Take A Family Vacation To “Green” Chattanooga, Tennessee

By Leah O’Donnell

Healthy Planet Lifestyles Editor


There is something special, and maybe a little reminiscent of my own childhood, about piling the whole family in the car for a road trip to get to our summer vacation.  I think the memories made, the sites seen, and the overall experience are things not to be missed by any family.  Making the final destination a “green” one makes it even better.  My family traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee this summer to experience the beautiful Smoky Mountains and to find the best places there that are making a difference for the environment.  We were not disappointed.  From our lodging, site seeing, transportation, and even our dinner, Chattanooga and the places within are doing their part.  You may think…I recycle, buy local, or use my towels more than one time the other fifty one weeks a year, when it comes to vacation, being green can take a back seat…but I have found the best places to go where you don’t even have to think about it.  They have made it part of what they do, making it ideal for anyone to be green while vacationing!

The accommodations of The Staybride Suites near the Convention Center in Downtown Chattanooga are phenomenal.  My family opted for a two bedroom suite which had a spacious living room and a kitchenette.  The suite had two bathrooms, which are stocked with amenities that are biodegradable and come in recyclable packaging.  There were three beds that each had a card placed on them letting us know about the optional linen service.   We took advantage of this easy option to keep from having our linens changed.  Each floor of the hotel has recycling containers and they will even sort recyclables from your room cans.  The Staybridge Suites in Chattanooga recently received Green Globe Certification and was honored by Chattanooga Green for their environmental lodging practices.  They work to reduce and recycle waste, promote water and energy conservation, offer optional linen service and green events packages, as well as purchase local produce for their breakfast buffet.  This location has a magnificent courtyard, complete with seating, BBQ grills, and incredible mountain views.  Guests can take advantage of using the indoor pool and work out room as well.  They are also pet friendly.  This hotel has a Green Team that continually looks for ways to be more sustainable and lessen the environmental impact of the property.  What makes this the place to stay when visiting Chattanooga are the extra steps taken to be a sustainable business while providing outstanding hospitality and superior accommodations.  It’s all the little things that make a big difference.   To learn more about booking your stay at the Staybridge Suites in Downtown Chattanooga, visit www.staybridge.com or call 1-888-299-2208.  The hotel is located at 1300 Carter St., Chattanooga TN, 37402.


The family friendly places to go and sites to see in Chattanooga are numerous.  Our family favorite was the Tennessee Aquarium.   This attraction is complete with 10,000 creatures, an IMAX Theater, riverboat cruise, and even the option to take a behind the scenes tour where you can get up-close, touch, and even feed Aquarium animals!  The Tennessee Aquarium is set up to bring vital environmental lessons to their visitors and have educational outreach programs that reach as far as 125 miles.  Conservation and education are top priorities at the Aquarium.  They work to educate about the rivers, oceans, and creatures whose lives depend on humans doing their part for their environment.  The Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, TNACI, works diligently on projects for restoration and monitoring.  One of the programs I learned about while visiting the Aquarium is the Saving the Sturgeon Program.  The TNACI just celebrated ten years of reintroducing the lake sturgeon to the Tennessee River.  90,000 Sturgeon have been reared and released with this successful program.  Visitors at the Tennessee Aquarium are able to touch a lake Sturgeon inside the Aquarium’s River Journey building.  This was a highlight for my kids after we learned all about them.  A few of the other standouts for us was seeing the fresh water stingrays, the tunnel of jellyfish, and the butterfly house.  Plan to take your time because there is so much to see and do.  The Aquarium admission includes both the River Journey building and the Ocean Journey building, each of which are laid out beautifully.  On the backside of the Aquarium is an open air amphitheatre with live music in the evenings.  It is located in downtown Chattanooga right on the Tennessee River.  You can also experience the downtown area by walking about or take one of Chattanooga’s environmentally friendly electric shuttles to anywhere downtown and back to your hotel at the end of the day.  The Tennessee Aquarium and downtown area are a delight and give both young and old an unforgettable experience.  To learn more about the Tennessee Aquarium or to plan your visit, go online to www.tnaqua.org or call 1-800-262-0695.  The Aquarium is located at One Broad Street, Chattanooga TN, 37402.


Now that you know where to stay and what to do once in Chattanooga, where to eat is the next thing that comes to mind.  My family had the great fortune of finding a green restaurant with amazing food that also happens to brew incredible beers.  The Terminal Brewhouse, named appropriately because the building was originally the Terminal Hotel, located right next to The Terminal Station.  This historic building is unique, along with the three partners who brought about the Terminal Brewhouse.  Ryan Chilcoat, Matt Lewis, and Geoff Tarr completely renovated this 100 year old building to make it as energy efficient, eco-friendly, and green as possible.  Just a few of the environmentally friendly choices they have made include water saving toilets, low energy hand dryers, a 150 gallon tank that collects rain water and stores it for future use, reclaimed wood for table tops, and using spent grain in an exchange program with local farmers.  My absolute favorite “green” thing though is their green roof, literally.  The Terminal Brewhouse has a relaxing rooftop area that has grass under your feet.  The green roof is a natural insulator and helps to prevent water runoff.  It is also a great spot to grow the herbs and hops for the Brewhouse.  My family enjoyed a gorgeous evening, seated at a picnic table on the green roof.  This is another place that has done the work for you when it comes to being green on your vacation.  The drinks and food at The Terminal Brewhouse are fresh and delicious.  Everything from their bread and bison to the coffees served are from local producers.  When it comes to the food, some crowd favorites at The Terminal Brewhouse include their stuffed sandwiches and bison burgers.  On our visit, we started off with their Cheese Dip and chips.  Great appetizer to get your taste buds awakened.  I then enjoyed a Brew House Salad complete with the house beer vinaigrette.  Who knew a beer dressing could be so good!  My dinner choice was the Navin R Johnson, which is a salmon entrée that is topped with a pineapple jalapeno relish.  This dish comes with mashed sweet potatoes and spinach, which I devoured.  Everything had such incredible flavor.  I complimented this perfect dish with a refreshing Terminally Ale Copper beer.  I liked this beer so much that I got a growler of it to take with me.  The Terminal Brewhouse offers several different beers to please any palette.  When I asked one of the owners, Ryan Chilcoat what is the largest impact he sees from operating a green restaurant and brewpub, he responded, “water and energy savings are the most tangible, but there is also a good feeling about the discussions we help to create.”  When you get the chance to speak with any one of the owners or managers, you see that their green practices are practical and most are fairly easy to attain.  When Matt, Ryan, and Geoff decided to open this restaurant and brewpub, the being green part came natural because they wanted to do the right thing in business and stick to their core beliefs.  One step in the door and you see that they have done this in every aspect.  In Ryan’s words, “The Terminal Brewhouse is a warm, friendly place with exceptional beer and very fine food.”  Stop in at The Terminal Brewhouse on your visit to Chattanooga to taste and see for yourself.  Visit www.terminalbrewhouse.com or give them a call to learn more at 423-752-8090.  They are located at No. 6 14th Street, Chattanooga TN, 37408.


Pack up the family and hit the road to visit Chattanooga, Tennessee to go green for your next vacation. The city of Chattanooga is surrounded by the Smoky Mountains and offers an array of activities and sites to see that can keep your family busy for a week or longer.  The natural beauty is breathtaking and it is only about a seven hour drive from St. Louis.  Chattanooga is also a great stopping point when traveling south to the beach.  Book your stay, take in some sites, and grab a bite at the green spots here so you can do your part while letting them do the work for you; after all isn’t that what vacation is all about!