Modern Travel: Chattanooga, TN

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It’s not every day you can wake up with a morning SUP sesh, hit a trail run at lunch, hike the Appalachians after work and cap it all off with a farm-to-table feast for under $10. Actually, you can do that every day in Chattanooga, Tennessee – Outside Magazine’s Best Town 2015 Winner! Aptly nicknamed the Scenic City, Chattanooga is a proud river town with industrial roots and high-tech aspirations. With a booming tech industry attracting new business to the city every day, young companies like RootsRated, an adventure app company, are molding the city into an eco-tech-utopia of sorts. With a little bit of everything and a lotta Southern hospitality, Chattanooga has certainly earned it’s claim as one of America’s Best Towns Ever.

For starters, Chattanooga is staking its claim as one of the country’s premier outdoor meccas. Located on a bend in the Tennessee River, at the southern terminus of the Appalachian chain, the city is geographically blessed and proud of its river heritage. Northwest of the city the river cuts a dramatic canyon into the Cumberland Plateau, which locals refer to as the Grand Canyon of Tennessee. Downtown, the Chattanooga riverfront plays out like a postcard: Stand-up paddle boarders, kayakers and canoeists dot the water against a backdrop of dramatic stone bluffs. It’s a sight to be seen, so cruise the 10 miles of riverbanks by foot or boat, or roll up your sleeves for some renowned whitewater rafting if you’re feeling adventurous.

The backcountry isn’t half bad either. Those little mountains called the Appalachians loom over the north, while countless ridges, plateaus and sandstone cliffs surround the city. Rock climbers of all levels rejoice in the cliffs and boulder fields, while hikers will revel in turquoise waterfalls that seem to flow from every nook and cranny. The Cumberland Trail may very well be the most gorgeous hike in America with its various side trails and Jurassic Park-like greenery. Signal Mountain and Bluff Trails are perfect for epic views of the valley, and the Lula Lake Land Trust sports luscious rock gardens and, of course, tons of waterfalls. Whatever path you take, the trailhead is likely less than 30 minutes from the heart of downtown.

With so many activities, you’ll need to fuel up. For breakfast, it doesn’t get much better than The Farmer’s Daughter—a farm-to-table cafe in North Chattanooga that serves up Southern-infused favorites like Grits and Greens or Cornmeal Pancackes. Their in-house partners, Copacetic Coffee, will get your day started with a swift caffeine kick and some soft fiddle tunes. After a day in the woods, stop into the Flying Squirrel to rub elbows with the locals and weekend warriors who know these hills like the backs of their hands. Trade climbing tips and chow down on fried rice with pork belly or killer fish & chips. Huge burgers and tons of craft beer can be found at the Tremont Tavern, and if you’re looking for pizza and a spiritual awakening, Lupi’s is the parlor you’ve been searching for. You may consider moving to Chattanooga right then and there.

If not, then a weekend getaway will surely do the trick. For a few days in Chattanooga, our lady friends are packing the Swifty Tunic (a hiker’s moisture-wicking best friend) and the Shadowstripe Dress for the perfect casual date night (or lunch date, breakfast date, leisure picnic… anything really). And for the outdoorsy dude, we think you can pretty much go anywhere and do anything in the Dogma Shirt and Mission Ridge Pant combo – super soft, sustainable fabrics and classic backcountry colors mean you’ll fit right it with the locals. Happy exploring!

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Beauties and Breweries

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Ahhh summer. A time to hit the open road, seek out a summer breeze and share a cold one with good company. Inspired by the final 4 towns in Outside Magazine’s Best Town Ever competition, we’ve picked some of our favorite local breweries and paired them with our hoppiest, most refreshing summer dresses – guaranteed to get you quick service at the bar!

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Going Dutch in the Allisa Dress 
Spur-of-the-moment trip to Eau Claire, Wisconsin? You’ll charm those mid-western brewers in the Allisa. Super-soft like your favorite college tee, but lady-like with a versatile waist, the Allisa is perfect for for an afternoon at Lazy Monk Brewery. We like the crispy Bohemian Pilsner, but don’t take our word for it…

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Easy Livin’ in the Rosemarie Dress
A Southern Belle is many things – graceful, approachable and just a hint of sass. So best to have a dress to match when you’re sashaying through Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Rosemarie is made of our eco-friendly Samba (Tencel®, organic cotton, spandex), giving it the kind of versatility other dresses only dream of. It breathes and moves and follows your curves, so even after you’ve knocked back a few brews at Chattanooga Brewing Company, the Southern gents will still be in awe.

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Take the Scenic Route in the Corsica Dress 
Like a Little Black Dress, exploring Maine’s colonial  ports is an absolute MUST. Luckily, the Corsica Dress helps satisfy both requirements. Sail through one of our favorite ports, Bar Harbor, Maine in our Aquaculture jersey dress – kayak through the harbor, scramble along the craggy cliffs then saunter on in to Bar Harbor Brewing. After a day on the salty sea you deserve only the best, so go for the Cadillac Mountain Stout – it’s top shelf, just like your LBD.

It’s a Lazy Sunday in the Empirical Dress 
Sunday Funday was made for this dress: Roll out of bed, hop on your bike, stroll the harbor, hit a beer tasting, catch the ferry and never change your outfit. With a flirty bodice that looks great sidled up to the bar or peaking out from under a jean jacket, you’re bound to get service with a smile at the Barhop Brewing Company in Port Angeles, Washington. Try a sampling of all the beers, or grab a bottle of the Catcher Rye Ale to sip on the Victoria Island Ferry. From morning to night, US to Canada, you’ll be making waves in this sweet summer dress.

You Choose America’s Best Town Ever

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One of these 64 towns can be called the “Best Town Ever.” Crowning the winner will be up to you.

Picking the locations for the fifth annual Best Town Ever contest wasn’t easy. Outside Magazine looked for places with great access to trails and public lands, thriving restaurants and neighborhoods, and, of course, a good beer scene— these are the towns that are hidden gems, underdogs, towns on the rise, or those solid golden-oldies with a new twist. 60 towns were picked to represent 4 regions of the U.S. – West, East, Midwest and South. And for the first time a wild-card round had Instagram followers nominate their favorite towns for the final four spots: Port Angeles, WA; New York, NY; Saugatuck, MI; and Roanoke, VA had a strong showing of support to bring the competition to 64 towns. Now the gauntlet begins!

Who will advance in the tournament? That’s up to you. Click through to the voting section to vote for your favorite towns and see which town rises to the top. Here’s what you need to know:

  • You can vote once per round, per matchup (So that’s 32 votes the first round, 16 the next round, etc.)
  • Starting on May 4, the first five rounds of voting will last five days each (so vote every 5 days on a new matchup)
  • The winners will advance until only two towns remain on May 29, 2015 to kick off the final round
  • The winner will be the town with the most votes on June 5

Oh ya, and you can win great stuff!

Enter your email address and ZIP code at OutsideOnline.com for a chance to win a three-night vacation to the winning town or up to $300 worth of new Toad&Co threads! Happy voting, and may the best town win!

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Vote for America’s Best Town Ever

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64 towns. 1 winner. You decide.

Outside Magazine’s Best Towns contest is back for the fifth year in a row. America’s most awesome towns go head-to-head, boasting their best attributes and proving that home really is where the heart is. So whether you’re a die-hard local or you just can’t stop thinking of that one summer getaway, YOU get to pick which town will be crowned Best Town 2015!

From mountain escapes to beachside getaways, powder hot spots to the dusty roads of the Wild West, Outside put together a bracket of their 60 favorite towns. But here’s the catch: They need four more towns to get to the top 64 towns, and they’re looking for your Wildcard Nominations via Instagram. If you have a favorite town with easy access to trails and wilderness, farmers’ markets and craft beers, great ‘hoods and friendly neighbors, then get to nominating!

How to nominate

  1. Upload your photos to Instagram. Use the hashtag #BestTowns2015 on each entry.
  2. Include the full name of your town and state in the description.
  3. You can enter as often as you want.
  4. If your town was one of the top 16 on our 2014 Best Towns list, sorry, it’s time to give someone else a chance.

Judging

  1. First and foremost, enter frequently and encourage your friends to enter too! We’ll keep a tally of the number of posts each town gets.
  2. Beauty, composition, and vibe in the photo all count. Dull, ugly or ill-framed images will be skipped.
  3. The number of likes an image gets matters – so tell your friends to like your pictures!
  4. In the image description, say why your town deserves the Wildcard spot but keep it brief – one or two lines is perfect.

Important Dates

  • Wildcard Nominations and voting starts at 8 a.m. EST on April 20, 2015.
  • Wildcard nomination and voting ends at 8 a.m. EST on April 30, 2015.
  • Start voting on the completed bracket on May 4, 2015.

Beginning May 4, all 64 towns will be up, so vote for your favorite towns. Each week is a new round and you can vote once per round for each matchup. And just to sweeten the deal, we’re giving away a new Toad&Co outfit every week to one lucky voter.  The winning teams will advance until only two towns remain then we’ll have a seven-day showdown to determine Outside‘s Best Town 2015!