Chattanooga is a tourist’s dream with scenic vistas, world famous destinations and enough year-round outdoor activities to keep anyone occupied.
But have you experienced everything the city has to offer for yourself?
When was the last time you tried to “see seven states,” had a close encounter with a magnificent underground waterfall or touched a stingray?
Here are 10 of Nooga’s best tourist attractions you should check off your bucket list—even if you’re a local.
The Tennessee Aquarium isn’t Chattanooga’s oldest tourist attraction, but it’s arguably one of the most important. With two buildings to explore — featuring both native river and exotic ocean life — guests can spend hours inside. Rest your legs afterward by catching a screening at the IMAX 3D Theater across the street. 🐟
The Incline Railway puts the “FUN” in funicular railway experiences. Since the late 1800s, the Incline has carried millions of people up the side of Lookout Mountain and back down to St. Elmo. There’s plenty to explore once you’re up top … and plenty of good places to eat at the bottom. (Note: It’s steeeeeeep, but the ride is smooth).
When Leo Lambert discovered the vast cave system on Lookout Mountain he knew he’d found something special — a breathtaking underground waterfall 1,120 feet below the surface. For the past 80 years, thousands of visitors have made Ruby Falls one of Chattanooga’s best tourist attractions. After the tour, you can take in the stunning valley views from Lookout Tower and, if you’re brave enough, try out the ZIPstream Aerial Adventure Course.
“See Rock City” might be cliché but there’s no denying the unique attraction atop Lookout Mountain. Spend a day exploring Rock City Gardens (400 native plant species), Fairyland Caverns and “see seven states” from Lover’s Leap. The theme of the park changes with the seasons so there’s always a reason to go back. Mother Goose Village inside Fairyland Caverns is one of the strangest places you’ll ever visit (in a good way …) 🐉
Do you want to enjoy the amenities of downtown but also experience the outdoors? Stringer’s Ridge Park is the best of both worlds. The 92-acre park offers hiking, mountain biking, wildlife viewing and running trails. It also offers one the best scenic views of Chattanooga. The three trail loops total 10 miles. 🌲
Songbirds Guitar Museum
The restaurants, bars and nightlife of Station Street are a huge draw for visitors (open container laws were lifted), but it’s all centered on the impressive guitar collection at Songbirds Guitar Museum. The museum houses approximately 1,700 guitars and is among the largest private guitar collections anywhere. Take a tour, have dinner and catch a concert in Chattanooga’s newest entertainment district. 🎸
Bluff View Art District
The Bluff View Art District has everything from great restaurants (Tony’s Pasta Shop & Trattoria) to stunning views of the Tennessee River. Check out art at the River Gallery and explore the curved paths of the Sculpture Garden. We recommend grabbing a coffee to-go at Rembrandt’s and walking through every nook and cranny.
Hunter Museum of American Art
Some people say it looks like an old mansion next to a giant, metal taco… but the Hunter Museum of American Art is one of Chattanooga’s bellwether attractions. The museum experience takes guests from the Colonial period to the present day with an impressive permanent collection and a constant rotation of special exhibitions. 🖼🎨
Walnut Street Bridge
If you haven’t taken a photo of yourself standing on the Walnut Street Bridge (or just the bridge itself) you are in the minority. Built in 1890, the bridge is a beacon of Chattanooga’s renaissance and a gateway for pedestrians to the Northshore. If you do one thing from this list make it a leisurely walk across the Walnut Street Bridge.
Often overlooked, the Sculpture Fields is quickly becoming one of the city’s best parks. The 33-acre park is unique in that it houses large-scale sculptures from all over the world. The collection is truly awe-inspiring and the park is open dawn to dusk.