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Chattanooga is the perfect mixture of new and old, historic and hip, natural beauty and urban sprawl. This small city of 180,000 is located in Tennessee, not far from the Georgia border.
With a gorgeous location along the Tennessee River, Chattanooga has plenty of lush green space to enjoy the outdoors. Its attractive downtown is filled with unique shops and hip restaurants, including many vegan restaurants or locations that offer vegan options.
In addition to its role in American history, Chattanooga is a popular vacation spot. In fact, it’s one of the fastest-growing cities in Tennessee. Whether you’re interested in a weekend getaway or moving there permanently, here’s everything you need to know in our vegan’s guide to Chattanooga.
Lookout Mountain Incline Railway
First, let’s look at some of Chattanooga’s top attractions. The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is an inclined plane funicular railway that goes to the top of Lookout Mountain from the historic St. Elmo neighborhood.
From the top of the mountain, you’ll have a good view of Chattanooga and can learn about the history of the area.
The railway is an option for all ages. If you go during the summer months, it does get a little hot so it is important to dress and plan appropriately.
Nightfall Concert Series
This fun concert series in Chattanooga features lots of different talents. It occurs during the summer months and is a free gathering option for the community.
Lots of food trucks will be in attendance. The ambiance is enjoyable and it is a great opportunity for locals and visitors alike to enjoy an evening of music.
Best Tips & Tools to Plan Your Trip
The Tennessee Riverwalk is a 13-mile riverside path that runs along the Tennessee River from Chickamauga Dam to downtown Chattanooga.
Rent a bike from Bike Chattanooga, the city’s shared bike system which has 42 stations, to explore the riverwalk. You’ll find lots of gardens and green spaces (even rock climbing walls) along the Tennesse Riverwalk.
The path is utilized by bicyclists, walkers, and runners alike. It’s perfect for an evening stroll or getting in some exercise.
Rock City is a natural, outdoor attraction on Lookout Mountain in Georgia, six miles from downtown Chattanooga. Rock City is filled with awe-inspiring geologic formations, as well as some quirky, whimsical attractions like Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village. The Enchanted Trail includes a 100-foot waterfall and Swing-A-Long bridge
Walk through caves and narrow crevices and then end up at the outlook where you can see seven U.S. states: Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
Enjoy the tunes of a local artist at the top and then make your way back down enjoying lots of whimsical art (and maybe a few gnomes) on your way back.
Rock City is a very popular destination and it is best to allow an entire afternoon to explore. During the summer months, it can get very hot so plan accordingly. Be sure to wear good walking shoes. The entire tour takes about an hour (depending on how quickly you go).
This attraction is appropriate for all ages. It is definitely worth the day trip from Chattanooga to see the beautiful rock formations and walk all the way to the top.
Chattanooga Choo Choo
Chattanooga was a connecting city in the United States train network. Although this place is no longer a functioning train station, you can learn the history of the railway through Chattanooga.
Now, it is home to restaurants and community gatherings. There is even an escape room. Older trains have been transformed into varied and interesting attractions. This is well worth a visit.
Vegan Dining in Chattanooga
Chattanooga has many good options for vegan diners, from vegan restaurants to restaurants with good vegan options. Here are some of our favorites:
The buffalo tofu bowl and jackfruit nachos at Cashew Vegan Restaurant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, are top picks here. The buffalo tofu bowl is tangy and the nachos come with barbeque jackfruit.
Cashew makes almost all of its desserts and pastries, with the exception of the cheezcake. The blondies and cake donuts are delicious. And it’s all vegan. Try the matcha donut next time you visit.
For dinner, try Lupi’s pizza pie. You can substitute cow’s milk cheese for vegan mozz. According to the staff, the dough and red sauce are vegan.
The dough is fluffy and chewy. It is just a short walk from downtown festivities. It’s a great option to visit with a group after enjoying one of the downtown free music shows.
Kenny’s Southside Sandwiches
For breakfast, we recommend Kenny’s Southside Sandwiches’ vegan options. The black-eyed pea falafel is fantastic. It is two delicious pitas with light fluffy fried falafel, assorted veggies, and a tahini dressing. It is topped with microgreens. It is filling and full of flavor.
For a refreshing and light lunch, try out The Local Juicery + Kitchen. You can get avocado toast on crusty bread with tomatoes, a vegan banana muffin, and a coconut sky smoothie that has spirulina for added color and nutrition. All these are vegan. The atmosphere is very open and decorated with lots of plants.
For dinner, try Sluggo’s. This local vegan staple specializes in vegan home cooking. For an appetizer, the zucchini griddle cakes are savory and delicious. We recommend trying the platters if you are hungry.
The dusted seitan plate is a large platter filled with vegan southern favorites. It comes with garlic mashed potatoes in mushroom gravy, fried seitan, cornbread, collard greens, and a fresh salad (try the tahini dressing).
The portions are large and filling. You may walk out rolling instead of walking.
Mean Mug Coffee House
To conclude your trip, try Mean Mug Coffee House. Located in Chattanooga’s Southside neighborhood, Mean Mug Coffee House has a lovely enclosed outdoor patio. The tofu scramble with sauteed veggies is vegan. You can enjoy your cup of coffee with a delicious meal on the patio.
With a focus on sustainable agriculture, Crabtree Farms is a peaceful secluded gem. They have pick-your-own programs for berries, figs, and more. They also grow pawpaws, which are very popular and are picked up quickly.
Crabtree Farms is also a hub for community gatherings. With various classes such as Mycology 101, they off many agricultural education classes. With a calm green atmosphere, Crabtree Farms is also a venue for events such as weddings, and various community gatherings.
When we were there, our guide introduced us to the toothache plant, a numbing plant that is not for the faint of heart. If you are brave and culinarily adventurous, give it a try.
We highly recommend visiting this peaceful community-oriented farm. With a strong focus on community and sustainability, it’s definitely worth putting on your calendar.
Where to Stay
The Chattanoogan Hotel is a lovely upscale hotel with large rooms and a good location near shops and restaurants. If you would like to stay downtown there are a myriad of options closer to the river.
Book This Trip
Start planning your vegan-friendly trip to Chattanooga today. Get prepared with insider tips on the best shops, hotel and VRBO accommodations, local restaurant reviews and more through TripAdvisor and Travelocity.
Try getting a city attraction pass to lower the overall cost of visiting all the attractions.
Renting a car will likely be a necessity on a visit. There is some public transportation but it does not reach all corners of the city (yet).
For more information, you can visit the Chattanooga Tourism website.
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