Moving to Chattanooga, Tennessee – A Local’s Guide

You may know Chattanooga, Tennessee as the Scenic City, or home of the touristy Rock City Gardens, or maybe for Outside Magazine’s 2015 Best Town Ever. But if you’re moving to Chattanooga, the Fairyland Caverns aren’t enough to make you feel like a local.

We interviewed a 26-year native Chattanoogan and two local real estate agents to bring you the ins and outs of moving to the outdoors capital of the South.

The Scoop on Chattanooga

Let’s get straight down to business. If you’re moving to Chattanooga, here are our best recommendations:

Fried chicken – where do I get me some?
Most locals will tell you Champy’s (and our insider agrees). Home of blues, brews, and birds, Champy’s is your family-friendly spot for the real good stuff. For the 21 and up crowd, Lamar’s is an excellent option and a local’s secret. Chattanooga realtor Ryan King says, “Although the interior might make you cringe as you walk in with its velvet wallpaper and dim lighting, the amazing tunes played on the juke box and the fried chicken keep locals coming back and keeping the secret.”

moving-chattanooga-champys
Image by Leslie G/Flickr

The South is famous for barbecue. What’s Chattanooga’s best?
Good question – there are a ton of options: Sugar’s Ribs, Nooga Q, Bones Smokehouse, Sticky Fingers, and the list goes on. But our insider swears by the Hwy 58 BBQ next to ACE Hardware. They said it’s worth the 20 minute drive out of town, and all the other places will just disappoint you, especially in the cole slaw department.

Before I start exploring, I’m gonna need a good breakfast.
Most locals will tell you Aretha Frankensteins, but frankly, the place is too small, and the wait times are ridiculous – just go to the nearest grocery and buy a box of their legendary pancake mix to make at home. If you want breakfast out, we recommend Bluegrass Grill on the Southside. The family-owned and operated joint serves enormous fluffy omelettes, the best biscuits in town, and endless coffee (locally roasted).

Where does a fella get a drink around here?
Well, that depends – do you want a classic cocktail or just a cold brew? Easy Bistro in downtown Chattanooga boasts the best mixologists in town, with infused liquors and to-die-for recipes, according to Ryan.

But if it’s beer you want, a lot of people will tell you visit The Terminal. However, we recommend the Chattanooga Brewing Company. Recently relocated to a bigger, better taphouse near Findley Stadium and the Chattanooga Market, Chattanooga Brewing always has six local brews on tap and offer a handful of one-off seasonals. They’ve added food and pub quizzes to their menu, too. That’s a win-win in our book.

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Image by Larry Miller/Flickr

How about the healthy, green foods?
Chattanooga realtors Jim and Monique Lea and their family love Mojo Burrito’s “very fresh ingredients and fun vibe.” With two locations, North Shore and Southside, Mojo is easy to access and totally delicious.

moving-chattanooga-mojo-burrito
Image by Larry Miller/Flickr

How does a body cool off in high summer?
The Leas take their kiddos to the manmade river in the Tennessee Aquarium plaza – this network of splash pools, running streams, and falls replicate the Tennessee River’s journey on its way to the ocean. (Insider tip: It’s also full of fish and artifact reliefs below the water or in the stone – how many can you find?)

Too hot to be outdoors? Try going inside the Aquarium, where you’ll find a cool, dark cave of fishy wonders for you and the kids, or the Creative Discovery Museum, just a few blocks south. There, kids are welcome to touch the exhibits, make messes, and get rowdy – and for the parents? Blessed air conditioning.

moving-chattanooga-discovery-museum
Image by Charles Atkeison/Flickr

What should I know about Chattanooga as a newcomer?
We don’t do snow. Like at all, period. We put sand on the roads and hide in our homes in terror. Ryan adds, “Forgetting to stop by your local grocery store to get bread and milk [at the first sign of snow] is just unheard of in Chattanooga. For the life of me, I’ve yet to figure out what people actually do with all this bread and milk!”

So if you don’t mind some weird winter weather activity, are gung-ho about great food, and can think of creative ways to beat the heat, you’re going to love moving to Chattanooga!

Feature image by J. Stephen Conn/Flickr

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