26 Best Things to See and Do in Chattanooga, Tennessee

View of Chattanooga, Tennessee skyline from the air

Have you been dreaming of the perfect getaway to Tennessee? Then Chattanooga should be at the top of your list! Known for its laid-back culture, stunning mountain views, and vibrant locals, Chattanooga is sure to have something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for great outdoor activities or a taste of southern living in some of the city's most historic sites, there are plenty of exciting things to do in this gem by the mountainside. We've got all the details so come join us as we explore what makes Chattanooga one of America's best cities.

I know I'm biased in thinking that Chattanooga is great because I was born and raised here and recently returned with my husband to purchase our first home in one of the city's historic neighborhoods. But bias aside, this city has turned itself around from being one of the dirtiest cities in America to one of the best mid-size cities in the country. The revitalization the entire city has undergone in my lifetime is incredible! A few decades the city was so dirty with smog that you would see people driving with their headlights on in broad daylight! Not today though. While the city isn't perfect, it's come so far to making this place livable for the locals but also a destination for visitors.

Whether you're moving to Chattanooga or visiting, we encourage you to get to know the city. Talk to the locals and get a feel for what the real Chattanooga is. While this list is full of fun things to do the best thing you can do in Chattanooga is slowing down, grabbing a seat on a patio, and striking up a conversation with a local. Southern hospitality is still alive and well here and the locals welcome you to learn what they love about their home.

Man canoes on Tennessee River in Chattanooga

Looking for something specific? Jump to a section using the links below.

Where is Chattanooga, Tennessee?

Located in southeast Tennessee, Chattanooga is nestled at the intersection of Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. The Tennessee River snakes its way through the heart of downtown and serves as a centerpiece in the city. Chattanooga has dubbed itself "The Scenic City" and it's no wonder. Due to its location in the Appalachian Foothills, Chattanooga is surrounded by rolling mountains and hills that are perfect for outdoor adventure enthusiasts to explore for years.

Where to stay in Chattanooga

First off, we have an entire blog post dedicated to the best places to stay in Chattanooga which I'd urge you to checkout before booking your trip to Chattanooga. Here are a few of our top picks that are centrally located to many of Chattanooga's most popular attractions.

The Edwin

The Edwin Hotel in Chattanooga is a luxurious boutique hotel offering an exceptional blend of upscale elegance and modern comfort. Situated near the Tennessee River, it provides stunning views and easy access to the city's vibrant cultural and dining scenes. The hotel features beautifully appointed rooms, an exquisite rooftop bar, and a state-of-the-art spa, ensuring that every guest enjoys a truly memorable stay.

Address: 102 Walnut St, Chattanooga, TN 37403 | Google Maps

Check for the best rate and reserve your stay at The Edwin here

Expedia | Hotels.com | Booking.com

The Read House

The Read House is an iconic hotel in Chattanooga, known for its historic charm and elegance. Located in the heart of downtown, this hotel combines vintage allure with modern amenities, offering guests a unique blend of old-world sophistication and contemporary luxury. With its richly decorated rooms, fine dining options, and a storied past, The Read House provides a distinctive and captivating experience for visitors.

Address: 107 W M.L.K. Blvd, Chattanooga, TN 37402 | Google Maps

Check for the best rate and reserve your stay at The Read House here

Expedia | Hotels.com | Booking.com

The Kinley

The Kinley Chattanooga Hotel embodies the spirit of Southern hospitality with a modern twist. Nestled in the vibrant Southside district, it serves as a gateway to discovering the local culture, art, and cuisine. The hotel features sleek, contemporary décor, comfortable rooms, and inviting communal spaces that encourage social interaction. Guests can enjoy the convenience of on-site dining and a cocktail lounge, making it an ideal base for both leisure and business travelers.

Address: 1409 Market St, Chattanooga, TN 37402 | Google Maps

Check for the best rate and reserve your stay at The Kinley here

Expedia | Hotels.com | Booking.com

The best things to do Chattanooga, Tennessee

There's so much to do in Chattanooga for families, couples, and groups. Some of these items on the list are seasonal, but most are for anytime of year. Because of Chattanooga's location in the southeast, the weather is typically warm enough to be outside year around. We do get cold bursts every now and then in the winter, but generally it's not too bad. The summers can be hot and humid, so if you're visiting during those months be prepared for heat! These are our top recommendations of things to do in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Rock City, Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga
Rock City

Take a Stroll Through Rock City Gardens

Rock City Gardens is a popular attraction located atop Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga. This natural wonderland features a variety of unique rock formations as well as stunning views of seven states from its peak. Visitors can explore trails throughout the gardens, walk across the swinging bridge high above the ground, and take in some of the best views in the south. Rock City Gardens also hosts a variety of special events year-round such as concerts and festivals and decorates the entire places in lights for Christmas.

Getting there: 1400 Patten Rd, Lookout Mountain, GA | Google Maps

Learn at the Creative Discovery Museum

The Creative Discovery Museum is an interactive children’s museum located in downtown Chattanooga that encourages learning through play! The museum features hands-on exhibits such as an art studio where kids can create their own masterpieces; an engineering lab with robotic challenges; and a water play area where kids can explore the power of water currents!  

Getting there: 321 Chestnut St, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Go Underground at Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls is an underground waterfall located inside Lookout Mountain that was discovered in 1928 by Leo Lambert who named it after his wife Ruby (hence the name). Visitors can take an elevator down into the cave to witness this amazing 145-foot tall waterfall. Tours are available year-round and include additional stops at other natural wonders within Lookout Mountain Cave such as subterranean streams and limestone formations.

Getting there: Scenic Highway, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga

Walk the Walnut Street Bridge

Walnut Street Bridge is one of Chattanooga's oldest bridges spanning 2,370 feet across the Tennessee River connecting downtown with Northshore District on the opposite side of riverbank. This historic bridge was built in 1891 making it one of the longest pedestrian bridges in America today. Walnut Street Bridge has become popular spot for locals to take walks or bike rides while enjoying stunning views from above.

Getting there: 1 Walnut St, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

The Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga

Get Artsy at Hunter Museum Of American Art

The Hunter Museum Of American Art showcases some of America's finest artwork dating back to colonial times up until present day! With over 14 galleries featuring works from renowned artists like Andy Warhol, Thomas Hart Benton, Alexander Calder, and H. Dan Jackson.

Getting there: 10 Bluff View Ave, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Lounge in the Sun at Coolidge Park

Coolidge Park is a beautiful riverside park located along the north shore district near downtown Chattanooga. This park features lush green spaces perfect for picnics or simply lounging around while admiring stunning views across river . It also includes fountains & splash pads for kids to enjoy during summer months plus a carousel.

Getting there: 150 River St, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps  

Ride the Incline Railway up Lookout Mountain

Incline Railway is one of Chattanooga's most iconic attractions offering thrilling ride up Lookout Mountain - reaching heights up to 72% grade! This railway takes passengers up steep inclines while providing spectacular views along way . It's definitely worth taking few minutes out your day to experience this unique journey. When you get to the top visitors can take a walk through Point Park (an additional fee since it's run by the National Parks Service) then grab ice cream at Clumpie's when they arrive back at the bottom of the mountain.

Getting there: 3917 St Elmo Ave, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Take a Hike on One Chattanooga's Many Trails

Chattanooga, TN, offers a paradise for hiking enthusiasts with its diverse range of trails spanning across the mountains, forests, and along the riverfront. For breathtaking views of the Tennessee River, the Cumberland Trail is a top pick. It stretches across the eastern part of the city, offering various hiking levels, from beginner to advanced. Those looking for a more intense challenge can tackle the trails at Lookout Mountain or Signal Mountain, where steep ascents lead to panoramic views that make every step worth the effort. If you're looking to camp and hike, you can't go wrong with Cloudland Canyon State Park. This is a bit further from downtown Chattanooga (30-45 minutes), but it's worth the extra drive! Checkout this article for recommendations for the best hikes in Chattanooga.

Go Rock Climbing

While Chattanooga is full of natural rock climbing opportunities, if you're a beginner (or even if you're not!) there's a wonderful gym (High Point Climbing Gym) downtown that offer climbing opportunities for beginners, advanced climbers, and even children in a dedicated kids area. If the weather is nice you can even climb the face of the building and hang above the street below.

Getting there: 219 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Kayakers on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga

Rent Kayaks or Paddle-boards on the Tennessee River

Chattanooga's Tennessee River is a prime spot for water-sports lovers, particularly kayaking and paddle boarding. Rent a kayak or paddle board and take a leisurely paddle down the river, enjoying the cityscape and mountain views from a fresh perspective. We highly recommend renting kayaks and paddle-boards from L2 Outside and kayaking over to Maclellan Island.

Getting there (to L2 Outside): 131 River St, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Bluff View Arts District, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Discover the Bluff View Art District

Bluff View Art District is situated along bluff overlooking Tennessee River & provides visitors with picturesque scenery perfect backdrop for any photo opportunity. Within district there are galleries showcasing works by local artists plus a quaint cafe serving delicious meals & desserts, and a couple of restaurants. Spend afternoon exploring district's cobblestone streets, museums, and end the day with dinner at Tony's followed by coffee and dessert at Rembrandt's.

Getting there: 411 E 2nd St, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Visit the International Towing & Recovery Hall Of Fame And Museum

International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum honors those who dedicated their lives towards advancing tow trucks industry worldwide. I'll admit, this isn't one that would be my must-do in Chattanooga, but for guys, this might be a really interesting day! I can't personally vouch for what it's like because it's just about the only thing I haven't done in Chattanooga, but the tow truck was invented in Chattanooga, so it seems like the best place to geek out about heavy machinery.

Getting there: 3315 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Set Sail on the Southern Belle Riverboat Cruise

The Southern Belle Riverboat Cruise is a must-do attraction to experience the beauty of Chattanooga from the Tennessee River. This relaxing river cruise lets you sit back and enjoy the scenic views of Chattanooga's riverfront and the surrounding mountains. The Southern Belle offers a variety of cruises, including sightseeing tours, dinner cruises, and special holiday cruises, each providing a unique and memorable experience. You can enjoy dinner as you float by historic sites, or simply enjoy the peaceful serenity of the natural beauty around you.

Getting there: 151 Riverfront Pkwy, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Lookouts Baseball mascot, Chattanooga

Attend a Lookouts Baseball Game

Attending a Chattanooga Lookouts baseball game is a definitive local experience, filled with the excitement of America's favorite pastime. As you take in a game at the AT&T Field, you'll be treated to stunning views of the city and the Tennessee River. Don't miss out on the chance to cheer on the Lookouts, enjoy delicious ballpark food, and immerse yourself in the lively and family-friendly atmosphere.

Getting there: Power Alley, Chattanooga, TN 37402 | Google Maps

Visit the Chattanooga Zoo

Visit the Chattanooga Zoo for an intimate encounter with a variety of animal species from all over the world. Located within Warner Park, the zoo covers 13-acres and is home to over 500 animals including giraffes, red pandas, snow leopards, and more. Don't miss the chance to interact with some of the animals during the zoo's daily scheduled Keeper Talks.

Getting there: 301 N Holtzclaw Ave, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Take a stroll (or bike ride) on the Chattanooga Riverwalk

The Tennessee Riverwalk offers peaceful views as it winds along the river through downtown Chattanooga. Lace up your shoes and go for a run, use the bike share program and go for a ride (or bring your own!), or take an evening stroll after dinner. The Riverwalk winds past some of Chattanooga's best restaurants and sites making it easy to hop on and hop off the trail whenever you're ready.

Getting there: Google Maps

Explore the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is a treasure trove for railroad enthusiasts and history buffs alike. This living museum offers visitors the unique opportunity to experience the golden era of rail travel on historic trains. You can embark on an exhilarating journey on a full-size vintage train, witnessing the beautiful landscapes of Chattanooga and learning about the rich history of the Tennessee Valley.

Getting there: 4119 Cromwell Rd, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Burger at Main Street Meats, Chattanooga
Main Street Meats, Chattanooga, TN

Eat Your Way Through the City of Chattanooga

For being a relatively small town, Chattanooga has a booming food scene! From southern comfort food and cuisines from around the world to craft coffee and dessert boutiques, this city has enough to keep your tastebuds satisfied your entire trip! There are too many places to list here, so I'm going to send you over to our article all about the 43 Restaurants in Chattanooga Where Locals Eat and Drink.

Catch Sunrise at Snooper's Rock

Snooper's Rock is a hidden gem in Chattanooga that offers stunning panoramic views, making it an ideal spot to catch a breathtaking sunrise. This lookout point within Prentice Cooper State Forest offers sweeping vistas of the Tennessee River Gorge, often referred to as Tennessee's Grand Canyon. Arriving in the early morning, you'll be treated to the serene sight of the sun slowly illuminating the gorge below, casting a warm glow over the landscape. It's a sight worth the early rise and a perfect way to start your day in Chattanooga.

Getting there: Prentice Cooper State Forest, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Tour the Raccoon Mountain Caverns

Raccoon Mountain Caverns in Chattanooga offers an up-close look at nature's underground artwork. This extensive cave system boasts incredible formations of stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, and more, revealed through guided walking or wild cave expeditions. A visit to Raccoon Mountain Caverns promises both adventure and awe, making it an essential stop on your Chattanooga for cave lovers.

Getting there: 319 W Hills Dr, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Learn Chattanooga's Civil War History at Point Park & the Chickamauga Battlefield

Point Park, located on Lookout Mountain, is a must-visit for those interested in Chattanooga's Civil War history. The park offers breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding landscape that once served as strategic sites during the war. Interpretive plaques and markers throughout the park provide insights into the battles fought here, offering a glimpse into the city's past. A short drive from Point Park is the Chickamauga Battlefield, the site of one of the Civil War's most significant battles. The battlefield is now a well-preserved national military park with a visitor center, monuments, and historical exhibits, allowing you to step back in time and relive the crucial events that unfolded here.

Getting to Point Park: 110 Point Park Rd, Lookout Mountain, TN | Google Maps

Getting to the Chickamauga Battlefield: 3370 Lafayette Rd, Fort Oglethorpe, GA | Google Maps

The Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga
The Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga

Immerse yourself at the Tennessee Aquarium

Immerse yourself in a world of wonder at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, a top-rated aquarium boasting a fascinating array of sea life, from vibrant reef fish to sharks and penguins. As you journey from the mountains to the sea, you'll encounter playful river otters, waddling penguins, and mesmerizing jellyfish, among other aquatic wonders. With its engaging exhibits and stunning IMAX theater, a visit to the Tennessee Aquarium promises an unforgettable adventure for all ages.

Getting there: 1 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Tandem hang gliding flight from Lookout Mountain
Tandem hang gliding flight from Lookout Mountain

Go Hang Gliding on Lookout Mountain

Embrace the thrill of flight with a hang gliding adventure at Lookout Mountain Mountain Flight Park. This is one of the best places in the country to experience the exhilaration of soaring through the skies, with the world-renowned Lookout Mountain Flight Park offering tandem flights for beginners. As you glide through the air, you'll be treated to stunning views of the Tennessee Valley below. Whether you're an adrenaline junkie or just seeking a unique way to appreciate Chattanooga's natural beauty, hang gliding on Lookout Mountain provides an unforgettable experience.

Nervous about taking your first flight hang gliding? You can read about my entire experience hang gliding in my article all about how you, too, can hang glide in Chattanooga!

Getting there: 7201 Scenic Hwy, Rising Fawn, GA 30738 | Google Maps

Visit the Chattanooga Choo Choo

The Chattanooga Choo Choo, a historic station turned into a unique hotel, is a must-visit attraction that beautifully preserves Chattanooga's railway history. This iconic landmark, named after the famous song, provides an immersive experience with its vintage railway cars converted into cozy hotel rooms. With its charming gardens, eclectic on-site dining options, and a permanent model train exhibit, the Chattanooga Choo Choo offers a delightful journey through time making it an unmissable stop on your tour of Chattanooga.

Getting there: 301 N Holtzclaw Ave, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Explore the Chattanooga Market

The Chattanooga Market is the city's go-to spot for local produce, artisan goods, and live entertainment. Every weekend from April-November, it transforms into a bustling hub where locals and tourists alike gather to shop for fresh vegetables, fruits, cheeses, and handcrafted items, all while enjoying live music performances. Set in the First Horizon Pavilion, the market offers a vibrant, community-oriented experience that showcases the rich culture and local talent of Chattanooga.

Getting there: 1826 Reggie White Blvd, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Relax and taste at the Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery

Step into the world of craft spirits at the Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery. Located in the heart of downtown Chattanooga, this distillery is leading a renaissance in whiskey production, experimenting with a range of grains, malts, and fermentation techniques to craft unique and flavorful spirits. Here, visitors can dive into the process of whiskey-making through insightful guided tours which include tasting their award-winning bourbons and single malts. The distillery also houses a well-stocked cocktail bar serving an exciting selection of whiskey-based cocktails.

Getting there: 1439 Market St, Chattanooga, TN | Google Maps

Final thoughts

It’s no surprise why so many people love visiting Chattanooga, Tennessee! There’s something for everyone here - whether you want to explore the great outdoors, take in some of the most iconic landmarks, or just relax at one of the city’s amazing restaurants and bars. The abundance of attractions make it an ideal vacation destination for families or couples looking to explore Tennessee’s spectacular beauty and culture. From Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls to downtown Chattanooga and the Tennessee River, you won't be disappointed with your visit to Chattanooga. With its unique blend of natural wonders and bustling urban environment, Chattanooga is sure to leave a lasting impression on any traveler. Have fun exploring all this beautiful destination has to offer!

In a hurry? Here's the quick list summary of this travel guide.

26 Best Things to See and Do in Chattanooga, Tennessee

  • Take a stroll through Rock City Gardens
  • Learn at the Creative Discovery Museum
  • Go underground at Ruby Falls
  • Walk the Walnut Street Bridge
  • Get artsy at Hunter Museum Of American Art
  • Lounge in the sun at Coolidge Park
  • Ride the Incline Railway up Lookout Mountain
  • Take a hike on one Chattanooga's many trails
  • Go rock climbing
  • Rent kayaks or paddle-boards on the Tennessee River
  • Discover the Bluff View Arts District
  • Visit the International Towing & Recovery Hall Of Fame And Museum
  • Set sail on the Southern Belle Riverboat Cruise
  • Attend a Lookouts Baseball Game
  • Visit the Chattanooga Zoo
  • Take a stroll (or bike ride) on the Chattanooga Riverwalk
  • Explore the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
  • Eat your way through the city of Chattanooga
  • Catch sunrise at Snooper's Rock
  • Tour the Raccoon Mountain Caverns
  • Learn Chattanooga's Civil War history at Point Park & the Chickamauga Battlefield
  • Immerse yourself at the Tennessee Aquarium
  • Go hang gliding on Lookout Mountain
  • Visit the Chattanooga Choo Choo
  • Explore the Chattanooga Market
  • Relax and taste at the Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery

Like this post? Checkout our other Tennessee travel guides.

Rather watch than read? Checkout our Chattanooga vlogs over on Youtube.

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26 Best Things To Do in Chattanooga, Tennessee

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Hi! We're Chris and Sara a husband and wife video making, storytelling, travel loving duo with a passion for sharing travel tips, tricks, and inspiration with others.
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