13 Fall Festivals and Activities in Chattanooga

bird painted on barn

Autumn is one of the best times to explore Chattanooga with your family! From pumpkin picking to hiking through colorful leaves, your crew is sure to have a blast (and create some great memories!) doing these family-friendly things. Chattanooga is a beautiful place to visit any time of year, but especially in the months of September, October and November due the beautiful fall colors of the leaves.

Whether you are planning a vacation over fall break or a short weekend getaway, you’re sure to find all kinds of fun fall events and activities in the scenic city. In this post, I will list our top picks for the best fall things to do in Chattanooga with kids. These family-friendly fall activities in Chattanooga will provide unique, memory-making experiences for the whole family!

Best Fall Events in Chattanooga

Families who are looking for some inspiration on things to do near the city can check out these festive ideas for fall activities in Chattanooga. From pumpkin picking to hayrides and more, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!

1. Halloween Eerie Express

One of the things Chattanooga is most known for is its historic railway stations and trains. The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is a hidden gem when it comes to exciting things to do in the area with kids….and what kid doesn’t love trains?! You can check out their official website where they have a list of all the special themed train rides they offer throughout the year.

During the fall season, Tennessee Valley Railroad takes several trips through Chattanooga and the surrounding area to showcase the beautiful fall foliage. If you choose to book one of these scenic trips, dinner and beverage options are sometimes also available (for a fee) on the trains. As exciting as the train ride is itself, little kids may prefer some additional excitement on their trip.

black steam engine

In that case, Tennessee Valley Railroad offers the Halloween Eerie Express. This trip, which is available on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in October, consists of a special stop at the Eerie Train Station where storytelling and Halloween themed activities take place. The Halloween Eerie Express is perfect for smaller kids because it’s not scary at all AND they get to dress up in costume!

I can tell you from experience that you won’t be disappointed in this unique, kid-friendly adventure! The Halloween Eerie Express is a great activity for toddlers and little kids. But, if you have older kids who are looking for something on the spookier side, Tennessee Valley Railroad has them covered too!

They have a special trip called Halloween Haints and Haunts for children 12 and older. This ride is a two hour journey after dark, and it includes spooky ghost stories. Regardless of your kids’ ages and interests, Tennessee Valley Railroad is sure to have a trip to meet your needs! Be sure to check them out when you visit Chattanooga!

2. AquaScarium

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is a must-do attraction for any visitor to the area. The aquarium encompasses two separate buildings: one for the River Journey and the other for the Ocean Journey. Each side features really great exhibits and a lot of extra fun things for kids. You can hold butterflies in the butterfly garden and touch animals like catfish or stingrays in some of the interactive tanks.

The Tennessee Aquarium is located right on the Tennessee River, and it provides some special fall events like their Oddtober celebration and AquaScarium. The Oddtober event, which takes places during the entire month of October, focuses on strange or weird looking animals. The AquaScarium event is more Halloween themed with costumes and trick or treating. Be sure to check out the Tennessee Aquarium’s website for more information on the times these events are offered.

3. Pumpkin Patches

The Chattanooga area is full of beautiful local farms that offer corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and fall activities during the autumn months. Visitors can enjoy attractions like petting zoos, bonfires, rides, games, and more at nearby farms in the area.

pumpkins in patch

Most of the Chattanooga pumpkin patches are open beginning in late September through the month of October. Some of them even features special events with fireworks or haunted activities. You can find more information about local farms to enjoy during the fall in our post on the Best Pumpkin Patches in Chattanooga!

4. Rocktoberfest

Although not the most stroller-friendly attraction, Rock City is an amazing place to visit with kids who are able to walk on their own. It is located on top of Lookout Mountain and offers incredible views! You can even look out over seven different states at once from Rock City! My daughter loves the trails and cave like features at Rock City. She even walked the swinging bridge (mostly) on her own!

Lookout on top of mountain with waterfall

During the fall, Rock City celebrates Rocktoberfest. This event offers activities like live music, dance performances, pumpkin painting, and character meet and greets just to name a few. You can check out Rock City’s website to find more information! This event takes place on Saturdays and Sundays in October 2023.

5. Boo in the Zoo

The Chattanooga Zoo is one of our favorite places to take kids because it’s such a fun AND easy outing. The zoo in Chattanooga is the perfect size for little ones, and it offers just enough excitement without feeling overwhelming. There’s also a really great park right next door that is one of my kids’ favorites in all of Chattanooga. Boo in the Zoo is the name of the non-scary Halloween themed event offered on Fridays and Saturdays in October. During this fun packed event, the zoo offers activities like:

  • hayrides
  • carnival type games
  • face painting
  • character meet and greets
  • pony rides
  • bounce houses
  • ability to view the zoo animals

Kids are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes at Boo in the Zoo, and they can trick or treat as they make their way around the area.

6. Haunted Market

The Chattanooga Market takes place on Sundays at the First Tennessee Pavilion downtown. The market is held beginning in late April each year and going through the fall and Christmas holidays. During the month of October, the Chattanooga market offers special events like Oktoberfest and the Haunted Market. These seasonal events include:

  • fall produce
  • face painting booths
  • food trucks
  • costume contest
  • live entertainment
  • holiday merchandise

If you visit during the Haunted Market, make sure to have your kids dress up in their costumes for the Halloween costume parade. They can also trick or treat while they are there! This event takes place Sunday, October 29 at 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.

7. Monster Bash

Each October, the Creative Discovery Museum hosts an event called Monster Bash. This children’s museum is located in a prime spot in downtown Chattanooga near the Tennessee Aquarium. With all sorts of exhibits focused on science, music, art, technology, and more, the Creative Discovery Museum is the perfect spot for the whole family to enjoy!

Visitors can get into the Halloween spirit by dressing up in costumes and enjoying seasonal activities, games, trick-or-treating, and Disney princess meet and greet opportunities.

8. Moon River Music Festival

The Moon River Music Festival is an annual event that takes place in Coolidge Park near the Walnut Street Bridge.

park with child riding bike and bridge in background

Concertgoers can experience live performances at this event, which is one of the most popular music festivals in the area! This event is scheduled to take place on September 9-10, 2023.

9. Chattanooga Oktoberfest

Chattanooga Oktoberfest returns to the Chattanooga Market in 2022. Guests receive free admission at this annual event held at the First Horizon Pavilion. Chattanooga Oktoberfest is one of the best places to experience German food, specialty beer, and arts/crafts in the scenic city! This event takes place October 14-15, 2023.

10. 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival

The 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival is a free event at Ross’s Landing in downtown Chattanooga. This music festival is scheduled for October 6-7, and it features some of the biggest names in bluegrass. It’s even been named one of the top bluegrass festivals in the United States!

11. Fall Foliage Sightseeing Cruise

Climb aboard the Southern Belle Riverboat for a 3-hour scenic cruise along the Tennessee River Gorge. Guests can enjoy the beautiful colors of the autumn leaves during this outdoor activity. You can check the Southern Belle Riverboat’s official site for all the 2022 available dates.

12. Fall Market at Collegedale Commons

The Fall Market at Collegedale Commons takes place on September 10, 2022. Families can all sorts of fun activities, including:

  • petting zoo
  • trackless train rides
  • bouncy houses
  • pony rides

Visitors will also enjoy an array of food trucks paired with live entertainment!

13. Ruby Falls Lantern Tour

Chattanooga’s popular attraction, Ruby Falls, hosts a special Halloween inspired tour known as Lantern Tour: Ghost Edition. Visitors can tour the underground caves of Ruby Falls using handheld lanterns. This special event is appropriate for kids aged 12 and over.

Visiting Chattanooga in October

If you are wondering when the best time is to visit Chattanooga, I highly recommend taking a trip during the fall months and Halloween season. Fall is definitely one of the best times to visit Chattanooga for so many reasons.

kids train with text overlay Fall Activities in Chattanooga

The leaves are starting to change color, the weather is perfect for outdoor activities, and there are plenty of fun events happening throughout the city. If you’re looking for a fall getaway that’s affordable and has something for everyone, Chattanooga is the place to be!

Where to Stay

You can find all sorts of great hotels in the Chattanooga area no matter what amenities you are looking for. This is our current list of recommended hotels near downtown Chattanooga:

If you are looking for more space during visit or amenities like a full kitchen/laundry, you can check out the VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) website.

On VRBO, you can narrow down your search results by the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need. You can also find really nice, new condos available for rent right in the heart of downtown Chattanooga.

Final Thoughts on Fall Activities in Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a great place to visit in the fall. The leaves are changing color and there are lots of fun things to do. If you are able to plan a Tennessee family vacation to the Chattanooga area during the fall season, we highly recommend you check out the super fun activities mentioned above. Chattanooga is home to so many great things to do with kids. Even if you aren’t able to make it for a fall vacation, you can find lots of fun activities for families year-round!

Plus, check out our post on the best haunted places in Nashville during the Halloween season! And our top picks for fall activities in Gatlinburg! What are your favorite fall activities to do with kids in Chattanooga? Comment below and tell me all about it!

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barn with text overlay Fall Fun for Kids in Chattanooga

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2 Comments

    1. Savannah,

      This is awesome! I just added the information above. My girls are super excited about the Disney princesses. Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

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