Chattanooga is a beautiful place to visit in Tennessee, and there are also some fun and exciting day trips to partake in. The city is relatively close to Nashville, Knoxville, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is a beautiful area of the country with plenty of small towns, mountains, and lakes to explore!
For longer road trips, check out our article on weekend getaways from Chattanooga. These trips are a 3-5 hour drive from Chattanooga!
Best Day Trips from Chattanooga
If there is one thing Chattanooga knows how to do, it’s turn a day into an adventure. Whether you’re looking for a scenic drive, a fun activity, or somewhere to eat, these are some of our favorite day trips from the city.
1) Lookout Mountain
Distance from Chattanooga: 6 miles (15 minutes)
Lookout Mountain is located in Tennessee and Georgia, and it’s a few short miles from downtown Chattanooga. It has attractions like the steep Incline Railway and Ruby Falls. The Battles for Chattanooga Museum showcases local Civil War history. Point Park is a popular hiking destination that winds around the park’s edge. There are also scenic overlooks available, such as Sunset Rock.
Lookout Mountain has many popular attractions including Rock City and Lookout Mountain Incline Railway. You can also make a reservation and see the magnificent Lula Lake waterfall. Lula Lake Land Trust is an 8,000 acre land trust that includes Lula Lake and Lula Falls around Lookout Mountain, Georgia.
2) Prentice Cooper State Forest
Distance from Chattanooga: 16 miles (30 minutes)
The forest is home to over 22 miles of ridgetop trails in two loops and 25,000 acres of land in the Tennessee River Gorge. The most popular trails include the Mullens Cove Loop and the Pot Point Loop. Edward’s Point Trail and Snoopers Rock are two popular hiking trails in Chattanooga.
3) Cloudland Canyon State Park
Distance from Chattanooga: 27 miles (30 minutes)
Cloudland Canyon State Park is located in northwest Georgia, on the western edge of Lookout Mountain. The park features a deep gorge carved by Boulder-strewn Sitton Gulch Creek. To get a comprehensive view of the park, take the Overlook Trail. This hike will give you stunning views of Cloudland Canyon and West Rim Trail, leading you to explore its rim and depths.
4) Ocoee, Tennessee
Distance from Chattanooga: 43 miles (45 minutes)
Ocoee is a small unincorporated community in East Tennessee that offers plenty of exciting, outdoor activities. There are a few places to go whitewater rafting along the Ocoee River that outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate!
If you drive on Oswald Road, you can enjoy the views of Lake Ocoee from some scenic overlooks. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also go on a hike to Benton Falls, beginning at the Benton Falls Trailhead.
Distance from Chattanooga: 27 miles (45 minutes)
5) Pikeville, Tennessee
Distance from Chattanooga: 57 miles (1 hour)
If you’re looking for a charming small town to visit in the Appalachian Mountains, Pikeville is the place to go. The downtown square is filled with boutiques and historical buildings, making it a great place to take a break and explore.
Stop by Ember’s Ice Cream Shoppe on Main Street for a sweet treat. Check out Tennessee’s largest state park, Fall Creek Falls, and Cumberland Mountain State Park, both close to Pikeville.
6) Chatsworth, Georgia
Distance from Chattanooga: 45 miles (50 minutes)
Chatsworth is a small town that has many of the amenities found in larger cities. The city is surrounded by natural beauty, and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. Fort Mountain State Park is located just outside the city, and it offers stunning views of the Cohutta Mountains.
If you’re looking for some amazing hiking trails, Cohutta Wilderness is the perfect place to go. You can hike the 6-mile Emery Creek Trail winding through lush forests, creeks, and waterfalls.
7) Savage Gulf State Natural Area
Distance from Chattanooga: 53 miles (55 minutes)
You owe it to yourself to visit the Savage Gulf State Natural Area at least once. There are a variety of trails available for hiking, including smooth ridge trails, rugged connector trails and beautiful canyon trails. Some beautiful waterfalls can also be found here including Savage Falls, Suter Falls, and Boardtree Falls.
8) Sweetwater, Tennessee
Distance from Chattanooga: 73 miles (1 hour, 7 minutes)
If you’re looking for a small Tennessee town with some unique attractions, look no further than Sweetwater. This city boasts “The Lost Sea,” the biggest underground lake in the country! This lake is located in the Craighead Caverns.
9) Ellijay, Georgia
Distance from Chattanooga: 68 miles (1 hour, 25 minutes)
Located at the confluence where the Ellijay and Cartecay rivers come together, Ellijay is an increasingly popular small town in North Georgia. Downtown is a nice place to explore. The Roof Ellijay is a great place to eat because it’s a rooftop bar with an outdoor patio which gives you a nice view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the fall, there are several apple orchards nearby and beautiful nature trails, so you can see the lovely autumn foliage up close.
10) Tellico Plains, Tennessee
Distance from Chattanooga: 78 miles (1 hour, 30 minutes)
East Tennessee’s Tellico Plains is a charming mountain town that is situated at the gateway to the Cherohala Skyway and Cherokee National Forest. The town has many historic buildings and attractions, making it a perfect place to visit if you’re interested in history or nature.
There are a handful of waterfalls nearby that are beautiful and worth seeing! In town, you can enjoy several restaurants and the Tellico Grains Bakery after a day of hiking and sight seeing.
11) Blue Ridge, Georgia
Distance from Chattanooga: 84 miles (1 hour, 38 minutes)
Blue Ridge was once a health resort because of its pure mineral waters. It was established as a railroad town, and visitors could ride the train to town for dinner and then take a leisurely walk to the springs. You can still ride the train today which is located on Main Street, which is filled with restaurants and shops.
12) Lynchburg, Tennessee
Distance from Chattanooga: 92 miles (1 hour, 35 minutes)
Located in the south-central region of Tennessee, Lynchburg was the temporary home of Davy Crockett. Recently, the downtown area in Lynchburg was designated as a National Historic Landmark. Jack Daniels Distillery – America’s oldest registered distillery – is located here! Interesntingly enough, Moore County has been a dry county since Tennessee enacted prohibition laws in 1910. There are also some amazing restaurants downtown so this is a great locations for foodies to explore!
13) Burgess Falls State Park
Distance from Chattanooga: 92 miles (1 hour, 35 minutes)
The waterfalls at Burgess Falls State Park are pretty epic! Nature lovers love to come here by kayak or paddleboard but you can also hike to the falls. The park also boasts a butterfly garden so you can easily spend an entire day here.
14) Huntsville, Alabama
Distance from Chattanooga: 102 miles (1 hour, 45 minutes)
15) Atlanta, Georgia
Distance from Chattanooga: 118 miles (2 hours)
After visiting this lively southern city, you would be surprised to know that it was an area burnt to the ground during the American Civil War. Now, its streets are lined with some of the country’s most acclaimed restaurants, museums honoring its history, and plenty of fun places to hang out.
Whether you’re looking for a day out or an extended getaway, Chattanooga has plenty of unique options for day and weekend trips! Chattanooga has something for everyone – so pack your bags and get ready to have some fun!