My crew and I recently spent the weekend in Chattanooga, and we found it to be a very family friendly city. When planning your family vacation, what factors do you consider? Cost? Travel time? Activities at the destination? All of those are great ideas to consider. Bringing kids along raises the level of difficulty in finding something that will please everyone. If you’re wondering what to do with kids in Chattanooga, this is the post for you.
What to Do with Kids in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Every family is different, but every family looks for one thing on vacation: fun! Our quick weekend in Chattanooga was packed with fun. We didn’t have a chance to see and do everything we wanted, but that just means we’ll have to go back for another visit. These are our top 5 places to have fun.
Begin your day with a leisurely stroll around the Chattanooga Zoo. While not a large zoo, the value of admission and time spent in the zoo make it a worthwhile stop. One of my girl’s favorite attraction was the monkey enclosure, while the other loved the goats at the petting zoo. The zoo also has a cafe if you need a quick bite to eat, and fun carousel, train, and camel rides for an extra fee.
Creative Discovery Museum
Follow a trip to the zoo with an indoor activity that will engage creative thinking and hands-on experiences. Two levels of fun abound in the Creative Discovery Museum, located on the corner of Chestnut and 4th street, just down from the Tennessee Aquarium. One of my favorite children’s authors, Eric Carle, is the focus of a unique area, the “Very Eric Carle Exhibit.” Open now through September 17, this space brings to life some of the very lonely, hungry, quiet, clumsy, and busy friends your children (and maybe even you) have grown up with.
After the museum, plan a visit to historic Ruby Falls. Way back in the 1920’s, Leo Lambert and a team of excavators digging in and around Lookout Mountain discovered something incredible. Not only did they find amazing rock formations, but they also discovered a HUGE underground waterfall! For the past 80 years, Ruby Falls (named after Leo’s wife) has welcomed thousands of visitors each year to brave the hike underground to gaze at the falls. The rock formations and the falls itself fascinated my girls. Make sure you wear sturdy shoes as some areas of the cave are wet and slippery!
Next, head up and over Lookout Mountain for more incredible sights at Rock City. While Rock City is technically across the border in Georgia, I still count it as an attraction for Chattanooga. We followed winding pathways across the top of the mountain that lead to breathtaking views of the city below. At one point, we were able to see SEVEN states all at one time! In addition to the views, my girls love wandering through Fairyland Caverns and in and out of natural rock formations.
Finally, round out your visit to Chattanooga with one of its premier attractions, the Tennessee Aquarium. This is absolutely my favorite aquarium of those I’ve visited over the last several years. To begin with, it is massive. Its sheer size lends itself to being a two hour or more visit. River Journey sets the stage for local wildlife like otters, alligators, trout, and catfish just to name a few. In the Ocean Journey building, saltwater creatures like touchable stingrays and giant sharks are the main focus. If time permits, consider an educational film in the 3D IMAX theater just next door.
Chattanooga, Tennessee is full of surprises. Best of all, it’s only a short drive away from major cities like Birmingham and Atlanta. What would your family do first in Chattanooga?