25 Best Chattanooga Area Attractions (2023)
Are you looking for some fun things to do in Chattanooga, Tennessee? Well, look no further because we’ve got you covered!
The city of Chattanooga is home to plenty of natural beauty as well as popular tourist attractions.
From outdoor activities like hiking and biking to top tourist destinations like Rock City and Ruby Falls, the city of Chattanooga, TN has something for everyone to enjoy.
Since the Scenic City features such unique and entertaining attractions, it’s no surprise that Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine awarded Chattanooga with the “Best Outdoor City” award.
Once you read about all of the amazing attractions available in and around the city, you will fall in love with this picturesque town too!
So, continue reading below as we detail our top picks for the best Chattanooga attractions in and around the downtown area.
(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.)
Most Popular Attractions in Chattanooga
Before we start our countdown of the best attractions in Chattanooga, let’s discuss where the city is located. Chattanooga sits in the southeastern side of the state of Tennessee.
This beautiful city is located right on the Tennessee River near the Georgia border. Since it is only a two-hour drive from cities such as Nashville, Knoxville, Atlanta, and Birmingham, Chattanooga provides easy access to other metropolitan areas.
This convenient location makes Chattanooga the perfect spot for a quick weekend getaway and for a fall or spring vacation from school. The activities listed below can easily fit into a short Tennessee family vacation.
Additionally, you will find plenty to do in Chattanooga if you have even more time to spend in the Scenic City. You can read all about the best Chattanooga attractions in our list below!
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.
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, the Walnut Street Bridge is a great option!
2. Tennessee River
You can cool off from Chattanooga’s hot summer temperatures by renting a boat to enjoy on the Tennessee River or on Chickamauga Lake for the day. Since the city offers mild weather in the fall, you can also enjoy boat rentals outside the summer months.
In addition to watercraft rentals, Chattanooga features multiple river cruises and boat tours of the city. If you’re interested in learning more about the options available during your visit, we highly recommend checking out our post on the Best Chattanooga River Cruises and Boat Tours.
3. Chester Frost Park
If you are interested in camping near Chattanooga, you should check out Chester Frost Park Campground. Chester Frost Park is located in Hixson, 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.
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 number of visitors at a time. 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. Local Ice Cream Shops
Chattanooga is home to several local ice cream shops that are all conveniently located to the downtown area. One great spot is The Ice Cream Show, which sits at the end of the walking bridge (downtown side).
If you plan to visit the Tennessee Aquarium or any other downtown attraction, The Ice Cream Show is a really easy stroll away.
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 either inside the shop 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 the shop or outside on their patio.
If you’re looking for additional options for delicious coffee in Chattanooga, I highly recommend checking out our post on the Best Coffee Shops in Chattanooga, Tennessee where we provide a list of the 25 hottest spots!
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.
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.
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.
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 information 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 Gardens
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.
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 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.
If you are visiting during a cooler season, you can enjoy the large lawn where visitors 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.
11. Creative Discovery Museum
The Creative Discovery Museum sits in downtown Chattanooga near the Lookouts Stadium. This Chattanooga children’s museum is a great place to visit with kids of all ages.
Visitors will find exhibits on various subject areas, including music, science, art, and more. The Creative Discovery Museum also features a large indoor playground that kids love.
12. Ruby Falls
Travel below the ground to tour the amazing caverns of Ruby Falls.
Guests can embark on a guided tour through the caves before enjoying the beauty of the deepest underground waterfall. Ruby Falls offers a truly unique experience in Chattanooga and is a popular spot for tourists.
13. Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is another unique activity to experience in Chattanooga. Guests climb aboard the train to enjoy a scenic ride around the city.
The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum also offers several holiday train rides and events throughout the year that are a ton of fun. You can read more about visiting the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in our post on the Best Chattanooga Train Rides.
14. Hunter Museum of American Art
The Hunter Museum of American Art is located in the Bluff View Art District in downtown Chattanooga. This trendy area is home to quaint restaurants and cafes along with the impressive art museum.
Visitors to the Hunter Museum of American Art can easily walk to other nearby attractions like the Tennessee Aquarium and Coolidge Park. Additionally, the Bluff View Art District is home to some of our top picks for best restaurants in Chattanooga.
15. Tennessee Aquarium
The Tennessee Aquarium sits in the heart of downtown Chattanooga right on the banks of the Tennessee River. This popular tourist attraction features two separate buildings: the River Journey and the Ocean Journey.
Guests can view all sorts of amazing creatures, including river otters, lemurs, sea turtles, sharks, and more. Plus, visitors can enjoy animal encounters with butterflies, catfish, and rays.
16. Southern Belle Riverboat
The Southern Belle Riverboat is located on the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga. Guests can enjoy a scenic boat tour of the city while dining onboard.
The Southern Belle Riverboat also provides special events throughout the year.
17. Raccoon Mountain Caverns
Raccoon Mountain Caverns is located just outside the downtown area. It offers all kinds of outdoor fun, including camping, hiking, and cavern exploring. This is a really unique Chattanooga attraction that’s great for adventurous visitors.
18. Incline Railway
The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is one of the top tourist attractions in Chattanooga. Guests enjoy the breathtaking views while on the Incline Railway, which is one of the steepest passenger railway rides.
After enjoying the ride up the mountain, make sure to take time to visit Rock City Gardens.
19. Tennessee Riverpark
The Tennessee Riverpark stretches throughout the downtown Chattanooga area and into the Chickamauga Dam region. This path is great for jogging, biking, and walking. You’ll also find spots to stop along the way, including playgrounds, restaurants, and other attractions.
20. AT&T Field
Visitors to the Chattanooga area can catch a minor league baseball game at AT&T Field.
Make sure you check out the Chattanooga Lookouts schedule to see if they are in town during your visit. This is a great outdoor activity full of entertainment, food, and beverages.
21. Red Wolves Stadium
The Chattanooga Red Wolves Stadium is located in East Ridge, which is a short 10 minute drive from downtown Chattanooga. This new stadium is the home of the Chattanooga Red Wolves professional soccer team. Visitors have a blast attending the soccer games as well as enjoying the restaurants in the nearby Camp Jordan area.
22. High Point Climbing
If you’re visiting the Chattanooga area, you can enjoy both outdoor and indoor rock climbing at High Point Climbing. Located in downtown Chattanooga, High Point Climbing offers options for toddlers, kids, and adults. It’s the perfect place to spend time if you’re an adventure seeker.
23. Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel
The Chattanooga Choo Choo is a historic hotel located in downtown Chattanooga. Guests can find lots of dining options within walking distance of the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
The hotel also hosts special events like ice skating during the winter months. In addition to ice skating, you can check out our post on Winter Activities in Chattanooga to find fun things to do during the holidays.
24. Lake Winnepesaukah
Lake Winnepesaukah is an amusement park located just outside of Chattanooga. This super fun park features rides for toddlers, big kids, and adults. You can even enjoy the water park during the summer months.
25. Chattanooga Ducks
The Chattanooga Ducks are a unique Chattanooga experience on the Tennessee River. Guests board the duck boats in the downtown area and are driven through the streets before taking a plunge into the river. The Chattanooga Ducks boat tours are both a fun and an informative way to spend an afternoon.
Final Review of Chattanooga Attractions
Overall, Chattanooga is one of the best places to visit since the city offers so many fun things to do. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure or a unique experience, Chattanooga provides some of the best things to do in the Southeast.
For more ideas on fun activities in Chattanooga, check out our post on Top Things to Do with Kids in Chattanooga!
From Rock City to the Tennessee Aquarium, the Chattanooga attractions listed above are perfect for a family or couples’ trip to the Scenic City. You’re sure to have a great time on your Tennessee vacation!
What are your favorite attractions in Chattanooga, Tennessee?
Comment below and share!
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