25 Fun Things to Do in Chattanooga: The Scenic City

Welcome to Chattanooga, where adventure and charm converge in the heart of Tennessee! Known as “The Scenic City,” Chattanooga boasts an extraordinary blend of natural beauty and urban attractions, making it a perfect destination for visitors of all ages.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking to explore the great outdoors, a history buff eager to dive into the past, or simply searching for a fun and relaxing getaway, Chattanooga has something special for you. So grab your sense of adventure and get ready to discover the top 25 fun things to do in this vibrant and inviting city!

1. Discover the History of the Chattanooga Choo Choo

Originally opened in 1909 as Terminal Station, the Chattanooga Choo Choo is a piece of the city’s rich railway heritage. You might have heard its name from the famous 1941 Glenn Miller Orchestra song “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” which celebrated the city’s key role in early 20th-century transportation.

Walking through the historic corridors, you’ll be charmed by the striking architectural details that have been lovingly preserved. Some of the vintage train cars have even been transformed into hotel rooms, offering a unique lodging experience that lets you sleep in history!

Hungry? The complex boasts several restaurants catering to all tastes, from casual bites to more elegant meals.

  • Bluegrass Grill: If you’re in the mood for a hearty breakfast or brunch, look no further than the Bluegrass Grill. This cozy eatery is renowned for its delicious, homestyle cooking, including biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos, and a delightful selection of pastries. Be sure to get there early; this place is a local favorite, and it fills up fast!
  • STIR: Located in the restored Historic Chattanooga Choo Choo complex, STIR is famous for its artisanal cocktails and fresh, sustainable seafood. The raw bar is a highlight, offering an array of oysters, sushi, and other seafood delicacies. The atmosphere is upscale yet relaxed, making it ideal for both date nights and gatherings with friends.
  • The Hot Chocolatier: Satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to The Hot Chocolatier. This café specializes in handcrafted chocolates, truffles, and a selection of decadent pastries.

Music lovers will adore the Songbirds Guitar Museum, showcasing an impressive collection of rare and vintage guitars. And don’t worry about entertainment – with a comedy club and live music events, there’s always something fun happening!

2. Take a Train Ride with the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

Tennessee Valley Railroad in Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum offers a variety of train ride options that cater to different interests and schedules.

If you’re looking for a brief yet scenic adventure, the Missionary Ridge Local is a perfect choice. This short excursion takes you through pre-Civil War era tunnels and over four bridges, giving you a glimpse into Chattanooga’s rich history.

For a longer journey, consider the Hiwassee Loop, a breathtaking ride through the Cherokee National Forest. This trip includes a full loop around the Bald Mountain, offering spectacular views and an unforgettable experience in the highlands of Tennessee.

3. Search for Chattanooga’s Wall Murals

Chattanooga is home to numerous murals that add color and character to its streets.

  • Founding Fathers of Technology by Kevin Bate, Frazier Avenue
  • Flying Donut Mural by Joseph Giri, 1900 Broad Street
  • Rise and Shine by The Artist Seven, Passenger Street
  • Traveling Musician by The Artist Seven, 1351 Passenger Street
  • Polka Dot Wall, 1400 block of Williams Street

4. Go on a Food Tour

If you’re wondering who can take you on a culinary adventure through Chattanooga, you’ve got some fantastic options. Chatt Taste is a popular choice, offering an array of tours that highlight the best local eateries and hidden gems. Their expert guides provide engaging stories about the history of the city and its vibrant food scene.

5. Walk Across the Walnut Street Bridge

The Walnut Street Bridge, affectionately known as the “Walking Bridge,” is a historic gem in Chattanooga. Built in 1890, it is one of the oldest surviving bridges of its kind in the southern United States.

Designed by renowned engineer Edwin Thacher, its iron truss structure was a marvel of late 19th-century engineering. Initially constructed to connect Chattanooga’s downtown to the North Shore, the bridge played a vital role in the city’s economic expansion, facilitating the movement of people and goods.

By the 1970s, the bridge had fallen into disrepair and was closed to vehicular traffic. However, thanks to a passionate community effort to preserve this iconic structure, it was restored and reopened as a pedestrian bridge in 1993.

6. Take a Stroll on the Tennessee River Walk

Spanning over 13 miles, this beautiful pathway along the river is perfect for walking, jogging, rollerblading, or cycling. As you make your way along the trail, you’ll encounter some artistic sculptures at the Blue Goose Hollow Trailhead, each telling a unique story and adding to the charm of the path. And if you’re lucky, you may even spot some wildlife along the way—perhaps a deer grazing or a heron fishing in the river.

The trail offers more than just a scenic escape; it provides panoramic views of Lookout Mountain and the Tennessee River, with several picturesque spots perfect for a leisurely rest or a photo opportunity. Along the way, you might also find quaint benches and picnic areas where you can take a break and soak in the natural beauty.

7. Go on the Southern Belle Riverboat

Stepping aboard the Southern Belle Riverboat is like taking a delightful step back in time. This charming riverboat offers multiple cruising options, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

During the cruise, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the river and surrounding landscapes, all while relaxing on the open-air deck or in the climate-controlled interior. The knowledgeable crew shares fascinating stories and history about Chattanooga and its waterways, making the experience not just scenic but also educational.

For those looking to indulge, the dinner cruises offer a delectable buffet featuring a variety of Southern-inspired dishes, perfectly paired with live music by talented local artists. Kids and adults alike will be entertained by the lively commentary and often find themselves captivated by the river’s tranquility and the boat’s old-time charm.

8. Rent a Boat and Explore Chickmauga Lake

This picturesque lake is perfect for swimming, picnicking, and fishing. Spend a sunny day enjoying the water and the beautiful nature surrounding you.

9. Take Your Pups to Greenway Farm and Dog Park

Greenway Farm and Dog Park is a fantastic spot for both you and your four-legged friends. Spread across 180 acres, this park boasts a variety of hiking trails that wind through lush forests and along the scenic banks of North Chickamauga Creek.

One of the unique features of Greenway Farm is its old limestone quarry, which has been transformed into a tranquil pond. This area is a popular spot for kayaking and paddleboarding, offering a serene experience amidst the park’s natural beauty. The quarry’s calm waters and picturesque surroundings make it an ideal spot for relaxation and outdoor adventures.

The dog park itself is a highlight for pet owners. It’s a large, fenced-in area where dogs can run and play off-leash to their heart’s content. With plenty of space to explore, your pups will love the freedom and the opportunity to socialize with other dogs. For added convenience, the park includes water stations and shaded areas to keep both you and your pets comfortable during your visit.

10. Hike to a Waterfall

Chattanooga is a haven for waterfall enthusiasts, with a variety of stunning falls just waiting to be discovered.

Another must-visit is Foster Falls in the South Cumberland State Park. This 60-foot waterfall cascades into a large, picturesque pool surrounded by rocky cliffs and lush greenery. The hike to Foster Falls is moderately challenging but well worth the effort, providing breathtaking views and excellent opportunities for rock climbing and swimming.

For those looking for something a bit more accessible, Greeter Falls in Altamont is a terrific choice. The hike to the falls is relatively short and easy, making it perfect for families. Greeter Falls offers both upper and lower waterfalls, each with their own unique charm and beauty. The lower falls, in particular, cascade into a serene swimming hole, ideal for cooling off on a hot day.

Lastly, Cloudland Canyon State Park just across the Georgia state line features several impressive waterfalls, including Cherokee and Hemlock Falls. These falls can be reached via a series of well-maintained trails that meander through the breathtaking canyon, offering spectacular views and a memorable outdoor adventure.

11. Brewery Hop Downtown

Chattanooga boasts a vibrant craft beer scene with numerous breweries offering unique and flavorful brews.

Hutton & Smith Brewing Company is a local favorite, celebrated for its geology-themed beers. From their crisp and refreshing Promenade IPA to the robust and malty Bivouac Black IPA, there’s something for every beer enthusiast. The cozy taproom often hosts events and live music, making it a great spot to hang out with friends and enjoy some locally crafted ales.

OddStory Brewing Company blends creativity with tradition, offering an ever-changing lineup of innovative beers. Whether it’s a fruity sour, a hazy IPA, or a rich stout, OddStory promises an intriguing experience with every visit. The inviting taproom and outdoor patio provide a relaxed environment for casual gatherings or solo ventures alike.

Naked River Brewing Company is another must-visit brewery. Known for its tasty Southern-inspired dishes and a broad selection of craft beers, this brewery offers an all-rounded experience. Favorites include the crisp MoonPie Stout, brewed with marshmallow, chocolate, and graham cracker, offering a nostalgic nod to the classic Chattanooga treat.

With a plethora of breweries each bringing their own unique touch to the craft beer scene, Chattanooga is a haven for beer lovers looking to explore and enjoy new flavors.

12. Have a Picnic at Coolidge Park

Coolidge Park and Market Street Bridge

Coolidge Park, a cherished green space in Chattanooga, is steeped in history and offers a delightful escape for locals and visitors alike. Named after Charles Coolidge, a Chattanooga native and Medal of Honor recipient during World War II, the park has been designed with family-friendly activities in mind. One of its main attractions is the beautifully restored antique carousel, featuring hand-carved animals and colorful, intricate detailing, which brings a nostalgic charm to the park.

During the warmer months, children and adults can cool off at the interactive splash pad, a favorite spot for playful water fun. The park also boasts stunning views of the Tennessee River and the majestic Lookout Mountain, providing picturesque backdrops for picnics, strolls, and photo opportunities.

13. Chattanooga Whiskey

Founded with the mission to bring back whiskey production to Chattanooga after a nearly century-long dry spell, Chattanooga Whiskey played a pivotal role in changing local laws to allow distilling within city limits. Their perseverance paid off, leading to the establishment of their Experimental Distillery, where they began creating small-batch whiskeys that quickly gained acclaim.

If you’re looking to savor a range of their distinct flavors, Chattanooga Whiskey offers curated flights that let you sample several of their creations in one sitting. Whether you’re a fan of their richly spiced 1816 Reserve or the complex notes of their Barrel Finishing Series, these flights provide a fantastic way to explore the nuances of their craft. The knowledgeable staff is always ready to share insights on the distillation process, making your tasting experience both educational and enjoyable.

14. Tour Raccoon Mountain Caverns

Raccoon Mountain Caverns offers a remarkable adventure for those eager to explore the subterranean beauty of Chattanooga. The Crystal Palace Tour is one of the highlights, providing a 45-55 minute guided walking tour through the first 1/4 mile of the cave.

For $28.99 per person, you’ll be led by knowledgeable guides who are passionate about sharing the cave’s history and geological wonders.

As you traverse the well-lit pathways, you’ll encounter stunning formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, and more that make the cave a natural wonder. The guides offer fascinating insights into how these formations were created over millions of years, adding to the awe-inspiring experience.

15. Explore Lookout Mountain

Known for its breathtaking views, Lookout Mountain is home to several attractions, including Rock City and Ruby Falls. Don’t miss the stunning vistas at every turn!

  • Rock City Gardens: Visit this enchanting garden featuring unique rock formations and beautiful landscaping. Walk the trails and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area that will leave you in awe.
  • Lookout Mountain Incline Railway: Originally built to serve residents of Lookout Mountain, the railway quickly gained popularity as a tourist attraction thanks to its incredibly steep grade, which reaches an impressive 72.7 percent at its steepest point.
  • Ruby Falls: Marvel at the stunning underground waterfall located within Lookout Mountain. Guided tours provide fascinating insights into this natural wonder.
  • Watch the Sunset at Sunset Rock: Enjoy a picturesque sunset at this popular lookout point. With stunning views of the valley below, it’s a perfect way to end your day.

16. Snooper’s Rock

Embark on a scenic hike to Snooper’s Rock, a popular trail that offers breathtaking views of the Tennessee River Gorge. The hike is moderately challenging, making it accessible for most fitness levels. As you make your way through lush forests and along rugged paths, you’ll be treated to the serenity of nature and occasional wildlife sightings.

Once you reach Snooper’s Rock, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning panorama of the river winding through the gorge below. It’s the perfect spot to take a break, snap some photos, and soak in the natural beauty that surrounds you. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water and wear sturdy hiking shoes to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

17. Go Kayaking on the Hiwassee River

The Hiwassee River is renowned for its exhilarating rapids, making it a prime destination for both novice and seasoned kayakers. If you’re up for an adventure, renting a kayak or a “duckie” (an inflatable kayak) is a breeze at local outfitters like Hiwassee Outfitters or Webb Brothers.

These locations provide all the gear you need, as well as helpful tips and guidance to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip down the river. Paddle through the rapids, feel the rush of the water, and relish the mix of excitement and tranquility that the Hiwassee River has to offer.

One of the unique features that make the Hiwassee River a summertime favorite is the refreshing, cool water released from the dam. Regardless of the hot summer temperatures, the water remains a crisp 55 degrees Fahrenheit, providing a perfect remedy to beat the heat.

18. River Rafting on Ocoee River

Experience the thrill of river rafting on the Ocoee River, one of the premier whitewater destinations in the United States! Perfect for adventure enthusiasts, the Ocoee River offers a mix of exciting rapids and beautiful scenery.

As you navigate through Class III and IV rapids, you’ll feel the rush of adrenaline while surrounded by the lush landscape of the Cherokee National Forest. Guided trips are available, ensuring that both beginners and experienced rafters have a memorable and safe experience.

Be prepared to get wet and have a blast as you conquer the waves, drops, and turns of this renowned river. From the exhilarating challenge of the rapids to the serene moments in calmer sections, river rafting on the Ocoee is an adventure you won’t want to miss!

19. Chattanooga Market

The Chattanooga Market is a bustling weekly event held every Sunday from April through November at the First Tennessee Pavilion. Located at 1826 Reggie White Boulevard, this open-air market is a go-to destination for both locals and visitors.

Home to a wide array of vendors, you’ll find everything from fresh produce and artisanal cheeses to handmade crafts and unique jewelry. The market offers an incredible selection of locally sourced meats, farm-fresh eggs, and organic fruits and vegetables. Beyond food, visitors can browse booths selling handmade soaps, candles, and one-of-a-kind artworks.

The Chattanooga Market is also known for its lively festivals, which add a special flair to the shopping experience. Each week features a different theme, like Oktoberfest, Bluegrass & Beer, or Holiday Market, ensuring there’s always something new to enjoy. Live music and cooking demonstrations often accompany the festivities, making it a vibrant hub of culture and community spirit.

20. Creative Discovery Museum

Visiting the Creative Discovery Museum offers an unforgettable experience for families looking to inspire their children’s creativity and curiosity. Located in the heart of downtown Chattanooga, this hands-on museum is designed specifically for kids to learn through play.

Each exhibit is thoughtfully crafted to engage young minds with interactive activities that cover a wide range of topics— from science and technology to art and music. Whether your child dreams of being a scientist, an artist, or an engineer, the museum provides exciting opportunities for them to explore and experiment in a safe and stimulating environment.

21. Chattanooga Zoo

The Chattanooga Zoo, often called the “City Zoo,” has a rich history that dates back to its establishment in 1937. Initially, the zoo was a modest facility with only a handful of species, centered around Warner Park.

You can observe majestic big cats in the Himalayan Passage, meet playful primates in the Gombe Forest, and marvel at exotic creatures in the Deserts & Forests exhibit. Notable residents include red pandas, snow leopards, chimpanzees, meerkats, and Komodo dragons.

22. Rock Climb at High Point Climbing & Fitness

For the more adventurous families, High Point Climbing & Fitness is a must-visit destination in Chattanooga. With over 30,000 square feet of climbing surface, it’s one of the largest indoor rock-climbing facilities in the country.

The facility offers a variety of climbing walls to suit all skill levels, from beginner-friendly auto-belays to challenging bouldering routes. Trained and experienced staff members are always available to assist and offer tips for those new to the sport. Plus, there’s a dedicated kids area with smaller walls and obstacles perfect for little ones to practice their climbing skills.

23. Classic Arcade Pinball Museum

Step back in time at the Classic Arcade Pinball Museum, where you can play over 100 pinball and classic arcade games from the ’70s to the ’90s. This unique museum is a fun and interactive experience for the whole family.

As you make your way through the rows of vintage games, you’ll feel a sense of nostalgia as you play some of your childhood favorites like Pac-Man, Street Fighter II, and Donkey Kong. Plus, with unlimited playtime included in admission, it’s an affordable activity that will keep everyone entertained for hours.

24. Tennessee Aquarium

Tennessee Aquarium on Chattanooga Riverfront

No trip to Chattanooga would be complete without a visit to the famous Tennessee Aquarium. This award-winning attraction is home to over 12,000 animals and features both freshwater and saltwater exhibits.

Take a journey through the aquarium’s two buildings – River Journey and Ocean Journey – where you can see a diverse range of aquatic life, including playful otters, colorful reef fish, majestic sea turtles, and even sharks. Don’t miss the opportunity to touch stingrays at the interactive exhibit or watch live animal feedings throughout the day.

25. Chattanooga Lookouts Baseball Game

For sports fans, catching a Chattanooga Lookouts baseball game at AT&T Field is a must-do activity. This minor league team is an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and provides a fun and affordable way to enjoy America’s favorite pastime.

With tickets starting at just $6, you can experience all the excitement of a professional baseball game without breaking the bank. Plus, with plenty of food options and activities for kids, it’s a great outing for the whole family.


As someone who’s been exploring this charming city, I can tell you that the warm hospitality and wide array of activities make every visit unforgettable. So, pack your bags and get ready for a fantastic journey. Trust me, you’ll be planning your next trip before you even leave. Safe travels and enjoy everything Chattanooga has to offer!

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