People of all ages can have fun in the museum, but it’s primarily targeted at teaching kids through play.
Their exhibits are heavily interactive and designed to explore, create, and learn more about art and the kids’ creative side.
They have art lessons, storytimes, and science demonstrations.
Families can also enjoy activities like digging dinosaur bones, getting in the water at RiverPlay, or creating something in the music studio.
Another family day trip you can do is going to the zoo.
Located inside Warner Park, the Chattanooga Zoo is 13 acres of fun exhibits and local and international animals.
They try to make the zoo experience as involved as possible by steering clear of people just seeing the animals through the glass.
They have several exhibits with over 300 animals in their care and 200 species where some are endangered species.
The Himalayan Passage is a popular destination.
This exhibit includes the largest indoor Red Panda exhibit, Hanuman Langurs, and Snow Leopards.
The zoo is also one of the cheapest zoos in the country. It’s one of the best things to do in Chattanooga.
Audobon Acres is a 130-acre wildlife sanctuary and is the oldest one in the city.
It’s home to diverse animals and plants, a small visitor center with an archaeological museum, and about 5 miles of trails.
These are perfect for walking and hiking trails amidst nature.
If you’re here in the summer, you can swim or kayak in the South Chickamauga Creek that’s part of the area.
Tennessee River Gorge
A visit to Chattanooga isn’t complete without a visit to the lovely Tennessee River Gorge.
The river is a massive part of what makes the city so charming and special. There are a couple of ways you can enjoy the river.
The first one is to take a ride out of the water. You can rent a boat or take a tour on a cruise.
Many companies in the city offer boat rentals. But if you’re looking for a cruise, Southern Belle River Boat has cruises every day.
The second option is to just hang out by the shore at Tennessee Riverpark.
The river park starts at the Chickamauga Dam and ends at downtown Chattanooga.
It’s got 10 miles of Tennessee River waterfront for you to walk and explore.
It also has 6 fishing piers if you’re an angler. And a marsh where plenty of birds can be seen, perfect for bird watchers.
Day trips from Chattanooga
Chickamauga, Georgia is one of your best options for a day trip for its shared history and proximity to the city. But here are some other cities and destinations you can explore:
Cloudland Canyon State Park, Rising Fawn, Georgia
Where to eat
Chattanooga is as varied as they come when it comes to cuisine, but here are some tried and tested restaurants that locals love.
Local favorites: Big River Grille, Easy Bistro & Bar, Boathouse, and Taco Mamacita
Other restaurants to try are Uncle Larry’s Restaurant, Whitebird, Community Pie, and Champy’s.
Where to stay
The city has a lot of unique stays, and your accommodation can depend on which area you’re staying. Regardless, here are the top-recommended places for your trip:
The Read House
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Downtown
Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Lookout Mountain
Chattanooga Choo Choo
How many days do you need in Chattanooga?
To see all the major attractions, two days should suffice. Start your first day with a visit to Lookout Mountain, where you can take in panoramic views of the cityscape as well as the destinations mentioned earlier.
Then head downtown to explore the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel and the Tennessee Aquarium. End your day with a walk along the Riverwalk, taking in the scenic beauty of the Tennessee River.
On day two, spend some time hiking in Red Bank Greenway before visiting the Hunter Museum of American Art. Finish up with a tour of Rock City, where you can see some amazing views!
Is Chattanooga in the Smoky Mountains?
Often called the “Scenic City”, Chattanooga is known for its outdoor activities and its live music scene. It’s also become a popular destination for rock climbing, hiking, and camping.
But is it in the Smoky Mountains?
The Smoky Mountains are located in North Carolina and Tennessee, and Chattanooga is just outside of the park boundary. However, the city does offer stunning views of the mountains, and it’s only about a two-hour drive from the park. So even though Chattanooga may not technically be in the Smoky Mountains, it’s still a great place to enjoy all that the region has to offer.