Everyone knows one of the best parts of any outdoor adventure is that first beer and burger that comes afterward. As with anything good in life, the trail-to-tavern lifestyle is all about pairing the best of both worlds: blue skies and brewskis, muddy calves and margaritas, adventure, and relaxation. Compound this lifestyle with an outdoor patio, and—whoa buddy—you’re in for one fine time.
Thankfully, Chattanooga is packed with world-class options for both adventure and outdoor dining. Here are five iconic outdoor adventures in Chattanooga followed by their complementary restaurant and tavern counterparts, all of which have great outdoor seating.
1. Raccoon Mountain | Chattanooga Brewing Company
If you’re coming to Chattanooga with your bike (which we’d highly recommend you do), Raccoon Mountain is home to 30 miles of some of the best intermediate-to-advanced mountain biking in the Southeast. Even if you’re not a biker, taking to these trails on foot is equally incredible. Runners will enjoy fast downhills and punchy climbs. Hikers, meanwhile, can meander through pine forests near Grindstone Ridge or take in excellent views of the city from the East Overlook.
Once that post-adventure beer is calling your name, why not make it a namesake brew from Chattanooga’s original brewery? Chatt Brewing has a solid list of year-round staples and rotating seasonal brews—from the famous Hill City IPA to the highly drinkable Faultless Lager. For food, they’re working with pub burgers, brisket sammies, and an underrated fish Po’ boy.
As for an outdoor patio, it’s one of the best in the city. Out front, there are metal tables and chairs that offer a nice view of Finley Stadium. It’s on the side of the brewery, however, where the real magic happens: There’s a small beer garden with long wooden tables and space for local musicians to share their sounds on balmy Chattanooga nights.
2. Signal Mountain | The Feed Co. Table & Tavern
Signal Mountain is known for prominent rocky viewpoints, river gorge panoramas, emerald creeks, gushing waterfalls, and many miles of singletrack. One of the best day hikes in all of Chattanooga is actually located on Signal: the 5.8-mile out-and-back from Signal Point to Edwards Point. It gives hikers the perfect snapshot of Signal Mountains attributes, plus a picturesque swinging bridge, and a place to take a dip at Rainbow Lake.
Once you’re done exploring the best of this beautifully rugged mountain, there are plenty of excellent places to grab a bite to eat outdoors. No post-adventure tavern truly matches the character of Signal Mountain quite like the Southside’s Feed Co. Table & Tavern. Both are rustic and woodsy (Signal has towering hardwood trees; Feed has a giant hardwood deck). Both are flush with watering holes (Signal has swimming holes; Feed has dozens of rotating taps). Both are hardy & hearty (Signal has steep ascents; Feed has juicy burgers, fried chicken, and perfectly salted fries). And finally, both are filled with warm, welcoming people who will always make you feel right at home.
3. Lookout Mountain | Flying Squirrel
The best way to get a real taste of Lookout Mountain’s iconic outdoor heritage is hiking from the Historic Cravens House to Sunset Rock and back. It’s gradually uphill for 1.5 miles along the Cravens Trail, hugging the sandstone bluffs of the West Brow along the way. Once at the top, you’re met with a view that’s as popular as it is completely picture-perfect. For more of a challenge, you can opt for a loop hike that includes an amble down the Rifle Pits Trail, which spills into the Guild Hardy then ascends the grueling Gum Springs Trail up to the brow and back down the Cravens.
Afterward, the obvious choice for dinner and drinks is the locally-loved Flying Squirrel. Its patio features a few standout characteristics: chic architecture, excellent people-watching, wraparound seating, and adjoining proximity to the Crash Pad Hostel’s lawn and firepit. The food is farm-driven and fresh, and the cocktails are devilishly inventive. Tell your waiter or waitress that you’ve just come from a hike on Lookout Mountain, and you’re guaranteed to get into a friendly conversation about Chattanooga’s outdoor scene (though truth be told they’re more likely to talk about climbing than hiking). One thing to note about the Flying Squirrel is that the only thing better than the outdoor patio is the garlic fries (only halfway joking!)
4. Stringers Ridge | Taco Mamacita
What’s the one thing better than tacos and margaritas? Answer: tacos and margaritas enjoyed from a sun-bathed patio after a hike through an urban forest mere minutes away. That’s what you get with Stringers Ridge followed by Taco Mamacita. Both places are on Chattanooga’s North Shore. They’re so close to one another, you could theoretically put your name down at Taco Mama, walk to Stringers, hike through it, then come back in time to be seated 45 minutes later.
The trails at Stringers are straightforward enough, nice looping singletrack that wraps around on itself and then eventually showcases a knockout view of downtown Chattanooga. Follow this up with a pitcher of sangria and some Caribbean Jerk or Baja Fish tacos, and you will not be disappointed.
5. Tennessee River Paddle | Brewhaus
Last but certainly not least—especially for water-lovers—is the combo of a downtown Tennessee River paddle followed by a liter of German beer at Brewhaus. This adventure-and-ale pairing is, in a way, a nice representation of what makes Chattanooga so unique. How many other places in the world can you SUP downtown under the belly of a 19th Century bridge, then around an urban island that doubles as a wildlife refuge, and exit the water and basically be on the back doorstep of a ready-to-serve German-American gastropub? Our guess—not many.
At Brewhaus, there’s not one, but TWO, outdoor patios where you can enjoy sizzling sausages, sauerkraut, spaetzle, and lagers in the open air. On the side of the building, there are often games like cornhole and Jenga. On the back patio, there’s a killer view of the Walnut Street Bridge, where you can people-watch hundreds ambling up and down the bridge in happy hive unison. Catch this back patio at sunset, and you won’t soon forget the show.