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Things college students should know in Chattanooga, TN

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College is starting back soon, so we thought we’d list a few things that we think all Chattanooga college students should know about — from free bus rides to library resources + cheap eats.

You, you, you oughta know:

🚲 Bike Chattanooga

If you’re going carless, Bike Chattanooga is a lifesaver with year-long passes for $50. On UTC’s campus, you can find bike stations near the UTC Amphitheatre (Oak Street + Greenway), Johnson Obear dorms (Oak + Houston), and just past the library on Douglas Street. The closest station to ChattState is at the Hubert Fry Center.


For rainy days when a bike won’t suffice, CARTA is the way to go. Don’t let it be too daunting — here’s everything you need to know to take your first CARTA bus ride.

Bonus: CARTA offers a free Mocs Express shuttle that takes students around UTC’s campus. A validated UTC ID also gets you unlimited, free access to ride CARTA.

🐟 Museum Access

Get half off admission to the Tennessee Aquarium during College Days, enjoy a $15 year-long membership to the Hunter Museum (it’s usually $50 — this is a steal) + a discounted $30 membership to the Bessie Smith Cultural Center with a valid student ID.

📚 Library

Besides offering numerous literary resources for projects + papers, the Chattanooga Library also offers free notary services, meeting rooms, WiFi, a full makerspace, tool loaning, and lots more. While we’re on the topic, here are more free things you should take advantage of in Chattanooga.

🌮 Cheap Eats

A few cheap eats we enjoyed during our college days (and still do):

  • City Cafe Diner | Pick from 500+ menu items, 24/7 (don’t skip out on the cake, and stay tuned for an upcoming article on more late-night eats)
  • Amigo Mexican Restaurant | Head to the East Ridge location for $1.25 tacos on Mondays
  • Good Dog | Get a fancy hot dog for $4.50-$6.50 — Editor Kristen recommends the Fajita Veggie Dog
  • Mean Mug | $5.50 breakfast biscuits + free (huge) birthday cinnamon rolls are what dreams are made of. More local birthday perks here.
  • Shangri-la | Cheap sushi, combos under $10 + big portion sizes — Editor Brianna recommends General Tso’s Tofu

📰 News

Subscribing to the best local newsletter certainly doesn’t hurt your college experience. We’ll be here Monday-Friday to give you quick news bursts, weekly events, and more — plus, it’s totally free to subscribe. Don’t forget to support your school paper, too (as a former News Editor for the UTC Echo, I know how much hard work goes into keeping the campus informed.)

❤️ Locals’ advice

“I graduated from UTC in 2013 and my advice is to use all campus resources, especially the UTC Outdoors program! I went skiing, kayaking and more with random groups of students for very low or no cost and they are still some of my best memories! It’s a great way to make friends and get outside at the same time! Link to sign up for trips.” — Dr. Nicole P., Reader

“Depending on where you’re attending college or university, don’t feel too reliant on a car. One of my favorite parts of college was exploring a new place by walking or biking all around town. My friends and I loved walking from our on-campus dorms to Totto in NorthShore (even in the dead of winter, which is admittedly not something I’d choose to do now), and I enjoyed riding my bike to try out different coffee shops for studying.” — Editor Brianna

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Celebrating a birthday? Check out these local perks you can redeem in Chattanooga.
Don’t let the rain get you down, here’s a list of activities to do when the sun isn’t out in Chattanooga.
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