Chattanooga, Tennessee audio tour: Downtown Chattanooga: Adventure and History in the Scenic City

Downtown Chattanooga: Adventure and History in the Scenic City

Walking Tour

75 mins

About the Tour

Meander through Chattanooga, the city made famous by Glen Miller’s song about a train, and made notorious by the Indian Removal Act’s ‘Trail of Tears’ and Walter Cronkite’s unfortunate description, “the dirtiest little city in America.” On this dynamic walking tour of Downtown Chattanooga, you’ll hear how concerned citizens, governmental leadership and the loving guidance of a passionate local helped an ugly duckling of a city transform into the beautiful scenic city you see today.

Local guide, author and historian, J.D. Harper takes you through the city, sharing its past and present, from the good and the bad, to the ugly. You’ll learn about Chattanooga’s master builder, R.H. Hunt and his rich architectural footprint, the city’s vast Civil War history, and its seemingly endless list of must-do outdoor activities. Along the way, you’ll hear an urban legend or two, as well as a ghost story.

Highlights include:

• Learning how the Battles for Chattanooga set the stage for an ultimate Union victory in the Civil War
• Discovering Underground Chattanooga
• Getting the scoop on how an Aquarium showed up on the banks of the Tennessee River
• Hearing about Jimmy Hoffa’s connection to the city
• Weighing in on the Georgia-Tennessee state line dispute
• Walking segments of the original ‘Trail of Tears’ route

Come and take a chance on this beauty of a city, currently recognized as “the best mid-sized city to live, work and play” today.

Tour Producer


Southern Escape Tours

JD Harper is a local author, historian and guide with Southern Escape Tours (SET).

Southern Escape Tours (SET) is America’s premier southern receptive tour operator and travel planner specializing in domestic and international groups traveling to the American south.

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Major Landmarks

  • Tennessee Aquarium. Tivoli Theatre

  • The Read House

  • Lookout Mountain

  • Tennessee River

  • Trail of Tears site

  • Civil War Historical Markers

  • Underground Chattanooga

  • Market Street Bridge

  • Ross's Landing

  • Chattanooga Coca Cola Bottling

  • Moon Pie General Store

Directions to Starting Point

This tour begins on the sidewalk in front of High Point Gym located at 219 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402. There is a multi-level parking garage attached to the building that houses the gym. If that lot is full or you prefer not to use a garage, try on street parking: some are actual metered spots, others are via pay at a kiosk, but both metes and kiosk work with the ParkMobile app.

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Places to stop along the way

Lots of fun places to eat, get a drink or tasty treat. At Big River Grille you can check off all those boxes, Lupi's Pizzeria has to die for gourmet pizzas and the freshest salads; in fact, it's the inspiration for the pizzeria in JD Harper's book, GLINT, which takes place in Chattanooga. The bar at the Read House is the place to go if you just want a drink and feel like you are in the roaring '20's again as the bartenders wear bowties, vest and bowler hats while the servers wear flapper dresses, headbands and long pearl necklaces.

Best time of day

Anytime is a good time for this tour, but if you want to see the surrounding natural features of the mountains, ridges and Tennessee River, it is best to take the tour between dawn and dusk.


This tour has significant sections where there is no shade, so pack some shades, sunscreen, a hat or an umbrella to keep cool in the summer months. In the Spring and Fall add a light jacket or sweater to the hat and shades and for the winter, a coat and a scarf, Chattanooga can have some wickedly cold wind especially near the river.

Chattanooga is a pedestrian friendly town with wide sidewalks, but some are a bit disheveled with large cracks, exposed tree roots and uneven sections along with a rogue brick edger here and there that can pose a tripping hazard so watch your steps, carefully.

You may experience panhandlers. Most are friendly, but some have been known to be aggressive. Best thing to do here is just keep walking.


Preview mode limited to first 3 locations.
Downtown Chattanooga: Adventure and History in the Scenic City