This is my last post in the three-day Chattanooga series, so “I’mma let [them] finish,” but I have to praise Birmingham real quick. In particular, I have to praise the Birmingham Museum of Art. If you live in Birmingham, I encourage you to visit and even join if you can, because we’re so super lucky to have such an incredible attraction in our city, especially because our museum is FREE. (In fact, we’ve got a number of other amazing free attractions, like the botanical gardens, but I should stay on topic.) When you become a member of our art museum you can get reciprocal free or discounted admission to many other museums in the Southeast (and beyond). So, if you’re a nerd like me and your first order of business when planning a trip is to check out the local museum scene, it’s totally worth it.
What to Do
One museum in the Southeastern Reciprocal Exchange Program is the Hunter Museum of American Art. It’s actually larger than it appears from the outside, and it boasts a rather broad collection in terms of time periods, mediums, and styles. The museum is really selfie-friendly and interactive, too.
They currently have an awesome exhibit called “Embodied Beauty,” which features these absolutely gorgeous sculptures by Karen Lamonte, who I’m happy to have discovered because of this exhibit. I am in awe of how she is able to delicately capture the form and texture of fabric using bronze, glass, and clay. The sculptures are quite lovely. Oh, and the parking lot for this art museum is free–a rare treat in Chattanooga!
The museum is elevated on an 80-foot bluff, so it offers some nice views of the city, and I captured some great photos of the back of museum from the pedestrian bridge I talked about before. The bridge is easily accessible near the museum, and the area surrounding the museum is artsy and in development.
After the museum, you might like to grab an ice cream at one of the many ice cream shops or lay in the park. Coolidge Park has a carousel, but it wasn’t operating when we went, unfortunately. If you’re lucky, your trip might coincide with one of the many free community activities offered there. When we visited, they were showing a free film, and families were literally camped out in their tents.
Where to Eat
For our last meal in Chattanooga, we went to Southern Squeeze in Riverview. Just a five-minute drive from the park, Southern Squeeze is a really modern, minimalist cafe with kombucha on draft as well as all of the trendiest, healthiest menu items.
The restaurant offers indoor an outdoor seating, and the decor is sleek and inviting. We went early in the day on a Sunday, and there were already a pleasant number of patrons eating with friends. The service was friendly and attentive, and although you order at the bar, the servers brought our food to us and also brought out samples of their newest concoctions for us to try.
I got the Aztec Bowl, which was so terrific I’m salivating right now remembering how yummy it was. It consists of cooked sprouted gluten-free grain, a flavorful pistachio-walnut pate, guacamole, seasonal veggies, herb cashew cheese, which is so freaking delicious and creamy I could eat a whole vat full, and topped with lime vinaigrette.
Kenton got the Chattanooga Chili Bowl–a warm bowl of spiced black beans and corn, topped with tomatoes, scallions, guacamole, herb cheese, and dehydrated rainbow crackers. Each bowl is $12, so not an every day purchase for us, but we both really enjoyed our meals so much that we didn’t stress over the price.
Along with the bowls I also got a matcha latte, and Kenton got a bottled kumbucha. The latte was an impulsive add-on for me as we were checking out; you likely remember my really tasty as well as my not-so-great experiences with matcha, so when I saw it on the menu I thought I should give the professionals a go. They did an excellent job–the color was how it was supposed to be, and the consistency was perfect for a latte. Ultimately, what I discovered was…
…that matcha lattes are just not for me. Unlike green tea, which I can drink plain, matcha is stronger and more bitter, and I prefer it in my desserts rather than in my beverages (unless it has ton of sugar, apparently). So, I wouldn’t recommend following my lead on this! We really enjoyed the kombucha, though. They didn’t have it on tap when we visited, but we got a locally-brewed and bottled mango, chili, saffron kombucha that had a nice kick.
Anyway, I felt invigorated and nourished after this meal, and really appreciated not having to worry about the ingredients in any of their dishes. It’s also located in a really relaxing area, particularly on a Sunday morning, though I imagine it also gets pretty active at peak happy hour times, judging by the surrounding restaurants. I’ll definitely visit again!
That’s it–Chattanooga in three days! Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy your own Chattanooga excursions. There are several more vegan restaurants in Chattanooga we didn’t get to try, so if you have a favourite I didn’t mention, please hit me up in the comments!