Fast food restaurants, gas stations, auto parts stores. Pass all those places and keep driving, either down Roy Parrish Jr. Parkway (also known as Route 27) or through the Chickamauga Battlefield.
Then, you’ll find the quaint and walkable downtown Chickamauga or as some people lovingly call it “Chicka Boom Boom.”
You may not be a Civil War history buff, but the town of Chickamauga has more to offer you and your kids. We’ve lived here about seven years and I still don’t know everything about this place. You honestly don’t need to leave town, especially if you want to relax, take a walk, or grab an ice cream cone.
According to the City of Chickamauga website, the town was incorporated in 1891 and named after the Tsikamagi Indian Tribe of the Cherokee Nation. Before 1891, there’s a long history of Cherokee Indians living on this land. A Gwinnett native, James Gordon, built Lee and Gordon’s Mill on Chickamauga Creek. He needed a home, so in 1836 he built the beautiful Greek Revival Mansion (known as the Gordon Lee Mansion). It’s still open for tours, weddings, and the annual Blue and Grey BBQ. Each September, BBQ teams compete for prizes while visitors enjoy the delicious fare. During that same event, the town starts to look a little like the movie Sweet Home Alabama, especially when local reenactors shoot off cannons every hour. Kaboom!
Day out in Chickamauga
On your way into town, stop at the unassuming little spot The Grind, at the corner of Crittenden Avenue. Order a basic cup of joe or a more elaborate coffee drink. They also serve tea, ice cream, milkshakes. Then, sit on the patio while your kids use their imaginations and a little chalk to draw on the sidewalk. Next, head further into town and explore the shops. Most of the shops are located on Gordon Street between Thomas and Cove Avenues. If you are looking to browse, make a stop in One Eleven Gordon. In this locals shop, you’ll find an eclectic mix of goodies that will serve almost anyone on your holiday shopping list. Just one door down, you’ll find Le Frou Frou. If you are looking for a fashionable outfit or home decor, this place can help you. The owner travels to Paris and other big cities to stock the shop. If you are a fan of Annie Sloan paints, Sophie’s is the place to stop. The owner Donna stocks all kinds of paints and accessories. Plus, she’ll talk you through any project. There are also lots of home and garden treasures in this locally owned shop. Next door, you’ll find Red Barn Designs which specializes in Pinterest parties and classes; their classes fill up fast. If you have an idea but need some help, ask the owner Mary or sign up for a private party. They are open day and evening, so you can work on a project yourself and just pay by the project.
After all that browsing, you need a place to fill up your belly. We are regulars at the local Mexican restaurant Los Potros. If you want a quick meal, check out this spacious restaurant; it’s a local favorite. There’s another Mexican restaurant, Guadalajara’s, which is on the main highway Route 27, rather than in the downtown area. If you want a beer with your meal, you’ll have to go there because no alcohol is served in the downtown restaurants. For the basics, try Droop Scoops, a new restaurant which serves hot dogs and ice cream. They have a variety of toppings for your hot dog and plenty of choices to satisfy your sweet tooth.
If your kids need to run off some extra energy before your ride home, make a stop at Holland Watson Veterans Memorial Park. It’s located at the corner of Crittenden Avenue and West 8th Street. Locals call it the helicopter park and for obvious reasons. At the entrance to the park, there’s a Huey Helicopter. It honors the Vietnam Veterans for which it’s named. There’s a walking path, volleyball court, and plenty of playground equipment, all nestled in a shaded spot.
In December, there are a few holiday events that you may want to check out. Come into town on Friday, December 1st from 6:30-9pm; eat dinner and enjoy the shops with the annual Lighting of the Streets with Santa. The following weekend, December 9th from 10am-8pm, come celebrate the holiday with Christmas in the Streets and the Christmas Melodies Parade. If you are an early bird, you can enjoy the pancake breakfast, live music, and shop or stop by later for the parade.
If you want to know more about Chickamauga, check out the list below:
Gordon Lee House
During the holiday season, they are open for candlelight tours, hours vary.
Lee and Gordons Mills
Located east of town and on the Chickamauga Creek. It was originally a mill and general store. You can still buy corn meal ground at the mill; you can also launch kayaks and canoes from this entrance at the West Fork of the Chickamauga Creek. Ride it down to Chickamauga National Battlefield Park. Roots Rated has more information on this route.
Across from the Gordon Lee House. Sit and have a snack at the picnic tables while checking out this historical spring.
Near Highway 341 on the other side of town. The ovens turned coal into coke needed to make steel and delivered by railroad to Chattanooga foundries.
More Retail Therapy
This unassuming shop can provide you with just the right flowers for any occasion. Check their website to find out when they have Ladies’ Night.
Down the street and across from Gordon Lee High School, you’ll find this local resale shop owned by two sisters. Stop by if you need some bargain therapy.
Chic Avenue Designs
Looking for more vintage inspired attire that’s also on trend? Try this relatively new shop.
More Good Eats
Choo Choo BBQ
Located on Highway 27, go here to satisfy your need for a home cooked meal. BBQ, meat and salad bar. You name it and you can find some delicious comfort food at this location.
Chickamauga Turn which departs the Tennessee Valley Railroad in Chattanooga, March through September. Departs Chattanooga at 10am, stopover in downtown Chickamauga and Chickamauga National Battlefield, Returns to Chattanooga at 4pm.