So, you’re in town for the IRONMAN 70.3? Whether you’re a participant (go you!) or a spectator, you’ll likely have some downtime to fill in between race activities. Fortunately, you’re staying in the Scenic City – and you have options when it comes to treating yourself and making the most of your stay.
Here, we’re sharing some suggestions for fun and entertaining things to do in Chattanooga this weekend.
1. Carb Load
It’s no secret that carbohydrates are a vital source of energy, which is why fueling up before a big race – also known as carb loading – is a popular practice among athletes. Athlete or not, you don’t want to miss out on Chattanooga’s carbiest dishes when you’re in town. In the Bluff View Art District, the menu at Tony’s Pasta Shop & Trattoria is heavy on pasta like low country linguini, spaghettini carbonara, and chicken tetrazzini; paired with a loaf of Tony’s melt-in-your-mouth garlic bread, you have a carb match made in heaven. On the Southside, Alleia turns out rustic Italian cuisine such as pappardelle and braised veal, tagliatelle with Bolognese, and gnocchi with chicken sausage and shiitake mushrooms.
For the bread lovers among you, Chattanooga has several local bakeries to choose from. Stop in at Niedlov’s Bakery & Café for a loaf of their famous sourdough bread or pastries. North of the river, Bread & Butter in Red Bank has established itself as a community staple with its handcrafted artisan breads, while The Bread Basket has multiple locations around town and can satisfy any craving – savory or sweet.
Spectators will need to roll out of bed early to cheer on their favorite IRONMAN, so if your morning alarm is set earlier than you like, at least treat yourself to a steaming cup of coffee (or two). Conveniently, there are several local coffee shops that dot the race route, giving you plenty of opportunities to top off throughout the day. When the bike route takes athletes along downtown’s Market Street, you can visit Cadence Coffee Company, Frothy Monkey, and Goodman Coffee Roasters located in Warehouse Row. One block over on Broad Street, Sleepyhead Coffee gets a lot of local love for its quality coffee and vegan pastries.
The course for the two-loop run gives athletes the chance to see the Tennessee Riverwalk, the Northshore neighborhood, two bridges, and the beautiful Riverfront Parkway. For spectators, that means even more options for a cup of local joe. On Frazier Avenue, check out Stone Cup Café, which exclusively uses coffee from local company Stone Cup Roasting Co. Nearby, Milk & Honey and Be Caffeinated are all-day destinations for delicious drinks. Back across the river, you’re a short walk from Rembrandt’s Coffee House, a European-style café offering a wide assortment of house-roasted coffees.
3. Stretch It Out
Whether your muscles need a break, or they could use a little movement, take advantage of Chattanooga’s beautiful greenways, hiking trails, and boutique fitness classes. Yogis in particular will find their center at Southern Soul Yoga, conveniently located by Whole Foods in Northshore, and Yoga Landing on Chattanooga’s Southside. Start your day with a heated vinyasa, or do some deep-stretching mid-day to nourish your body and your soul.
You won’t have to travel very far for a scenic locale to stretch your legs. Adjacent to the IRONMAN course is Coolidge Park, which boasts some of the most accessible walking paths in the city as well as views of the Tennessee River. A few blocks north, Stringers Ridge is a go-to spot for hiking and biking, with 92 acres waiting to be explored. On the south side of the city at Sculpture Fields at Montague Park, walking paths meander between large-scale sculptures across 33 acres.
Downtown’s High Point Climbing and Fitness – home to 30,000 square feet of climbing surfaces – is a climber’s paradise and a great way to mix up your workout. The gym also offers fitness and yoga classes in addition to guided trips, which are the perfect way to experience some of the area’s best climbing destinations.
4. See the Sights
Those based downtown for the IRONMAN have some of Chattanooga’s best attractions within walking distance of their accommodations. By the riverfront, the Tennessee Aquarium is made up of two buildings housing more than 12,000 animals from all seven continents, from river otters and alligators to Pacific octopuses and sand tiger sharks. A few blocks away, the Hunter Museum of American Art in the Bluff View Art District has an impressive collection of art from the Colonial period to present day. Have kids in tow? They’ll love the Creative Discovery Museum, an award-winning children’s museum with immersive exhibits and hands-on activities. And, if you won’t be racing across it, be sure to take a stroll along the Walnut Street Bridge, one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world, for unparalleled views of the Tennessee River.
Further south, the First Horizon Pavilion hosts the Chattanooga Market, one of the top public markets in the United States, on Sundays throughout the summer and fall. On May 22, you can check out its Blooms! Flower Festival, where flowers will abound in addition to local produce and arts and crafts, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also deserving a spot on your itinerary is the Chattanooga Choo Choo, a beacon of history in the heart of the city.
Congrats! You’ve completed the IRONMAN! A celebration is in order, and Chattanooga is the perfect spot to do just that. Maybe an ice-cold beer is calling your name? Luckily for you, the Chattanooga brewery scene is booming, so take your pick between local hangouts such as Chattanooga Brewing Co., Five Wits, Hutton & Smith, Naked River, and WanderLinger. Or, maybe a post-race ice cream with the family is your definition of a party. With classic flavors like butter pecan and mint chocolate chunk and seasonal flavors like carrot cake, banana puddin’, and honeycomb, you can’t go wrong with a scoop from Clumpies Ice Cream Co., which has locations on the Northshore, Southside, and in St. Elmo. Located right by the Walnut Street Bridge, The Ice Cream Show can create over 17,000 flavor combinations with its selection of 40 fresh ingredients, including berries, nuts, marshmallows, and chocolates.
Want to just kick back and let loose? Strike out at Southside Social, Chattanooga’s family-friendly boutique bowling alley featuring 10 lanes of bowling, an indoor gaming area, and four bars with a menu that has apps, tacos, pizza, and more. This space can accommodate crowds of all sizes and provide a fun party atmosphere to celebrate your accomplishments.
No matter how you choose to explore Chattanooga, we hope you leave with fond memories, full bellies, and plans to visit us again – whether for September’s IRONMAN race or another trip in the future.