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Book it on a Budget: Chattanooga

Here's how I spent a full day in Chattanooga with a $50 budget!

By: Kandis Owens + Save to a List

Traveling should not equal breaking the bank and one of my favorite ways to travel is with a strict no-flex budget. It inspires creativity. Here's how I booked it to Chattanooga on a budget. 

Ruby Falls $25 

This is my priciest expenditure, but some tours are just worth it. Ruby Falls is America’s tallest underground waterfall in a wicked awesome cavern.  This experience is indeed something special and though you are required to venture down with a group, the Ruby Falls guides do a splendid job of keeping the group sizes manageable (about 15-20 people). Insider Scoop: Tag along the back of the tour line. You can pretty much go at your own pace and no one is photo bombing your dripstone pictures! After the tour, head to the top of building for a nice panoramic view of Chattanooga.

Disclaimer: $20 is the base admission for Ruby Falls tour. But, please tip your tour guide! 

The lighting adds to the magic

Rent a bike $8

One of the best ways to explore a new city is on a bike and Chattanooga’s Bicycle Transit System stations offer a full 24-hour pass for only $8 (check-ins required every 60 minutes to prevent extra fees).  This is one of the cheapest bike rental fees I’ve ever seen! Upon learning of the low fee, I parked my car on a side street and biked everywhere else for the rest of the day. 

Chattanooga Riverwalk FREE

This 13-mile paved walkway borders the Tennessee River from the Chickamauga Dam to Downtown Chattanooga. Great people watching, great breezy cycling. 

Rembrandt’s Coffeehouse $10-$12

When you are on vacation (even just for a day!) packing a lunch is super lame, in my opinion. So, I always budget in money to try out a local eatery. Park your bike right in the Bluff View Arts District neighborhood and head on over to Rembrandt’s for lunch. I visit this coffeehouse every time I’m in Chattanooga.  There isn’t one thing on the menu that costs more than $8.95 and the lattes are fantastic. Raise your pinky in the air and order the truffle oil infused grilled cheese ($6.95) with an almond milk latte ($3.25).  Enjoy your delights in the charming courtyard complete with overhanging vines and an antique-style iron fountain.

River Gallery Sculpture Garden FREE

Walk off that grilled cheese amidst the lovely sculptures in this highly photogenic garden. This was definitely a highlight of my day in Chattanooga.  The garden showcases about 10 sculptures and overlooks a stream running downhill to meet the Tennessee River. Insider Tip: This garden is not crowded and a magical place to catch the sunset.

Just outside the Hunter Museum of American Art FREE

Though the actual museum does charge an admission fee, there is no fee to explore the sculptures that surround it.  Wind down the zig-zag pathway perfectly accented with several sculptures and continue your artistic journey through Chattanooga. 

Just past the blue tree starts the winding pathway

Clumpie’s Ice Cream $5

After all of that walking and cycling, dessert is a must.  Clumpie’s is an all-natural ice cream shop located on Frazier Avenue and it is budget friendly at just sixty cents per ounce (Avg. scoop $2.50). Try the toasted almond coconut or one of their seasonal flavors like burnt sugar brownie for a real treat.

Actual footage of us happy with ice cream

Do a driving tour of Chattanooga’s finest homes FREE

Well, I’m an architecture nerd so this sort of thing interests me.  If you aren’t pressed for time, check out some of Chattanooga’s most luxurious homes on your way out of town.  Explore Lookout Mountain suburb, Signal Mountain suburb, and Hixson to see some fancy real estate.

My total for my day in Chattanooga came out to $48.67 and I had a blast. It’s a great, inexpensive city with a lot of charm and culture. Happy traveling! 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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