Beer · Chattanooga · Tennessee · Tours · travel · Uncategorized · Water Adventures

Exploring Chattanooga: Chocolate, Beer, Boats and Walking Tours! Oh my! 

Do you usually travel over holiday weekends?  We do if the holiday falls on a Friday or Monday because it works out great with our schedule and we’re able to go places without having to take a day off work.  Columbus Day is celebrated on a Monday, so we decided to visit Chattanooga, Tennessee over the holiday weekend.   It is currently the “IT” city of the South and draws more than 3 million visitors a year.

Chattanooga offers a variety of options for a vacation destination; there is something for everyone. Although the Tennessee Aquarium  is an absolute must if you have not been, there are other great places to check out. These are some of the highlights over the weekend we spent there:

1. River Gorge Explorer

We did not visit the Tennessee Aquarium this trip, but we did ride the River Gorge Explorer that is guided by a Tennessee Aquarium naturalist.  It is a 2 hour boat ride in a climate controlled setting and offers fantastic views of the scenery and wildlife along the Tennessee River.  We spotted several species of birds including blue osprey, herons and a hawk.  It is appropriate for all age groups, there is plenty of room for kids to be kids and for adults to find some peace and quiet. You are initially seated in the inside cabin to ride to your destination. Once you reach destination, you are free to hang out on the viewing deck or the stern of the boat.  The boat has 4 engines and 35 mm horsepower, which the captains takes advantage of to ensure the passengers are safe while throwing in a bit of high speed and a maybe a few tricks when other boat traffic allows.


Pro Tips:

If your visit is going to coincide at a busy time of the year, buy your tickets in advance online and bring a printed copy with you.  Tickets can be bought at the Aquarium, but lines can be really long and tickets are quick to sell out.

No need to arrive at the docking location more than 10 min prior.  There is not a lot of waiting space and there is plenty of seating in the boat.


There are two ticket options: River Gorge Explorer (Adults: $32.00, Children 3-12- $24.50, Children under 3 – $18)  or Tennessee Aquarium/River Gorge Explorer Combo (Adults: $56.95, Children 3-12 – $39.95, Children under 3 – $18).

2.  Chattanooga Sidewalk Tours

We enjoy taking walking tours whether on the road or at home because they are a great way to see and learn about a city.  We usually take large group walking tours because they’re affordable and low hassle.  When we were looking for walking tours in Chattanooga, we found Chattanooga Sidewalk Tours and saw it was rated on TripAdvisor.   They are a local company that gives group and private tours for locals and tourists. It was really easy to book with them, we corresponded through email  a few times to find a time worked for all of us.

Chattanooga Sidewalk Tours offers two walking tours: Dynamo of Dixie and Bluffs and Bridges.  We decided to take the Bluffs and Bridges Tour because we wanted to learn more about the people that helped to influenced Chattanooga’s transformation, see their homes and see the world class bridges and bluffs in Chattanooga.  It was a 90 minute walk, perfect for anyone that enjoys a leisurely walk.  Our guide, Keith, was fantastic.  He was extremely knowledgeable about Chattanooga’s history and could answer practically any question pertaining to it and the Civil War.

Price: $15 per person, but it’s the south so be nice and tip too!

Walnut Street Bridge – one of the world’s largest pedestrian only bridges. It was built in 1890 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
                              Walking the Walnut Street Bridge
One of the many pieces of art in downtown Chattanooga. Tara’s hanging out with the horse found in the First Street Sculpture Garden.
Coolidge Park Antique Carousel located in Coolidge Park. Fifty two hand carved animals for your enjoyment.
3.  The Hot Chocolatier

All kinds of hot chocolate and other chocolate treats to take home!
What kind of hot chocolate do you like? I bet they have it available!
Who doesn’t like a good chocolate shop?  This locally owned artisan chocolate and pastry shop, located across from the Chattanooga Choo Choo, is a must visit while in Chattanooga.  They offer pastries that rival some of the best European ones, every kind of hot chocolate and coffee favor you can think of and excellent artisan chocolates.  There’s even a window in the shop where one can watch chocolatiers and pastry chefs working.  If you’re looking for an afternoon pick me up or an after dinner snack, this is your place.

4.  Terminal Brewery

This is a locally owned brewery that aims to be as green as possible.  The  brewery uses organic ingredients in their drinks and food and aims to be as environmentally friendly as possible in their business operations.  They offer several different kinds of beer on tap as well as organic wine and spirits.  For the people who cannot or do not like to drink alcohol, there is house made root beer available.  Their menu is great for meat eaters as well as vegetarians.  It’s a very laid back atmosphere, great place to hang out and watch a game.  If you’re looking for a locally owned place with great drinks and food, consider this next time you’re visiting Chattanooga.

What should we be sure not to miss next time we visit Chattanooga?  We’re always up for recommendations.

Day Trips · Tennessee

Day Trippin’: World class distillery in a old school house

We always enjoy checking out newly discovered breweries/distilleries Recently, we were told about a successful family distillery that offers free tours and tastings close by. When we found out that their original location was located in a former school-house at base of the Cumberland Mountain Range, we knew we had to go.  Recently,our hometown decided to turn a former school campus into a beer campus called Campus No. 805, which left more than a few people curious as how that was going to work out. So, we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to actually see how this successful Prichard’s Distillery used their space.


Where is Prichard’s Distillery located?

Prichard’s Distillery has two locations: the original distillery is located in Kelso, TN and the newest one near Nashville, TN. The location near Nashville, TN  (Barbara Mandrell’s former estate) is a bigger facility that includes both a restaurant and Inn.  Ideally, one could make a weekend trip out of visiting both locations. Since we were interested to see the distillery in the old school-house and had limited time,  we decided to tour the distillery in Kelso, TN that operates out of a red brick school that was built in 1939 and closed in 1979.

What makes the Prichard’s Distillery in Kelso, TN unique?

Even though the building has been re-purposed as a distillery, it still feels very much like a school. Former classrooms  now serve as welcoming, bottling, and tasting areas. A former office serves as the purchasing/check out room. Basketball hoops still hang in the former gym that now serve as the shipping and receiving area.  In this decidedly non-corporate place,  it manages quite well to come together to be the quaint small batch craft distillery it is.P1090200

What happens when you arrive?

When you first walk into the entryway, it feels like arriving at someone’s home. This is refreshing because it has a such an un-corporate feel to it and you feel like special guests. We just walked in and found our way to the office to inquire what the process was to take a tour. We were told the next tour would start within the next 20 minutes and to make ourselves comfortable in the welcome area.  This gave us a few minutes to walk around, take some pictures and look at the products on display.  Our favorite part of this room was how their entire alcohol product line was proudly displayed, on a former teacher’s desk in the front and center of the room.  After a few minutes other people started to arrive followed by our guide. Our guide introduced himself and then put on a video for us to watch that described the history of the distillery.  After the video was over, the tour started.


What do I see on the tour?

The tour lasted about 30 minutes, which was perfect for this size of a distillery. Our guide was very knowledgeable and was able to answer any question anyone threw at him. The tour was a basic overview of the business that covered every step in the process-from making the batches of product, storage and shipping. We started with the shipping and receiving center in the old gymnasium. Everyone was fascinated by the basketball hoops that are still hanging. Next, we followed our guide outside to view the holding barrels then to the old maintenance building to see where the bronze stills are located that do the heart of the distilling work. We were then led back inside to the bottling room and finished in the tasting room, which were both old classrooms. We learned the key factor that distinguishes Prichard’s rum from Caribbean rum, Prichard’s uses table quality molasses to make rum instead of the black strap molasses that is often used for Caribbean rum.  Our guide also explained how being a small batch craft distillery lends well to experimentation and allows them to keep experimenting with flavors.

The opportunity to check out the building and the free tour and tastings made it a great day trip.  One cool thing we learned during the tasting is that their most popular product, the Sweet Lucy liqueur (70 proof), is so popular a portion of every sale is donated to the non-profit A Soldier’s Child. We were told by an acquaintance to make the trip just to try and buy their key lime rum, but at the end of the tasting, we left with a mix of several different kinds of rum, whiskey and liqueurs.  This distillery is about 15 miles from  Jack Daniels Distillery, so make this stop a priority on your next trip to Lynchburg, TN.