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Nestled in the Tennessee Mountains, Chattanooga is a city that was made for families. From breathtaking Ruby Falls to the world-class Tennessee Aquarium, everybody will find something to love in Chattanooga!
Located directly on the Tennessee River, the Tennessee Aquarium is home to over 320 different species of freshwater fish along with penguins, sharks, alligators, river otters, and tons more. Kids will love the stingray touch tank with more than 100 feet of shoreline where they can interact with and pet several different species.
The butterfly garden is a hit with kids and adults. Enter this enchanting atrium full of butterflies from all over the world. If you are quiet and still enough you may even get to hold one! Other must see exhibits include Penguins Rock, Jellies: Living Art, River Giants, and Tropical Cove, just to name a few.
Ruby Falls Cave Tour
One of Chattanooga’s most popular attractions for the last 80 years, Ruby Falls is a must see natural wonder that will leave visitors in awe of the beauty that exists 1,000 feet underground. Embark on the 60 minute cave tour to learn the history of the cave and Ruby Falls. Follow in the footsteps of the men who discovered the cave in 1928 and end up at the 145 foot underground waterfall that is sure impress the entire family.
Tennessee Valley Railway Museum
This moving museum takes guests back in time to an era when railroad travel was a way of life. Choose from several different trains and routes for your historical journey. Tennessee Valley Railway excursions range in time from 55 minutes to 8 hours and are all packed full of fun, adventure, and history!
High Point Climbing
One of Chattanooga’s best kept secrets, High Point Climbing has over 30,000 square feet of unique indoor and outdoor climbing experiences. Adults will love the speed walls, free climb, and the outdoor wall while kids will enjoy scaling dinosaur bones, brick walls, and jumping off 20 foot buildings in the kids zone. You will not find a more exciting place to bring your family in Chattanooga than High Point Climbing.
Creative Discovery Museum
Make learning come alive with this interactive and entertaining children’s museum. One of our favorite children’s museums in the country, The Creative Discovery Museum allows kids to fully immerse themselves in art, history, science, and more. Timeless exhibits include the visual and performing arts galleries, excavation station, the inventor’s clubhouse just to name a few.
Bring your nerves of steel for this one mile journey to the top of Lookout Mountain at a 70% incline. This turn of the century railway takes riders on a beautiful ride to the top of Lookout Mountain. Once at the top explore Point Park, the site of the pivotal Civil War conflict “Battle above the clouds” in 1863. Ride the Incline Railway back down and reward yourself for your bravery with some ice cream from Mr. T’s Pizza and Ice Cream or a scrumptious meal from 1885 Grill. This is an attraction that you have to do at least once; it is an incredible experience!
Coolidge Park Antique Carousel
Located across the Tennessee River in the heart of Coolidge Park, this whimsical carousel was built in 1895 and features gorgeous hand carved animals, a calliope organ, and ornate benches. Kids and adults of all ages will enjoy taking a relaxing ride on this beautiful antique. Afterward walk across the parking lot and head to Clumpie’s for some unbelievably yummy ice cream.
“See Rock City” has become an iconic road trip slogan and Rock City is a legendary experience in Chattanooga. Journey to the top of Lookout Mountain and meander along woodland paths and through the gardens to see over 400 species of plants, flowers, and shrubs. Explore the ancient rock formations and end up at the enchanting Fairyland Caverns. This is an experience like no other and every traveler needs to “See Rock City” at least once in their lifetime.
Where to Eat
Chattanooga has so many family-friendly restaurants it can be hard to choose a great place for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Here are my favorite Chattanooga restaurants for food and atmosphere.
Chee-Burger, Chee-Burger – Usually I don’t like to eat at chain restaurants when I’m traveling, but I always make an exception with Chee-Burger, Chee-Burger. The diner atmosphere and to-die-for milkshakes make this restaurant a must do for lunch when we visit Chattanooga.
Bluegrass Grill – For breakfast there is no better place in Chattanooga than the Bluegrass Grill. All they do is breakfast and boy do they do it right! Our family favorites include the cheesy grits (a must try!), jalapeno bacon, and Joan Marie’s special omelet.
1885 Grill – This is a the perfect restaurant to visit right after a trip on the Incline Railway. The uber family-friendly and relaxed atmosphere of the 1885 Grill makes this a great dining experience. The kids love watching the chefs work through the kitchen viewing window. Fresh and local ingredients make their food superior to most restaurants in the area. While you are there you have to try the rosemary fries! Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe them!
Taco Mamasita – This is not your typical Mexican food! Delicious tacos are served up in a new and funky way at Taco Mamasita. You have to try the Sloppy Jose tacos and the California Club taco while you are there.
Where to Stay
SpringHill Suites Chattanooga Downtown/Cameron Harbor – This affordable hotel located along the Tennessee River is a great place to stay with family when visiting Chattanooga. They offer roomy suites with 1 king or 2 queen beds and each suite includes a pull out sofa, microwave, and mini fridge. Complimentary breakfast, clean, modern rooms, and proximity to downtown Chattanooga make this hotel an excellent choice.
Disclosure: A stay was provided by SpringHill Suites for the purpose of a review. All opinions are the author’s own.