Chattanooga, the 4th largest city in the state, is located in Southeast Tennessee near the border of Georgia at the junction of four interstate highways. The city has received national recognition for the renaissance of its beautiful downtown and redevelopment of its riverfront. Chattanooga was one of the first US cities to effectively use a citizen visioning process to set specific long-range goals to enrich the lives of residents and visitors. In Chattanooga, citizens like to get involved, and they like to show off their accomplishments.
The Chattanooga Convention and Trade Center is a state-of-the-art facility that has recently been expanded. Public entities and private citizens worked together in recent years to build the 20,000 seat Max Finley Stadium. In keeping with the beauty of the area, the city has developed an extensive greenway system which includes 5 miles of constructed river walk beginning downtown and meandering through the historic art district and several parks. What better way to experience the feel of the city than to take time to enjoy the downtown sights, shops and restaurants: all of them within walking distance. The city supports a downtown shuttle fleet of zero-emission electric buses – manufactured in Chattanooga – for visitors wishing to park-and-ride. In this city, you don’t have to drive your car unless you want.
There are many attractions to experience in this traditional southern town. The best known are probably the Tennessee Aquarium, Lookout Mountain, the African American Museum, and the Appalachian Trail, but Chattanooga is also the site of many Civil War battlefields that are historically significant. The Creative Discovery Museum for children is outstanding and will entertain every member of the family. Among annual events of interest are the Riverbend Festival, the Bessie Smith Strut, the Fall Color Cruise, and the Southern Writers Conference. Chattanooga is the home of NCAA Division I-AA national football championships and hosts the national softball championships every year as well.
The climate is moderate, so the outdoors can be experienced year round. Whether your interest is hiking, biking, walking, sky diving, rafting, or just strolling through a local park, Chattanooga serves well either as a destination in itself or as a base for unique adventures throughout the region. Some of these are hang-gliding, bass fishing, mountain climbing and caving expeditions. A little known fact about Chattanooga is that the Smoky Mountains and Tennessee River valley are known to support the greatest variety of flora of any area in the United States.
With its scenic beauty, moderate climate, proximity to a host of attractions and sites, and proximity to major Interstate highways, Chattanooga is a city that should be on every traveler’s itinerary.
B- City Information:
Elevation: 685 feet above sea level
Land Area: 135.2 miles
Location: Southeast corner of Tennessee
Time Zone: Eastern Time Zone
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When To Go:
Visitors can take full advantage of the mild climate in Chatanooga, with its warm summers and mild winters, by spending a lot of time outdoors. While March is the wettest month, that rain is also responsible for over 200 species of spring flowers. October is delightfully dry, cool and richly colored. The hills surrounding Chattanooga entice walkers and hikers to explore their vivid foliage. Extreme cold is rare and with an average of over 200 frost-free days and minimal snowfall, outdoor activities thrive year-round. December is mild enough to celebrate the Holidays on the river, when dozens of boats are brightly decorated. July and August are warm, but daily average highs stay below ninety degrees. The air currents generated by the climate and the surrounding mountains, make Chattanooga a yearlong destination.
New Year’s Day Jan. 1
Martin Luther King, Jr., Day 3rd Mon. in Jan.
President’s Day 3rd Mon. in Feb.
Memorial Day last Mon. in May
Independence Day July 4
Labor Day 1st Mon. in Sept.
Thanksgiving Day 4th Thurs. in Nov.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Dec. 24 and 25
New Year’s Eve Dec. 31
Nearest city with pop. 200,000+: Atlanta, GA (106.9 miles).
Nearest city with pop. 1,000,000+: Chicago, IL (498.3 miles).
Nearest cities: Ridgeside, TN (1.5 miles), East Ridge, TN (3.9 miles), Lakeview, GA (4.7 miles), Red Bank, TN (4.9 miles), Rossville, GA (5.0 miles), Lookout Mountain, TN (6.7 miles), Fort Oglethorpe, GA (7.1 miles), Lookout Mountain, GA (7.7 miles).
Major airlines serve the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (tel. 423-855-2200) from Atlanta, Cincinnati, Memphis, and Charlotte. To reach the city center, take Highway 153 south to I-75, and then go west on I-24. Exits 1A, 1B, and 1C all get you downtown.
Major routes into Chattanooga are I-75 from the north (Knoxville) and south (Atlanta), I-24 from the northwest (Nashville), and I-59 from the southwest (Birmingham, AL).
Start off your visit at the Chattanooga Visitors Center, 2 Broad St. (tel. 800-322-3344 or 423-756-8687), open daily from 8:30am to 5:30pm, where you can pick up some helpful brochures and maps. Here you can buy discount ticket packages, which get you into several of Chattanooga’s most popular attractions. A free electric shuttle from the visitor center makes touring downtown attractions a snap.
Chattanooga sits at the intersection of Interstates 75, 24, and 59.
The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (423-855-2200) serves the area with the following airlines: US Airways Express, Northwest, Airlink, American Eagle, Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA)
The Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) provides regularly scheduled bus transportation for the area.
CARTA also provides an electric shuttle system that operates downtown between the Chattanooga Choo Choo/Holiday Inn at Shuttle Park South and the Tennessee Aquarium at Shuttle Park North.
Greyhound/Trailways Bus Lines — 423-892-1277.
CLAIMS TO FAME
Chattanooga has the world’s longest pedestrian bridge — The Walnut Street Bridge.
Chattanooga has the nation’s first and largest military park — Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.
Chattanooga has the world’s steepest passenger railway line — The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway.
Chattanooga has the world’s largest freshwater aquarium — The Tennessee Aquarium.
Chattanooga has the South’s largest collection of American art — The Hunter Museum of Art.
More than 300 kinds of trees and 900 varieties of wildflowers grow in the Chattanooga area, more than anywhere on earth, except central China.
The Chattanooga Choo Choo/Holiday Inn’s lobby, a former railroad terminal, contains the largest freestanding brick dome in the world. The interior height of the dome is 85 feet.
The deepest commercial caverns in the United States are located on Lookout Mountain and are over 1,000 feet underground — Ruby Falls
C- Attractions/Things To Do:
Bluff View Art District
Located just east of Walnut Street pedestrian bridge
Check out the River Gallery or spend some time ambling through the free Sculpture Garden, perched scenically on a bluff overlooking the Tennessee River.
Hunter Museum of American Art
10 Bluff View
Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm
You can see paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, and contemporary studio glass.
Houston Museum of Decorative Arts
201 High Street
Monday –Saturday, 9:30am-4pm; Summer – Sundays, noon-4pm
It houses an impressive glass collection
Just across the Walnut Street Bridge
Experience a beautiful hand-carved carousel
You’ll find some funky (and fun) shops and cafes
1826 Carter Street
First Sunday after Easter until the last Sunday before Christmas, noon-5pm.
The Chattanooga Market is a weekly open air market in downtown Chattanooga. The market features hand crafted works by local and regional artisans, life entertainment, chef demonstrations, children’s art projects, fart direct tax free produce, and a unique lunch experience in the Market Café.
The Battles For Chattanooga Museum
1110 East Brow Road
Call for operating hours
Just three blocks from the Incline Railroad’s upper station at the entrance to Point Park (site of the “Battle above the Clouds” in 1863), this museum features a three-dimensional electronic battle map that presents details of major battles in Chattanooga’s Civil War history.
Rock City Gardens
1400 Pattern Road
Open daily year-round, call for operating hours
A view of seven states on a clear day. Rock City’s unique sandstone formations are striking, and younger kids will be fascinated by the displays based on classic fairy tales and nursery rhymes.
D- Family Fun Attractions:
Family Biking at Lookout Mountain
Open year round
Look for the Guild-Hardy Trail
Lookout Mountain Guild-Hardy Trail is a walking and biking trail located on the side of scenic Lookout Mountain. The trail was built on the historic route of the C & LM Broad Gauge Railroad and follows its path up the mountain. Two remaining trestles are the most captivating evidence of the railroad. The Guild-Hardy Trail provides recreationists access to a multitude of trails on Lookout Mountain, National Park Service and Reflection Riding. The trail winds through forested mountain slopes and is lined with historical ruins.
522 Highway 64, Ocoee, TN 37361
Get Wet! on the world-class Ocoee River. Adventures Unlimited offers both half-day and full day guided trips through class III and IV whitewater excitement. Try out our mountain bikes in the Cherokee National Forest. Stay overnight in log cabins or camp in the campground complete with RV hookups. If you don’t want to cook, let Adventures provide catered meals for you. Groups of all sizes are welcome from families to family reunions. The 32-acre base camp gives everyone plenty of room to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. Conveniently located only 35 minutes from Chattanooga.
Canoe The Sequatchie
U.S. Highway 27 & River, Dunlay, Tennessee
Open Weekends Memorial Day through Labor Day
Children must be age two or older
Day canoe trips, ranging in length from 3-9 miles are available daily with a duration of 1 ½ hours to 4 hours. The 3 mile trip is great as a sampler to get your “feet wet” and for small children. The 2 hour trip is just enough time to really enjoy the river and ends on the lower end of the river. For those most experienced or those needing more time to enjoy the breathtaking scenery, the 3 or 4 hour trips fit the bill. The 3 hour excursion is the most popular. Call ahead for reservations.
Raccoon Mountain Caverns
319 West Hill Drive, Chattanooga
At Raccoon Mountain visitors can explore the Southeast’s most geologically active cave. Raccoon Mountain Caverns is a relatively large cave with over five and one-half miles of explored passageways. Entrance is at ground-level and, once inside, there is extensive formation growth which is observed along a lighted pathway. You literally walk beside large flowstone deposits and past stalagmites and stalactites that are thousands of years old. Best of all, the tours are guided and deliberately kept small to enhance enjoyment.
Sir Goony’s Family Fun Center
5918 Brainerd Road, Chattanooga
offers miniature golf (2 courses), 3 go-kart tracks, batting cages for all skills and abilities, bumper boats, lazer tag, a virtual reality games room, and pursuit park paintball. Come for 10 minutes or spend the evening. If you are looking for fun for the entire family, Sir Goony’s is the place!
800-262-0695 or 423-265-0698
1 Broad Street
Daily 10am-6pm (to 8pm some summer evenings)
The first major institution dedicated to fresh water ecosystems, with exhibits designed to take you on the journey from the Tennessee River’s source in the Appalachian high country, down through the Mississippi Delta. Should you tire of watching the 9000 critters here busily swimming, flying, and crawling, you can check out the IMAX theatre on the premises.
Creative Discovery Museum
321 Chestnut Street
Daily 10am-6pm, Memorial Day to Labor Day. All other times: Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm; Sunday, noon-5pm
Located just two blocks from the Aquarium, it caters to toddlers as young as 18 months while also enthralling the older set with such interactive exhibits as the Artist’s and Musician’s studios and the Inventor’s workshop.
Chattanooga Choo Choo
2202 North Chamberlain Avenue
Call for specific operating hours
Welcome to one of the South’s most renowned and unique landmarks. This 30-acre vacation and convention complex is located in the heart of Chattanooga and has something for everyone. The Choo Choo combines history and fun in a delightful blend that appeals to visitors of all ages.
Whether you are a vacationing family, a corporate traveler, or a convention planner, the center has just what you need to make this your home away from home. Experience the rail cars that you can sleep in, the array of restaurants and shopping, the appealing swimming pools, the versatile meeting and banquet rooms, the authentic New Orleans trolley, the beautifully landscaped gardens, all of which reflects the fascination of the planners with restoring the history of a bygone era. Come and encounter the wonder of the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
1720 South Scenic Highway
Open daily at 8am
A 145-foot waterfall located 1100 feet inside the mountain. A definite thrill…maybe a little too extreme for those who are uncomfortable with heights or enclosed spaces.
This seven-acre park is part of the Tennessee Riverpark, a 22-mile public park along the Tennessee River. The park features a hand-carved carousel, a pavilion, an interactive play fountain, an open-air performance venue and lots of open space. Restaurants, shops, and several popular attractions, including the Walnut Street Bridge and the Walnut Wall Climbing Facility, surround the park.
827 East Brow Road
Call for operating hours
The steepest passenger railway in the world with panoramic views of the city and the Great Smokey Mountains 100 miles away.
April – October: 9 am to 5 pm daily November – March: 10 am to 5 pm daily Closed Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day and Thanksgiving Day. Admission charged.
The zoo is located just minutes from downtown Chattanooga. This 3.5-acre facility houses more than 150 animals, including four species of primates, seven species of reptiles, 14 species of birds and five species listed as threatened or endangered.
Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park
Chattanooga, TN 37412
(877)-LAKEWIN or (706) 866-5681
Admission charged. Rde tickets sold separately. Open April through September
This park, known as Lake Winnie among the locals, was rated one of America’s Top 10 family amusement parks by Travel and Leisure magazine. Visitors will find more than 30 rides for all ages ranging from relaxing to thrilling. On the Pipeline Plunge, riders meander through a five-story maze of pipes before finishing the ride with a splash. Carnival games to test your skill and luck. Free concerts are also featured throughout the season.
Chattanooga Corn Maze
Hours: Open Aug. 31 – Nov. 2 Tues-Fri. 4-8:30 pm; Saturdays 9:00 am to 9:00 pm; Sundays Noon to 6:00 pm . Admission charged.
Get lost in a maze of maize.. This cornfield adventure is fun for all ages. The field is cut into a maze featuring a different theme every year.
E- Events & Entertainment:
Chattacon Science Fiction Convention
Each year this science fiction convention takes place. Writers, artists, hucksters and more put on the convention. Put on by the convention is the Chattacon Art Show, which features a variety of artwork. Both flat and 3D artwork is showcased.
Late March – early April
Southern Writer’s Conference – Each year, Chattanooga hosts a literary festival, which provides educational opportunities to discuss and learn about the South’s greatest writers and promising newcomers to the literary scene. Meet the authors and listen to their readings and lectures.
The Riverbend Festival
1001 Market Street, Chattanooga
The event takes place at the beginning of June and spans across nine days. Over 540,000 people visit the festival each year. Musical performances range from jazz, blues, folk, country, bluegrass, classic and more. Reserved tickets can be purchased in advance.
Early June (First Monday of the Riverbend Festival)
Bessie Smith Strut – Providing the kickoff to Riverbend, the Bessie Smith Strut is a celebration of Chattanooga’s most prominent musical talent. Chattanoogans celebrate the music of the great Bessie Smith (Queen of the Blues) with a street festival featuring great music, food, and entertainment.
Southern Brewers Beer Festival
Each year, Chattanooga hosts a day-long beer festival in the heart of downtown next to Big River Grille and Brewing Works. Beer lovers can sample over a hundred varieties of award winning microbrewed beers while watching live music and entertainment.
Coolidge Park 423-267-1218
Celebrate the array of races and cultures in the Chattanooga area at the Arts and Education Council’ s Culture Fest. Enjoy art, entertainment, food and interactive activities.
Mid-October – early November
Fall Color and Fall Leaf Cruises (423) 266-4488 or 800-766-2784
Board the Southern Belle Riverboat and sail through the Tennessee River Gorge en route to Chattanooga’s annual Folk Festival. During the cruise, enjoy lunch, a live band and more. At the festival, listen to live music by the area’s best folk artists and check out the handmade crafts and jewelry.
Weekly: Year round
Chattanooga Market Cricket Pavilion 423-266-9270
This weekly open air market features hand-crafted works of art, seasonal farm fresh produce, chef demonstrations, a climbing wall, live music and art projects for kids. When it’s time for lunch, try the Market Cafe, and let the kids expend their energy at the adjacent city skate park.
Annual Wine Over Water
Cornerstones, the historical preservation society in Chattanooga, hosts its annual fundraiser on its most successful achievement, the Walnut Street Bridge. Celebrate the Historic Walnut Street Bridge while raising funds for the preservation of historical properties in Chattanooga. Enjoy wines, hors d’ oeuvres and live music on five stages stretched out along the bridge. Tickets on sale. Call 423/265-2825
Holiday Starlight Parade December
NCAA Division I AA National Championship Game – For many years, Chattanooga has hosted the national championship of the NCAA’s 2nd highest division. Finley Stadium, in Chattanooga’s vibrant Southside is the premier facility in Division I-AA.