Looking for an awesome experience and cheap vacay? Then look no further than following the next four days on Destination: Unknown! Today we are headed to Chattanooga, Tennessee, but first – we stop off in Warm Springs.
Tim and I got off work and decided to head out a little early and stay in Warm Springs, Georgia, which happens to be about an hour and a half from Plains. We stopped in Columbus to use our gift card for Buffalo Wild Wings. THIS is one of our cheap hacks: If you have any gift cards for restaurants, use them when you travel! It cuts down on your total bill. What should have cost us $40 ended up being $24 (including a tip.)
After dinner, we headed toward Warm Springs. We would have driven straight, but something to note: most of the restaurants in the area would have been closed when we arrived, so we decided stopping in Columbus was the best idea.
According to the Explore Georgia website:
Located just an hour south of Atlanta, the town of Warm Springs is nestled among the rolling hills and the naturally heated waters made famous by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Take a step back in time and experience our Southern charm and hospitality. History is evident in the 100-year-old restored buildings. On the bustling Main Street and through the alleyways you will find additional courtyard charms, which provide a unique shopping experience. We offer food to please all tastes, including the world-famous Bulloch House with its fried green tomatoes and buffet.
Located on the southern end of town is the Little White House, where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent his happiest times with those who loved him the most. We are proud to offer two museums in our town that chronicle FDR’s life in Georgia, detail the history of our Victorian era town and let visitors feel the famous and natural warm springs. Not a month goes by without a festival or innovative program taking place in Warm Springs.
I chose the Aiden by Bestwestern on White House Parkway. I went to hotels.com and discovered I had a free night. Another travel hack is to use a service that provides reward nights. Hotel.com gives you a free night valued up to $200 every ten bookings. I always use it (if I can) for work travel and I ended up getting one free night. Our hotel room, with a patio & view was $197. All we had to pay was the $5 state fee. In other words – our first night of travel was close to $30.
What I liked most about this hotel was the very beautifully constructed pavilion/gazebo right outside of our hotel room. Tim and I went out there and sipped our coffee and just enjoyed the cool breeze. We couldn’t see the view of the valley below, but were told the views were phenomenal.
The pool and fire pit on the property were really beautiful, also.
The cons to the Aiden: The bar was not really a bar. The vending machine only offered sodas. (I needed water so bad!) The breakfast bar that was promised in the booking was sort of side. But, at the end of the day – it really wasn’t that big of a deal. We were on the road by 8am and had just enough protein to get us going!
Pros: The room was very large and the bed was very comfortable.
I have noticed this trend with hotels – Barn doors to the bathroom. I am not a fan. I feel it sort of takes away any privacy you might desire.
Otherwise, the hotel was perfect for a quick stop over before heading northward.
The next morning, we drove the 3.5 hours north to Chattanooga, only stopping to use the bathroom at a Q.T. (Because, well… it is a QT!)
Our first stop was the Bluff View Art District.
Finding parking in this area was a piece of cake. We parked along a little bridge and walked about half a block to this courtyard. We chose Tony’s Pasta Shop & Trattoria. Since Tim has been doing low-carb and was in the mood to carb load, we opted for the perfect option!
The restaurant is adorable and has gorgeous views of the river. I can only imagine how beautiful it is at night and more so in the Spring time.
Tim opted for the Create Your Own Pasta option.
Tim loves Italian sausage and mushrooms. I am pretty sure that is just some of what was in the bowl!
I went for the spaghetti carbonara. I barely ate a quarter of it! My recommendation is to purchase a pasta and split it with your friend! If so, lunch would have been around $15. However, we spent closer to $45 for lunch. Which included delicious home-baked bread with cheese and olive oil.
The food was absolutely delicious! I highly recommend this place. We carb-loaded and then decided to tackle the day. Luckily, we would have enough fuel for a long day of walking!
After lunch, we walked right outside and found the sculpture garden. This is a free public art instillation in Chattanooga.
We spent about half an hour just checking out the beautiful works of art and snapping photos along the river. Afterwards, we decided to move the car just a little closer to the museums we would be touring later.
We headed over to the Hunter Museum of American Art.
It is important to know that during the pandemic, all of the tourist attractions were requiring us to pre-book and purchase tickets – they are timing and spacing the amount of people allowed in the building. We were able to purchase the museum tickets and luckily, we could use them at any point that day. We headed over, used an app to park (which I highly recommend,) then headed over. We were asked to mask up and we took about 1.5 hours to explore the museum.
One of the things I really liked about the museum was the various sculpture installations right outside of the museum.
These are just a few of my favorite pieces I saw at the museum.
Admission to the museum is $20 a person. We spent $40 total.
They have a wonderful gift shop that had this old cigarette machine that spit out original works of art!
I bought a $5 token from the gift shop hostess.
Selected my favorite option, pulled the level and BOOM!
Pretty cool, huh?
After the museum, we walked down toward the Walnut Street bridge and grabbed some ice cream.
I grabbed some vanilla frozen yogurt and added white chocolate chips and fresh strawberries. It was delish!
After we quenched out sweet tooth, we got in the car and drove a few blocks to the Tennessee Aquarium. The aquarium does require time slots, we opted for 2:30 pm.
We started on the River side and made our way over to the Ocean side.
The cost to attend the Tennessee Aquarium is $34.95 a person. We added the IMAX option for additional $8 a piece.
It took us almost 2 hours to get through the entire museum.
After we finished up, we crossed the street to go to the IMAX movie theater.
We chose to see Antarctica on the IMAX. It was absolutely amazing and well worth it. Just know this – whale poop is going to save the world!
After the movie we drove across the river and headed to the neighborhood Whole Foods. We decided to get a wide range of nibbles and enjoy a little time outside at our next stop!
Just where did we stay?
Dunlap, Tennessee at Little Tails Farm in the Highland Cottage, also known as a tiny house! We spent $86 a night, with zero cleaning fee. What a deal!
We drove the 45 miles to Dunlap and up Cagle Mountain (which was an absolutely beautiful drive!) Great water falls all along the way.
This is the space we stayed in. It is 8 x 16 and on 60+ acres.
This is the view when you walk in the door. Small kitchen to the right, bathroom to the right and living area right in front.
I booked the space through Airbnb. I typed in unique stays and found the perfect fit for us.
We slept upstairs in the loft.
The stairs were not steep, however, they do not have a hand rail, so I definitely recommend being careful!
Once we arrived, it started drizzling and we had a super hard time starting a fire. After about 30 minutes of trying, we just gave up and headed to nibble our goodies and chat. Tim was exhausted from driving and trying to unwind from work and life and we both tried to sleep upstairs. The owners were kind enough to keep the heater on for us, but we got too hot. I headed downstairs and opened the windows and slept on the couch. It was super soft and perfect for someone my height. So, yeah, might not have been the most romantic night, but it was cozy!
It was a jam-packed day and well spent! Stay tuned for Friday’s fun!