Travelers choose Chattanooga for list of best small cities

Conde Nast readers put the Scenic Cty in top 10

Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / From left, Kevin Shurmer of Chattanooga Segway Tours lead Sabrina Bodon, a staff writer with Chatter Magazine, and her brother, Matthew Bodon, on a tour across Walnut Street Bridge Monday, August 19, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Chattanooga's natural attractions and public spaces landed the city at number eight on the top 10 list of best small cities in the U.S. in Condé Nast Traveler's 2019 Readers' Choice Awards.

The Scenic City came in at number eight, tucked between Greenville, South Carolina, and Monterey, California. Charleston, South Carolina, topped of the list.

"I'm glad the rest of the world is recognizing what a great place this is," said Keith Sanford, president of the Tennessee Aquarium and chairman of the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau's board of directors. "It's taken a lot of people a lot of work and involvement to make our city what it is."

Visitors to Chattanooga and Hamilton County dropped $1.16 billion during their travels in 2018, a record amount and an increase of 4.75% over 2017.

More than 600,000 Condé Nast Traveler readers across the globe submitted a record-breaking number of responses rating their travel experiences to provide a full snapshot of where and how they travel. This year, the top U.S. cities list was divided into two categories: small cities with populations under 1 million and the best big cities with more than 1 million in population.

"In receiving a Readers' Choice Award, we know thousands of travelers from across the world chose Chattanooga as a top destination, and we know countless more will see and be inspired by this ranking," said Barry White, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Condé Nast Traveler's 2019 Readers' Choice Awards

Best Small Cities in the U.S.1: Charleston, South Carolina2: Santa Fe, New Mexico3: Alexandria, Virginia4: Savannah, Georgia5: Key West, Florida6: Aspen, Colorado7: Monterey, California8: Chattanooga, Tennessee9: Greenville, South Carolina10: Santa Barbara, California

The Condé Nast Traveler announcement directed readers to explore Lookout Mountain and the views of seven states at Rock City, to visit Coolidge Park, ride the carousel and kayak the Tennessee River, and to stay at The Dwell Hotel, which was previously reviewed by the publication.

"Lookout Mountain and Chattanooga are a great mix of the historical, the natural and the technological future," said Susan Harris, president of Rock City. "The genuine partnerships that exist in our tourism and business communities are attractive to others – even when they can't articulate what the difference is, they can feel the difference."

The Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry.

The city was also recently named among the top 100 best places to live in America by

Contact Mary Fortune at or (423) 757-6653. Follow her on Twitter at @maryfortune.