15 Fun Day Trips from Chattanooga, Tennessee

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!

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.

5) Pigeon Forge

Distance from Chattanooga: 135 miles (2 hours, 30 minutes)

If you’re willing to take a longer drive, Pigeon Forge is a popular destination for those looking for outdoor activities and family-friendly attractions. Located in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Pigeon Forge offers beautiful scenery and opportunities for hiking, camping, and fishing.

One of the main attractions in Pigeon Forge is Dollywood, an amusement park owned by country music legend Dolly Parton. You can also visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which offers over 800 miles of hiking trails and scenic drives.

If you’re looking for a unique outdoor experience, check out The Island in Pigeon Forge. This entertainment complex is home to attractions like The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel and Island Show Fountains, as well as restaurants and specialty shops.

Another must-see attraction in Pigeon Forge is the Titanic Museum, where you can explore a replica of the infamous ship and learn about its tragic history through interactive exhibits.

With so much to do and see in Pigeon Forge, it’s definitely worth the drive from Chattanooga for a day trip or weekend getaway. And with plenty of cabin rentals and campgrounds, you can even make it a longer vacation if you want to fully explore all that this scenic destination has to offer.

Related: For longer road trips, check out our article on weekend getaways from Chattanooga. These trips are a 3-5 hour drive from Chattanooga!

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. The views here are truly breathtaking, and there’s no shortage of activities to do.

Hiking is definitely the main attraction at Savage Gulf. There are over 50 miles of trails, ranging from easy to strenuous. You can also go camping, fishing, or even rock climbing in designated areas.

While you’re there, make sure to check out Greeter Falls and Stone Door. Both are must-see spots with stunning waterfalls and scenic overlooks.

For those interested in history, the park is also home to several historic sites, including an old coal mine and remnants of a 19th-century pioneer community.

8) Murphy, North Carolina

Distance from Chattanooga: 80 miles (1 hour 30 minutes)

Murphy is a charming town located in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. It’s a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, fishing, and boating.

For history buffs, there’s the Cherokee County Historical Museum, which features exhibits on the area’s Native American heritage and pioneer history. You can also tour the historic courthouse and jail.

Make sure to stop by downtown Murphy for some shopping and dining. The town has a quaint, small-town feel and is known for its friendly locals. And for those seeking a bit of excitement, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino is just a short drive away.

If you’re itching to get off the beaten path and explore some hidden gems, Murphy is definitely worth adding to your itinerary. The town also hosts several festivals throughout the year, such as the Murphy Spring Festival and the Cherokee County Fair.

For nature lovers, there are several nearby hiking trails and scenic overlooks, such as the popular John C. Campbell Folk School Trail and the stunning views from Brasstown Bald Mountain. And for those seeking a bit of water adventure, there are multiple lakes and rivers to explore, including Lake Hiwassee and the Nantahala River.

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 is a charming mountain town in the northern region of Georgia, known for its outdoor activities and stunning scenery. The downtown area is lined with quaint shops, galleries, and restaurants, all boasting a small-town charm that will make you feel right at home.

One of the main attractions in Blue Ridge is the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, which takes you on a journey through the picturesque landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can also go horseback riding, hiking, or fishing in the nearby lakes and rivers.

For a unique experience, check out Mercier Orchards where you can pick your own apples and enjoy delicious apple cider donuts. And of course, no trip to Blue Ridge is complete without trying some of the local mountain moonshine!

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!

  • Barrel House BBQ: Known for their BBQ nachos and smoked meats.
  • Whiskey Waffle: A cozy cafe with a variety of waffles and coffee drinks.
  • Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House: Famous for their Southern-style, family-style dining experience.
  • Lynchburg Cake & Candy Company: A must-stop for sweets lovers, with homemade fudge and candy.

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. Burgess Falls State Park is a family-friendly destination with plenty of picnic areas, playgrounds and a visitors center. There are also campsites available for overnight stays.

The main attraction at Burgess Falls State Park is the series of waterfalls which cascade down over 250 feet in elevation. The hikes to each waterfall vary in difficulty so there’s something for every level of hiker. The lower falls can be accessed by everyone and there’s even a viewing platform for those with mobility issues. The middle falls are a little more challenging but offer stunning views of the waterfalls. For the most adventurous, the upper falls requires a steep hike but offers the best view of all three falls.

Aside from hiking and enjoying nature, visitors can also participate in other activities such as bird watching, fishing and geocaching. There are also educational programs and events held throughout the year for both children and adults.

After a day of exploring, head to downtown Cookeville for some delicious dining options. Some highly recommended restaurants include:

  • Seven Senses Food & Cheer: A contemporary American restaurant with an extensive beer selection.
  • Father Tom’s Pub: A cozy pub with classic American fare and live music on the weekends.
  • Crawdaddy’s West Side Grill: A Cajun eatery serving up delicious seafood dishes.

Don’t forget to stop by Cream City Ice Cream for some homemade ice cream before heading back. Cookeville also has a thriving arts scene, so be sure to check out the local galleries and theaters as well.

14) Huntsville, Alabama

Distance from Chattanooga: 102 miles (1 hour, 45 minutes)

Huntsville is a charming city located in northern Alabama, known for its rich aerospace history and outdoor activities. It is home to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, which showcases space artifacts and simulators, making it a popular destination for families and space enthusiasts.

Aside from its space-related attractions, Huntsville also has a thriving arts and culture scene. The historic downtown area is filled with unique shops, restaurants, and galleries. Outdoor enthusiasts can also enjoy the numerous parks and hiking trails in the area.

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. Atlanta is also a hub for music and art, with festivals happening throughout the year.

Some popular attractions include the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. For those seeking outdoor activities, there are also numerous parks and gardens to explore, including Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

And of course, no visit to Atlanta is complete without trying some delicious southern food, from fried chicken to peach cobbler. Head to Chattahoochee Food Works or Ponce City Market for some delicious food!

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