15 Best Things To Do In Chattanooga, TN

chattanooga skyline

Chattanooga is a city located in the southeastern United States, along the Tennessee River. Chattanooga is home to a variety of businesses and industries, including manufacturing, transportation, and tourism. The city is also home to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, as well as several other colleges and universities. Chattanooga is a popular tourist destination due to its scenic location and its proximity to a variety of attractions, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The city is also home to a number of museums and historical sites, such as the Chattanooga Choo Choo Museum and the Battle of Chattanooga Museum.

To help you find the best things to do in Chattanooga, we’ve broken this guide into a few different lists so that if you’re looking for something specific, you can click directly to that section:

  1. Outdoor Activities in Chattanooga
  2. Museums in Chattanooga
  3. Great locations in Chattanooga
  4. Annual events in Chattanooga

Outdoor Activities in Chattanooga

tennessee river park
A Tennessee Swimming Hole” by SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent) is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

1. Tennessee River Park

The Tennessee River Park in Chattanooga is gorgeous. You can bike or hike along the well-marked trails, go fishing, have a picnic in one of the scenic areas, or just take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the view. The Park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, bald eagles, and ospreys. In short, it’s a great place to spend a day outdoors enjoying all that nature has to offer. Plus, it’s right in the heart of downtown Chattanooga, so you can easily walk to all the shops and restaurants.

walnut street bridge
Walnut Street Bridge at Night” by SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent) is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

2. Walnut Street Bridge

The Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga is gorgeous. Built in 1891, the design of this iron bridge is simple but elegant. The bridge spans the Tennessee River, and it provides stunning views of the cityscape. It’s also a popular spot for fishing, bird watching, and simply enjoying the fresh air. The bridge is open to pedestrians and cyclists, and it’s one of the most popular spots in the city. If you’re ever in Chattanooga, be sure to check out the Walnut Street Bridge. You won’t be disappointed.

raccoon mountain caverns
Raccoon Mountain Caverns” by atlnature is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

3. Raccoon Mountain Caverns

Raccoon Mountain Caverns is a large show cave in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The caverns are open to the public for tours and special events. The caves were formed over millions of years by the slow erosive action of rainwater on the limestone bedrock. Raccoon Mountain Caverns is home to a variety of cavern wildlife, including bats, salamanders, and crayfish.

The caverns are also home to the remains of a prehistoric bear. Raccoon Mountain Caverns is a popular destination for both tourists and cavers. The caves are well-lit and have an extensive system of walkways and stairs that make them easily accessible to visitors.

ruby falls
Anna Ruby Falls” by RubyT (I come here for cameraderie) is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

4. Ruby Falls

Chattanooga is home to many beautiful and natural wonders, including the world-famous Ruby Falls. Located just outside of downtown, Ruby Falls is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

The waterfall is located inside a cave that is nearly 1,120 feet tall. Accessible by a short hike from the parking lot, the sight of the falls will leave you breathless.

In addition to the falls themselves, there is also a small museum on site that provides visitors with information about the history of Ruby Falls and the geological formations that make it possible.

coolidge park
Coolidge Park, North Chattanooga 02” by Larry Miller is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

5. Coolidge Park

Coolidge Park is one of the most relaxing places in Chattanooga. It’s a great place to come and take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You can sit and relax by the fountain or take a stroll through the gardens.

There’s also a playground for children, and a picnic area for families. The Park is well-maintained and there’s always something new to see. locals love Coolidge Park, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s a great place to come and spend some time with friends or family, or just to enjoy the quiet beauty of nature.

audubon acres bird watching
bird” by Mathias Appel is marked with CC0 1.0.

6. Audubon Acres

Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Audubon Acres is a little gem in southeastern Chattanooga. The Acres are a haven for birdwatching, with over 200 species of birds having been sighted on the property. In addition to birds, the Acres are also home to a variety of other animals, including deer, rabbits, and squirrels.

The Acres also feature a variety of hiking trails, giving visitors the opportunity to explore the diverse flora and fauna of the Chattanooga area. Whether you’re an experienced birder or just looking for a place to take a nature walk, the Audubon Acres are sure to please.

Best Museums in Chattanooga

1. Songbirds’ Guitar and Pop Culture Museum

Chattanooga is home to a world-renowned songbirds guitar museum. The collection includes guitars from some of the most iconic musicians in history, including Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, and Chuck Berry. The museum also has a wide variety of vintage and rare instruments, making it a must-visit for any music lover.

In addition to the incredible exhibits, the museum also offers a variety of educational programs and events. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, there’s something for everyone at the songbirds guitar museum. So if you’re in the area, be sure to check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

tennessee aquarium
Tennessee Aquarium” by Frank Kehren is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

2. Tennessee Aquarium

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is world-renowned for its incredible array of aquatic life. From river otters and turtles to sharks and alligators, the aquarium has something for everyone.

In addition to its impressive collection of animals, the aquarium is also home to a variety of interactive exhibits and educational programs. Visitors can learn about the importance of conservation and the threats that many animals face in the wild.

The Tennessee Aquarium is an enjoyable and educational experience for people of all ages.

hunter museum of american art
Hunter Museum of American Art” by Frank Kehren is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

3. Hunter Museum of American Art

The Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tennessee is one of the most outstanding art museums in the United States. It is located on a bluff overlooking the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga and has a commanding view of the city. The museum was founded in 1952 by George W. and Mary M. Hunter as a showcase for their private collection of American art.

Today, the museum houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and glassworks by American artists from the colonial era to the present day. The Hunter Museum is also notable for its excellent education and outreach programs, which include classes, workshops, and public lectures on American art.

In addition, the museum offers a variety of special exhibitions throughout the year that highlight specific aspects of its collection or provide a forum for contemporary artists to showcase their work. The Hunter Museum of American Art is an important cultural asset to the city of Chattanooga and is well worth a visit for anyone interested in American art.

creative discovery museum
Creative Discovery Museum” by rcastag is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

4. Creative Discovery Museum

The Creative Discovery Museum is a place where children can explore and play, while also learning about the world around them. Founded in 2002, the museum is in the center of Chattanooga.

The museum has exhibitions on a variety of topics, ranging from art and science to history and culture. In addition to the exhibitions, the museum also offers a variety of programs and events for children and families. The Creative Discovery Museum is a great place to take the family for a day of fun and learning.

5. Coker Museum

The Coker Museum in Chattanooga is a must-see for any history buff. The museum chronicles the city’s rich history, from its early days as a trading post to its role in the Civil War.

Visitors can view artifacts from all periods of Chattanooga’s history, including the famous steamboat “The General,” which was used to transport Union soldiers during the Battle of Chattanooga. The Coker Museum is also home to a Confederate cemetery, which is the final resting place for more than 1,000 Confederate soldiers.

The museum provides an enlightening and educational experience for all who visit, and is a true treasure trove of American history.

Great Locations to Visit in Chattanooga

bluff view art district
Bluff View Art District directional sign” by Larry Miller is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

1. Bluff View Art District

Bluff View Art District is one of the most unique and beautiful places in Chattanooga. Nestled atop a high bluff overlooking the Tennessee River, the district is home to a variety of art galleries, restaurants, and hotels.

The buildings in the district are all designed in a turn-of-the-century architecture, and the area is filled with lush gardens and sculptures. Visitors can stroll through the winding pathways and enjoy stunning views of the river and cityscape. Whether you’re looking for a unique place to eat or drink, or simply want to enjoy some beautiful art, Bluff View Art District is sure to please.

chattanooga choo choo
Chattanooga Choo-Choo” by SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent) is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

2. Chattanooga Choo Choo

The Chattanooga Choo Choo is an historic train station that has been converted into a hotel and shopping area. The train station was built in 1909 and served as a major stop on the Tennessee Valley Railroad. In 1930, the station was immortalized in the hit song “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”

Today, the Chattanooga Choo Choo is a popular tourist destination, offering hotel rooms, restaurants, and shops. The Choo Choo features a variety of exhibits on the history of the train station and  a working model train display. Visitors can also take a ride on an antique steam engine or take a tour of the facilities. The Chattanooga Choo Choo is a unique and popular attraction that is sure to please any visitor to Chattanooga.

Annual Events in Chattanooga that you can’t miss

riverbend festival
Riverbend_2” by USDAgov is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

1. Riverbend Festival

The River-bend Festival is an annual event that takes place in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The festival celebrates the city’s rich heritage and culture, and features a variety of musical performances, food vendors, and other attractions. The festival is held every year in late spring and attracts tens of thousands of visitors from all over the country.

The festival has featured headlining acts such as Thomas Rett, REO speedwagon, Chris Young and Heart. In addition to the music, the festival will also offer a variety of food options, including BBQ, Mexican, and vegetarian choices.

There will also be a number of crafts booths selling local art and hand-made goods. With so much to see and do, the River-bend Festival is sure to be a great time for all who attend.

moon river festival
Moon River Music Festival 2019 02” by Larry Miller is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

2. The Moon River Festival

The Moon River Music Festival is an annual event that takes place in the fall in Chattanooga. The festival was founded in 2015 by Drew Holcomb and his wife, Ellie Holcomb. The event is held on the banks of the Tennessee River and features a variety of musical acts. The lineup for the festival typically includes a mix of folk, rock, and country artists.

In addition to music, the festival also offers food trucks, arts and crafts vendors, and a variety of other activities. The Moon River Music Festival is a family-friendly event that provides a great opportunity to experience live music in a scenic setting.

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