation!

Attend Local Events & Festivals

Chattanooga may be a smaller city, but there’s no shortage of things to do! You’ll find fun community events and festivals all throughout the year. Discover your new favorite craft beer at Chattabrewga. Sample wines like Cavit Sweet Red, Chattanooga Blush, or Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio at Wine Over Water. Grab a lawn chair and enjoy free Friday night concerts all summer long at Chattanooga Nightfall. Celebrate young adult literature with top authors at YA-Hoo Fest. Attend a Chattanooga Lookouts (MiLB) game and a fireworks show afterward. Snag tickets to one of Chattanooga’s most popular music events, Riverbend Festival. Or walk the 5K in the Grateful Gobbler and partake in a family-style Thanksgiving dinner in Downtown Chattanooga when you’re done.

Savor Chattanooga Eats

Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Champy's Famous Fried Chicken in Chattanooga. Photo by Instagram user @champyschicken

Photo via @champyschicken

You can’t go wrong with Chattanooga’s foodie scene! Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty brunch or Southern-style fried chicken, Chattown has the restaurant for you. Start your morning with a Samoa Donut, Granny’s Apple Pie Filled Donut, or Pancakes & Bacon Donut at Julie Darling Donuts. Dig into brunch at the Flying Squirrel, where you can order a Huevos Rancheros Con Carne Burrito or Concha French Toast paired with a Sriracha Bloody Mary. Make a dinner reservation at St Johns Restaurant and try the Hawaiian Mero Sea Bass, Seared Duck Breast & Confit, or Wagyu Beef Flat-Iron Steak. Sink your teeth into a New Mexico Green Chile Cheeseburger or specialty Gourmet Bacon Cheeseburger at burger joint Urban Stack. See why 40 years of secret family recipes and Mississippi Delta magic make the best fried chicken at Champy’s Chicken. Order Italian cuisine like Penne Bolognese, Spaghetti All’Amatriciana, or Gnocchi with Blue Crab and Mushrooms at Alleia. Or snag a scoop of Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake or Gingerdoodle at Clumpies Ice Cream Co.

Pour a Glass of Whiskey

Three Bottles of Chattanooga Whiskey Sitting on a Barrel. Photo by Instagram user @chattwhiskey

Photo via @chattwhiskey

Looking for good Tennessee whiskey? Chattanooga is home to the Tennessee Whiskey Festival, which occurs every October. Here, you can sample and compare whiskeys from local distilleries throughout the state, listen to live music, and help judge the Jim Brewer Wing Competition. If you’re looking for malty beverages throughout the year, check out the Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery. This distillery has been in operation since 2015 and offers tour and tasting options. For a more traditional night out, visit Whiskey Thief for drinks on the rooftop—like a Manhattan crafted with one of over 100 kinds of whiskey stocked at the bar!

Enjoy a Night Out on the Town

Chattanooga has excellent nightlife options to choose from! Stop by Brewhaus, Chattanooga’s only German-American gastro pub, for a Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich and an ale from their rotating monthly beer list. Laugh the night away during standup comedy shows at The Comedy Catch. Sip on a signature cocktail like the Vanilla Bay Old Fashioned or Hot Flash at Proof Bar & Incubator. Head to Gate 11 Distillery for live music and a locally distilled cocktail like the Bumblebee Sting. Sneak into the Unknown Caller speakeasy for a Paper Plane, Strawberry Blonde, or Jungle Witch paired with a late-night hot dog. Dance the night away with hits from the ’80s and ’90s at Regan’s Place. Or grab a line-dancing partner and hit up Westbound Bar.


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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.