Fun Things To Do In Chattanooga With Kids Family Friendly Activities
- Emily Appelbaum
If your next family vacation is in the culturally rich city of Chattanooga, then let us say were undeniably jealous.
There are so many memorable attractions here that you and your fam are sure to have a blast.
In our experience, the only hang-up is choosing where best to go. So to help you out, heres a list of fun things to do in Chattanooga with kids.
Why We Recommend This Activity
With Lookout Mountain right outside of the city, family travellers may feel inspired to do some adventurous climbing. At High Point, you can scale walls in a safe and fun environment.
And their awesome Kids Zone provides youngsters a chance to test their climbing skills, making this one of the prime places to take kids in Chattanooga.
Explore The Tennessee River
The Tennessee River winds through the heart of Chattanooga. Spend an afternoon or evening exploring on board the Southern Belle riverboat. Daily sightseeing cruises are available as well as dinner cruises. For a hybrid sightseeing experience, the Chattanooga Duck combines land and water for a splashing good time!
Cross over the river with a walk on the Walnut Street Bridge. Erected in 1890, the Walnut Street Bridge connects the north shore of the Tennessee River to downtown Chattanooga. Standing 2,376 feet high, its one of the longest pedestrian bridges in North America. Time your stroll for sunset when the lights of the city begin to decorate the sky.
Coolidge Park at the foot of the bridge provides an ideal place for an afternoon of picnicking and Frisbee. Central to the park, a restored antique carousel with 52 whimsical hand-carved animals offers rides for $1. On warm days, the youngsters can splash about in interactive fountains carved as lions, turtles and more.
Take a leisurely bike ride or walk along the Chattanooga Riverwalk also known as the Tennessee Riverpark. Currently stretching 13 miles from St. Elmo to the Chickamauga Dam, the Riverwalk will eventually span 22 miles.
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How To Reach Creative Discovery Museum
Love this? Explore the entire list of places to visit in Chattanooga before you plan your trip.
Fancy a good night’s sleep after a tiring day? Check out where to stay in Chattanooga and book an accommodation of your choice.
- Creative Discovery Museum Address: 321 Chestnut Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402, 37402, United States
- Creative Discovery Museum Contact Number: +1-4237562738
- Creative Discovery Museum Timing: 10:00 am – 05:00 pm
- Creative Discovery Museum Price: 13 USD
- Best time to visit Creative Discovery Museum: 11:00 am – 04:00 pm
- Time required to visit Creative Discovery Museum: 01:00 Hrs
- Try the best online travel planner to plan your travel itinerary!
Like Trains Chattanooga Has A Rather Famous Choo Choo
Youve no doubt heard the song, and the Chattanooga Choo Choo is alive and well today in the form of the downtown complex at Terminal Station. Here kidsold and youngcan climb aboard a replica. If you want to spend the night in a restored Pullman train car, you can do that too at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Historic Hotel.
The Tennessee Valley Railroad engages train enthusiasts with a ride aboard a full-size steam train. This moving museum showcases the history of the railroad and its importance during the Civil War. There are several trains to choose from, but I recommend the Missionary Ridge Local which begins at the Grand Junction Station and takes passengers along one of the original railroad lines in Chattanooga, crossing four bridges and passing through pre-Civil War Missionary Ridge Tunnel, which was completed in 1858.
When youre heading up to Lookout Mountain, take a ride on the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway. This trolley-style train climbs through the mountains natural beauty at a 72.7% grade making it one of the steepest passenger railways in the world.
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Fun Things To Do In Chattanooga With Kids
Chattanooga occupies a prime spot along the banks of the Tennessee River. Surrounded by Lookout Mountain and Raccoon Mountain, this vibrant southern city effortlessly blends family attractions, outdoor pursuits, intriguing history, enticing art and a tasty dining scene. An easy road trip north from Atlanta or south from Nashville, youll find plenty of fun things to do in Chattanooga with kids.
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As an original Chattanoogan, watching the city emerge from the days of air pollution in the 1970s into the beacon its become makes me happy. With my parents still in town, our family often heads to Chattanooga for our annual reunion. Spanning four generations, we definitely have varied interests. Yet, Chattanooga keeps the whole family busy. I prefer spending most of my time with the grandkids, of course. Here are some of our favorite things to do.
Visit The Tennessee Aquarium
Plan on spending several hours at the Tennessee Aquarium with kids as its one of the best aquariums weve visited in awhile. Located on the riverfront, the aquarium is divided into two main buildings, River Journey and Ocean Journey, with an IMAX theater in a separate building a block away. Its also one of the top Chattanooga attractions and the entire family is sure to enjoy the aquarium.
The entire space is magical from the time you enter. Floor to ceiling aquariums, welcoming docents, and interactive exhibits make this a great idea for a day out in Chattanooga. Around every corner is a new animal, a new surprise, something that takes your breath away.
The Ocean Journey includes a Lemur Forest, Butterfly Garden, Stingray Bay , penguins, and all types of sea life. The jellyfish area is especially beautiful. The River Journey has an Appalachian Cove Forest, swamp area , River Giants, and Rivers of the World . My boys could not get enough of the creepy, crawly creatures and loved learning about them through the hands-on exhibits.
Dont miss the different animal presentations throughout the day allowing children to learn about the animals on a deeper level.
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Creative Discovery Museum Travel Tips
- Creative Discovery Museum is a smoke free facility.
- No outside food or drink permitted.
- No weapons permitted on Museum property.
- Children under 16 years should be accompanied by an adult all the time.
- Adults unaccompanied by children must provide proper photo identification and leave it at ticket desk.
- Last ticket is sold one hour before closing.
Lookout Mountains Classic Attractions
See Rock Citythe simple three-word advertisement for Chattanoogas oldest attraction can be seen painted on barns along highways leading to the region. And its exactly what it sounds likea city of rocks high atop Lookout Mountain. Hold your tummy in as you pass through the Eye of the Needle and Fat Mans Squeeze or head up to Lovers Leap where you can see seven states.
Another Chattanooga classic, Ruby Falls showcases fascinating rock formations including a stunning 145-foot-tall underground waterfall. Take a guided tour and learn about these incredible natural wonders.
If youd rather be above ground, check out the Ruby Falls High Point ZIP Adventure. My two oldest grandkids, Katherine and Marshall got their adrenalin pumping on 700 feet of soaring zip lines. And, yes, squealing was involved! The attraction also has an outdoor climbing walla 40-foot climbing tower with several routes to challenge your skills.
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Best Things To Do In Chattanooga With Kids
Chattanooga lies on the banks of the Tennessee River, surrounded by natural beauty on all sides. Its an easy drive from Nashville, Birmingham, and Atlanta, making it a great spot for a quick getaway. The city beckons visitors with its outdoor adventures, rich history, and stellar dining. Families will love the walkability of the downtown area, the citys free electric shuttle, and the hospitality of the locals. If you dont know what to do in Chattanooga, we are happy to share some of our favorite things to do in Chattanooga Tennessee with kids.
Learn About Chattanoogas History At Chickamauga National Military Park
Chattanooga was known as the Gateway to the Deep South and played an important role during the Civil War. The Battle of Chickamauga was the site of the second deadliest battle of the Civil War and its located just over the Georgia border from Chattanooga. Older kids can appreciate the historical significance of this first National Military Park and might enjoy a visit.
We started at the Visitor Center where we watched a 25 minute video about the battle and the areas role in American history. Afterwards, we drove through the area to see the battlefields, monuments, and cabins that remain. It is quite a moving experience.
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Find Your Favorite Outdoor Adventures
With Lookout Mountain, Raccoon Mountain and Tennessee River as backdrops, Chattanooga boasts outdoor adventures in abundance. Horseback riding, mountain biking, white-water rafting, hang gliding and miles of hiking trails keep the adventures coming. You will find plenty of outdoor things to do in Chattanooga with kids!
Pick up a hiking trail in the St. Elmo community at the base of Lookout Mountain and climb your way up. For energetic kids the Kiddie Trail offers a 3.6 mile out and back path to Sunset Rock. Or, if youre really brave, give hang gliding a try. Personally, Ive never worked up the courage to step off a perfectly good mountain, but those who do love it!
TravelingMom Tip: Start your Lookout Mountain adventures by fueling up with pizza and ice cream at Mr. Ts located near the Lookout Mountain Incline in St. Elmo.
Explore The Rock Formations Of Rock City
I didnt know what to expect from Rock City, but as the name suggests, its a city made of rocks and more! Located on the Georgia side of Lookout Mountain, Rock City is an outdoor amusement park featuring an enchanted trail, a view of seven states, a waterfall, swinging bridge, and Fairlyland Caverns.
Plan on spending a few hours exploring the nooks and crannies along the trail, admiring the beauty of Lovers Leap waterfall, and seeing the magical displays inside Fairyland Caverns. Younger children will enjoy spending time in the great outdoors and There are seasonal events throughout the year including the Enchanted Garden of Lights during the holidays and Fairytale Nights in the spring.
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Check Out The Views From The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway
The Incline Railway at Lookout Mountain is the worlds steepest passenger railway. Known as Americas Most Amazing Mile, the incline provides stunning views of the Chattanooga area. At the top of Lookout Mountain is the highest overlook in the area with a stunning panoramic view. This would be a great way to end the day when the weather is good.
Follow The River & The Ocean At The Tennessee Aquarium
Located on Broad Street in Downtown Chattanooga, the Tennessee Aquarium offers both a River Journey and an Ocean Journey. Innovatively designed, the River Journey traces the path of a single raindrop from the mountains to the sea. The Ocean Journey picks up the story showcasing sharks, stingrays, butterflies and those adorable penguins. And, in the River Journey, turtles, alligators and delightful river otters entertain the whole family. Scuba divers also interact with guests during scheduled shows. Definitely add this to your list of things to do in Chattanooga with kids.
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Find Teachable Moments In Chattanoogas History
Chattanooga also saw one of the Civil Wars bloodiest battlesthe Battle Above the Clouds. Commemorated at Lookout Mountains Point Park, youll find monuments and cannons from the period. Be sure to check out the fabulous views of the Chattanooga Valley below.
Just across the Tennessee/Georgia line, Chickamauga witnessed another Civil War battle as the troops marched down to Atlanta. At the center of the Chickamauga Battlefield stands Wilder Tower. I climbed the 136 steps to the top of this circular icon from the time I could walk. Now, my grandkids climb it with me. Of course, theyre much faster than I am!
Discoveries Await At The Creative Discovery Museum
When it comes to childrens museums, Creative Discovery Museum ranks among the best. For kids ages 18-months to 12 years, the CDM provides a wealth of discoveries. A two-story water play section and a simulated archeological dig entertain all ages. A favorite of my grandkids when they were younger, Buzz Alley offers a peek into an active beehive. Kids explore the outdoors on the museums second floor in The Great Indoors exhibit. Building a campfire and testing fort-building skills engage the whole family. Theres even a rock-climbing wall. Next, be sure to head up to the roof for hands-on play at the Rooftop Fun Factory.
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Free And Discount Days
Part of our mission is to provide an accessible, positive learning environment for all children and families, regardless of their economic situation. Our Plan-Ahead Pricing structure offers a range of pricing options for visitors who plan ahead. You can save up to 25% when you buy at least 2 weeks in advance!
For even more opportunities to visit, play, and learn, we offer these additional low-priced options:
Childrens Museum Of Memphis
Have a future aviator in your crew? Play pilot or air traffic controller in the FedEx exhibit, Going Places, at the Childrens Museum of Memphis . The museums FedEx plane features a full-size cockpit and a package conveyor belt. Another favorite exhibit among visitors is a 1909 fully restored Memphis Grand Carousel.
Our H2Oh! Splash Park opens Memorial Day through Labor Day and is the highlight of summer fun for members and guests alike, says Ramona Holland, public relations and marketing manager for the Childrens Museum of Memphis. With picnic tables and the outdoor PlaySpace, there is plenty of funshine to fill your day.
CMOM was intentionally designed to capitalize on childrens existing knowledge and curiosity about adult occupations, giving them endless opportunities for role-play. The museums mini cityscape invites them to explore real firetrucks, cargo planes and police vehicles while wearing costumes that set the stage of elaborate pretend play work.
Childrens Museum of Memphis Photo credit: Michael D. Tedesco
This is the kind of playful learning children love to initiate over and over again, which is why we see our member families so often and why young adults in our community talk so fondly of favorite exhibits from their childhood, says Dr. Stewart Burgess, executive director of the museum.
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High Point Climbing And Fitness
If the weather doesnt cooperate, take the adventure inside at High Point Climbing and Fitness. Suitable for beginners as well as advanced climbers, this downtown gym always lands on the to do list when my grandkids visit Chattanooga. From inside climbs to an outside climbing wall, its a fitness-focused good time for the whole family. My youngest grandson, Benjamin, prefers to start out in the Kid Zone. Once he works up a bit of courage, he heads for the big climbing walls.
Take A Ride Aboard The Southern Belle Riverboat
The Southern Belle offers a variety of cruises on the Tennessee River and a different perspective of Chattanooga and the surrounding area. Some cruises include music and a sit down meal, others offer short, but sweet city tours. Day or night, youre sure to have a unique experience on the river.
Chattanooga is one of the best places for a family vacation. With everything from outdoor adventure to interactive museums, its a great place to visit with kids of all ages.
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Enjoy The Art: From The Streets To The Museums
Stretching for one and a half city blocks on East Second Street, the Bluff View Art District is a historic downtown Chattanooga neighborhood. Set high above stone cliffs that afford spectacular views of the Tennessee River, the Walnut Street Bridge, and downtown Chattanooga, the area is full of art galleries, coffee shops, bed and breakfasts, courtyards and gardens. Stroll through the perfectly manicured grounds of the River Gallery Sculpture Gardenthe citys first outdoor art museum. Dont miss the Hunter Museum of Art, an antebellum home on one side and a steel sculptural building on the other.
Chattanoogas Southside neighborhood takes art to another level with Main Terrain Art Park. Formerly an industrial site, this urban art fitness park combines workout stations with art making it a good place for the grandkids to run off excess energy.
Also, street art is popping up everywhere with murals depicting the history of the area. Among the most notable, a 42,179 ft Martin Luther King mural wraps around an entire city block making it the largest mural in the Southeastern U.S.
Hands On Discovery Center
Have you ever seen a 5-million-year-old active fossil dig site in real life? You can at the Hands On! Discovery Center in Gray.
East Tennessee State University scientists believe the site was formed by an underground limestone cave that collapsed and created a sinkhole, says Kristine Carter, vice president of marketing and events for the Hands On! Discovery Center. Visitors can get up close and personal with world-renowned scientists and even take a tour of the site. The preparatory lab and collections rooms are viewable through large windows, and current projects are displayed for all to see.
Hundreds of plant and animal fossils have been unearthed at the site, including a saber-toothed cat, alligator, tapir, rhinoceros, short-faced bear, red panda and a 10-ton mastodon.
During dig season from May through October, visitors can often find scientists and volunteers in the dig pits, Carter says.
Hands On! Discovery Center Photo credit: Michael D. Tedesco
Children ages 5 to 12 can participate in the summer Paleo Camp and dig for fossils, examine rocks and minerals, dissect an owl pellet, and more. Adults and teens ages 14 and older can get their hands dirty at The Big Dig, an exclusive paleontology experience that includes excavating and documenting fossil finds.
Another unique attraction is the Paleo Tower, a three-story climbing tower that children and adults can climb to discover and touch 3D replicas of fossils found on site.
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