Chattanooga’s industrial Choo-Choo days are long gone with a recent burgeoning of green businesses and outdoor attractions for groups to explore. The latest: a 5-story climbing wall downtown, which opened this fall.
The Block climbing complex is one of the largest downtown climbing complexes in the U.S. It features the 25,000-sf High Point Climbing and Fitness gym, which consists of an auto belay area, multiple bouldering rooms, sport climbing, top roping and a speed-climbing wall. It also includes an exterior public art piece that doubles as a climbing wall, as well as the 38,000-sf Rock/Creek Outfitters, a locally based specialty outdoor retailer (fourth location) that sells outdoor apparel and sports equipment. An onsite fitness facility includes equipment rental, lessons and coaching, youth programs, competitions, weight training, yoga, massage therapy and a pro shop for purchasing gear. The local favorite Chattz coffeehouse, retail arm of the Chattanooga Coffee Company, will also move into the complex later this spring.
Hang gliding at Lookout Mountain is another way to experience the area’s active lifestyle, while overlooking the rolling hills of lush trees below. Better for smaller groups, individual attendees will fly with instructors, while encouraging each other from the takeoff sideline below. Groups can also canoe or kayak the 50-mile Tennessee River Blueway via Outdoor Chattanooga.
“One of the greatest attributes here is having the outdoors at your doorstep,” says Ed Dolliver, vice president of sales for the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The ability to enjoy the amenity of the city and drive 10 minutes and be able to hang glide or kayak is a big draw for us.”
Groups that like to bike will appreciate the city’s Bike Share Transit System, in which individuals can rent bikes and return them at various locations throughout town. The bike-sharing program is an easy activity to offer attendees that doesn’t require a lot of planning.
“The other thing that we have that’s attractive and affordable for so many people is a free electric shuttle that operates downtown,” says Dolliver. “We have a tremendous amount of affordability and value here because of things like that. A meeting planner doesn’t have to get shuttles between the convention center and hotels.”
The city’s growing farm-to-table movement also adds to its green factor. The full-time chef at the convention center offers a farm-to-table program that incorporates local fare such as native fish. In the Bluff View Art District, Back Inn Café, located in a Colonial Revival mansion, creates seasonal menus and uses ingredients from its onsite herb garden. Nearby Rembrandt’s Coffee House roasts its own coffee beans and offers a wide selection of yummy pastries—several of which are gluten-free.