10 Best Outdoor Attractions in Chattanooga, TN

Are you looking for some fun outdoor activities to do in Chattanooga with your kids? Look no further!

In this post, we will discuss some of the best outdoor activities that the whole family will enjoy. Downtown Chattanooga and the surrounding area offer all sorts of fun activities for visitors of all ages.

From hiking and biking to picnicking and camping, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this scenic city.

Since Chattanooga features such unique and entertaining attractions, it’s no surprise that Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine awarded this scenic town with the “Best Outdoor City” award.

Once you read all about the amazing attractions available in and around the city, you will fall in love this picturesque town too!

In this article, we will detail our top picks for the best outdoor activities and attractions in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

(Some of the links in my posts are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Chattanooga Outdoors

Before we start our countdown of the best outdoor attractions in Chattanooga, let’s discuss where the city is located.

Chattanooga sits in the southeastern side of the state of Tennessee. The city is located along the Tennessee River right near the border of Georgia. 

Since it is only a two-hour drive from cities such as Nashville, Knoxville, Birmingham, and Knoxville/Gatlinburg, Chattanooga provides easy access to other metropolitan areas.

bridge with text overlay Outdoor Activities in Chattanooga

This convenient location makes Chattanooga the perfect spot for a quick weekend getaway or for a fall or spring vacation from school.

The activities listed below can easily fit into a short trip. However, you will find plenty to do in Chattanooga if you have even more time to spend.

Chattanooga offers lots of indoor attractions such as the Creative Discovery Museum, Ruby Falls, Tennessee Valley Railroad, and the Tennessee Aquarium to name a few.

For the sake of this post, we will focus on OUTDOOR attractions that you can enjoy with your family.

1. Downtown Chattanooga Walking Bridge

One of the most visible attractions to the city of Chattanooga is the Walnut Street Bridge.

This pedestrian only bridge is a beautiful spot to take pictures as it provides amazing views of downtown Chattanooga.

Walnut Street Bridge Chattanooga
Walnut Street Bridge in Downtown Chattanooga, TN

The Chattanooga Walking Bridge connects the tourist friendly downtown area to the more low-key Northshore region of the city where you will find Coolidge Park.

Visitors young and old love walking along the bridge to really gain a panoramic sense of the breathtaking city on the river.

If you are looking for FREE things to do in Chattanooga with your kids, the Walnut St. Bridge is a great option!

2. Chattanooga Boat Rental

You can cool off from Chattanooga’s hot summer temperatures by renting a boat to enjoy on the Tennessee River or Chickamauga Lake for the day.

Since the city also offers mild weather in the fall (and sometimes even during winter), you can also enjoy boat rentals outside the summer months.

If you are interested in renting a boat in Chattanooga, check out Lakeshore Marina for their full list of boats and prices.

Once you return to the marina after a long day on the water, don’t forget to walk over to Lakeshore Grille.

With panoramic views inside the restaurant and a huge patio outside, Lakeshore Grille is the perfect spot to wind down and treat your family to a delicious meal!

3. Campgrounds near Chattanooga

If you are interested in camping near Chattanooga, you should check out Chester Frost Park Campground.

Chester Frost Park is located in Hixson, TN which sits just outside the downtown Chattanooga area.

This super family friendly park is situated right on Chickamauga Lake and offers year round camping.

Some of the fun amenities you will find at Chester Frost Park include:

  • sandy beach
  • multiple playgrounds
  • boat docks/ramps
  • fishing piers
  • sand volleyball
  • tennis courts

You can check out Chester Frost Park Campground’s rules and pricing information here.

4. Hiking and Waterfalls Near Chattanooga

Chattanooga is full of great hiking opportunities for your family. One of my family’s favorite hiking trails is Lula Lake and Land Trust.

This beautiful spot is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It offers both kid-friendly trails AND amazing scenery.

Just make sure you make reservations before visiting the lake and trails as Lula Lake and Land Trust only allows a certain amount of visitors at a time.

Lula Lake
Photo Credit: Lula Lake Land Trust

**Also note that they are ONLY open on the first and last weekends of the month.

If you are looking for an additional great spot for hiking in Chattanooga, The Blue Hole provides both trails AND swimming holes.

Depending on your level of adventure, you can choose shorter/easier trails or longer more strenuous ones.

Along the trails, you will find swimming holes with crystal clear water that are perfect for cooling off. 

5. Ice Cream

Technically you would have to go INSIDE to order your treat, but you can then enjoy your ice cream outdoors. And who doesn’t love ice cream?!

Chattanooga is home to several local options that are all conveniently located to the downtown area.

One great spot is The Ice Cream Show, which is located at the end of the walking bride (downtown side).

If you happen to visit the Tennessee Aquarium or any other downtown attraction, The Ice Cream Show is a really easy stroll even for kids.

Since this local spot is situated just off the walking bride, you and your family can walk along the Walnut Street Bridge with ice cream in hand.

Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga
Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga

If you are on the OTHER side of the bridge in the Northshore area of Chattanooga, you should definitely try Clumpies Ice Cream Co.

Clumpies provides excellent service, and they offer unique seasonal flavors of ice cream. You can enjoy your Clumpies ice cream inside or outside on their patio that overlooks Coolidge Park.

Just a short walk north from Clumpies, you will find Milk and Honey. The smells of coffee and gelato completely take over right when you open the door to this adorable cafe.

You can choose to enjoy your refreshments inside or outside on their patio. Milk and Honey is conveniently located in the Northshore next to one of my all-time favorite restaurants: Taco Mamacita!

6. Chattanooga Zoo at Warner Park

The Chattanooga Zoo is one of my favorite places to spend a day outdoors in the city. It’s small enough to allow visitors the ability to view all of the animals and exhibits within a couple of hours.

You can take your time strolling around looking at animals like jaguars, giraffes, and chimpanzees.

camel at Chattanooga Zoo

The Chattanooga Zoo also offers a petting zoo, kiddie train ride, and camel rides!

You can read more details about the Chattanooga Zoo in this post full of pictures of our recent visit.

7. Chattanooga Market

The Chattanooga Market is held outdoors through mid-November. It takes place on Sundays at the Tennessee Pavilion near downtown.

At the Chattanooga Market, you will find vendors selling all kinds of things from fresh fruit to home decor items.

The Market also offers great live entertainment with plenty of room for dancing!

Food trucks and stands are set up throughout the market where you can enjoy lunch or a sweet treat as you shop.

8. Outdoor Playgrounds

Chattanooga offers lots of different parks and playgrounds in the city. Whether you are visiting the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga Zoo, or the Northshore neighborhood, your kids will have plenty of places to play.

playground at Chattanooga Zoo
Playground at Chattanooga Zoo

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here about all the conveniently located playgrounds around the city because I have a whole other post with photos and info. on these super fun parks!

For more detailed information on my family’s favorite playgrounds in Chattanooga, you can check out this post.

9. Rock City

Rock City is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Chattanooga. It sits at the top of Lookout Mountain and offers amazing views of seven different states.

At Rock City, you can explore the different paths complete with a rope bridge that provides gorgeous views.

swing bridge at Rock City

For some extra special treats along your tour of Rock City, stop in at one of the available gift shops or dining opportunities.

You can treat yourself to homemade fudge, desserts, or even a full lunch right on top of Lookout Mountain.

10. Coolidge Park

Coolidge Park is a massive outdoor spot to spend time with your family in Chattanooga. As mentioned above, you can reach Coolidge Park by strolling across the Walnut St. Bridge from downtown to the Northshore neighborhood.

During the summer months, you can enjoy the fountains that spray water in the middle of the park. Also take advantage of the shaved ice and other food trucks that are often available nearby.

Coolidge Park Chattanooga

If you are visiting during a cooler season, you can enjoy the large lawn areas where kids can play frisbee or other yard games.

There’s even a carousel that is sure to be a hit with the little kids!

If you aren’t able to bring your own bicycles to ride along the vast pathways, you can easily rent bikes from one of the nearby stands at Coolidge Park.

Final Thoughts on Outdoor Attractions in Chattanooga

I hope you found this list of outdoor activities in Chattanooga helpful!

Chattanooga is a beautiful city to visit during any season of the year. It offers plenty of indoor attractions, restaurants, and entertainment venues, but it’s also refreshing to spend time experiencing outside activities as well!

Whether you’re looking for free outdoor activities like parks and playgrounds or you’re in the mood to splurge on boat rentals, Chattanooga offers plenty of outdoor options for your family vacation!

What are your favorite outdoor attractions in Chattanooga, Tennessee?

Comment below and share!

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bridge with text overlay 10 Outdoor Activities in Chattanooga

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