Chattanooga is an excellent destination in the state of Tennessee – but don’t take our word for it. Lonely Planet voted it number three in the best cities in the U.S. They also voted it as one of the top 10 American destinations for 2018.
Chattanooga is between the Mountains of Southern Tennessee, and the city sprawls across the gorgeous Tennessee River. There’s a reason the New York Times voted it as one of the top 45 best places to go in the world.
To make the most of such an epic destination, you’ve got to have some top-rated accommodation to go with it. To help you figure out where to stay in Chattanooga, we’ve broken the city down into four areas. Each offers something a little different, so you can pick the place most suited to your travel style and budget.
Let’s get started!
- Where to Stay in Chattanooga
- Chattanooga Neighborhood Guide
- Chattanooga’s Top 4 Neighborhoods to Stay in
- 1. Downtown – Best Place to Stay in Chattanooga For Your First Visit
- 2. Red Bank – Best Area in Chattanooga on a Budget
- 3. Hixson – Best Place to Stay With Family
- 4. Signal Mountain – Best Place to Stay in Chattanooga for Hiking
- Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Chattanooga
Where to Stay in Chattanooga
Best VRBO in Chattanooga: Log Cabin in the Clouds
The Log Cabin in the Clouds offers an outstanding view of the mountains. The cabin comes with a hot tub, 3D TV, and a variety of board games, and is surrounded by hiking trails. It’s the ultimate place for couples and perfect for a relaxing stay.
Best Hostel in Chattanooga: The Crash Pad: An Uncommon Hostel
The Crash Pad is an excellent hostel and perfect for any backpacker. The hostel has a kitchen, energy-efficient washers, dryers, and free breakfast for all guests. If you enjoy meeting people or you’re travelling solo, you’ll love the events hosted in the communal living room.
Best Hotel in Chattanooga: La Quinta by Wyndham Chattanooga North – Hixson
This hotel is an excellent place to stay in the heart of the quiet Hixson area. All rooms come with a flat-screen TV, microwave, and fridge. It’s close to local lakes and nature, while Downtown is just 15 minutes away.
We have many more options for accommodations in Chattanooga in our Airbnbs in Tennessee post!
Chattanooga Neighborhood Guide
Downtown Chattanooga is the best area to stay for your first time in the city. It is home to all the greatest attractions, there is no better place to stay. Public transport comes out of the downtown area, so visitors get anywhere and everywhere quickly.
Red Bank is an excellent place to visit if you’re coming to Chattanooga on a budget. The area isn’t in Chattanooga’s centre, but it’s fantastic if you’re looking for a quieter place with more affordable hotels and guesthouses.
Hixson is a quiet suburban neighbourhood in Chattanooga and the ideal place for families to come and relax. Despite the area’s quietness, you’ll love the numerous attractions in Hixson. These include the Chickamauga Dam, a local dam named after a politically separated branch of the Cherokee.
Signal Mountain is an excellent place for hikers and nature lovers. You’re only a short walk from Signal Mountain and endless hiking trails throughout the area. In addition, the site has so many incredible parks.
There are so many things to do in Chattanooga, so checking out the different neighborhoods is definitely recommended. That being said, each one is slightly better suited to different travel types.
Downtown Chattanooga is the best location for those who love nightlife, food, and entertainment. It’s home to the world’s largest aquarium, a creative discovery museum, and the Chattanooga Choo Choo. The Lookout Mountain Incline, one of the world’s steepest railways, can also be found here. With so much to discover, Downtown is the best area to stay in Chattanooga for your first visit.
Budget backpackers who want to be close to the action without having to splurge on accommodation should check out Red Bank. It’s slightly quieter than Downtown and is just a few minutes away from the bustling core. Red Bank is also home to Signal Mountain, one of Chattanooga’s top attractions.
Hixson is a good choice if you’re deciding where to stay in Chattanooga with your family. It’s home to a delightful mixture of suburban and urban living. All the top attractions are close by, as Hixson is ideally situated 15 minutes from Downtown and a short drive from the mountains.
Signal Mountain is the best hiking area and is where you’ll find various cabins to stay in. The top of the mountain boasts stunning views of the city and surrounding scenery. It’s the best place to stay in Chattanooga for nature-lovers and is also home to various restaurants.
Now, let’s take a look at each of these districts in more detail. We’ve even included the top accommodation and activities in each area, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting.
Chattanooga’s Top 4 Neighborhoods to Stay in
1. Downtown – Best Place to Stay in Chattanooga For Your First Visit
Downtown Chattanooga is the best area to stay in for your first visit to the city. There’s loads to explore here, and you’ll find many of the city’s top attractions in the area. It’s also well-connected to other parts of the city via public transport, making downtown an ideal base for exploring.
Even though the downtown area is busy and quite hectic during the weekends, it’s only a short distance from nature. Ruby Falls, Rock City Gardens, and the Lookout Mountain Incline Review are all easily accessible from here.
Best Airbnb In Downtown Chattanooga: Sparkling Clean PRIVATE-STUDIO 1.5mi Downtown
This Airbnb has one of the best locations in Chattanooga, close to shops, restaurants, and top sights. It’s also got excellent amenities to help you feel right at home throughout your stay.
Best Hostel in Downtown Chattanooga: The Crash Pad: An Uncommon Hostel
The Crash Pad is the best place to stay in downtown Chattanooga on a budget. There’s an array of cheap dorms and private rooms, and it’s ideal for backpackers. The hostel is also a stone’s throw away from top attractions.
Best Hotel in Downtown Chattanooga: The Westin Chattanooga
The Westin Chattanooga is our favorite hotel in the downtown area. It’s surrounded by public transport if you want to explore further afield; you’ll get to the local mountains very quickly from here via bus or taxi.
Things to See and Do in Downtown Chattanooga:
- Visit the nearby Tennessee Aquarium, the world’s largest indoor aquarium and the central attraction of the city.
- Head to the Hunter Museum of American Art, where you’ll find an excellent mixture of historical art.
- Explore the Creative Discovery Museum, where you’ll find amazing art, history, and musical exhibits.
- Walk around the local Chattanooga Market, home to a fantastic selection of local produce, arts, and crafts.
- Watch some local theatre production at the nearby Tivoli Theatre, home to some incredible performances and entertainment.
- Take the family to the Classic Arcade Pinball Museum, where you’ll find superb entertainment options, including games, pinball machines, and slot machines.
- Take a bus or hire a car and ride out the local mountains and go for a hike.
- Ditch the deadlifts and climb some rocks at Highpoint Climbing Gym.
2. Red Bank – Best Area in Chattanooga on a Budget
Red Bank is an excellent place to visit if you’re traveling on a budget. It’s not central, but it’s fantastic if you’re looking for a quieter place with more affordable hotels and guesthouses. Red Bank has a relatively small population and gives visitors a relaxed suburban feeling.
There are also many parks and restaurants featuring epic international cuisine. The area is also close to Signal Mountain, where you can climb into the wilderness and marvel at the epic views.
Best Airbnb in Red Bank: Annabelle’s Place
Annabelle’s Place is a superb Airbnb if you want a relaxing stay at an affordable price. It’s surrounded by amazing nature and is in a peaceful area. The room is spacious and relaxed, and if you love reading, you’ll adore the book collection.
Best Homestay in Red Bank: 1BR/1BA~CABLE TV~Quiet & Close to Everything! #2
Travelers looking for an affordable place will love this homestay in the Red Bank area. You’ll get the entire home to yourself and enjoy the fully furnished space with an excellent location. You can quickly drive or catch public transport towards downtown Chattanooga or the local hiking trails.
Best Hotel in Red Bank: La Quinta by Wyndham Chattanooga North – Hixson
La Quinta by Wyndham Chattanooga North is an excellent hotel close to the Red Bank area and top city attractions. There are many hiking trails just 3km from the hotel.
Things to See and Do in Red Bank :
- Take your dogs for a walk in the nearby Red Bank Dog Park, where you’ll find ample space for your furry friends for a walk and relax.
- Head towards the excellent Cumberland Trail to seclude yourself in nature and enjoy extensive hiking trails.
- During the summer months, visit White Oak Park where you’ll find vast open green space and an excellent play area.
- Take a very short bus drive towards the beautiful Stringer’s Ridge Trail, where you’ll enjoy superb city views and beautiful nature.
- Hike towards Chickamauga Creek, a beautiful river that’s superb for kayaking.
- Enjoy the excellent Pumpkin Patch Playground, a secluded playground that’s ideal for families.
- Embark on the short Falling Water Falls trail (not recommended if you’re bringing children as the waterfall can be dangerous).
3. Hixson – Best Place to Stay With Family
Hixson is a quiet suburban neighborhood in Chattanooga and the ideal place for families to come and relax. Despite the area’s quietness, there are numerous attractions in Hixson. These include the Chickamauga Dam, a local dam named after a politically separated branch of the Cherokee. Another popular local attraction is Greenway farms, which offers multiple hiking, canoeing, and sports opportunities.
Hixson is ideally located between downtown and the countryside, so you’ll never be too far from some epic hikes and scenery. The area is close to Chattanooga Zoo as well as parks and museums, so you’ll have plenty to keep everyone entertained.
Best Airbnb in Hixson: Chattanooga & Kayaking!
This Airbnb is the perfect family accommodation near the main Hixson area. There are two bedrooms, and plenty of indoor and outdoor space. It’s also very close to Greenway, offering excellent green space for the family to relax.
Best Hotel in Hixson: Quality Inn Hixson-Chattanooga
Travelers looking for an excellent modern hotel that’s perfect for the family should check out the Quality Inn Hixson-Chattanooga. The hotel’s location is fantastic, it’s right in the middle of Hixson, and you can effortlessly catch public transport towards downtown Chattanooga or the nearby mountains.
Best Bed & Breakfast in Hixson: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Chattanooga-Hixson, an IHG Hotel
This fantastic bed & breakfast offers superb facilities and a top location. It’s only five minutes from Northgate Mall, and just 15 minutes from downtown Chattanooga. Plus, you’ll find some superb public transport options outside the hotel.
Things to See and Do in Hixson:
- Check out the nearby Ruby Falls, a fascinating underground waterfall that spans 145 feet and offers incredible views. You’ll also find guided tours with lots of detailed information.
- Head towards the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, home to some incredible railway artifacts and old steam trains for the 20th century.
- Check out the excellent Chattanooga Zoo, a unique animal park with a significant emphasis on conservation.
- Visit the Hunter Museum of American Art, where you’ll find a diverse range of domestic artwork.
- Take the short journey towards Coolidge Park, where you’ll have plenty of places to relax with the family.
- Visit the Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center.
4. Signal Mountain – Best Place to Stay in Chattanooga for Hiking
Signal Mountain is the best place to stay in Chattanooga for hiking. Only a short walk from Signal Mountain, it’s full of walking trails and is the perfect destination for nature lovers. If you choose to stay here, make sure to bring your best hiking boots with you!
The most popular trail in Signal Mountain is the Rainbow Lake Trail, where you’ll find a 3-hour return hike with superb waterfalls and viewpoints along the way. So, charge up your favorite travel camera and prepare yourself for some epic trails!
Best Homestay in Signal Mountain: Walden Flat
Walden Flat offers a superb location just five minutes from excellent hiking trails and a mere 15 minutes from Downtown Chattanooga. This charming house is comfortably furnished and makes an ideal base for couples.
Best Guesthouse in Signal Mountain: La Cabaña
This is the ultimate secluded getaway in nature. It’s in a quiet location next to the Tennessee River Gorge, and you’ll see outstanding views of the river. Plus, you can kayak along the Tennessee River and take a short 15-minute drive to downtown Chattanooga.
Best Log Cabin in Signal Mountain: Log Cabin in the Clouds
This Chattanooga cabin offers stunning views for an affordable price. It’s surrounded by mountains providing endless hiking trails and stunning sunset views.
Things to See and Do in Signal Mountain:
- Hike towards Signal Point, one of the best views in the entire area and a great place to relax.
- Head towards the Rainbow Lake Trail.
- Check out the Fairmount Orchard, home to brilliant apple cider.
- Take the family to Pumpkin Patch Playground, where you’ll find a superb place to let the kids play.
- Head towards the Mountain Opry, home to some excellent theatre performances and local gatherings.
- Relax at the Althaus Park Pavillion.
- Hike towards Edward’s Point Overlook, one of the most incredible views in Signal Mountain and a stunning place to relax.
- Eat at El Metate, one of the best Mexican restaurants in the city and very close to Signal Mountain.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Chattanooga
Chattanooga is a small city that packs a punch. This top Tennessee destination is a must-visit for anyone backpacking the USA, thanks to its downtown attractions and mountainous scenery.
If you’re still not sure where to stay in Chattanooga, we highly recommend Downtown. It’s full of cultural attractions and places to explore, with public transport providing easy connections to the surrounding areas.
However, if you’re heading to Chattanooga purely for hiking opportunities, you should stay in Signal Mountain. You’ll find many excellent cabins and houses to book, and it’s the ultimate place to relax.
Don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad, which is super handy.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple—just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Do you own an awesome hostel, hotel or apartment? Want to be featured in our list? Email [email protected] to find out how.
Find out how YOU can support the site.
We work hard to put out the best backpacker resources on the web for free! It’s all about helping out our tribe of awesome backpacker readers (that’s you!). Please visit the link to find out how you can help keep the site going 🙂
For the sake of transparency, some of the links in our content are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a piece of gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only link to stuff that members of the Broke Backpacker team has actually used and never endorse products or services that are not up to scratch. Thanks for your support!