Coming off a long year, everyone is ready to embrace a return to fun. What better way to get 2021 started than by planning the perfect road trip to Chattanooga? From outdoor adventures and family vacations to long weekends with friends or a romantic getaway, Chattanooga’s diverse offerings make it easy to fill any itinerary. Known as the Scenic City, a mild climate and stunning natural beauty provide a great backdrop for sightseeing and al fresco dining. And the city’s easy charm entices visitors back again and again to enjoy different experiences in one exciting destination.
Known for featuring a full slate of natural excursions and stunning vistas, Chattanooga is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
Lookout Mountain Flight Park offers hang-gliders a bird’s-eye view of the area’s breathtaking scenery or keep your feet on the ground with a hike to the aptly named Sunset Rock to take in the golden glow that bathes Lookout Mountain just before dark. With miles of scenic hiking trails, river adventures, rock climbing, hang-gliding, biking, camping and more, there are activities for all skill levels. Tap into local expertise with a curated tour of the best trails and fishing spots or explore on your own with a leisurely bike ride on the 16.1-mile-long Tennessee Riverwalk.
Downtown’s popular Miller Park recently completed a $10 million renovation with added green space, outdoor stage and climbable rock structures.
Nature lovers will also want to visit Audubon Acres, one of the city’s beautiful wildlife sanctuaries.
Family-Friendly Activities in Chattanooga
Families have so many opportunities to engage children in hands-on experiences. The city’s iconic attractions – Chattanooga Choo Choo, Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls and Rock City – literally have entertained generations of visitors.
The renowned Tennessee Aquarium, Creative Discovery Museum and Chattanooga Zoo have perfected the art of making learning fun. And there are plenty of family-friendly dining options to please even the pickiest palate. Try an escape room experience where the family works together to uncover clues and make their way to freedom. Three new attractions have recently joined the entertainment lineup: Dave & Busters at Hamilton Place offers 30,000 square feet of entertainment, sports and arcade games; the Classic Arcade and Pinball Museum downtown is an interactive experience; and NoogaSplash at Chester Frost Park features an inflatable, on-the-water obstacle course.
Best Friend Getaway in Chattanooga
Spend a long weekend celebrating friendships. Does the group lean toward leisurely strolls through art districts, sampling craft cocktails and savoring chef-driven cuisine? Or does a little friendly axe-throwing competition, trying out small-batch beer and jamming to live music at The Signal appeal to the crew? Whatever the vibe, you’re guaranteed a getaway filled with fun and laughter.
Arts & Culture in Chattanooga
Sample Chattanooga’s renowned art scene with a stroll through the Bluff View Art District and visit to the acclaimed Hunter Museum of American Art. Then explore the River Gallery Sculpture Garden and Sculpture Fields at Montague Park to view three-dimensional works of art. An interactive gallery map is available at visitchattanooga.com.
One of the region’s hottest craft brewery destinations, there are plenty of options from pale ales to dark beers throughout the city. Check out Chattanooga Brewing Co., Terminal Brewhouse, WanderLinger Brewing Co. or one of the other local offerings. Gate 11 Distillery and Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery serve up their own take on harder spirits.
For a little friendly competition, spend an afternoon at the recently opened Topgolf in East Ridge or try out one of two new axe-throwing venues – Civil Axe Throwing downtown and Valkyrie Axe Throwing in the Southside District.
Of course, some of the biggest trips are the ones meant just for two. Whether camping under a star-filled sky or staying at one of the city’s chic boutique hotels, plan a romantic retreat perfectly suited to you and your significant other.
Don’t miss the Chattanooga Market, a leisurely Sunday afternoon opportunity to explore the city’s creative climate. Held from 11 am-4 pm at First Horizon Pavilion, the weekly event has been hailed by Frommer’s as one of the best artisan markets in the country. More than 130 makers showcase original artworks and crafts alongside wares from more than 50 farms.
Catch a live show at the Tivoli Theatre or laugh until you cry at Comedy Catch at the Choo Choo. Enjoy drinks at Whiskey Thief, the rooftop bar at the Edwin Hotel, for a spectacular view, and take advantage of the city’s acclaimed restaurant scene.
Adventure, art, history, shopping, dining and dancing – the options are endless, and the memories will last a lifetime.
Chattanooga’s Sports Spots
From great sports bars and restaurants to live action sports, Chattanooga is a championship choice.
Catch a USL League One professional soccer game by the Chattanooga Red Wolves at their new $125 million stadium and mixed-use development in East Ridge, which includes plenty of shopping and dining options before or after the match.
The Chattanooga Lookouts play games at AT&T Field and are the Double-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. A perennial playoff favorite, the Lookouts have won two championships in the last five years.
For those who want to get in the game, there are a number of challenging golf courses in and around Chattanooga, including Sweetens Cove Golf Club, which Golfweek named one of America’s best courses. There are also several excellent disc golf courses in the area.
Historic Sites in Chattanooga
Take a journey that covers centuries of history in Chattanooga. The city’s name comes from a Creek Indian word, and Native American history plays a prominent role in Chattanooga’s story.
Ross’s Landing on the riverfront was established in 1816 by Cherokee Chief John Ross as a trading center and later became a departure point on the Trail of Tears. Don’t miss The Passage with water features that share tribal history.
Military tradition is important to the city’s story, as well. The nation’s first and largest military park, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, provides critical insights into the Civil War era.
In downtown Chattanooga, the new Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center features an immersive experience surrounding the nation’s highest military honor and shares the tales of many of the brave heroes who have earned this distinction.
For a comprehensive list of activities, attractions, dining, nightlife, shopping and lodging, go to visitchattanooga.com. Be sure to check out the suggested itineraries and blog for more great ideas to plan your perfect road trip.
*Due to COVID-19, please check hours and any restrictions before your arrival.
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