Chattanooga, Tennesse: Things to Do on Your Family Vacation

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Is your family planning a vacation to Chattanooga, Tennessee? Things to do there are endless! There are so many fun things to do in the Chattanooga/Lookout Mountain area that we have put together a full guide for you. We will share attractions to visit, places to eat, suggestions on where to stay, and more for a Chattanooga family vacation!

This article includes:
What Is There to Do in Lookout Mountain
Downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee Things to Do
General Area of Chattanooga, Tennessee Things to Do
Where Should We Eat in Chattanooga
Where Should We Stay in Chattanooga

Find a place to stay in Chattanooga. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

Spending just a weekend in Chattanooga? Don’t miss this easy family itinerary for a weekend getaway to Chattanooga, TN. We’ve done all the planning work for you!

The Read House hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

What Is There to Do in Lookout Mountain

The view from Lookout Mountain in Tennessee.

See Rock City

Rock City is a 4100-foot garden trail that winds through natural rock formations. One of the most significant parts of the park is a lookout point where you can see up to 7 states.

1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, GA

Rock City garden space at Lookout Mountain in Georgia

Learn More about Rock City at Lookout Mountain, Georgia in our KA review!

Ruby Falls

Take an elevator 26 stories down to see a cavern and the waterfall that it hides over 1,000 feet underground.

1720 South Scenic Hwy, Chattanooga, TN

The [Hotel Chalet] is fun to visit, even if you don’t stay there. We also took a cruise on a river boat. Nearby to Chattanooga is Rock City, which was a lot neater than I was expecting. We also went down into caves and saw Ruby Falls and took an incline railroad ride. We did a combo ticket for the falls, railroad, and Rock City attractions.


Incline Railway

The railway descends Lookout Mountain with a descent that goes up to 72.7% grade. This grade is one of the steepest railway grades in the world.

The top of the railway offers a panoramic view of the surrounding areas.

Tickets are round-trip.

3917 St Elmo Ave, Chattanooga, TN

Point Park Battlefield

This National Park is the site of a famous Civil War battle near Chattanooga that was called the “Battle Above the Clouds”.

110 Point Park Road, Lookout Mountain, TN

Chattanooga Tennessee: Things to Do With Kids

Did you know that the same people who designed downtown Greenville, designed downtown Chattanooga? It has a very “Greenville” feel to it.


Chattanooga Zoo

This 13-acre zoo has six major areas with 4-5 exhibits in each. The zoo also offers multiple programs throughout the day, has a choo-choo train, camel rides, and a carousel. This zoo is a great option to fill out your itinerary during your Chattanooga family vacation!

301 N Holtzclaw Ave, Chattanooga, TN

Check out our KA review of the Chattanooga Zoo, the perfect place to visit during your family vacation!

Meercats at Chattanooga Zoo in Tennessee.

Creative Discovery Museum

The Creative Discovery Museum includes 15 permanent exhibits and a temporary exhibit.

The family-friendly exhibits include a Culinary Corner where kids can pretend to cook, an Evacuation Station that allows kids to dig in the sand, and a Lookout Tower that gives kids a 3-story view of the city.

321 Chestnut St, Chattanooga, TN

Walnut Street Bridge

Walnut Street Bridge

This pedestrian bridge is a fun way to see the river and explore Chattanooga. The bridge leads to the Tennessee Aquarium and Hunter Museum of Art on one side and Coolidge Park, Renaissance Park and it’s surrounding art shops and restaurants on the other side.

1 Walnut St, Chattanooga, TN

Aquarium, Zoo, both are great! Ruby Falls is fun, the incline train will take you up the mountain. There is a fountain downtown the kids can play in. There is a great hot dog place their as well near the fountain, but can’t remember the name. We found a great house to rent. Chattanooga is our go to summer destination; we love it!


Tennessee Aquarium

Tennessee Aquarium is known for its wide variety of fish, animals, and plants that live in fresh and saltwater.

The aquarium includes several touch tanks, a butterfly garden, a rainforest area, and other unique exhibits in addition to fish tanks.

1 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN 

Aquarium is a favorite, especially with younger kids, because you follow a “path” through the entire space vs the hub and spoke model in Atlanta.


Review of the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga

Find out what makes the Tennessee Aquarium a must-see on your Chattanooga family vacation!

Coolidge Park

This downtown Chattanooga park should be on your itinerary. It’s located right beside the Walnut Street Bridge.

The park includes a 100-year-old restored carousel and an interactive water fountain. Admission is a $1.

150 River St, Chattanooga, TN

The carousel is unforgettable! Coolidge Park and walking the huge bridge is another favorite. I would agree that their downtown is similar to Greenville. Enjoy!


Renaissance Park

Enjoy the outdoors at this 23-acre wetland is a beautiful spot to explore nature in downtown Chattanooga.

River St, Chattanooga, TN

Ross’s Landing

This park is located on the riverside near the Tennessee Aquarium and the Southern Belle Riverboat. It offers a playground and a large amphitheater.

201 Riverfront Pkwy, Chattanooga, TN 

CARTA’S Downtown Electric Trolley System

The downtown electric trolley in Chattanooga is free to ride and provides an easy way to transport your family around the downtown area. This is a must-do on your Chattanooga family vacation, simply because it is always fun to ride the trolley!

The Southern Belle Riverboat

This river cruise company offers several different daily cruises, including 1.5 hour tours, lunch and dinner cruises, and sunset cruises.

You can enter the dockside boat’s gift shop for free even if you aren’t booking a cruise.

201 Riverfront Pkwy, Pier 2, Chattanooga, TN

We liked the dinner cruise with live music and dancing the kids really enjoyed the dancing


Glenn Miller Gardens

This public area at the Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo has outdoor games, a scenic seating area, and actual trains. It’s a great area to let the kids play while you relax.

1400 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN

Chattanooga Lookouts

If you are visiting during baseball season, be sure to check out the Chattanooga Lookouts schedule to see if they have any home games during your visit.

201 Power Alley, Chattanooga, TN

High Point Climbing Gym

This award-winning climbing gym has a number of unique climbing fixtures including an outdoor climbing wall that overlooks the city.

219 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN

Hunter Museum of American Art

If you have older kids on your Chattanooga family vacation, then the Hunter Museum of American Art is a great museum to check out. They have art in a variety of mediums, interesting special events, and rotating exhibitions.

10 Bluff View St, Chattanooga, TN

Bluff View Art District

A great one-stop area for multiple things to do, the Bluff View Art District has dining, art galleries, a coffee house, and excellent views of the city!

411 East 2nd St, Chattanooga, TN

General Area of Chattanooga, Tennessee: Things to Do (includes nearby areas)

Tennessee Racoon Cave near Chattanooga Tennessee.
Raccoon Mountain Caverns, Chattanooga, TN

Raccoon Mountain Caverns

Often recommended by locals, Raccoon Mountain Caverns specializes in educational tours of the Raccoon Mountain Cavern. The caverns are a must-see during your Chattanooga family vacation!

We took this tour as a family and were impressed with the tour guides’ ability to entertain even the smallest children while still giving a full presentation of the history and science behind the cavern.

Raccoon Mountain also has a campground, RV park, and cabins.

319 W Hills Dr, Chattanooga, TN

Lake Winnie

This popular amusement park is only 15 minutes from downtown Chattanooga. The park includes thriller rides, family rides, and kiddie rides, and also has a 5-acre waterpark.

1730 Lakeview Dr., Rossville, GA

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

Visiting this museum is an adventure because the museum is an actual running train and your visit includes a train ride.

4119 Cromwell Rd, Chattanooga, TN

Big Soddy Creek Trail

You can take this easy trail to a stunning, crystal-clear swimming hole to relax with your children. You can hike past the swimming area to see a waterfall as well!

Where to Eat in Chattanooga During Your Chattanooga Family Vacation

Ankar’s Hoagies

Mediterranean/Middle East Restaurant that serves lunch and dinner

5966 Brainerd Rd., Chattanooga, TN

Ankar’s Hoagies on Brainerd Rd. Steak in a sack (pita) & onion rings are to die for! We eat here every time we go back. Taco Mamacitas on North Shore. Best sangria we’ve ever had. Bones BBQ on Brainerd Rd. Classic southern style and their banana pudding alone is worth a visit!


Taco Mamcita

A fresh-Mex restaurant that serves taco fusion.

109 North Market St, Chattanooga, TN

Clumpies Ice Cream

Handcrafted, small-batch ice cream with seasonal flavors

3 locations including 1401 Market St, Chattanooga, TN

City Cafe (southern dinner but delicious share a meal). Taco Mac (kid friendly- during the day bar)


Taco Mac

Taco Mac is known for their buffalo wings and draft beers.

423 Market St, Chattanooga, TN 

Bea’s Restaurant

Bea’s Restaurant serves family-style fried chicken dinners.

4500 Dodds Avenue, Chattanooga, TN

Good dog. It’s a hot dog place in downtown that has plain ones but also funky unique ones


Good Dog

Good Dog serves a variety of hot dogs including high-quality all-beef hot dogs, vegetarian hot dogs, sausages, and more. Their menu includes vegan and gluten-free options. They offer several housemade ketchups and condiments with their meals.

34 Frazier Ave, Chattanooga, TN

Flying Squirrel

Note: This bar/restaurant is 21+ for all meals but brunch. Brunch is from 10:30-3 and is upscale American southern cuisine.

55 Johnson St, Chattanooga, TN

Urban Stack

Urban burger joint

12 W 13th St, Chattanooga, TN

Champy’s World Famous Fried Chicken

Fried chicken and Southern foods

526 E ML King Blvd, Chattanooga, TN

Champy's World Famous Chicken and City Diner in Chattanooga Tennessee.
Champy’s World Famous Fried Chicken (left); City Cafe Diner (right)

Edley’s Bar-B-Que

Slow-cooked barbeque

205 Manufacturers Rd, Suite 110, Chattanooga, TN


Greek food

2213 Hamilton Pl Blvd, Chattanooga, TN

We just got back from there! The restaurant 1885 right by the Incline Train has sidewalk chalk through their entire outdoor seating and our two year old played all through dinner. Super yummy burgers too. And I second Urban Stack. And the BEST coffee shop we’ve found in all our US travels was Goodman Coffee in the warehouse district shipping downtown. So. Good. Those little energy peanut butter bites they makes were great at the start of our day at the Aquarium.


1885 Grill

Located near the St. Elmo Incline Railway station.

3914 St Elmo Ave, Chattanooga, TN

Goodman Coffee Roasters

Warehouse Row, 1110 Market St., Chattanooga, TN

Boathouse and Foodworks for full-service. I haven’t been to Big River Grille in years but it is close to aquarium and has pool tables. Mr. T’s Pizza and Purple Daisy (both in St. Elmo near Incline) are budget-friendly local spots. Lupi’s for specialty pizza.


Boathouse Rotisserie & Raw Bar

Seafood, oyster bar, and traditional fare with riverfront dining

1459 Riverside Drive, Chattanooga, TN


205-C Manufacturers Road, Chattanooga, TN

Big River Grille & Brewing Works

Near the Tennessee Aquarium and Children’s Creative Discovery Museum.

222 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN

Mr. T’s Pizza & Ice Cream

From scratch pizza.

3924 Tennessee Ave., Chattanooga, TN

The Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe

Barbeque and picnic foods, located at the base of Lookout Mountain.

4001 St. Elmo Ave, Chattanooga, TN

Lupi’s Pizza Pies

406 Broad St A, Chattanooga, TN

Where to Stay During Your Chattanooga Family Vacation

Hotels and VBROs in Chattanooga

The Hotel Chalet

Formerly the Chattanooga Choo Choo, Hotel Chalet at the Choo Choo is an iconic hotel and is a classic choice for visiting Chattanooga.

1400 Market St, Chattanooga, TN

The room we were in was a converted old boxcar. It was so fun. We also went to the aquarium. I was very impressed with it. It’s probably one of my favorite aquariums.


The Garden Walk Inn

This popular bed and breakfast on Lookout Mountain has a scenic garden trail, a pool, and a gazebo with a jacuzzi.

1206 Lula Lake Rd, Lookout Mountain, GA

My parents live on Lookout Mountain. A great place to stay is the Garden Walk Inn. The carousel downtown is a must ($1). Then you must get Clumpies Ice Cream! The children’s museum is great for under 10. The aquarium is cool but lots of walking my 6 year old couldn’t make it all day. . . Raccoon Mountain caves are a few minutes further but way better. They have excursions for all abilities. The towing museum is great for any toddler who loves vehicles (but all you need is the free gift shop you can’t touch anything in the small museum). McKay’s used books is heaven for any reader and you must eat at City Cafe!


Embassy Suites Chattanooga

2321 Lifestyle Way, Chattanooga, TN

We enjoyed staying at the Embassy Suites rooms are great for families and breakfast is our favorite of hotels.


Cabins at Cloudland Canyon Park

Cloudland Canyon State Park has a variety of styles of camping sites, cottages, and yurts available for reservation. Your family will have access there to hiking trails, horseback riding trails, bike trails (and rentals), cave tours, and more depending on the season.

122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road, Rising Fawn, GA

We stayed in a cabin at Cloudland Canyon Park.



If you enjoy staying at an Airbnb, our family stayed at Country Corner in the City. It comfortably slept eight people (two families) and was pet-friendly.

SouthEast Travel Guide

For even more ideas on fun family trips near Greenville, see our travel guide.

About the Author
Bethany Winston is the owner and editor-in-chief of Kidding Around Greenville & Kidding Around Spartanburg. She enjoys exploring parks, discovering local events, and meeting the people who make Greenville an amazing place to live. You can contact her directly at

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Timothy Mason
2 years ago

The Pocket Wilderness off 27 highway N is a great place to hike. Park at the Trail Head right on North Chickamauga Creek. A blue hole swimming hole can be accessed by crossing the creek at the scholes about a quarter mile in. Hike the trail up the creek to the blue hole. Skill level in moderate. Adult required. Take plenty of water!!!