Chattanooga, Tennessee is a city I’ve never considered visiting. Even heading out on my mid-South roadtrip through Tennessee, North Carolina, and Northern Georgia, Chattanooga wasn’t top of my mind. Based on the route, however, it made sense to stop through. And I’m glad I did, because there are so many fun things to do in Chattanooga!
The thing I love most about small, non-coastal cities in the U.S. is their unique charm. There are tons of cool things to do in Chattanooga, plus some incredible scenery. On top of that, you’ll find plenty of independent businesses, friendly locals, and a lack of overwhelming crowds.
Chattanooga is a popular hub for outdoor enthusiasts, especially climbers. With all of the rock climbing, biking, and hiking opportunities in the area, it’s really no surprise. However, there’s also plenty of culture to go around, with art galleries, museums, and a very large collection of public art throughout the city. Tie all of this together with a burgeoning coffee scene, and you’ll see why I loved it so much.
While I didn’t get to explore every aspect of this city as much as I’d like, I still want to leave you with this quick list of fun things to do in Chattanooga. It includes some major attractions and a few absolute must-do’s.
Fun Things to Do in Chattanooga
Point Park is one of my favorite attractions in Chattanooga. It sits on top of Lookout Mountain, and I think it’s the most beautiful spot to see the city (especially at sunset). It’s a National Military Park commemorating the Civil War. Overall, it’s a really fun park to spend time in. Admission is $5, which will get you a 7-day pass. I returned twice during my time in Chattanooga, so it was well worth the price.
Rock City is a crazy labyrinth through a rocky wonderland. This attraction is also located up on Lookout Mountain, just outside of Chattanooga. You can see 7 states from the most scenic viewpoint, or you can explore Fairyland Caverns, a cave full of neon fairytale scenes. I really enjoyed wandering through this whimsical attraction. This is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Chattanooga!
Read more about Rock City here
Bluff View Art District
I just sort of stumbled into this little area of downtown Chattanooga while searching for parking. It’s hidden away near the Hunter Art Museum, and it’s filled with cafes, galleries, beautiful old homes, and artsy details. In addition to the Hunter, this area is home to the Houston Museum of Decorative Arts (which I hope to visit next time!) and the River Gallery Sculpture Garden. The Art District is such a neat place to wander around.
Walnut Street Bridge
The Walnut Street Bridge is a 2,376 foot pedestrian bridge connecting Downtown Chattanooga with the North Shore neighborhood. On a nice day, it’s a great place to walk (or run). I definitely consider it a must-do, as it gives you amazing views of the city and the Tennessee River.
Hunter Museum of American Art
The Hunter Museum of American Art is a work of art inside and out. It sits overlooking the Tennessee River in the Bluff View Arts District. The museum is housed in multiple buildings: an Edwardian-style mansion built in 1904, and a newer futuristic addition. Give yourself a couple of hours to look through the museum, and then check out the sculptures outside. Admission is $15.
There’s a really cool sculpture field at Montague Park. It’s a 33-acre park featuring about 32 sculptures. HUGE sculptures. It’s a lot of fun walking around and viewing these towering works of art. The sculpture field is a public park, free for all to visit. Chattanooga is filled with outdoor sculptures, so this is just one of many places to see them.
Chattanooga’s Incline Railway is a popular way to get from the bottom of Lookout Mountain, all the way up to the top. It’s a 72% grade, which is just about as steep as you can get! At the top of the mountain, you get an amazing view over the Chattanooga area. You can also walk over to Point Park. A round-trip ticket is $15.
Coolidge Park is located on the North Shore, on the other side of the Walnut Street Bridge. The park features tons of green space right on the shores of the Tennessee River. It also connects to walking trails and is home to an old carousel. While you’re on this side of the river, check out some of the shops and restaurants in the neighborhood.
Where to Stay in Chattanooga
I stayed at the Crash Pad Hostel in Chattanooga. It’s a small, community-driven hostel with a large, open bunk room. The custom bunks are roomy, and allow for privacy with curtains. It’s a popular place to stay for all of the rock climbers that come through Chattanooga, but it’s open to all travelers. The Crash Pad is located near plenty of restaurants and bars.
Find out more about the Crash Pad here
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