Making Spirits Bright: Cocktail Crawls, Christmas Cheer & All Things Chattanoogan

December 2, 2019

It's December, darlings, and that means we're decking the halls, making spirits bright, and basically living our best holiday lives right now. Chattanooga doesn't skimp on the Christmas cheer, either! I'm here to tell you alllllll about the fun activities and not-to-be-missed stops along the way right here in the Scenic City. From pop-up Christmas bars & boozy hot chocolate to where to find the best tree displays, I'm rounding up some of my favorite things to do this holiday season. 

To kickoff the festivities, my girls and I donned our gayest apparel and made things pretty freaking shiny & bright when we got together for a cocktail crawl (a new annual tradition I decided to start). It's essentially the glam version of a Santa pub crawl...but with sequins & a bit more class. I'm by no means above dressing like Buddy the Elf and venturing out into the 40 degree weather to down beers with 500 other Santas and Buddies, but we wanted something a little more sophisticated to kick off the new tradition.

Obviously there was only one clear choice for where to begin this get together: the Chattanooga Choo Choo. This is a must this season! The Choo Choo has some impressive Christmas decorations and boasts a 500-story tall tree in the lobby! Ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating that last part a bit, but the tree is, as Buddy would say, ginormous! Anyone can stroll in here and take in the sights, and believe me, there's plenty to see & do beyond the lobby. 

Out in the courtyard gardens, you can go iceskating at Ice on the Landing (Chatt's only skating rink) or if you're coordination-challenged like myself, you can just grab a cocktail from the adjacent Gate 11 Distillery and people-watch instead. Gate 11 was our first stop of the evening. This time of year at Gate 11, you'll find a seasonal cocktail menu in rotation, and yes, there's boozy hot chocolate. You're welcome.

If you want to ensure your spot on the nice list (or plead your case about that naughty list status), Santa will be making appearances in the lobby now through December 23rd.

Our next stop was Flying Squirrel because none of us had eaten dinner yet (& drinking on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster. Drink responsibly, kids! And hydrate! More alcohol does not count.) Flying Squirrel is one of my favorite bars because they offer an extensive and impressive list of beer and cocktail options, while also serving up some of the best food Chatt has to offer. Do yourself a favor and get the garlic truffle fries!

Next up was our final stop of the evening: London Calling. This bar actually is doing a pop-up Christmas bar this year on December 19th and I can't wait to see what they do! The drinks at London Calling can be a bit pricey depending on what you get, but they also offer a few beer varieties as well. Be sure to stop by the photobooth and snap a few quick pics! This was easily the highlight of this bar for us. We had way too much fun goofing around in here.

There are seriously so many seasonal things to do in Chattanooga this time of year, so for this next part, I'm just going to lightning-round it and list out all of your options, beginning with what I think should be some of your must-dos. Let's jump in!

1. Visit the Choo Choo (obvs). Lace up for Ice on the Landing, visit Santa, selfie with the decorations & towering tree, and grab drinks at Gate 11!

2. Check out Mainx24 - in a (chest)nut shell, this is a 24 hour long festival on December 7th that celebrates Main St./Southside. There are tons of businesses that participate by putting on their own individual events (everything from doggy parades and hot chocolate bars to cookie decorating and a silent disco). See the full list HERE!

3. Rock City Enchanted Garden of Lights - if you like Christmas light displays, this one's for you! There's also a little Santa's Village up at the top where you can get yummy treats & of course, visit the fat man himself.

4. North Pole Limited / Night Cap with St. Nick - I haven't personally experienced this one yet but it's on my list! This event is at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and is a festive train ride, essentially. The North Pole Limited is geared more towards kids (sing alongs, story telling, and meeting Santa at the North Pole) but the Night Cap event is for 21+ only, which includes drinks + treats.

5. Pop-up Christmas Bars - there are only 2 this year that I know of, and those are the aforementioned pop-up at London Calling, and the 2nd at BODE Chattanooga. I'll definitely be visiting each of these!

Honorable mentions go to:
6. Warehouse Row Holiday Open House - December 5

7. Holiday window displays at EPB

8. A Night at the North Pole, presented by Chattanooga Moms for Social Justice at the Chattanooga Choo Choo - December 5

9. Ruby Falls Christmas Underground

10. Holiday Lights at the Chattanooga Zoo - December 13, 14, 20 & 21

11. Holiday Jubilee at the Read House - December 13

12. Annual Santa Pub Crawl - December 14

13. PJs & the Polar Express at the IMAX 3D Theater - December 14 & 15

14. Drink & Discover presented by the Creative Discovery Museum - December 19

15. Home for the Holidays presented by the Chattanooga Symphony - December 21 & 22

16. Chattanooga Holiday Market at the Convention Center - December 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, & 22

17. The Nutcracker - Chattanooga Ballet version (December 13, 14 & 15) & the Moscow Ballet's version on Dec. 24 (I will be attending this one!)

18. Christmas Vacation screening at the Tivoli - December 24

19. Christmas Day Brunch, presented by the Chattanoogan - December 25

20. Christmas Dinner at Dorato, presented by the Westin Chattanooga - December 25

A quick google search will literally turn up hundred of events, in and around Chattanooga, and I couldn't possibly list them all, so this is just a very small sampling of some of the bigger & more well-known things going on around town this time of year. Hope there are some on here that piqued your interest!

Happy Holidays!

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