By Isabella Patta, staff writer — The last day of finals is Tuesday, May 2; after that day students have 109 days, if they don’t take summer classes, to go explore new places, work, intern or just enjoy the freedom of not sitting in a classroom.
Because it is hard to come up with what to do to fill about three months of “freedom,” here are some options that are available for every budget and that are not the obvious suggestions like Atlanta, Knoxville or Nashville.
Unclaimed Baggage Center
If you have some money to spare and enjoy thrift stores, this one should be added to your list. The Unclaimed Baggage Center is in Scottsboro, Alabama, and is only about an hour away from Chattanooga. The center is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT. Saturdays the store is open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. The Unclaimed Baggage Center sells everything from clothing to books and electronics. The center is about 40,000 square foot big, offering a big variety of goods and visitors can get deals on brand names.
Mount Pisgah Trail
Chattanooga offers some great hikes, but North Carolina has great mountains to explore as well. The Mount Pisgah Trail is about a three hour and thirty minute drive from Chattanooga. The trail is one-and-a-half miles to the summit and it gives hikers the opportunity to see Asheville, if its not cloudy. According to the Western North Carolina Area Information website, the hike is of moderate difficulty, since it is rocky and includes steep climbs. The summit is reached at 5730 ft.
For more information on the trail, go to their website: www.hikewnc.info
Since Asheville is only 26 miles away from the Mountain, it gives hikers, or day trippers, the perfect opportunity to stop downtown and enjoy food and locally brewed beer. Asheville Brewing Company offers good pizza, burgers and beer, and it’s affordable. Check out their menu on their website, www.ashevillebrewing.com. If you’re in the need of caffeine or something for your sweet tooth, Double D’s Coffee and Desserts is the place to check out. It’s in an old, red British Double Decker bus in downtown Asheville.
To see their menu, check out the website: www.doubledscoffee.com
This one’s for the students age 21 and over. The Arrington Vineyards are less than two hours away from Chattanooga, near Franklin, Tennessee.
According to the website, the Vineyards have been open since 2007 and the farm is 75 acres large. The Vineyards are offering different tasting options; the Expanded Tasting lets customers sample eight wines for $14. The Classic Tasting costs $7 and offers visitors to try four wines. The Picnic Tasting gives visitors the opportunity to try four wines for $14, but it’s poured into disposable glasses and a carrying tray. With the last option, visitors can sample their wines outside while also taking in the view and enjoying food, that they can purchase there or, if you’re trying to save money, bring your own picnic basket. The Vineyards are open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday noon to 8 p.m.
The Lost Sea
If you like caving, this one’s for you. According to their website, the Lost Sea is the largest underground lake in America. It is located in Sweetwater, Tennessee and only a little over one hour away from Chattanooga. Tickets cost about $20, the tour is about an hour and fifteen minutes long, and their opening times in May, June and July are 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and in August 9 a.m. until 8p.m. For more information about what the tour entails, go to their website: www.thelostsea.com
Big South Fork National River
This park is perfect if you want to spend $0 to get in, have already seen most of the trails and creeks around Chattanooga and want to have a good time being outside. It’s open 24/7 and you can even bring your four-legged friends, as long as they are on a leash at all times. The National River and Recreation Area offers trails for day hikes, backpacking, mountain biking and even horseback riding. Big South Fork even offers cabins to rent if you’re willing to splurge a little and don’t want to camp. According to the website, the area offers 125,000 acres for visitors to explore. With a little less than three hours away, the Big South Fork National River is in North Tennessee and Kentucky and not too far from Chattanooga, making it possible to just visit for a day or for a few days.
For more information on Big South Fork, check out their website: www.bigsouthforkpark.com or www.nps.gov/biso/