Papercut Interactive
Jamie Ann Jamie Ann Sep 19, 2016

Your Superfriendly Spectator’s Guide to IRONMAN Chattanooga - Updated for 2016!

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Thank you to Dan Henry / for providing us with this awesome photo of Chattanooga!

This Sunday, September 25th, is a big day for the Scenic City—it’s IRONMAN Chattanooga. This year marks the third of five that Chattanooga will host the internationally recognized triathlon, and the city will be welcoming thousands of spectators for race events beginning September 23. The last few years have gone extremely well, and we can't wait to watch racers compete in our city again! 

If you’re coming to Chattanooga to watch the race, it’s a good idea to plan things in advance, and what better way to map out your IRONMAN experience than with a little help from your superfriends (and Chattanooga locals), the Papercut team? Here’s our guide to the where and what of IRONMAN Chattanooga, plus some good places to eat and fun things to do around town.

Want a printable (previous year's) version of this guide to take with you on race day? We've got you covered! 

Download Your Guide

Race Day Logistics

Ironman race day logistics logo

Let’s start with the most important stuff first.  Below are our recommendations on where to park, how to get around, and the best spots to watch the race:


  • When? 6am-6:30am
  • Where? Finley Stadium, the Northshore, CARTA South Garage near the Choo Choo

Getting Around:

  • Carta Electric Shuttle – Runs from the CARTA South Garage to points throughout downtown. Service is available all day. Best part?  It’s free.
  • Bike Chattanooga – A bike rack is located at Finley Stadium. Rentals run for 24 hours, but bikes must be returned within an hour of being checked out. Once you return a bike, you can immediately check out another. Additional racks are located throughout the city including several spots near the transition area.

Where to Watch the Swim:

  • Walnut Street Bridge – Chattanooga’s famous pedestrian bridge will be one of the best places to watch the swimmers as they head down the Tennessee River.
  • Ross’s Landing – For a view of the swim that’s a little closer to the water, head to Ross’s Landing. The swim ends here. The bike race also starts and ends here if you want to catch both.

Where to Watch the Bike:

  • Chickamauga, GA – Two loops of the bike race will pass through Chickamauga, GA. Stake out a spot on Lee Avenue for race viewing. If you watch the end of the swim at Ross’s Landing, you will have plenty of time to hop back in your car and catch the athletes in Chickamauga. Parking is available at Gordon Lee High School and 12th Street. IRONMAN will also have a sponsored shuttle running from Ross’s Landing.

Note: If you're driving to Chickamauga, we do not advise traveling through St. Elmo, as racers will be passing through this area. The less car traffic there is, the safer the course is for the racers. Try going through Rossville, GA to get to Chickamauga.

Where to Watch the Run:

  • Bluff View Art District, Frazier Ave or the Walnut Street Bridge — Two race loops will pass through these areas.
  • Playground off of Riverview Rd — This is a good spot for spectators with kids. Two loops will pass through this area.
  • Finish Line at Ross's Landing — Obviously you’ll want to see some racers finish.  We hear that the midnight finishers are pretty fun to watch.

What to Wear:

Comfort is the name of the game. It’s going to be a long day, and Chattanooga can still be hot and muggy, even at the end of September. We suggest:

  • Comfortable shoes (old running shoes, preferably)
  • Shorts
  • Breathable fabric t-shirt
  • Sweatshirts or light coats for morning and night
  • Hat

What to Pack:

Bring the following supplies with you on race day:

  • Sunscreen
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Umbrella

Where to Eat on Race Day – Our Favorite Chattanooga Restaurants

Ironman dining logo

The IRONMAN race is an all-day event, and you’re bound to get hungry. Here are some of our favorite Chattanooga restaurants along the race route:

Need Coffee?

Need Breakfast?

  • Blue Plate (Ross’s Landing near swim finish/bike transition)
  • Aretha Frankensteins (On Tremont Street near run course/Walnut Street Bridge)
  • Milk & Honey (North Market Street near run course/Walnut Street Bridge)

Need Lunch?

  • Melon Patch (Chickamauga, GA along bike course)
  • Good Dog (Frazier Avenue along run course)
  • Taconooga (Frazier Avenue along run course - would be good for dinner, too)

Need Dinner?

  • Sitar (On Market Street near the Walnut Street Bridge and swim viewing area)
  • Embargo 62 (On Cherokee Boulevard near the Walnut Street Bridge, Frazier Avenue, and the run viewing area)
  • Tony’s (Bluff View Art District along run course)
  • Beast & Barrel (Frazier Avenue along run course)
  • Boathouse (Riverside Drive along run course)
  • Il Primo (Riverview along run course)
  • Las Margaritas (Riverview along run course)
  • Hennen’s (Chestnut Street at Ross’s Landing near bike/run transition area - this is on the fancier side)

Need Drinks?

  • Tremont Tavern (Riverview along run course. This place also serves what is arguably the best burger in Chattanooga.)
  • Brewhaus (Frazier Avenue along run course)
  • The Pub on Frazier (Frazier Avenue on run course)

Need Late-night Eats?

  • Mellow Mushroom (Open until 10:00pm. Located on Broad Street near Ross’s Landing and the bike/run transition area.)
  • Big River Grille & Brewing Works (Open until 12:00am. Located on Broad Street near Ross’s Landing and the bike/run transition area.)
  • Champy’s (Open until 10p.m. Located on East MLK Boulevard, they serve some of the best fried chicken in Chattanooga.)
  • City Café Diner (Open 24 hours. Located on Carter Street in downtown.)
  • Hair of the Dog (Open until 3:00am. Located on Market Street in downtown.)

Looking for a Grocery or Convenience Store?

Other Things to Do – Fun Chattanooga Attractions

Ironman attractions logo

If you’re taking a break from watching the race or you’re staying in Chattanooga before or after the big day, check out some of our favorite local attractions:

Get Out and Enjoy It!

Watching an IRONMAN race is exciting and exhilarating. We hope this guide helps you make the most of the experience and your time in Chattanooga. If you have a specific racer you’re following, you can track them online or using an app called IronTrac. And, if you can’t make it to town to see the race, you can watch online live coverage here.

Leave your thoughts:


  • Dona Cardenas
    Sep 28, 2014

    Thank you so much!!  I was looking everywhere for info and how to get where. Can’t believe the ironman site doesn’t have such a detail!

  • JJ Jackson
    Sep 26, 2014

    MAPLE STREET BISCUIT is a GREAT place.  I agree - go get some grub there.
    Will be volunteering at a Water table on the race and very excited.  Yall come out and pump up the athletes!

  • Jamie Ann Phillips
    Sep 24, 2014

    Hi, James.  The restaurants and establishments were put together as good options along the race course on race day.  We welcome any additional options in our comments section here.  Thanks!

  • James McKissic
    Sep 24, 2014

    Thoughts . . . just wondering how the restaurant establishments were selected? Very lacking when it comes to the racial, neighborhood and cultural diversity in Chattanooga.

  • Daniel Stetson
    Sep 23, 2014

    I hope you will add the Hunter Museum to your fun things to do in Chattanooga. We have some of the best views of the river and great art experiences. I would add that for late night the Flying Squirrel is hard to beat too. Thanks! Looking forward to the Ironman!

  • Angelina
    Sep 22, 2014

    This is great Jamie Ann!!! Will definitely be taking your advice. Appreciate the post and local advice

  • Leanne
    Sep 12, 2014

    This is great!  Thanks…I will have kids too so nice there is a park for them to play on that day!  We are from this area and some great places have been mentioned here.  Hope its great weather that day for the race!

  • Tad Bromfield
    Sep 09, 2014

    Excellent guide in a nutshell! At the intersection of Hwy 193 & Hwy 136 is a local burger joint (diagonally across from BP station). They serve burgers and fries, biscuits and such. Local super market bought food and drinks, tell em the ‘biker dude’ sent you!

  • Elizabeth Long
    Sep 08, 2014

    Places to visit while you are here can include the River Market on Saturday in front of the Aquarium!

  • Shanda
    Sep 06, 2014

    Another great new breakfast place is MAPLE STREET BISCUIT COMPANY at 401 Broad St.

  • Anita
    Sep 05, 2014

    It is hard to imagine how you’ve put together this magnificent site!  You’ve calmed many of my fears of where, when, what, etc. as hubby and I (& daughter-in-law) support our son in this big race that he’s trained for so hard.  I’m sure all the other out-of-towners appreciate what you’ve done for us as well, and now we can concentrate on cheering all the entrants with our cowbells and yells of encouragement.  Thanks!

  • Chuck
    Sep 05, 2014

    Awesome!! Thank you

  • Jamie Ann Phillips
    Sep 05, 2014

    You’re very welcome.  Please don’t hesitate to ask us if you have any questions!

  • Rob Reagan
    Sep 05, 2014

    Fabulous work, Jamie Ann!

  • Elaine
    Sep 05, 2014

    Thanks for the great post! It’s always nice to be able to plot out where to watch/where to eat while watching my hubby race

  • Jamie Ann Phillips
    Sep 05, 2014

    Thank you Danielle and Christian!  Those are both great spots.  We definitely couldn’t think of all the great places to add.

  • Danielle Mitchell
    Sep 05, 2014

    Thank you Jamie Ann for posting this!!! So helpful for people not familiar with our great city and the wonderful people who comprise our community!  Also want to add that for great eats check out TACO NOOGA on Frazier Ave. It’s right on the run course near the Walnut Street bridge and their food is OUTTA THIS WORLD!!!

  • Christian Orth
    Sep 05, 2014

    May want to add Pigeon Mountain Country Store for places to eat on the bike course.  The owners have been extremely supportive of athletes training throughout the year.  Plus, I heard their grass-fed burgers are legit!


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