Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a lively city located in the south-eastern United States.
The city has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century, when it was founded as a trading post along the Tennessee River.
Chattanooga quickly grew into a thriving metropolis, and today it is home to a vibrant arts and culture scene, as well as numerous outdoor activities perfect for enjoying the area’s natural beauty.
Visitors to Chattanooga will find plenty to see and do, from exploring the city’s many museums and historic sites to enjoying its scenic surroundings.
Things to Do in Chattanooga
1. Tennessee Aquarium
Situated on the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga, the Tennessee Aquarium is home to over 12,000 animals.
The aquarium features over 300 species of animals, including sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, and more.
Visitors can view the animals up close in the various exhibits, or take part in educational programs and events.
The facility is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is committed to providing top-notch care for all of its animal residents.
One of the most popular attractions at the Tennessee Aquarium is the River Journey exhibit, which features over 10,000 animals from freshwater habitats around the world.
This exhibit includes a walk-through tunnel where visitors can get an up-close look at sharks, stingrays, and other fish.
Other popular exhibits at the aquarium include the Ocean Journey exhibit, which is home to over 6,000 animals from saltwater habitats, and the Secret Reef exhibit, which features a coral reef with over 1,000 animals.
The Tennessee Aquarium is one of the biggest draws for families when looking for fun things to do when visiting Chattanooga.
The aquarium also has a gift shop to pick up a nice souvenir of your visit and café for refreshment.
Address: Tennessee Aquarium, 1 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN 37402, USA
2. Lookout Mountain
Lookout Mountain is a mountain ridge that offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding area.
There are several ways to enjoy the views from Lookout Mountain, including hiking trails, biking, and riding the scenic Lookout Mountain Incline Railway.
The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway opened in November of 1895 and is a popular tourist destination. It’s so much fun to take a ride up the mountain!
A ride on The Incline takes about 15 minutes each direction and trains leave from each station every 20 minutes.
In addition to the ride there is an observation deck atop Lookout Mountain, and food service and gift shops available at both stations.
The mountain is also home to Ruby Falls, that features a 145-foot waterfall.
Over two million people visit the mountain each year to enjoy its beautiful views and take part in its many outdoor activities.
The history of Lookout Mountain dates back to the early 19th century, when it was first explored by American settlers.
In 1814, the Battle of Lookout Mountain was fought on the mountain’s slopes during the War of 1812.
And in 1863, the Battle of Chattanooga was fought near the summit of the mountain during the American Civil War.
Today, visitors can learn about the mountain’s rich history at the Lookout Mountain battlefields, which are now preserved as national parks.
Address: Lookout Mountain, 827 E Brow Rd, Chattanooga, TN 37350, USA
3. Raccoon Mountain Caverns
Raccoon Mountain Caverns is a show cave located in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The caverns are geologically unique because they were formed by an underground river.
This river still flows through the caverns today and can be seen in several of the rooms.
Raccoon Mountain Caverns is home to a variety of geological features including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, draperies, and columns.
The caverns also contain a number of rare and endangered species of bats.
The caverns were first discovered in 1929 by a local man named Leo Lambert. Lambert began excavating the caverns and opened them to the public in 1931.
Today, the caverns are a popular tourist destination and visitors can have fun exploring the vast cave system.
Address: Raccoon Mountain Caverns, 319 W Jackson Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37402
4. Walnut Street Bridge
The Walnut Street Bridge is a historic bridge that spans the Tennessee River.
It was built in 1891 and is one of the oldest bridges in the city.
The bridge is named after the walnut trees that grow along its banks.
The Walnut Street Bridge is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chattanooga with over 2 million people visiting the bridge each year.
The bridge has been featured in several movies and TV shows, including The Walking Dead and Stranger Things.
The Walnut Street Bridge is open to pedestrian traffic only so there are no cars or other vehicles allowed on the bridge.
This makes it a great place to walk, run, or just enjoy the views of the Tennessee river and downtown Chattanooga.
Address: Walnut Street Bridge, 100 W Walnut St, Chattanooga, TN 37402, USA
5. Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is a railroad museum and heritage railroad, founded in 1961 to preserve the history of the railroads of the Tennessee Valley region.
The museum’s collection includes over 100 locomotives and cars, as well as artefacts, photographs, and documents related to the region’s railroad history.
The museum is located on a former Louisville & Nashville Railroad yard, and offers visitors the chance of a train ride on vintage trains pulled by historic locomotives.
This excellent Museum is one of the largest railroad museums in the United States and attracts over 100,000 visitors annually.
The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum provides an interactive, historical experience that adds an extra dimension to your visit to one of Chattanooga’s most popular attractions.
Address: Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, 4119 Cromwell Rd, Chattanooga, TN 37421, USA
6. International Towing and Recovery Museum
The International Towing and Recovery Museum features restored antique wreckers and equipment from the tow truck industry, including the world’s largest wrecker, a WWII tank recovery tow truck, and the world’s oldest tow truck.
The museum takes you through the history of the tow truck from how it got started to the present day.
Visitors can see 18 antique tow trucks and two Model T automobiles on display as well as hundreds of collectible toy tow trucks.
There is also the Tow Truck Wall of Fame honouring tow truck industry legends from around the world.
This is one of the most unique museums that offers information and interest for everyone.
Address: International Towing and Recovery Museum, 3315 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN 37408
7. Ruby Falls
Ruby Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the United States. It is also one of the tallest at 145 feet.
The falls gets its name from being created by a now-defunct ruby mine.
Ruby Falls has been a popular tourist destination since it opened to the public in 1930. Over half a million people visit the falls each year.
The waterfall is illuminated at night, making it a popular spot for evening visits.
Visitors can take an elevator to the top of Lookout Mountain or hike up to see the falls from above.
There are also a variety of tours available, including a behind-the-scenes tour that takes visitors to the top of the falls.
Address: Ruby Falls, 1720 Scenic Hwy, Chattanooga, TN 37409
8. Creative Discovery Museum
Creative Discovery Museum is a children’s museum that was founded in 1995 by Judi Vernon and is located in the Bluff View Art District.
The museum features hands-on exhibits and programs for children ages 0-12.
The mission of Creative Discovery Museum is to nurture all children’s natural curiosity, creativity and love of learning through interactive discovery experiences.
The Creative Discovery museum features a variety of exhibit areas, including an Early Childhood Gallery, an Art Studio, a Water Play area, and a Dinosaur Gallery.
The museum also offers a variety of educational programs for children and families, including classes, workshops, camps, and birthday parties.
Address: Creative Discovery Museum, 321 W 2nd St, Chattanooga, TN 37403
9. Chattanooga Zoo
Chattanooga Zoo is a non-profit zoological park home to more than 800 animals of over 140 species.
The 35-acre facility is situated at Warner Park only 2 miles from downtown Chattanooga, it features exciting exhibits such as the Himalayan Passage, the Gombe Forest, and the Corcovado Jungle.
The Chattanooga Zoo was founded in 1937 and the first animals at the zoo were two African lions, three monkeys, six bears, a coyote, a deer, an elk, and a bobcat.
It’s a relatively small zoo, but there are a wide variety of animals on display and having pony rides and camel rides is a great for kids.
There is also a gift shop that is located in front of the zoo and is open daily from 9 a.m.
Address: Chattanooga Zoo, 301 N Holtzclaw Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37404, USA
10. Coolidge Park
Coolidge Park, located on the city’s North Shore, is one place where you can overlook the beautiful Tennessee River.
The park is named after former President Calvin Coolidge, who visited Chattanooga in 1927.
Coolidge park features an interactive play fountain, a playground, a restored hand-carved carousel, the Outdoor Chattanooga Center and lots of open space.
It is a popular destination for concerts, festivals, fundraisers and special events.
Coolidge Park is a great place to relax and enjoy the beauty of Chattanooga.
Address: Coolidge Park, 150 River St, Chattanooga, TN 37405, USA
11. Chattanooga Tennessee Riverwalk
The Chattanooga Tennessee Riverwalk is one of the city’s most popular things to do in Chattanooga, drawing locals and visitors alike.
The scenic walking and biking path winds along the Tennessee River for more than 10 miles, offering stunning views of the river and downtown Chattanooga.
Along the way, there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view, including several parks and public art installations..
The first section of the Riverwalk opened to the public in 1987, and since then, it has undergone several expansions and improvements.
Today, the Riverwalk is one of Chattanooga’s most beloved amenities, enjoyed by walkers, runners, cyclists, and skaters alike.
There are dozens of places to connect to the Riverwalk throughout Chattanooga.
In addition to being a great place to get some exercise, the Riverwalk is also a popular spot for picnics, concerts, and other events.
Address: Tennessee Riverpark, 4301 Amnicola Hwy, Chattanooga, TN 37402
12. Chattanooga National Military Park
In 1863, Union and Confederate forces in the Civil War fought for control of Chattanooga, the gateway to the Deep South.
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the nation’s first of its kind, was created in 1890 to preserve and commemorate these battlefields.
There are also a number of monuments and historic sites within the park boundaries, including the Chickamauga National Battlefield.
The park is headquartered at Chickamauga, Georgia, which is about 9 miles south of downtown Chattanooga.
Point Park commemorates the soldiers who fought in the 1863 Civil War battles for Chattanooga.
There are lots of hiking trails through out the park.
Address: Chattanooga National Military Park, 110 Point Park Rd, Lookout Mountain, TN 37350
13. Hunter Museum of American Art
Hunter Museum of American Art is one of the oldest and largest museums in the United States dedicated to American art.
Located in downtown Chattanooga the Hunter Museum of American Art features paintings, drawings, prints, photography, sculpture, video, and new media from the 1700s to the present.
One of the best art galleries in the state, it was founded in 1952 by George Hunter, a local businessman and art collector.
The Hunter Museum of American Art also houses a significant collection of Native American art and artefacts.
In addition to its permanent collections, the Hunter Museum hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
These exhibitions often focus on specific themes or genres within American art and provide visitors with an opportunity to see works by both well-known and lesser-known artists.
Address: Hunter Museum of American Art, 10 Bluff View Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37403
14. Rock City Gardens
Rock City Gardens is a world-famous tourist destination located on Lookout Mountain.
Rock City is a true marvel of nature featuring massive ancient rock formations and gardens with many spectacular plant species.
The rock formations are the result of millions of years of erosion and are made up of sandstone and limestone that have been slowly worn away by wind and water.
Over time, the rocks have formed into interesting shapes, including caves, bridges, and pillars.
The gardens are just as breath-taking as the rock formations.
There are more than 400 varieties of plants and flowers on display, as well as a waterfall and several ponds.
Visitors can also see a variety of animals, including deer, ducks, and butterflies.
Address: Rock City Gardens, 1400 Patten Rd, Chattanooga, TN 37419
15. The Southern Belle Riverboat
The Southern Belle Riverboat is one of the top things to do in Chattanooga, and is the best way to have a sightseeing cruise, lunch cruise, or dinner cruise while cruising down the Tennessee River.
Visitors can enjoy an open-air deck with live narration pointing out all the important local landmarks and wildlife you see along the Tennessee River.
Southern Belle Riverboat events also include seasonal cruises such as their Valentine’s Day dinner cruise and Fall Color cruises that allow you to enjoy views of the vibrantly-hued leaves as they change color each Fall.
This is a great experience for families visiting Chattanooga and well worth a visit.
Address: Southern Belle Riverboat, 151 Riverfront Parkway, Chattanooga, TN 37402
16. Chattanooga Market
The Chattanooga Market is the region’s largest producer-only arts and crafts, and farmers’ market.
This must visit public market is located at the First Horizon Pavilion downtown Chattanooga and is held every Sunday from April to December.
Great for buying souvenirs and gifts, some of the items on sale are: Fresh Produce, Beautiful Bouquets of Flowers, Hand-Made Soaps, Cakes and Baked Goods, Artisan Jewellery, Clothing and Apparel, Health and Beauty products and Home Goods.
Address: Chattanooga Market, 1801 Reggie White Blvd, Chattanooga, TN 37408
Is Chattanooga worth visiting?
Chattanooga has been named one of the top places to visit in the United States, and for a great reason.
The southern city in Tennessee mixes outdoor adventure with laid-back charm, so you can enjoy a mixture of the two.
Is Chattanooga known for music?
Between its dynamic entertainment venues, lively restaurants and bustling festivals, Chattanooga has incredible live music on any given night.
Its collective music scene is not defined by one genre; rather it is a diverse experience for all.
What kind of weather does Chattanooga have?
In Chattanooga, Tennessee, the summers are hot and muggy; the winters are short, very cold, and wet; and it is partly cloudy year round.
Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 33°F to 89°F and is rarely below 19°F or above 96°F.
What is the best time to visit Chattanooga?
The best time to visit Chattanooga is during the spring and fall months.
These periods offer ideal weather, fewer crowds, and boast the city’s most popular festivals and events like beer festivals, art festivals, and music festivals.
Where can I see wildlife in Chattanooga?
Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center has impressive native animal exhibit that is home to 40 animals indigenous to East Tennessee, including a bobcat, fox, birds, and various reptiles.
What is Chattanooga most known for?
Chattanooga is internationally known from the 1941 hit song “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller and his orchestra.
Also, along with natural attractions and a notable role in history of the rail industry, Chattanooga is known for being a Civil War battleground.
What are the best free things to do in Chattanooga?
There are many great free attractions in Chattanooga.
To name a few: Coolidge Park, Walnut Street Bridge, The Tennessee Riverwalk, Chattanooga Market and Renaissance Park.
Why is Chattanooga called the Scenic City?
The Scenic City is Chattanooga’s official nickname because of the city’s geographical location between the Appalachian Mountains and Cumberland Plateau.
The nickname alludes to the surrounding mountains, ridges, rivers, and lakes.