From its forested recreation areas to its urban parks and green spaces, Chattanooga in Southeast Tennessee is a breathtaking play land for outdoor enthusiasts and active families. Set up your home base with a bunk or a private room at boutique hostel The Crash Pad, and then get outdoors.
Experience the views of the valley below the Lookout Mountain Flight Park
Explore the wilderness on mountain bike at Stringers Ridge Park or Enterprise South Nature Park, or pedal along the 13-mile paved Tennessee Riverwalk, which winds alongside the Tennessee River from downtown Chattanooga to the Chickamauga Dam. Signal Mountain offers miles of hiking trails, and Renaissance Park is the spot for exploring 23 acres of peaceful wetlands. At Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, wander beautifully landscaped gardens, walk along the boardwalk over wetlands, and see a variety of native wildlife.
Scale the colorful panels at High Point Climbing and Fitness
Perfect for joggers and bikers, wind your way along 13 miles of riverwalk
Experience large-scale artwork in Chattanooga’s outdoor green spaces when you explore the serene grounds of the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park, Main Terrain Art Park or the River Gallery Sculpture Garden in the Bluff View Art District.
Throw the car in 4x4 and hit Chattanooga’s lesser-known trails
Listen to the call of the wild at the Reflection Riding Aboretum
Or, go deep beneath the earth’s surface on a subterranean cave tour of Raccoon Mountain Caverns, where sightseeing includes ancient fossils and incredible rock formations.
Speaking of Raccoon Mountain, challenging mountain bike trails running throughout the area attract mountain bikers from all over the country. Enterprise South Nature Park is known for its more flowing trails and high- speed runs. Both are worth coming to Chattanooga for, and are easy to locate for visitors.
Rent a stand-up paddleboard or kayak from L2 Outside to paddle through downtown Chattanooga on the Tennessee River, or shoot down the rapids on the Ocoee or Nantahala rivers with a whitewater rafting trip. You can even visit the “Bat Cave” by kayak on Nickajack Lake. At dusk, hundreds of thousands of endangered gray bats emerge from a half-flooded cave on Nickajack Lake to feed on the flying bugs that come out at night. For group boating experiences, get out on the water with a 16-person pedal boat ride by Chattanooga Cycleboats, or enjoy a leisurely dinner cruise on the Southern Belle Riverboat.
Learn Civil War history on a ranger-led bike ride through the Chickamauga Battlefield
Pair beer tasting and bicycling when you book a biking and bar-hopping tour with Chattanooga Pints & Pedals or when you take a seat on the Chattanooga Brew Choo – a 15-person pedal-powered party bike that travels through downtown.
Take a whitewater rafting adventure down the Ocoee River
When you’ve got kids in tow, there’s nothing like letting them loose at the Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park and SoakYa Water Park. Little ones also will love playing in the interactive splash fountain and riding the historic carousel at Coolidge Park. Meanwhile, teens will love the challenge of the treetops obstacle course at Ruby Falls ZIPstream Aerial Adventure or the extensive climbing walls at High Point Climbing and Fitness located downtown and at Riverside.
For a more rugged rock climbing experience, there are big crags with dozens of routes, sport climbing and bouldering can be found at the Tennessee Wall, Foster Falls Small Wild Area and Sunset Rock (considered the grandmother of traditional climbing in the Southeast).
And visitors of all ages will enjoy getting up close to more than 300 animals at Chattanooga Zoo or glimpsing sharks, seahorses and jellyfish at the Tennessee Aquarium,. There you can learn about the Tennessee River Watershed, complete with just about every type of fish and wildlife you can find on the largest tributary to the Ohio River. You will leave with an appreciation for the river system that’s found in Chattanooga through this exhibit.
Cool off in North Chickamauga Creek, complete with deep water soloing and cliff jumping
For a fascinating history lesson in the great outdoors, peek into the past at key historic sites, such as Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the oldest and largest of the United States’ Civil War parks, and Point Park Battlefield, the hallowed site of the Civil War’s “Battle Above the Clouds.”
Explore Native American history at the 750-acre Moccasin Bend National Park, or walk along The Passage, a downtown pedestrian walkway marking the beginning of the Trail of Tears.
Whether you want high-action adventure or a more leisure or educational outdoor afternoon, Chattanooga fits the bill. With great restaurants, relaxed atmosphere and true southern hospitality, this city quickly becomes your home away from home.