Bottom line: Why a Chattanooga (budget) escape should start at the Read Hotel

Do you ever feel like life is smacking you around a bit?

Or maybe that you are running on empty with miles and miles left to go?

We did.

Just a few weeks ago in fact. We know the feeling well.

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My husband, in all of his earthly wisdom (and especially because it was our 10-year anniversary), arranged a surprise sneak away for us-- earning him MAJOR husband reward points. It was when we whisked away for a few days that I remembered the soothing power of a couple's getaway.

A getaway is a good remedy, except...

when you're dealing with a super tight budget. Right? Then, a getaway just feels like a tease, an antidote just outside your reach. I thought I'd share some tips from our Chattanooga getaway in the hopes that you can see:

1) you don't have to spend a TON of money when you leave town.

2) there are many FREE fun options if you look hard enough.

3) you don't need a week-long vacation in order to recharge (sneaking away for a night can be a sweet reprieve from real life and helps you save on hotel budget). 

Pin this trip idea for later! 

Pin this trip idea for later! 

Start at the historic Read Hotel.

There are a ton of hotels in Chattanooga. So, it is likely that you may have other favorite Chattanooga lodging options. The hubs chose this hotel because 1) it had great reviews, 2) was located right downtown, 3) was historic, immediately making it more intriguing than just a Hampton Inn. 

Turns out the Read Hotel's history was pretty impressive. 

The Read Hotel has gone through many iterations over the years...from posh historic hotel to mid-century motor inn!

The Read Hotel has gone through many iterations over the years...from posh historic hotel to mid-century motor inn!

And now, the Read Hotel in Chattanooga is undergoing another set of renovations.  This time to restore it to "its original 1926 grandeur--think "Great Gatsby!"

And now, the Read Hotel in Chattanooga is undergoing another set of renovations.  This time to restore it to "its original 1926 grandeur--think "Great Gatsby!"

He also found a great rate of $108/night on Hotel Tonight.

We knew the hotel cost would be the biggest slice of our getaway budget.

So, our search for affordable activities began. And by affordable, I was looking for fun things that cost $0.00.

In Chattanooga, here are some options for couple's activities that were easy on the wallet, but fun nonetheless:

1. FREE: Hike from Sunset Rock to Point Park 

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Everyone wants to see Rock City, Ruby Falls, and Incline Railway when visiting Chattanooga. But, admissions prices to those attractions would have blown our budget. Instead, we did the gorgeous 1.5 mile hike to Point Park. We were able to experience the beauty of the mountain and its cliffs, without spending all that money and being stuck in lines at a tourist trap. Extra perk: if you hike to Point Park, you don't have to pay the $5/each entrance fee or a parking fee. 

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Things to consider: The hike is pretty easy, but full of dangerous drop offs. Bring water bottles and bug spray (Angus found a tick on his leg mid-hike.). There is a bathroom and drinking fountain right outside the entrance of Point Park, however, since you will be hiking into the park the back way, you will have to leave the park to use the restroom facilities. Yes, this means it'll cost you $5 to use the bathroom during your hike.

2. Spectacular river views: wine tasting and dinner at Lookout Winery

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Take a scenic drive along the Tennessee River, 20 minutes outside of downtown and you'll end up at Lookout Winery. Enjoy wood fired pizza and water views at sunset. For the cost of a dinner, you get to have an experience, looking over the river, as the sky turns pink and orange. But don't let the views fool you into thinking this is a luxury pit stop. We ate pizza on paper plates and drank from water bottles. The only non-disposable dish was our wine glass. It felt like we were eating and drinking wine at our Italian Uncle's house with a European view.

Things to consider:  The owner built the restaurant himself, so it's a work in progress. Ignore your first impression of the building structure when you drive up. It really is quaint inside. There are no vineyards, as he imports all the grapes. The beauty of the wine is in the food pairings. The owner will be on hand to make his recommendations. The restaurant is in the Central Standard Time Zone; Chattanooga is in the Eastern Time Zone. You lose an hour going there if you're staying in downtown.

3. Local deals: Save money with these websites

Local coupons

Groupon deals

4. Really connect: Take the scenic walks

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Skip the movie and go for a walk. Cross over the Tennessee River on the pedestrian bridge, right downtown. Especially at sunset, it's a gorgeous and romantic walk. Enjoy an ice cream at the start of the bridge at the Ice Cream Show.

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Stroll through Bluff View Art District. Not only will you see outstanding sculptures, but there are numerous restaurants, a coffee shop and a bakery that overlook the river. It's one of my favorite spots in Chattanooga.

5. Seasonal events: Chattanooga has many options

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We went during the summer and found that Chattanooga has free Friday concerts from May to August. They also have free movies in the park in July. We found these two activities on coffee shop community boards and in the local magazine in our hotel. Take time to look around for seasonal events during your visit. Ask your hotel concierge for recommendations.