Things To Do In Chattanooga

If you’re looking for things to do in Chattanooga, you’ve come to the right place! This city is full of fun activities and attractions that will keep you busy during your visit. From an aquarium with aquatic life from around the world to some of the best food in Tennessee, Chattanooga has something for everyone. Here are a few activities you should check out while you’re in town.

Colorful umbrellas suspended above an alley in Chattanooga.
Umbrella Alley on Chestnut Street across from Peet’s Coffee

1. See Sharks

One of the best things to do in Chattanooga is to explore the Tennessee Aquarium. This world-renowned facility is home to over 10,000 animals, making it one of the largest aquariums in the United States. Visitors can see everything from river otters to sharks during their visit.

The Tennessee Aquarium.

The aquarium comprises two separate buildings located in Chattanooga’s Riverfront District. The River Journey building focuses on freshwater habitats, while the Ocean Journey features saltwater creatures like sharks.

Shark swimming in a large aquarium.

The aquarium comprises two separate buildings located in Chattanooga’s Riverfront District. The River Journey building focuses on freshwater habitats, while the Ocean Journey features saltwater creatures like sharks. In addition, the Tennessee Aquarium also offers an IMAX theater, which regularly shows films about the natural world.

The aquairum is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.  (Chattanooga is in the Eastern Time zone.) The Tennessee Aquarium is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Tickets cost $34.95 for adults and $21.95 for children (ages 3-12). IMAX tickets are $9.95 per person.

2. Ride a Funicular 

Chattanooga’s Incline Railway is the incline of dreams! A beautiful, historic railway that has been providing locals and tourists alike with a truly unique way to experience Chattanooga since 1895.

People on an incline looking downhill.

It offers breathtaking views of the cityscape and the surrounding area, not to mention the tracks from St. Elmo to Lookout Mountain rank among one of the steepest passenger railways in the world! The Chattanooga Incline Railway is sure to take your breath away.

Trains leave every 20 minutes and the ride lasts approximately 10 minutes in each direction.

Tickets are $15.00 roundtrip for adults and $7.00 for children (ages 3-12). The incline is open every day with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hours are from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. The last car leaves 40 minutes before close. (Make sure you are there in time to ride it so that you don’t get stuck at the top – or bottom – of the hill.)

3. Play Games

The Pinball Museum is another Chattanooga attraction that is perfect for those who love classic games. This museum is home to over 50 pinball machines, making it the largest collection in the state of Tennessee.

Pinball Museum entrance.

Not only can you see classic pinball machines, but you can also play them! Admission includes unlimited FREE play on all of the operating games and machines.

Admission costs $20 for adults and $16 for children.  Guests receive a wrist band which allows all day play for one price.  Bonus – you can come and go throughout the day.

The museum is closed on Mondays and open Tuesday – Thursday from 1:00 pm until 9:00 pm, Fridays from 1:00 pm until 10:00 pm, Saturdays from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm, and on Sundays from 11:00 am until 9:00 pm.

4. See Rock City

Visitors to Rock City can explore ancient rock formations, admire the native plants and wildlife, and take in sweeping vistas of the seven states. Along the way, will enjoy seeing Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village.

Woman walking through narrow opening between two large rock formations.

You’ll find a variety of trails designed to guide you around Rock City’s famous rock formations and gaze at some of its most beautiful overlooks.

Rock City overlook.

Throughout the year, Rock City hosts a variety of special events, from a magical Enchanted Garden of Lights during the holidays to live music and fireworks on summer nights. With its natural beauty and many attractions, Rock City is Tennessee’s must-see destination.

Rock City is located at 400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750 and is open 8:30 am until 3:45 pm and from 4:30 pm until 9:00 pm (10:00 pm Friday and Sunday) for the Enchanted Garden of Lights during the Winter season. Tickets start at $14.95 for children and $24.95 for adults.

5. Get Amazed Underground

Ruby Falls is another Chattanooga must-see. This waterfall is located inside of Lookout Mountain, and it’s one of the tallest underground waterfalls in the United States. Ruby Falls is illuminated, making it a truly magical experience.

View the waterfall inside of Ruby Falls.

Advanced tickets are required to view Ruby Falls and they are only sold online. The cost is $22.95 for adults and $13.95 for ages 3 – 11. Plan on spending at least 2 hours when you visit.

Ruby Falls is located at 1720 South Scenic Hwy Chattanooga, TN 37409, and is open from 8 AM until 8 PM Eastern time every day except Christmas.

6. Visit the Chattanooga Choo Choo

No trip to Chattanooga would be complete without a visit to the Chattanooga Choo Choo. This iconic train station has been transformed into a hotel and entertainment complex, and it’s the perfect place to stay during your Chattanooga vacation.

The Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel.

Unwind and soak in the beauty of nature while surrounded by the vibrant city. Take a stroll through the Glenn Miller Gardens at the Chattanooga Choo Choo to marvel at roses among an array of colorful blooms, or sit back and relax on rocking chairs. Plus, dive into some friendly competition with games like Jenga, life-sized checkers, corn hole, and bocce ball.

Chattanooga sign at the Chattanooga Coo Choo.

The Chattanooga Choo Choo is located at 92 Choo Choo Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37408.

7. Sip Some Tennessee Whiskey

Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery is a must-visit for anyone who enjoys a good glass of whiskey. This distillery offers tours and tastings, and it’s the perfect place to learn about the Chattanooga whiskey-making process.

Whiskey flight on a wooden board.

Tours are $14.50 per person and at the end of the tour, guests get to sample their award-winning products. Tours last approximately 1 hour and participants must be at least 21 years of age.

Woman holding a small glass of whiskey.

The distillery is located at 1439 Market St, Chattanooga, TN 37402, and opens at 11:00 am daily. We recommend that you book your tour online as they tend to fill up.

8. Enjoy a Scoop of Ice Cream

Clumpies Ice Cream Co. is the perfect place to go for a sweet treat. This Chattanooga ice cream shop has been serving up delicious scoops since 1999, and it’s the perfect place to cool down on a hot day.

Red brick building with black and white awning and sign that says, "Clumpies."
Southside Location 1401 Market Street

Clumpies serves ice cream year-round at their three locations as well as online. (Yes, you can have their delicious ice cream shipped to your house!)

In addition to classic flavors like butter pecan, chocolate, coffee, and cookie dough, they serve seasonal and specialty flavors like Chocolate Orange, Dasher’s Delight, Mayan Hot Chocolate, Spiked Eggnog, White Chocolate Peppermint Bark, and Turtle Cheesecake.

Scoop of toffee ice cream on a waffle cone.

Clumpies opens at noon daily.

9. Drink Hot Chocolate

Nothing helps take off a chill more than a cup of hot chocolate and the best place to get a cup is at The Hot Chocolatier.

The Hot Chocolatier sign.

The Hot Chocolatier is a local specialty shop that makes artisan chocolates, pastries, and drinks. The hot chocolate drink menu has 22 different offerings including Coconut Caramel Almond, Salted Butterscotch, White Peppermint, and Vegan Hot Chocolate. In addition to hot chocolate, they serve other tasty hot beverages (think Chai Latte and Spiced Apple Cider) and have a cold menu (frozen hot chocolate, iced coffee, etc.), too.

Cup of peppermint white hot chocolate.

The Hot Chocolatier is located at 1437 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402, and is open Tuesday – Thursday from 11:00 am until 8:00 pm, Friday & Saturday from 11:00 am until 10:00 pm, and on Sunday from noon until 6:00 pm.

10. Eat Like a Local

The Feed Co sign above a commercial kitchen.
Feed Table and Tavern – One of Our Faves!

Chattanooga has a vibrant dining scene, with a variety of local restaurants to choose from. From traditional southern cuisine like fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and slow-cooked barbeque, to modern international dishes, you’ll find something delicious to eat in Chattanooga.

Fried catfish, French fries, and coleslaw on a styrofoam plate.
Fried Catfish at Uncle Larry’s

Our personal recommendations are Thai Smile for Thai food, Feed for their Wagyu Beef Sandwich, and STIR for cocktails. (You can read more about our recommendations at Where To Eat In Chattanooga.)

11. Take a Food Tour

One of the best ways to learn more about the local dining scene is to take a food tour. The 2.5-Hour Food Tour in Downtown Chattanooga is a great way to discover a few places in the city that you might not otherwise try.

Man and woman standing together in front of night lights.

We booked our tour through Viator and met the tour guide, Briana, inside the restaurant at Hotel Indigo. She goes over the dishes that guests will eat and information about the restaurants and chefs all while sharing tidbits about Chattanooga’s history.

Briana did a great job curating, organizing, and making the tour fun.

In addition to trying new dishes and discovering new places, you never know who you will meet. (If the people at Shaw Carpet read this – You rock! We had the best time on the food tour with you.)

12. Shop For a MoonPie

Moon Pies were first created in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1917 by the Chattanooga Bakery. The original recipe was simple – two round graham cracker cookies with a marshmallow filling sandwiched between them and then covered in chocolate.

Boxes of Moon Pies.

Whether you are a Chattanooga native or just visiting for the first time, make sure to get your hands on some of Chattanooga’s iconic treat – the MoonPie! Enjoy the classic combination of two cookies with marshmallow filling and chocolatey coating that has been Chattanooga’s favorite treat for over 100 years.

Moon Pie General Store entrance in Chattanooga.

Visitors can buy MoonPies, t-shirts, hats, and other MoonPie merchandise at the MoonPie General Store located at 429 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402.

The General Store is open Monday to Wednesday from 10:00 am until 7:00 pm, Thursday to Saturday from 10:00 am until 8:00 pm, and on Sunday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm.

13. Remember Our Heroes

The National Medal of Honor Heritage Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee is a must-see for history buffs and military supporters alike. This museum honors those who have served their country with courage and valor.

National Medal of Honor Heritage Center building in Chattanooga.

The National Medal of Honor Heritage Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee is a must-see for history buffs and military supporters alike. This museum honors those who have served their country with courage and valor.

The center features interactive exhibits that provide an immersive experience into the history of the Medal of Honor and the stories of its recipients.

The museum is located by the Tennessee Aquarium at 2 W. Aquarium Way, Suite 104, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37402.

It’s open Monday – Saturday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and on Sunday from 10:00 am until 3:30 pm.

More Fun Things To Check Out in Chattanooga

  • Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum – Take a ride on an old-fashioned locomotive at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. The museum offers the only regularly scheduled, full-sized train ride in Tennessee. You can also explore the museum’s collection of vintage trains and learn about their history.
YouTube video
  • Chattanooga Market – The Chattanooga Market is a weekly event that is held on the weekends. Here, you can find fresh produce, handmade crafts, and unique gifts from local vendors. It’s also a great place to grab some food from the many food trucks that are usually onsite. 
  • Hunter Museum of American Art – The museum features an impressive collection of American art from the colonial period to the present. You can also take a guided tour to learn more about the artists and their works.
  • Chattanooga Zoo – Explore and learn about animals from around the world. From African elephants to jaguars ank komodo dragaons, the zoo offers a great opportunity to observe and appreciate our planet’s diverse wildlife. There are also plenty of interactive exhibits and opportunities to feed the animals.
  • Creative Discovery Museum – The Creative Discovery Museum is a great place for families to explore and learn about science. Featuring interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and educational programs, the museum offers something for everyone. 
  • Songbirds Guitar Museum – Guitars and music lovers alike can explore this museum devoted to all things guitars. The collection is valued at over $200 million and includes hundreds of unique Fender guitars plus original 5-string banjos and mandolins from Martin, Gibson, and other companies.
  • International Towing Museum – Learn about the fascinating history of towing and recovery at this unique museum. See a variety of vintage tow trucks, explore interactive exhibits, and learn about the challenging conditions tow truck drivers operate in. 
  • Audubon Acres – Located on the banks of the South Chickamauga Creek, this scenic nature preserve is a great spot for bird-watching. Take an audio tour of the wetlands and observe different species of birds in their natural habitats. You can also learn more about the area’s unique ecology and the conservation efforts in place to protect the environment.
  • Coolidge Park – Take in stunning views of downtown Chattanooga at this riverside park. Coolidge Park features a carousel, fountain, and playground. Enjoy a picnic in the park or take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront. The park is also home to many festivals and events throughout the year.
  • Southern Belle Riverboat – Take a step back in time and experience the culture of the South aboard the Southern Belle Riverboat. Cruise along the Tennessee River while enjoying breathtaking views of the city of Chattanooga. Book a sunset cruise and enjoy live music and a hometown favorite – a Moon Pie.

Getting Around

Chattanooga has a free shuttle service that operates throughout Chattanooga, Tennessee. It’s powered by a rechargeable battery and provides a convenient way of getting around Chattanooga. The shuttle runs from downtown Chattanooga to other popular destinations such as the Chattanooga Choo Choo, the Tennessee Aquarium, and Lookout Mountain.

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