Ready to shake up date night a little bit, but are you caught in the constant struggle of never knowing what to do with those precious hours away from your offspring? We *try* to make date night a priority at our house when we can, so here are some of our favorites. Disclaimer: I will give my best attempt at not making these completely about food, but no promises.
For two people who have spent the vast majority of our lives in the Chattanooga area, we’ve missed out on an embarrassing number of local attractions. But even the attractions we once frequented on school field trips or are currently on the kid outing circuit are a completely different experience when Lee and I go alone. One of my favorites has been the Incline Railway with a stroll into Point Park and dinner at 1885 Grill.
When I was about six months pregnant with C, I decided we should do ALL the outdoorsy things. It was October, the weather was perfect, and the trees were gorgeous. We did some boat tours, some exploring in the Chickamauga Battlefield, and several hikes, but my favorite (and by far the most challenging), was the Kiddie Trail up the side of Lookout Mountain to Sunset Rock. If you go for this one, here are some tips: Go when it’s not super hot, give your self PLENTY of time to get down before sunset (unless hysterically crying while walking down an endless rock formation staircase with wolves howling in the background is your thing), and don’t be embarrassed to ask your husband to push you up the steep inclines. This totally necessitates a carb-heavy dinner at Crust with beer and my favorite pizza in town, the Sleestak.
Margaritas and Gelato.
Local restaurateurs the Monen Family Restaurant Group, have the perfect set up tucked away in North Chattanooga on Market Street. Taco Mamacita has my favorite margarita in town (the Skinny Margarita — I know, I’m surprised, too!), and an amazing menu. For something light, try the Chicken Tortilla Soup. If you’re hungrier, check out the Sloppy Nachos with their signature hot sauce. After dinner, pop over to Milk & Honey for some fresh gelato — if they have PBJ you MUST get it. A nice stroll around Renaissance Park will make you feel a bit less guilty about the salted caramels you’ll grab for the ride home!
Educational Adventures (for adults).
In recent years, the Chattanooga area has had a big influx of breweries, wineries, and even the Chattanooga Whiskey distillery. Most all of these offer tours (complete with samples of their creations), for a pretty small fee. One of our favorite date nights was a wine tasting at DeBarge Winery on the South Side with dinner afterwards at Main Street Meats. I’m told that MSM has lots of amazing dinner selections, but the only thing you need to know: BEST. BURGER. EVER. The chef’s dessert creation never disappoints, and you must grab some Benton’s bacon for breakfast while you’re there! The staff at MSM is super knowledgeable about local farming and the local meats and cheeses that they service, so it’s an obvious choice to cap off your educational experiences.
Drive Out to the Drive In.
Just over eight years ago, our first date was to Wilderness Outdoor Movie Theater in Trenton, Georgia. It’s about a 20 minute drive from most spots in Chattanooga and totally worth it. For $7 per person (over the age of three) you get two movies that rotate each weekend. We also love this for a family date night (more on that later)! Last weekend we spent $20 and got two movies, a bucket of popcorn, some ice water, and a hot dog. The downside is that movies don’t start until dark (around 9:45pm), but if you’re one of those parents who feels guilty for not being home at bedtime, this is a perfect option. Pro Tip: They only accept cash and there is not an ATM on site!