9¾ Places in Chattanooga Muggles can find the Magic of Harry Potter

October 22, 2019

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Last updated: 7/31/20
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I'm one of those people that loves to find the magic in everyday life. I'm also an avid Harry Potter fan (Harry Potter basically was 50% of my childhood. The other 50%? Well, it may have been heavily influenced by a certain cartoon mouse). I devoured all of the Potter books growing up, was at every one of the movie premiers, and even a few of the midnight book release parties (back when that was still a thing). I've been to The Wizarding World at Universal a couple of times, and it is one of those places that is completely immersive and magical.

While I don't live in Orlando or London (um, or anywhere even remotely close to the U.K.), I am lucky enough to live in a city that has quite a few spots that invoke that wizarding world and London vibe. And if you're planning a visit during October, you're in for an extra special treat, as Chattanooga is home to a fantastic annual Harry Potter themed event that is truly riddikulus (so keep reading)!

Ready to have your mind obliterated? Alright, let's dive in!

1. The Hot Chocolatier as Honeydukes
Located at: 1437 Market St

Accio chocolate! The Hot Chocolatier is a unique sweet shop located in the heart of downtown Chattanooga. It's half chocolate shop/half patisserie, and they also serve coffee. They are known for their huge selection of crazy hot chocolate concoctions (the lavendar vanilla hot chocolate & the coconut caramel almond hot chocolate are 2 of my favorites), frozen hot chocolate, and a huge assortment of sweets! While they don't make any Harry Potter inspired treats year-round, you can get your fill once a year at the Magic of Literacy event. Hot Chocolatier literally becomes Honeydukes and rolls out lots of fun Potter-themed treats, and yes, there are chocolate frogs (keep reading for more).

Full disclosure: the chocolate frog box is my own & is not available for purchase from Hot Chocolatier.
What you will find here though, are plenty of sweets just as drool-worthy as what you've read about in the books. Think pumpkin spice truffles (as well as a dozen other flavors), cinnamon whiskey pot de creme with butterscotch drizzle, and salted caramel french macarons to name a few. And you can wash it all down with a London Fog. Pretty perfect, right?

Obviously I had to dress the part and put together a simple look using the Honeydukes classic pink & green color palette. The pink & white striped pants were giving me total candy vibes, and I threw a green tank over it to pull the look together.

2. Bees on a Bicycle as Herbology Class
Located at: 1909 Market St

Bees on a Bicycle is a true gem and it's so much more than just a garden shop! Their website puts it best, as they describe themselves as a "pocket-sized, tiny but mighty" shop, focused on sustainability, and the owners are incredibly friendly and extremely knowledgeable (Professor Sprout, is that you!?). They pointed us in the right direction when we were trying to choose which succulents to take home (and I swear I spotted a mandrake).

Bees on a Bicycle is such an earthy oasis in Chattanooga's Southside. There are so many different types of plants, flowers, and succulents to choose from, as well as a pretty adorable giftshop. Plus they get bonus points for being so instagrammable! I mean, if this place doesn't scream herbology class, I don't know what does.

3. Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary as Divination Class
Located at: 1423 Market St

Tinctures, tonics, and teas - oh my! The first time I stopped by Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary, I instantly got Harry Potter vibes. But even with the wizarding world aside, this place is magical in its own right. I mean, the tagline on their website literally says "healing and connection, one cup at a time" so you know this place has some magical properties. Wildflower is a tea and herb shop, but you can also pick up essential oils, crystals, and hand-crafted herbal remedies. It's all very "Green Witch," and I'm here for it.
Their menu features an impressive & extensive list of teas like hibiscus mint white and coconut creme chai (see the full menu here). They will even let you smell the various teas that you are interested in before ordering, and if you tell them what you're looking for, they will absolutely point you in the right direction. Nervous? There's a tea for that. Pregnant? There's a tea for that. Just found out your boyfriend was cheating on you with your best friend's sister's roommate and need to calm the F down before you go all Bellatrix on his ass? I mean, they probably have a tea for that too...

When thinking in terms of how Wildflower fits within the HP universe, it seemed to me like a dead ringer for divination class. If you need a quick refresher, divination is the practice of seeking knowledge of the future/unknown, or to divine things about the past or present, through various methods - and of course, one of those methods is tessomancy (the art of reading tea leaves). I can just see Professor Trelawney holding a class here, and in fact, Wildflower often does host different kind of "magical" classes! I can't say for sure if they have held a tessomancy class before (if not, hey Wildflower! Please do this!), but they've held workshops for palmistry, astrology, tarot and Chinese medicine.

4. The bus at Adelle's Creperie as the Knight Bus
Located at: 400 E Main St

This bus is actually from England, so it's as authentic as they come. It used to be home to Chattanooga Bus Tours, when you could quite literally tour the city from atop the open air 2nd level (which I actually got the chance to do years ago). The tours have since ceased, but the bus was donated to the Granfalloon (an event space next to Adelle's) but you'll find it sitting right out front, welcoming patrons and passerby to board for a photo. Currently, it's just additional seating for Adelle's (be sure to stop in & grab a crepe & a milkshake!), so you can actually climb aboard and hang out inside or sit on the open air 2nd level. I'm hopeful that they'll hold events out here in the future. How cool would this place be for live music or as an actual bar?

It may not be purple, but it's still a little piece of London right here in Chattanooga and is about as close to the Knight Bus as I can get, without actually stepping foot in the HP theme park. So I dressed for the occasion. If only I could find where I put my shrunken head...

5. Chattanooga Choo Choo as the Hogwarts Express
Located at: 1400 Market St

This one was a no brainer. Chatt has a thing for trains (its basically our entire history), and there's a rather famous hotel that has these guys parked out in the courtyard. Maybe you've heard of it: the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Before it was a hotel, the Choo Choo was called Terminal Station and opened in 1909. Back then, we were kind of a big deal because Chatt was such a big connector to some of American's biggest cities at the time. It brought so many new industries and allowed Chattanooga to really blossom. But during the 50s and 60s, rail traffic waned heavily and in the early 70s, the station was purchased and renamed "The Chattanooga Choo Choo" after the popular song.

Of course nowadays, trains are an antiquated mode of transportation, but Chatt has done a lot to preserve the rich history & nostalgia of the railroad era, and the hotel does still have trains. Oh yes. You can sleep in them, dine in them, and drink in them (yup. One of these bad boys is now a beer hall). The Choo Choo is open to the public, so anyone can stop by & explore (bring your wand & your robe - you'll want to snap a million pictures here).

Because there's trains galore here, the Choo Choo is actually the perfect setting for the annual Magic of Literacy event. The train literally gets dressed up as the Hogwarts Express & a pretty epic photo op is set up with props, etc. (I'm telling you, if you're a HP fan, you need to go to this event).

photo c/o Magic of Literacy
But if you want the full train experience, you need to visit the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Here you'll find fully operational trains that you can ride (legit train trips: everything from short 50 minute rides to a 9 hour journey), and one of them is a behemoth steam train that looks just like the Hogwarts Express. Why they haven't capitalized on this fact is beyond me. Hopefully someday they'll offer a special HP themed train ride event - perhaps in collaboration with the Magic of Literacy folks? Hopefully their PR person is reading this... :)

6. Together Cafe for butterbeer lattes
Located at: 801 S Orchard Knob Ave

This one took some research. I had heard whispers of a mythical, supposed butterbeer latte but couldn't find much on it. Luckily, my google travels led me to a website, that led me to another website, that mentioned the actual name of the Chattanooga cafe that created the famed drink: Together Cafe. I confirmed with them through DM that they did in fact have a butterbeer latte, and then immediately hightailed it over there!

This is an absolute must-do. I can't even begin to tell you how thrilled I am that there's a local place now where I can get my butterbeer fix. The drink can be, in true Wizarding fashion, served hot or cold - but the barista informed us that it doesn't mix as well if you order it hot, so we opted for iced. The latte isn't actually listed on the menu, so just ask for it. It wasn't quite as butterbeery as I'd hoped (think more vanilla/coffee/butterscotch) since it's a coffee-based beverage & obviously isn't the real deal, but truly delicious nonetheless.

Together Cafe is also just a great spot to hang. I could absolutely see this as a spot Hermione would post up at. I don't know if we caught this place on an extra quiet day or what, but it definitely reminded me of a library - lots of people spread out studying, working & reading, and it was very quiet for a coffee shop. There's plenty of space, and I love that there's a second level. Grab your butterbeer and your books ladies & gents - you will be here for a while. :)

7. Matilda Mignight for magical cocktails
Located at: 120 E 10th S

(*Update: as of June 10, 2020, Matilda Midnight & the Dwell Hotel are currently for sale & will be undergoing changes. As a result, the bar is currently closed until further notice).

Nestled in the Dwell Hotel is Matilda Midnight, a mystical bar where you can literally sip cocktails under the stars. It has a funky vibe, is a spot that really gels with the Luna Lovegood vibe. From the mystical decor to the dim mood lighting and Tarot-inspired drinks, Matilda Midnight is a must-see not only for Potter fans, but general cocktail-enthusiasts as well.

Honestly, the entirety of the Dwell Hotel is something Luna would love (we Chattanoogans sure do)! The Dwell Hotel is very eclectic, with each room themed to something different, but all retro and very mid-century modern. But don't take my word for it - check out all the crazy & amazing rooms here!  

While I haven't had the chance to stay here (yet!), I have visited the hotel numerous times and Matilda Midnight is in our usual rotation for girls nights & date nights. The drinks are really good, and they have a pretty great happy hour as well. I think Luna would approve.

8. London Calling & Hair of the Dog for British sips & snacks
London Calling located at: 715 Cherry St | Hair of the Dog located at: 334 Market St

(*Update: as of January 2020, London Calling is now "Unknown Caller." The phone booth has been painted black, and is no longer London themed, sadly. But you can still find great drinks & the portrait of the Queen still hangs proudly above the bar!)

Chattanooga clearly has a penchant for all things Brittish. Double decker bus? Check. Classic red phone booth? Check. Fish chips & other Brittish fare? Check and check! I'm not sure if there's something in the water or what, but it's a regular Brittish invasion going on and I'm totally here for it!

So London Calling is actually a speakeasy retro-style bar that is accessed through a secret door in a red phone booth on Cherry Street (um, parallels to Ministry of Magic entrance much?!?). There is a functioning phone inside, and you will have to punch in the password to enter. From there, you'll move along a narrow hallway until the space opens up into a room with high ceilings. This place is just freaking cool.

Inside, it's definitely more underground London than Harry Potter, but it stills makes the list because England. Here you'll also find 20s style flapper dancers that periodically put on a show. And for you fellow Instagram babes, there's a wall. You're welcome.

But what if you're hungry? Well, this is the south, and we're famous for...fish & chips?? What!? No, actually we're famous for deep frying any and everything, but hey fish is fried, so close enough. And at Hair of the Dog, you can get your fish & chips fix (it's good!), as well as try some other famed British fare (does Bangers n' Mash ring a bell?). And if you don't like fish, just drink like one instead - Hair of the Dog offers a rather lengthy list of libations. The bar also scores points for aesthetic because the door here is painted with the Union Jack. #doitforthegram

9. Reflection Riding as Care of Magical Creatures Class
Located at: 400 Garden Rd

Just 6 miles from downtown Chattanooga, you'll find Reflection Riding, an arboretum and nature center that truly invokes the spirit of Care of Magical Creatures class. Obviously, you won't find any hippogriffs or nifflers here, but you absolutely will find an array of creatures well known amongst muggles, including 4 different types of owls, wolves, foxes, and plenty of creepy-crawly reptiles & amphibians. The Animal Ambassadors at Reflection Riding care for 29 species and nearly 40 individuals, all native to east Tennessee. The animals in their care can't survive on their own and are often in captivity for a variety of reasons: some have suffered injury, others have been kept illegally as pets, and a few are part of an endangered species.

Photos c/o Reflection Riding
This place is throwing some Forbidden Forest vibes for sure (I mean come on, it's an arboretum) and boasts 14 miles of trails and road to explore. There's even a Discovery Treehouse in the middle of the woods, which is used for events. If Hagrid ever relocates to Chattanooga, I can see him calling this place home.

9¾. Sewanee University as Hogwarts
Located at: 735 University Ave, Sewanee, TN 37383

Ok, so this one technically isn't in Chattanooga, but it's under an hour away, so I'm counting it because this place is legit. Sewanee University was founded in 1857 and built in the style of Gothic architecture with numerous stone buildings complete with spires, turrets, arches, and open green quads. According to Wiki, the property encompasses 13,000 acres of scenic mountain property atop the Cumberland Plateau and has been named one of the most beautiful college campuses in the U.S. (it's not hard to see why).

Seriously!? It's like I was walking on the set of the films! Ok, so there are a ton of parallels between Sewanee and Hogwarts. First off, it's basically a Gothic fortress on a mountain, surrounded by a forest, and get this, students actually wear robes. It's part of an old university tradition called The Order of the Gown, a society for students of special academic distinction in which they wear the black academic robes to class/around campus (professors often teach wearing these as well). I did see a few students scurrying around campus in these gowns as well as other faculty in white & red robes, but didn't get a chance to snap a candid photo (just picture Harry Potter riding a bike to class, his long black robe billowing out behind him).

Since I wasn't going to go full-nerd here and come out with wands a blazing and dressed in a robe (I don't own one anyway), I donned some Grynffindor swag and ended up looking only mildly nerdy. But you know, like a stylish, fashion forward kind of nerdy.

A campus this old is bound to be haunted, and in my research, I came across more than a few tales about ghosts roaming the campus. The most famous is by far the Headless Gownsman, also referred to as the Phantom Gownsman (no relation to Nearly Headless Nick, that I know of). Allegedly, he wears the traditional robe of the Order of the Gown and his shadowy figure has been spotted roaming the campus, and there are even reports of just his head floating around, as the head and body are never attached.

I didn't encounter any ghosts (though the spiral staircase did have en eerie feel), but I don't doubt that a campus this old & with this much history, has some hauntings. Ghosts aside, the overall look and vibe of  Sewanee University seemed very Hogwartsy to me, and is probably the closest I'll ever get without actually traveling to Europe.

But wait, there's more! 

Want to sleep in the magic? You can! About 30 minutes outside of Chattanooga, in Chickamauga, GA, is an actual Harry Potter themed Airbnb that looks pretty amazing. 

Photos c/o Airbnb
Chattanooga is also home to Treetop Hideaways, which is just what it sounds like. While the forests of Chattanooga are probably more friendly than forbidden, staying in a treehouse sounds pretty magical to me (there's even one called the "Luna Loft").

Photos c/o Treetop Hideaways
And if you want to put your Potter skills to the test, be sure to check out the list of classes available at The Chattery - they have everything from Chinese medicine and beginner astrology to horror movie embroidery and Halloween flower arrangements. The classes change on a weekly basis, so you never know what the future might hold. I'll be taking an Intro to Tarot class here at the end of October.

Photos c/o The Chattery
So remember that Harry Potter event I mentioned earlier? It's called the Magic of Literacy (an annual event put on by Moms for Social Justice) with the goal of raising awareness for literacy. The fabulous ladies of the organization head up The Classroom Literacy Project: an initiative that partners with the Hamilton County Department of Education and local businesses (among other organizations) to "transform classroom corners [...] into inviting, well-stocked libraries with diverse reading material for children who long to escape into the pages of good books." And the best part? They have given away over 150 new copies of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at The Magic of Literacy event, thanks to donations from the community and across the country.

Each year, the Chattanooga Choo Choo hosts this flagship event, full of everything and anything you could think of from the Harry Potter series. Want to get sorted into a house? You can do it! Take a herbology or divination class? They've got that too. Grab some butterbeer and tasty Honeydukes treats? Done! Plus, there are endless photo ops (my favorite is the Hogwarts Express! Yes. A real train, dressed up like the one from the film - with props!).

This event is rapidly growing in popularity, and it's only the 2nd year! It's free to attend (you just have to sign up here for a time slot), but you can upgrade your admission to VIP for $30 which includes a chocolate frog, butterbeer, and early entry (unfortunately at the time of this post, the VIP spots are now sold out). This year, the event will be on Sunday 10/27, but the Harry Potter fun actually begins on Friday 10/25 with a Harry Potter themed drag show. Wait, what? Yes, you heard that correct. And I'll be attending. I can't pass that up. The fun continues with Potter trivia Saturday 10/26 at Gate 11 Distillery (Chattanooga actually regularly hosts HP trivia throughout the year at different locations - the next one is on November 6th at Heaven & Ale), and the whole shebang culminates in the big event at the Choo Choo on Sunday. You won't want to miss this, guys. Will I see you there?
Photos c/o Magic of Literacy
Whew! If you made it this far, 50 points to Gryffindor (or whatever house you're in. I'm a Hufflepuff, apparently)! This blog post was a huge labor of love and literally took over a month or so to & countless outings, outfits, and research to compile. Thanks to everyone who made this post possible: my amazing husband, Sarah R. & Sarah T.!

I had a blast putting this together, and if it makes you want to book the next ticket outta your town & head straight for Chattanooga, call me. We'll grab a butterbeer.

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