Exciting Things to Do in Historic Chattanooga for Families and Groups
One of the most enjoyable times I have experienced living in the southeastern United States was when I visited Chattanooga. It offers families the best of both worlds. With easy access to nearby civil war sites and plenty of history to learn about, Chattanooga is a great place for kids with an interest in history. But there are also many fun activities for families and adult groups too.
Culture of Chattanooga
When you visit Chattanooga, you will find it has a rich history and culture, including the American Civil War. It is home to award-winning restaurants and breweries and an art scene so vibrant that Chattanooga appeals to a broad range of personal interests.
History of Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga was founded in 1838 near the Tennessee River. There are several stories of how the city got its name. One story claims that hunters along the river found a large rock, used the rock outcroppings as shelter during hunting trips, and decided to call the area “Chattanooga.” Another story is based on Native American history, claiming that a large boulder was used as shelter by the Native American chief, Chickamauga, and that this chief is credited with naming the valley region. A third story conveys that European settlers named the city based on the word Chattanooga, meaning “rock,” but chose the name due to the abundant limestone in the area.
In more recent times, the city is also known as The Scenic City, and it’s easy to understand why.
Chattanooga is known for its railroads and manufacturing industries. Many local businesses have been growing their companies in this area since before it became a city.
Chattanooga’s history is very rich, but the city has also moved forward to become a cultural hub for art and music.
The Tennessee Aquarium is one of our favorite places in this area – and the more than 11 million people who visit each year agree.
If you want an entertaining and enlightening walk, you can not beat the Free Walk Cha Company which provides local guides for individual and small group walking tours.
Fun Things to do in Chattanooga
- Visit the Chickamauga National Military Park or the Lookout Mountain Battlefield to learn more about the American Civil War.
- Spend some time at Coolidge Park, which has a beautiful view of downtown Chattanooga and plenty of picnic tables for family gatherings.
- The Incline Railway Bike Tour is incredible! Meet your skilled guide at Incline Railway. The adventure begins with the tour group perched on the sheer bluffs of Lookout Mountain. Take a moment to enjoy the views down into the Chattanooga Valley. Then enjoy the ride! It’s seven miles down the mountain, with almost no pedaling required on some well-maintained trails.
- Learn about local artists at Warehouse Row on Market Street or experience one of Chattanooga’s many museums, like The Hunter Museum of Art or the Coker Automotive Museum.
- The Creative Discovery Museum, Tennessee Aquarium, and Ruby Falls are great family attractions for kids.
Dining Choices in Chattanooga
There are so many choices when it comes to dining out in Chattanooga. We recommend starting with a Chattanooga food crawl tour and letting your refined taste buds lead the way to a foodie adventure!
If you’re wandering through the city, rest assured you can get anything from authentic Mexican food (Taco Mamacita 109 Market Street) to river views (Scottie’s on the River 491 Riverfront Parkway) to fine dining (St. John’s Restaurant 1278 Market Street).
During our visit, we enjoyed an evening meal at Stir Restaurant, located adjacent to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo train station and hotel complex.
Places to Stay in Chattanooga
Places to stay overnight in Chattanooga include hotels and cottages near the riverwalk, such as the Riverfront Hotel. The Chattanooga Choo-Choo is another choice, with its train cars to sleep in overnight. We stayed there a few years ago, and it is one of our favorite places in Chattanooga. Learn more about our stay at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. We slept in one of the train cars, but there are traditional hotel rooms available on the property too.
If You Go
As you prepare for your trip to the wonderful town of Chattanooga, here are things that will be useful for the trip and your exploration of the town and surrounding areas.
Quality luggage makes all the difference, whether on a flight or a road trip. We recommend this lightweight hardshell luggage to protect your items and not weigh you down during the journey.
Recommended Hiking Wear
Your exploration of Chattanooga may include exploring the nearby mountainous areas and visiting at cooler times of the year. In either case, a warm hoodie will help to make your experience much more pleasant.
Prior to your arrival in Chattanooga, history buffs will want to read up on the Civil War history of the area. It will make your visit to Lookout Mountain much better, as you will have a context of the armaments that you will see.
Visiting Chattanooga is the perfect destination for a family vacation. From beautiful history and culture to stunning scenery and top attractions, there’s something for everyone in this Tennessee city. We’ve covered some of the highlights so you can start planning your trip.
Have any questions? Let us know! We’ll be happy to help answer them or provide insider tips on what not to miss while you’re here.
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