In honor of Pride Month, we spoke with some members of Chattanooga’s LGBTQ+ community to find out what they love about living in Chattanooga. Hear from them about where to eat, what to do, and hidden Chattanooga secrets you should check out.
And be sure to come back in October when Chattanooga celebrates Pride with a festival on the riverfront!
What do you love about Chattanooga?
Kimberly Appeldorn, EPB: I love so many aspects of Chattanooga, but above all else, I love the sense of community that fills our city in so many ways!
Austin Corcoran, Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce: I believe Chattanooga is built on love. From the friendly and outgoing community to the encouragement and support for our local, small businesses to the opportunities to get involved at a local non-profit, Chattanooga is such a warm and welcoming city.
Rose Cox, Rose Management Enterprises: I love how Chattanooga runs on volunteer power and community love and support. I have been involved in so many awesome organizations and non-profits here and I love how the community always comes together to make things happen.
Miles Huff, Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce: I love that Chattanooga is a city that feels so full of life. We have a thriving culture, from arts to the outdoor scene, to food and drink there is so much to do and experience here. When people ask me what Chattanooga is like I always say something along the lines of “you can have brunch, go paddleboarding, enjoy a museum, go rock climbing and see amazing free live music all in one day” and I feel like that is what makes me love this city so much. That, and the people of course.
James McKissic, ArtsBuild: There is so much to love about Chattanooga! There’s our beautiful natural surroundings, the history and vibrant culture, the amazing arts sector, and the people. Chattanooga has the best people. Since moving back to the area in 2003 I have forged great friendships with so many inspiring, committed people. I love the work that I’m doing at ArtsBuild and the fact that, in Chattanooga, there are so many ways to plug in and serve communities.
Antonia Poland and Cynthia Wood, Davis Wayne’s: We love that we get a little of all four seasons, yet never too much of anyone.
What’s your favorite local eatery?
KA: So many great places to eat but I would have to say Alleia is a top favorite for their food and amazing atmosphere.
AC: Lil Mama’s is the place to go to. Not only are the Chicago-style hoagies delicious, but their 90’s “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” vibe invokes feelings of nostalgia.
RC: I have a few: Mindy B's Deli for their great sandwiches, Taqueria Jalisco Miller Plaza for their awesome authentic Mexican food, and for some great bar food, I love Pickle Barrel.
MH: Ugh this one is so hard! I love food, like REALLY love food. If I have to choose one I will choose Taqueria Jalisco Ania. The food is authentic and delicious, the drinks are wonderful, and the owner and staff are always genuine and welcoming to every guest. On top of that, the décor is to die for and makes me feel like I am in South Beach sipping cocktails by the beach
JK: There is so much great food here in Chattanooga that it’s hard to pick just one. I love Public House, Davis Wayne’s, Stir. Who can name just one? My favorite local meal though comes from Saks Wing Shack on Brainerd Road, specifically their fried whiting. It is amazing. Period. I also live for the cheesecake ice cream at Bruster's and…my mom’s greens.
AP & CW: Davis Wayne's, Allea's, The Meeting Place, and Tony's
What’s your favorite Chattanooga hidden secret?
KA: Definitely not a secret but Nightfall is a great start to the weekends in the summer!
AC: Sculpture Fields at Montague Park is one of my favorite places to visit. I enjoy taking my dogs, walking around, and enjoy viewing the featured sculptures. There is also the option to take a self-guided tour to learn about the sculptures, which I have done a few times.
RC: 3rd Deck Burger Bar. Drinking a couple strong drinks on the top deck of a boat is never a bad time.
MC: So, it isn’t technically hidden, but I have found that so many people don’t know about Stringer’s Ridge and it is one of my favorite places. It is a great place to get in a quick hike or trail run before work or even on a lunch break, the trails are super easy to navigate, and there are some great views of downtown. I am always shocked at how many Chattanoogans don’t know where it is or how to access it and love introducing friends from out of town to this little gem right in the middle of our city.
JK: My favorite hidden secret is the stunning view from the top of ArtsBuild. Not many people know that we have a spectacular rooftop deck that we use for events and gatherings. It has incredible sweeping views of many of the downtown murals and Lookout Mountain. It’s a great place to celebrate, unwind, or just sit and think about things.
AP & CW: Cambridge Square in Ooltewah is a great family-friendly location for dining out and live music.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Chattanooga?
KA: Absolutely anything outdoors! There are so many different activities with the mountains right in our backyard. Chattanooga is the perfect city for running, cycling, hiking, kayaking… The list can go on! But, you definitely cannot go wrong with the Guild-Hardy trail near Lookout Mountain for a nice walk or trail run.
AC: Starting a Sunday off by going to the Chattanooga Market and buying some local goodies and flowers while listening to great local artists, head to one of the great brunch spots offered, like State of Confusion or The Daily Ration, and finish by stopping by the Ice Cream Show before walking the bridge and admiring how beautiful Chattanooga’s views are.
RC: I love the arts, outdoors, live music, people, etc. Comedy and music at JJ's, karaoke at Ziggy's, all of which I have missed during Covid, but they are all slowly coming back. I miss making art and creating events with local friends.
MH: I am a die-hard fan of the Southside and my favorite thing to do in Chattanooga is stroll around there enjoying the food, art, music, and people that it has to offer. I love heading to State of Confusion for brunch and then hitting up Pax Breu Ruim for a drink all while enjoying the fantastic street art along the way. In the afternoon I will head to the Local Juicery for a smoothie or fresh juice and pop into the local shops for some goodies. The evenings are spent listening to live music on Station Street, checking out the activity and people watching at the Choo Choo, and sampling some libations at Chattanooga Whiskey Distillery. If I haven’t gorged myself too much, Clumpie’s is also on the agenda. I think this is why my favorite event in Chattanooga is MainX24!
JK: Anyone who knows me knows that I love visual art. I get so much joy from visiting the Hunter Museum and wandering the galleries, strolling in Sculpture Fields, and driving around checking out the sculptures and murals that make up our public art scene. Our city is truly a feast for the eyes, from the beautiful landscapes to the diverse collection of arts and cultural institutions we have access to. The arts are crucial to making
AP & CW: We love live music and all of the venues Chattanooga has to offer.
What makes Chattanooga different from other cities?
KA: Chattanooga is a unique city for a lot of reasons, but in my opinion, it is the perfect mix of small-town and city life. Plus, the local culture and natural beauty make it a wonderful place to live, work, and visit!
AC: There is something for everyone. Between the outdoor recreation, best internet, music scene, dog-friendly community, proximity to other cities, and so much more, Chattanooga is a natural attraction.
RC: It is a "small town" city. Really community-oriented and loving.
MH: Without a doubt, it is the people. Chattanooga is a city full of people who are doers, change-makers, connectors, and creatives. When I talk to people who work in other cities, they are always blown away by the collaborative spirit that exists in our city, and I am reminded to never take it for granted. When friends visit from out of town, they always comment on how friendly people are and how refreshing it is to see so many smiles. Chattanooga is the city that it is because of the people that it is made up of, and I am so fortunate to be one of them.
JK: I love that Chattanooga is full of starters. I’m so inspired by people in our city who don’t wait for others to do things, but who do things themselves. This is so evident in the work that we do at ArtsBuild as we identify and seek ways to support grassroots and growing arts and culture organizations and programs throughout our city. So many people have seen a need in our community and taken the risk to fill it from diversifying our live music scene, commemorating Juneteenth, to celebrating Pride, to organizing Black people and other people of color in the outdoors community, to starting new nonprofits to organize and address needs of underrepresented communities in our arts and culture sector. These folks inspire me every day and I’m continuously amazed by their creativity, resilience, and ingenuity.
AP & CW: Chattanooga is a place that allows you to be great if you work hard and perfect your craft.