Chattanooga, Tenn., has been making waves in the national travel press as of late. It landed at No. 25 on The New York Times’ “ 52 Places
to Go in 2018” list and Lonely Planet selected the
destination as its No. 3 pick for its annual “Best in the
U.S.” list of “destinations
you need to see,” to name a
The majority of publications praising Chattanooga
reference its abundance of
activities for outdoor enthusiasts, its growing food—and
craft beverage—scene, and
its citywide gigabit network.
All of these accolades
enticed me to pay a visit to
Chattanooga as part of a
recent “meetings destination
During the press trip,
hosted by the Chattanooga CVB and held from Sept.
5-9, 2018, a small crew of meetings industry writers
was led around town to see how the destination
stacked up for groups.
Welcome to Gig City aka Chattanooga
One of the first things I saw upon arriving at the Chattanooga Airport was signage that said, “You’ve arrived!
GIG CITY Home of the NATION’S FASTEST INTERNET.” Just what is that all about, exactly?
In 2010, Chattanooga became the first U.S. city to
roll out a citywide gigabit network. In 2015, the city-owned fiber internet run by the Electric Power Board
of Chattanooga (EPB) reached 10 gigabit speeds.
What does this mean for groups in town for meetings and events? You get some of the fastest internet
speeds around at the Chattanooga Convention Center
and many of the other group venues in town.
Beyond fast internet, the Chattanooga Convention
Center offers a number of standout features that I
uncovered during my tour of the facility led by Executive Director Mike Shuford. Its 21 meeting rooms and
19,000 square feet of divisible ballroom space are all
located on one level and fully customizable.
The Chattanooga Convention Center offers its
own innovative food and
beverage program led
by Director of Food and
Beverage Keith Quatrano,
who is fully committed to
providing an in-house,
locally sourced, customiz-
able menu experience for
groups. The facility is also
a leader in sustainability.
at the convention center
include the donation of all
leftover food, an emphasis
on electronic commu-
access to recycling for attendees and an emphasis on
Group Venue Highlights Across the
Greater Chattanooga Area
On our first night in Chattanooga, my writer companions
and I explored the Bluff View Art District, which includes
two restaurants, a coffee shop, a B&B (consisting of
three homes), a gallery, two museums and more.
We strolled through its outdoor
River Gallery Sculpture Garden
and dined at the upscale, trendy
Back Inn Café. Smaller groups will
feel at home in any of the Art District’s facilities and the area lends
itself to off-site excursions.
The Hunter Museum of American Art is the star attraction of
the Bluff View Art District and its
five event spaces and over 10,000
square feet of space are available
for group rental most of the week.
Looking to downtown Chattanooga, The Tennessee Aquarium
and its attached IMAX 3D Theater
is another innovative off-site venue
option for groups. The freshwater
aquarium frequently ranks among
one of the best in the nation and
its facilities can hold groups of anywhere from 20 to
more than 2,000 attendees.
For groups looking to experience the scenic beauty
of Chattanooga, the Lookout Mountain Attractions
consisting of Ruby Falls, Rock City and the Incline
Railway are touristy standouts. I was able to experi-
ence Ruby Falls, home to America’s tallest under-
ground waterfall, and Rock City, “an enchanted,
4,100-foot walking trail” full of kitschy garden gnomes
and lots of great views, firsthand. Both experiences
can cater to visiting groups in town.
Options Abound in
Chattanooga is home to
an innovative and growing
culinary scene featuring
everything from charming
cafes and coffee shops
(Back Inn Café) to local
burrito joints (Mojo Burrito)
and upscale restaurants.
Select dining highlights
during the stay included an
exceptional veggie burger
at Old Gilman Grill, the
tuna poke bowl at STIR
and pretty much anything
on the menu at the more
upscale Easy Bistro & Bar.
On the beverage side of
the spectrum, the Chattanooga Whiskey Event Hall
& Headquarters is a can’t-miss stop if your group has
a taste for decent whiskey or even if you are simply
looking to rent out an interesting event space.
A Fine Destination for
Meetings and Events
My time in Chattanooga went all
too quickly and I was only able to
scratch the surface of the memorable experiences it offers for groups.
From its tech-forward infrastructure
to its emphasis on sustainability,
there’s a lot to appreciate about
One final group highlight: there’s
a free CARTA electric shuttle available for transportation throughout
downtown Chattanooga that stops
at the convention center every 15
minutes. It has operated for over
25 years. Here’s to staying ahead of
the curve! m
By Eric Andersen
CHATTANOOGA IS AHEAD OF THE MEETINGS CURVE IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE
Meetings Today.com CHATTANOOGA WHISKEY EVENT HALL
BLUFF VIEW ART DISTRICT
TUNA POKE BOWL, STIR