Why We Chose Chattanooga | Chris & Sara Pochiba

Over the last few years, we’ve traveled to 49 states by van and seen an incredible number of small towns, major cities, and mountain ranges along the way. While we've fallen in love with a seemingly infinite number of places across this beautiful country, there’s one that we always find ourselves returning to time and again: Chattanooga, Tennessee.

When we were traveling in our Sprinter van full-time for two years, we were first attracted to Chattanooga for its abundant outdoor activities, blazing-fast internet (a digital nomad's dream!), and moderate weather. However, the more time we spent in the city, the more we fell in love with the culture, people, and history which (in our opinion) are the true heart of Chattanooga. 

When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, we decided it was time to purchase a home of our own which would serve as our “basecamp” between vanlife excursions across the country. It didn’t take long to realize that Chattanooga was the most natural place to put down roots and make our long-term home. Small-town charm, southern hospitality, a booming tech scene, and one of the best outdoor adventure communities in the country make Chattanooga a truly unique and special place.

Traveling through Chattanooga in our campervan gave us a unique perspective on the city. We learned quickly how much there was to see and do for a mid-size town. You see, when you're traveling around in a large cargo van and you want to experience both mountains and downtown areas, things like traffic, parking and campground proximity to town are all considerations. It’s rare to stumble upon a city that makes life on the road so accessible, but Chattanooga is one of those gems that we stumbled into multiple times a year.

From camping at Cloudland Canyon and hiking on Signal Mountain, to kayaking on the Tennessee River and eating our way through the many restaurants down Main Street and beyond, we knew we’d never run out of things to do and try in the city, which is why we now call it home. 

vanlife chris and sara

Advice for visiting Chattanooga in a campervan or RV

If you’re contemplating visiting Chattanooga in your campervan or RV, welcome! We Chattanoogans are deeply passionate about our home and love sharing some of the city’s gems with others. All we ask is that you leave no trace when enjoying the great outdoors and that you respect the place that so many of us lovingly call home. Here are a few tips for planning your van life or RV trip to Chattanooga. 

  • Visit during the fall if you can, but there’s never a bad season in Tennessee. Fall-colored leaves, crisp mornings, and perfect temperatures for hitting the trails make it the outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination.
  • Book a campsite at one of the area’s wonderful campgrounds. Our personal favorites Cloudland Canyon State Park, RaccoonMountain, Chester Frost, and Harrison Bay all offer wonderful camping opportunities with full RV hookups only 30 minutes from downtown.
  • Travel slowly and take your time! This is always our number one travel tip for any destination, but especially in Chattanooga. You can’t experience everything here in just a couple of days. Spend an hour or two doing research learning more about all that Chattanooga has to offer then strategize to see and do as much as possible.
  • Make time for both city life and outdoor adventure. Maybe you gravitate toward cities over the great outdoors (or vice versa), but we encourage you to experience both. Maybe spend the morning in the mountains and the evening experiencing all that downtown Chattanooga has to offer.
  • Shop, eat, drink and stay local. No matter how you divide and conquer your time in Chattanooga, we always encourage supporting Chattanooga’s many wonderful small businesses. This city prides itself in its entrepreneurial spirit, and when visitors take advantage of these amazing vendors, you'll get a true taste of the city’s people and culture.

Final Thoughts

No matter when you decide to roll into Chattanooga in your campervan or RV, Chattanoogans will be happy to share a bit about why they love their city. Grab a seat at the counter at Bluegrass Grill on Saturday morning or get to know your campsite neighbors and talk to them. Southerners as a whole are hospitable and kind, and Chattanooga is truly the best of the best. 

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The original version of this article first appeared in a previous edition of our Magazine.