Chattanooga Choo Choo

One Day in Chattanooga: Best TN Things To Do 2023

One Day in Chattanooga: Unforgettable Family Adventures

Gatlinburg Overview
Chattanooga Choo Choo

Chattanooga Overview

Along with Gatlinburg, Chattanooga is one of our favorite close-by weekend trips.

Top Thing To Do: Rocky City & Ruby Falls

Where To Stay: Chattanooga Choo Choo. This unique hotel is built in an old railway station in downtown Chattanooga.

Where To Eat: Community Pie: some of the best pizza in Chattanooga

Are you ready to explore Chattanooga, Tennessee, with your family? Situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, this scenic city offers something for everyone. From the breathtaking Ruby Falls to the fascinating Tennessee Aquarium, there’s no shortage of excitement for parents and kids alike. In this article, we’ll guide you through the best places to visit and the top things to do in Chattanooga, so buckle up and let’s dive in!

Ruby Falls: Underground Marvels and Geological Wonders

One Day In Chattanooga: Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls is a true spectacle that should be on every family’s bucket list. This underground waterfall, discovered by Leo Lambert in 1928, cascades an impressive 145 feet into a natural cave. The guided tour through the cave system provides an educational and exciting experience, as you’ll learn about the area’s geological history and see remarkable rock formations like stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstones. While there’s an extra cost for the cave tour, it’s a worthwhile investment for an unforgettable experience.

Buy tickets directly, or book A Full-Day Tour of Chattanooga’s Lookout Mountain with Lunch & Transportation

Tennessee Aquarium: An Ocean of Wonders and Interactive Experiences

The Tennessee Aquarium promises a day full of aquatic adventures and discoveries. This massive complex is home to over 12,000 animals and features two buildings – the Ocean Journey and the River Journey. In the Ocean Journey, you’ll meet with sharks, sea turtles, and vibrant coral reefs. The River Journey focuses on freshwater habitats, showcasing playful otters, enormous catfish, and electric eels. The aquarium offers interactive experiences like touch tanks and the mesmerizing butterfly garden. This is a fantastic destination for families visiting Chattanooga for the first time or even for return trips.

Rock City Gardens & Lookout Mountain Incline Railway: Natural Beauty, Thrilling Rides, and Stunning Vistas

Rock City

Rock City is a natural wonder that will captivate you! Situated on Lookout Mountain, a mere 6 miles from the heart of Chattanooga, this extraordinary attraction showcases enormous ancient rock formations, gardens brimming with over 400 indigenous plant species, and awe-inspiring “See Seven States” panoramic vistas.

Embark on an unforgettable adventure along the Enchanted Trail, where each step unveils the enchanting beauty and marvels of the woodland path. Discover the magic of Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village, browse through one of the local gift shops, and grab a bite at the Big Rock Grill. Rock City is a year-round delight; just waiting for your visit!

Uncover the enchanting Rock City Gardens atop Lookout Mountain, which offers breathtaking views of seven states on a clear day. As you wander through the winding pathways, you’ll encounter unique rock formations, a 100-foot waterfall, and the whimsical Fairyland Caverns. Make sure to cross the Swing-A-Long Bridge for a thrilling experience and stunning vistas.

To reach the summit of Lookout Mountain, hop on the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, dubbed “America’s Most Amazing Mile.” This historic railway whisks you up the mountain in a glass-front elevator, offering unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape.

Chattanooga Choo Choo: All Aboard for History, Dining, and Entertainment

Chattanooga Choo Choo Rail Yard

Step back at the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo, located at the iconic Terminal Station. This train station-turned-hotel is a must-visit for train enthusiasts and history buffs alike. While there, explore the beautifully restored train cars, marvel at the antique locomotives, and learn about the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s famous song that shares the site’s name. The Chattanooga Choo Choo complex also features great restaurants, live music venues, and art galleries, making it an exciting destination for the whole family.

Walnut Street Bridge & Coolidge Park: Leisurely Strolls, Playtime, and Scenic Views

Aerial View Of Chattanooga Tennessee Tn

As the world’s longest pedestrian bridge, the Walnut Street Bridge is an impressive landmark that offers panoramic views of the Tennessee River and the Chattanooga skyline. After a leisurely stroll across the bridge, you’ll arrive at Coolidge Park, a family-friendly oasis with fun attractions. The park boasts a beautifully restored antique carousel, interactive water fountains perfect for hot days, and plenty of green space for picnics and outdoor play.

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum: Train Rides and Railway History

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

All aboard for a journey through time at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum! This train museum offers a unique experience for railway enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Visitors can explore the beautifully preserved train cars, learn about the history of the railroads in the region, and even take a ride on a historic train. The museum offers various excursions, such as the Missionary Ridge Local, which takes you on a scenic journey through the Chattanooga countryside. It’s a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the region’s railway history and create lasting memories with your family.

Hunter Museum of American Art & Bluff View Art District: Artistic Inspirations and Cultural Delights

The Hunter Museum of American Art showcases an extensive collection of American art from colonial times to the present day. The museum’s diverse exhibits feature works from renowned artists such as Thomas Cole, Mary Cassatt, and Andy Warhol. After exploring the museum, stroll through the charming Bluff View Art District. This historic neighborhood features art galleries, beautiful sculptures, and stunning views of the Tennessee River. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic getaway or a family outing that combines art and nature.

Outdoor Adventures: High Point Climbing and Cherokee National Forest

Chattanooga is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering many activities. High Point Climbing is an indoor rock climbing facility with over 30,000 square feet of climbing space, perfect for beginners and experts alike. If you prefer hiking, Chattanooga boasts an extensive network of trails, including those at the Cherokee National Forest and Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center.

Chattanooga Zoo & Raccoon Mountain Caverns: Wildlife Encounters

Get up close and personal with animals at the Chattanooga Zoo, where you’ll find an array of creatures, from snow leopards to red pandas. For an underground adventure, visit the Raccoon Mountain Caverns and explore the fascinating cave system. Don’t forget to pick up some souvenirs at the gift shop!

Chattanooga National Military Park & Civil War History

History buffs will adore the Chattanooga National Military Park, encompassing Chickamauga Battlefield and Lookout Mountain Battlefield. Learn about the Civil War through the visitor center’s exhibits and take a self-guided tour of the park’s historic sites. While in the area, visit the Chattanooga National Cemetery and Missionary Ridge, both steeped in history.

Great Spots for Food, Fun, and Shopping

Chattanooga has some amazing dining options, like those in the North Shore area and the Heart of Downtown Chattanooga. Treat yourself to some delicious ice cream at Clumpies Ice Cream Co. or live music at Station Street. For shopping, check out the unique stores at the North Shore and the charming shops in Renaissance Park.


One day in Chattanooga is bound to be a memorable experience for the whole family. With so much natural beauty, history, and fun activities, it’s no wonder Chattanooga is a favorite destination for locals and visitors. Don’t be surprised if you plan a return trip to explore even more of this incredible city!


Q: What are some other great day trips from Chattanooga?

A: Some of the best day trips from Chattanooga include the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Jack Daniels Distillery, and exploring nearby cities like North Carolina’s Asheville. Also, check out our guides on things to do with kids in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Townsend.

Q: Are there any romantic getaway ideas in Chattanooga?

A: For a romantic getaway, consider visiting Sunset Rock for a stunning view, having a picnic at Point Park, or staying at a charming bed and breakfast in the Bluff View Art District.

Q: What is the best time of year to visit Chattanooga?

A: Chattanooga is a year-round destination, but spring and fall offer mild temperatures and beautiful foliage, making it a great time to visit.

Similar Posts