I didn’t come up with this plan on my own – in fact, I probably never would have realized how perfect Chattanooga is without outside influence. However, as soon as someone asserted that Chattanooga would be an ideal city for me to live in, everything clicked. How had I not seen it before? Everything about the Tennessee city is screaming my name. The local food scene, the amazing aquarium, the buzzing downtown area, the proximity to sweet climbing – it all makes sense. So here you have it, the Top 6 Reasons Why I’m Moving to Chattanooga:
1. Downtown Chattanooga
If you have never visited Chattanooga, you are truly missing out on one of America’s best ‘little’ big cities. The downtown district offers the best of both small local community and big city conveniences. Locally-owned boutiques sit beside apparel chains, yet the city achieves a seemingly perfect balance between the two different worlds. Strolling through downtown is easy and charming. One of my favorite shops is the mismatched book store on Broad Street, which is overloaded with a cluttered haven of books, knitted goodies and all sorts of trinkets. Local art adorns countless street corners, and some buildings have been entirely dedicated to artistic causes. The community here is humble, friendly and not the least pretentious.
2. The Food
By now, you should have a fully realized understanding of my passion for eating. I may be startlingly thin, but don’t let my skinny appearance fool you – I am a lean, mean eating machine. Chattanooga boasts some of the best grub in the southeast. First, there’s the Chattanooga Cupcakes shop that serves outrageous bakery creations. Then we have local grubberies like Lupi’s Pizza, comparable to Tallahassee’s hometown favorite Momo’s. If you’re looking for something more upscale, the Terminal Brewery serves the most fantastic – and beer-friendly – food in town. I ate there for my 22nd birthday dinner with Niko, and we still talk about our delicious meal of juicy burgers, sweet potato fries, freshly-brewed beer and tantalizing hummus. I can only imagine the culinary spread that awaits throughout the rest of Chattanooga.
3. Climbing Accessibility
One of the biggest drawbacks of living in Florida is the distance between my house and a decent crag. It’s at least a 5 hour drive to the nearest climbing area, which is a big bummer for days when I wake up craving some real rock. Living in Chattanooga would put me within day-trip distance to excellent spots like Little Rock City and Rocktown. Imagine, waking up on a Saturday morning to perfect weather, and being able to load up the car with gear and simply head out to climb in the boulder fields for a day. After a long day of crushing rock, it’ll be a short drive to the comfort of home. Chattanooga claims to have a pretty sweet indoor gym as well.
4. Chattanooga’s Beautiful Outdoors
I will defend Tallahassee’s modest attempt at autumn until I become blue in the face, but there is no denying that Chattanooga offers a vastly greater fall experience. The trees blaze with fiery shades of orange, red and yellow. Aside from the stunning fall foliage, the Tennessee area is home to a host of different natural wonders. You’ve got the Tennessee River, rolling mountainsides, roads winding through steep forests – it’s all right in Chattanooga’s backyard.
5. The Farmer’s Market
The tomatoes I bought at the Chattanooga Farmer’s Market during my birthday weekend were undoubtedly the best tomatoes I have ever tasted. The little cherry variety came in lush golds, deep purplish greens and bold reds. The market is bursting with fresh, local produce. Everything from string beans and sweet potatoes to warm loaves of bread and bison jerky can be purchased for an extremely reasonable price. I would love to have a reliable venue to stock up on quality food. I could seriously eat those tomatoes forever.
6. The Tennessee Aquarium
Words cannot describe my love for the Tennessee Aquarium. Personally, I think the word ‘aquarium’ is inappropriate for the facility; it’s more like an underwater and above-ground wonderland. Not only do they have enormous tanks filled with marine life, this establishment houses a beautiful butterfly garden and a sweeping collection of amphibians and reptiles. I could get lost in there for hours. I recently spoke of a little fantasy where I became the night staff of the aquarium, and hung out in the jellyfish exhibit with all the lights off except the changing colored glow from the jelly tanks.
My list of reasons could continue for quite some time. There’s the ridiculously affordable mountainside housing, the friendly community of green-minded people that inhabit the city, the beauty of the Tennessee River, etc. I may be nestled in Tallahassee for another year or so, writing for an online travel guide company, but the promise of Chattanooga will keep me forging onwards.