Food & WineAs far as the South goes, Chattanooga has long been something of a misfit. Outdoorsy, post-industrial-and-winning-at-it, a place of dramatic landscapes and an early arrival to the whole urban renewal trend, Tennessee’s fourth-largest city buzzes with a palpable, rather unique energy.

Maybe it’s all the coffee, maybe it’s all the hiking, the fresh air, the mountains, the rivers; perhaps it’s all the beer they drink—it’s almost as if there’s something distinctly Northwestern about the place, but that’s not quite it—Chattanooga is, quite honestly, a tough one to pin down. (Seriously—where else but the South could the MoonPie, which turned 100 this year, have been invented?)

Just around two hours—traffic permitting—from both Nashville and Atlanta and a world away in attitude from either one, Chattanooga makes a great getaway at any time of year—particularly on these crisp, late fall days, when the weather’s just right for getting out and experiencing the city’s wild surrounds. Dropping by? When you’re done scaling cliffs, conquering long-distance hikes, and/or chasing waterfalls, follow the locals to these current hotspots.

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Published by Food & Wine on Dec. 1, 2017: Written by David Landsel