Detroit Mom’s Travel Series: Tennessee

This past spring break, I wanted to plan a trip somewhere the kids could have fun, and a place where we could also really relax. I didn’t want to spend a fortune on flying–so I started looking at places that were driveable from Metro Detroit. Tennessee turned out to be the perfect location! Only an eight-hour car ride, plenty of lakefront rentals, and fun things to do for the whole family.

I ended up planning things in three different Tennessee cities. We stayed in Ten Mile, but we visited Chattanooga and Sweetwater. Chattanooga was about an hour and 30 minutes from where we stayed, and Sweetwater was about 30 minutes.

Watts Bar Lake
Our rental on Watts Bar Lake in Ten Mile, Tennessee.

Ten Mile is a great little rural city. The house we rented was set back in a secluded area on a gorgeous lake. Many people were out boating, fishing, and kayaking. It was a very family-friendly neighborhood! Chattanooga is good for more of a city experience. They have an amazing aquarium, lots of restaurants, a children’s museum, and many great shops. Sweetwater has its small town charm; but it also has some great excursions just outside of the city.

Restaurants You’ll Love

Country Side Cafe | 28821 TN-58, Ten Mile, TN 37880 | (423) 334-0006
Don’t let this little place fool you! We had some amazing home cooked meals here. If you didn’t know it was a restaurant, you would absolutely think it was just another tiny home along the back roads. This is one of the only places to eat that’s actually located within the city of Ten Mile.

Nick’s Lakeside Grill | 2109 New Lake Rd, Spring City, TN 37381 | (423) 710-0605
Great place to stop after a fun day out. Yummy food, and even better cocktails. You feel like a local! The mac and cheese was amazing.

Bradley’s Pit BBQ & Grill | 517 New Hwy 68, Sweetwater, TN 37874 | (423) 351-7190
I was craving some good Tennessee barbecue, and Bradley’s didn’t disappoint! Everything tasted very fresh, and it was a fun atmosphere. PLUS there’s an ice cream truck right outside, which made for some yummy dessert!

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga
The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Attractions You Must Visit

The Tennessee Aquarium | 1 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN 37402 | (423) 265-0695
An amazing aquarium that has two parts. One side focuses on lakes, and the other side focuses on oceans. Very interactive and kid-friendly. One of the best I’ve ever been to!

Lookout Mountain Incline Railway | 3917 St Elmo Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37409 | (423) 821-4224
An inclined railway that leads you up to the top of Lookout Mountain in the historic St. Elmo district of Chattanooga. Gorgeous sights!

The Lost Sea Adventure | 140 Lost Sea Rd, Sweetwater, TN 37874 | (423) 337-6616
The Lost Sea is America’s largest underground lake and Registered National Landmark located in beautiful Sweetwater, Tennessee.

Favorite Coffee Shop

Cup Runneth Over Coffeehouse | 111 N Main St Suite A, Sweetwater, TN 37874 | (423) 836-9696
Amazing coffee with a sweet little bakery inside! My husband loved their iced cold brews.

Favorite Place for Sweet Treats

Sweetwater Creamery | 105 Morris St, Sweetwater, TN | (423) 836-9017
Holy Cow–no pun intended–but this was some amazing homemade ice cream! With amazing customer service, and more flavors than I knew existed, I wish we could go back just to eat here again!

Favorite Kid-Friendly Spot

Creative Discovery Museum | 321 Chestnut St, Chattanooga, TN 37402 | (423) 756-2738
There are a ton of things to do at this children’s museum, including summer programs and fun educational activities.

Favorite Date Night Spot

Boathouse Rotisserie & Raw Bar | 1459 Riverside Dr #4312, Chattanooga, TN 37406 | (423) 622-0122
Even if you don’t like oysters, you’ll love this restaurant set along the river. A great option for a date night if you’re in the mood for seafood.

Bonus Tips to Tennessee

  • If you want to plan an excursion, book ahead of time! Everything we did sold out. I had to buy our aquarium and lost sea adventure passes the week before.
  • The incline railway sells out on the day of. Book your tickets for that in the morning!

What’s your favorite vacation spot? Check out our previous vacation series location: Ludington!


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