I moved to Chattanooga halfway through last summer, so I didn’t get to experience a full Chattanooga summer. This year, though, I got to do that. With the summer winding down and fall right around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about just how awesome the last several months have been, and how lucky I am to have had the opportunities I had.
It’s safe to say that the summer of 2016 has been one of the best yet.
Here are my top summer highlights, from my first full summer as an official Chattanoogan!
Really, it was the best.
I started the summer–well, the “unofficial” start of summer–at my parents’ lake house in North Carolina for Memorial Day Weekend. The weather was great and I spent lots of time down by the water. I went back to the lake back in August for a long weekend and took advantage of my parents’ new set of stand-up paddle boards.
Then in June, there was Riverbend, the 10-day music festival down on the riverfront that I had the awesome opportunity to cover. It was my first music festival, and my first time covering an event as “official media.” With acts like Thomas Rhett, Brett Eldgredge, Heart, .38 Special, REO Speedwagon, Kane Brown, ZZ Ward, Blackberry Smoke, Chris Young and many more, the 35th annual Riverbend Music Festival was definitely a summer highlight. Y’all can check out my recap for PrettySouthern here!
I also covered the Southern Brewers Festival in August. This is Tennessee’s premier beer festival, held at Ross’s Landing down by the river (a popular event spot in town, if you’ve noticed). The festival featured more than 50 breweries from around the Southeast (and one from Ohio) with oodles of brews for everyone to sample and sip on throughout the day. My favorite beer of the day was far and away the Watermelon Wheat from Straight to Ale (Huntsville, Ala.), and I was also a huge fan of Paw Paw’s Peach from Back Forty Beer Company.
I couldn’t talk about summer in Chattanooga without mentioning Chattanooga Football Club. My Saturdays from mid-May until the end of July were devoted to the boys in blue in Finley Stadium. I wasn’t a soccer fan when I moved to Chattanooga–heck, I hardly knew how the game was played beyond “put the ball into the net” (and watch us all go mental)–but after this summer of soccer, I’m already counting the days until the 2017 season kicks off. The people I spent those Saturdays with quickly became some of the best friends I’ve made in the last year.
I spent lots of time outside this summer. Chattanooga has a fantastic outdoors culture and community and the city itself is surrounded with plenty of opportunities to get outside. I fell in love with hiking last summer and wanted to explore some new spots this summer. Edward’s Point is one of my favorites, and I can’t wait to check out Lula Lake and Cloudland Canyon before the summer is truly over. Stand-up paddle boarding on the river was my “zen time” of choice after work this summer. As relaxing as it is, it’s also a great (and underrated) workout. Maybe I’ll be paddling in the Chattajack next year?
And yes, I finally broke down and purchased a pair of Chacos. Now all I need is a Nalgene bottle and a hammock, and I’ll be a true Chattanoogan.
But the ultimate summer highlight was getting to spend a whole 10 days with my dear childhood friend, Josh from England! We went to school together when I lived in Georgia, and then his family moved back to England when my family moved up to Pennsylvania. I saw him when I studied abroad several years ago, but only for a couple of days. This summer, I got to show him around my city for over a week and it was the best time ever. We went hiking and paddle boarding, visited the Tennessee Stillhouse, aquarium and several of my other favorite in-town attractions, made the trip out to Lynchburg for the Jack Daniels Distillery, went to a CFC match, and of course ate lots of delicious Southern food. It was his first trip back to the States in a decade, so we had to do it right!
And of course, summer in Chattanooga wouldn’t be complete without expanding my foodie horizons. From brunch to ice cream to Happy Hour, I found all of my favorite spots and became a repeat offender at many of them (if I wasn’t already).
I’m sad that the summer has to end, but there are just as many exciting things coming up this fall. And who says I can’t go ahead and get excited for next summer already?
What are some of your summer highlights?