Downtown Chattanooga has the kind of sights, tastes and outdoor experiences to attract neighbors from just up the street, and travelers from around the world. Chattanooga Tourism Co. reports that each year more than 15 million people visit Hamilton County, adding approximately $1.5 billion to our local economy.
In a city with so many activities to choose from, Adventure Sports Innovation and Chatt Taste Food Tour invite both locals and tourists to step outside their comfort zone and explore the special spaces that offer authentic interaction with nature, neighborhoods and downtown’s hidden gems.
Adventure Sports Innovation
Carolina Malloy, co-owner of Adventure Sports Innovation, entered the adventure tourism industry in 2018. Malloy and her husband founded their business out of a mutual love for outdoor adventure.
Once they had settled upon adventure tourism as their chosen industry, the couple’s next step was to choose the best location for bringing their dream to life. Chattanooga emerged as their perfect crossroads for outdoor adventure, innovation and a local entrepreneurial ecosystem – a dramatic shift from the Manhattan lifestyle she and her husband previously experienced.
“Patrick had visited Chattanooga several times to go whitewater rafting. We convinced our daughter, who was ten at the time, by taking her out for a tandem hang-gliding experience,” Malloy says.
The company’s flagship offering, accounting for 60% of their profit, is the Swincar E-Spider, an all-terrain electric vehicle that relies on pendulum technology to make for a smoother off-road ride. Adventure Sports Innovation is the only Swincar dealer in the United States and supports several businesses around the country by offering test drives.
Company values include safe fun, inclusion and respect for the natural environment. Helmets are required during use of electric-powered equipment and to protect everyone, age restrictions apply: “If you see people around town with either bright yellow or red helmets, that’s us,” Malloy says.
Swincar tours are also offered at the Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, giving those with limited mobility the chance to see parts of the nature preserve they otherwise couldn’t access. To be respectful of the environment and others there to enjoy nature, Malloy’s vehicles are the only type permitted for off-roading at Reflection Riding because they’re quieter and more eco-friendly.
With bookings for corporate teambuilding and birthday parties slowly coming back post-pandemic, Adventure Sports Innovation has had to make a few product pivots. They entered into an e-scooter rental program available through the ChattaScooter app. They also began using Airbnb and Trip Advisor for bookings, which enabled them to earn Trip Advisor’s 2022 Traveler’s Choice Award.
While customers participate in outdoor adventures year-round, Adventure Sports Innovation’s virtual experiences can provide a change of scenery without having to leave the city. Whether it’s hang-gliding over scenic landscapes or riding loop-de-loops on their custom-designed finger coaster, Malloy has witnessed her customers experience some of life’s happiest and most exhilarating moments.
Chatt Taste Food Tour
Briana Garza of Chatt Taste Food Tour is no stranger to connecting with the community. She grew her business with a vision to create pockets of space where Chattanooga visitors and locals could partake in culinary explorations and connect with the community.
She owes her passion for connection to her parents. While her father served in the armed forces, Garza quickly found ways to ground herself in different cities and specialized in unearthing the places preferred by locals.
According to Garza, individuals must go outside of their comfort zone to truly be a part of the community. Whether visiting or coming from up the street, she fosters relationships between food tourists and local restaurants and bars. Garza opens the door to the culture, history and variety of food in Scenic City neighborhoods.
The MLK Boulevard tour received recognition in AFAR Magazine for showcasing one of the best food neighborhoods in the U.S. Garza sees a need to further infuse her tours with the history of the region and uncover more stories. By partnering with Bessie Smith Cultural Center, all attendees of Chatt Taste’s MLK Boulevard are granted a complimentary museum admission.
“MLK Blvd today is a viable, energetic and safe location for patrons. An experience with food is the best way to show people that they can have fun in the neighborhood. There’s so much life going on there,” Garza says.
After three years in business, Garza is creating connections between Chattanooga residents and local eateries, resulting in repeat business for many of the establishments on her tour.
Garza expresses her goal as a tour guide: “When the food is so good no one’s talking, that’s the chef’s kiss in terms of tourism – that one moment where they take that first bite and they’re transported somewhere else,” she says.
Garza’s advises those looking to start a new business to use past experiences to their advantage. Her background in long-term care has served her and her patrons well, as she understands how to meet the needs of all customers. Therefore, all Chatt Taste tours work with dietary restrictions and preferences, with the intention of ensuring everyone sees themselves as a foodie. Small tour groups also give patrons the chance to make connections.
This is the way community is built, and Garza attests to that – “We’ve had a few guests relocate to Chattanooga after they come and do a food tour and we’re able to show them the true Chattanooga. It’s very easy to fall in love with. I can’t take credit for Chattanooga being awesome, but I do like being an ambassador for the city where I could come and showcase everything that we’re doing well. There are a lot of positive things happening in the city. Get out. Explore.”