There was a time when it could be accurately said that scenic, friendly, delightful Chattanooga was one of the South's best-kept secrets. Of course, those of us who had lived here for any length of time knew all about the city's natural beauty, welcoming atmosphere and sundry amenities. But Chattanooga's profile outside the region was not as high as we might have wanted it to be.
Those days are gone.
Chattanooga is now not only a regional and national but even an international buzzword for city revitalization. Our riverfront is nothing short of magnificent, and big, eye-catching development has taken place in other parts of the city, as well.
Economically, Chattanooga is on the move -- demonstrated most clearly but far from exclusively by the Volkswagen plant at Enterprise South industrial park and the thousands of high-paying jobs for which it is responsible. It doesn't hurt one bit that VW's Passat was named Motor Trend magazine's car of the year, drawing further attention to our excellent workforce, nor that VW brings to Chattanooga the benefits of major industry without anything close to the levels of pollution that once dogged the city's manufacturing sector.
Countless magazines and organizations have recognized Chattanooga in recent years for various reasons, and now the website Livability.com is telling the world about one more aspect of the city's charm: the low cost of vacationing here.
In a ranking of cities nationwide, Chattanooga came in No. 4 for affordable vacations. The city was behind only Louisville, Ky., Minneapolis and San Antonio, and it beat out cities such as Boulder, Colo., and Tulsa, Okla. The website researched more than 500 cities to form its list.
Livability.com earlier had ranked the city as having among the 10 best downtowns in the nation, and the website was not reserved in its comments about Chattanooga's appeal to tourists.
"East Tennessee's riverfront city is home to a plethora of nationally ranked tourist attractions, restaurants, shopping and an art district that rivals that of any metro city's ...," Livability.com noted. "For less than one day's admission to a major theme park, visitors can explore all Chattanooga has to offer."
In short, budget-conscious families can visit Chattanooga and have a great time without breaking the bank.
Chattanoogans can take pride in the city's newly enhanced reputation and look with enthusiasm toward even brighter prospects as that reputation spreads around the globe.