Chattanooga Checklist 2020

Summer Fun


Opportunities abound for summer fun in the Scenic City, and we’ve compiled the ultimate checklist to help you make the most of this season – all while practicing social distancing. From daring outdoor adventures to museum tours, shopping sprees, ice cream dates, and more, this list is sure to keep you busy until the leaves turn orange!


(Above) Photo Courtesy of Ruby Falls

Photos Courtesy of Ruby Falls


Discover the falls.

A Chattanooga tradition since opening in 1929, Ruby Falls is located 1,120 feet beneath the summit of Lookout Mountain. Visitors tour the winding underground trail while learning more about the ancient geological wonders surrounding them and the cavern’s storied history. A thundering waterfall awaits at the end of the lighted path! In addition to Classic Waterfall Tours, a specialty Lantern Tour takes visitors underground after hours. Reservations are required.

Get your adrenaline pumping.

Soar through the treetops on Lookout Mountain at High Point Zip Adventure! This attraction features more than 700 feet of rushing ziplines with incredible views of the Tennessee Valley. Visitors will also find a 40-foot climbing tower that has multiple routes of varying difficulty.

See forever.

The 360-degree observation deck from the top of historic Lookout Mountain Tower offers unmatched views of the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee River, and the Tennessee Valley. The limestone tower and Ruby Falls Cavern Castle, designed after a 15th-century castle, are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Photo Courtesy of Rock City


Be enchanted.

Panoramic views, lush gardens, gargantuan rock formations, and magical villages – there’s a reason why Rock City is one of Chattanooga’s most revered attractions. Located atop Lookout Mountain, Rock City charms guests with its natural beauty and outdoor appeal. Journey along the Enchanted Trail and experience iconic Lover’s Leap, the 210-foot Swing-A-Long Bridge, Fairyland Caverns, and much more. Need to stop and refresh? Check out Rock City’s Café 7, which offers a menu of Southern favorites, craft brews, menus for kids and pets, and that legendary, one-of-a-kind view! Check the website for operating hours and timed ticket reservations.

Photo Courtesy of the Incline Railway


Ride the Incline.

Travel “America’s Most Amazing Mile” by way of the Incline Railway. This historic ride was established in the 1800s to carry residents up Lookout Mountain. Today, it’s used to give visitors a thrill as they brave the 72.7% grade – the steepest in the world among passenger railways. Coinciding with its 125-year anniversary, the Incline recently installed new railcars and a newly recorded tour for visitors to enjoy. Once up top, attractions like Civil War site Point Park await, and down below, the St. Elmo neighborhood features antique stores, restaurants, and ice cream shops.

Photos Courtesy of Sweet & Savory Classroom


Whip something up.

Chattanooga’s Sweet & Savory Classroom makes culinary whizzes out of everyday cooks. These cooking classes teach you everything from basics like chopping skills to classics like homemade pasta, sushi, pastries, and the perfectly seasoned steak. Choose between sweet and savory courses to try new cuisines and make memories (and messes). It’s the ideal summer date night or night out with friends!



Immerse yourself in art.

One of Chattanooga’s most iconic structures, the Hunter Museum of American Art houses American art from the Colonial period to present day. Paintings, sculptures, photography, and glass are just a few of the mediums on display, and the collection is spread throughout the Hunter’s three unique spaces: the 20th-century mansion, the 1970s-era building, and a contemporary structure of steel and glass. Coming this summer is special exhibition The F Word: We Mean Female!, which celebrates the works of female artists on the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States. Check the website for opening dates.

Photo Courtesy of Creative Discovery Museum


Make a memorable discovery.

With seasonal events and a wide array of educational programs, it’s not hard to see why Creative Discovery Museum has been recognized as one of the premier children’s museums in the region. A handful of permanent and temporary exhibits make it the perfect place for curious young minds to explore and grow. What’s more, an exciting capital campaign is in the works and will see the museum expand its educational outreach programs, as well as build eight new interactive galleries for future generations to enjoy.

Photos Courtesy of Tennessee Aquarium


See what’s in the water.

Visitors come face-to-face with amazing creatures within the tranquil setting of the Tennessee Aquarium. Between its two buildings, the River Journey and the Ocean Journey, this top-rated aquarium houses more than 10,000 animals, including the most diverse gathering of freshwater animals in the United States!


Experience the IMAX.

Just a block from the aquarium, the
IMAX Theater takes viewers worlds away from the comfort of their seats. The projection system provides audiences with the sharpest, brightest, and clearest digital images that you’ll have to see to believe. Add an additional $8 to your aquarium ticket and witness exotic locales or new depths via IMAX.

Learn about Turtles of the World.

A global hot spot for turtles, the Southeast is home to a remarkable number of species. In the brand-new Turtles of the World gallery, guests will see baby turtles from our region and around the world in a turtle nursery, where aquarium experts are saving these animals from extinction. Visitors will get to know more about these amazing reptiles, their fascinating adaptations, and the ways humans can help safeguard them.

Photo Courtesy of the Chattanooga Choo Choo


Check out the Choo Choo.

Much more than a hotel, the Chattanooga Choo Choo has everything you need, all in one place. The former Terminal Station has been completely renovated and now features two full-service restaurants, two music venues, a comedy club, a distillery, retail outlets, and more. Its original charm, reflected in the authentic Pullman train cars, traditional hotel suites, and lush rose garden, keep the timeless feel intact. Plus, guests of the Choo Choo are only steps away from Station Street – a hot spot for Chattanooga nightlife.

Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery


Sip some ‘skey on the Southside.

The Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery is making up for 100 years of prohibition – and guests are invited to take part at this Southside facility. With over 100 different barrels maturing in its aging cellar, the distillery is well-stocked for daily guided tours and whiskey tastings. There’s also a retail bottle shop selling the latest in Chattanooga Whiskey products.



Picnic in the park.

Long, sunny days call for leisurely picnics in the park. Fortunately, the Chattanooga area boasts ample green space and dozens of city parks. Along the riverfront, Coolidge Park and Renaissance Park lure visitors with winding trails, hilly overlooks, and a 100-year-old carousel. Popular regional parks include Chester Frost Park, Enterprise South Nature Park, and the Tennessee Riverpark. Pack a blanket and a sandwich and head outdoors! /

Photo Courtesy of Sculpture Fields


Soak up the sculpture.

A not-so-hidden gem of Chattanooga’s Southside, Sculpture Fields at Montague Park is the largest sculpture park in the Southeast. Covering 33 acres, Sculpture Fields boasts nearly 50 large-scale sculptures from world-renowned artists, and it’s completely free to visit. Plus, it’s the only fine art museum where you can bring Fido along to enjoy the experience! Make the most of your outing by downloading the Otocast app, where you can hear the sculpture’s artists speak about their work.

Photo by Sarah Unger, Maycreate


Plan a shopping spree.

Whether shopping for yourself or a friend, Warehouse Row is the perfect place to pick up a gift or go on a full-fledged shopping spree. With its mix of national and local retailers, the converted warehouse is home to clothing, jewelry, stationery, makeup, home goods, and more. Round out the day by grabbing coffee, cocktails, or a full meal at one of several on-site restaurants.

Photos Courtesy of Chattanooga Zoo


Walk on the wild side.

For a day of wild fun, visit the
Chattanooga Zoo. Visitors can feast their eyes on more than 250 creatures, from chimpanzees and jaguars to red pandas and Komodo dragons. Exhibits include animals indigenous to rainforests in Latin America, the Himalayas in Asia, and habitats all over the world, with new exhibit Makazi ya Twiga housing the zoo’s first-ever herd of giraffes.


Get to know the giraffes.

The Chattanooga Zoo recently acquired a herd of three male giraffes, and they can’t wait to meet you! Born in December of 2018, Hardee Star is the youngest of the herd. He’s known to be a little shy and skeptical of his surroundings, but he loves to hang around his older brother, Porter. Porter is very curious and enjoys being the center of attention. He was born on Mardi Gras in February of 2017, and his exciting birthday fits his personality perfectly.

George is one of the most easy-going giraffes you’ll ever meet, and he’s also the oldest giraffe in the herd. George is gentle, calm, and will do anything for his favorite tree leaves – American Elm. George hails from California, which might explain his laid-back attitude. Another fun fact about George is that he was born a twin, which is rare among giraffes and helps explain his shorter stature. 

Photo Courtesy of Lula Lake Land Trust


Chase waterfalls.

Pet-friendly trails perfect for hiking, biking, and picnicking can be found at Lula Lake Land Trust, just minutes from downtown Chattanooga. This beautiful outdoor destination is home to two tumbling waterfalls, including the 120-foot Lula Falls. From May through November, the land trust is open on the first and last weekends of each month: Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations are booked online and cost $15 per vehicle.


Photo Courtesy of Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum


Train through time.

Step back in time and take an authentic train ride at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Departing from Grand Junction Station, the Missionary Ridge Local takes visitors along one of Chattanooga’s original railway lines. Or, visitors can opt for special rides like the Summerville Steam Special, which follows a historic route to Summerville, Georgia. Before your trip, take a look at on-site artifacts that educate on railroad history in the region. Be sure to check the website for a current train schedule.

Photo Courtesy of Lookout Mountain Flight Park


Soar high above Lookout Valley.

Experience flying tandem at Lookout Mountain Flight Park, one of the world’s top hang gliding schools. The park has been pairing eager students with experienced instructors to take to the skies since 1978. Become a pilot in as little as a week, or try a tandem flight to 1,500 or 3,000 feet! For an unforgettable weekend getaway, reserve an on-site cabin, RV spot, bunkhouse, or camp site.



Spot the paranormal.

Halloween may be months away, but that doesn’t stop Chattanooga Ghost Tours from providing a spooky good time. Voted a Top 10 Best Ghost Tour in the country by USA Today, these walking tours cover downtown’s most haunted spots. Feeling brave? Sign up for a ghost hunt, complete with the latest in investigation equipment, for a real paranormal experience! chattanoogaghost

Photo Courtesy of NoBaked Cookie Dough

Get in on the cookie dough craze.

Gourmet, safe-to-eat cookie dough never tasted better than at NoBaked Cookie Dough! This NorthShore store sells their famous cookie dough by the scoopful in fun flavors like red velvet, cookie monster, s’mores, and of course, the classic chocolate chip. With additional items like ice cream and milkshakes on the menu, NoBaked will be helping customers satisfy their sweet tooth all summer long.

Photos Courtesy of High Point Climbing and Fitness


Climb to new heights.

Rock climbing is both a full-body workout and one of Chattanooga’s favorite pastimes! At High Point Climbing and Fitness, climbers will find brightly colored rock walls that range in intensity, including beginner auto-belay walls, two bouldering areas, and a top roping room. For those looking to learn the sport, the gym offers beginner, immediate, and advanced climbing classes, as well as individual coaching. High Point currently has two locations – one right downtown, and the other off Amnicola Highway. A new 12,000-foot, bouldering-specific gym is set to open in nearby Cleveland later this summer.


Head outdoors.

If you want to know what real rock climbing is like, you couldn’t be in a better place. Chattanooga is surrounded by incredible rock climbing, and with High Point guides, you can be defying gravity on real Southern sandstone within a short drive of downtown. Whether you are climbing for the first time or looking to take your skills to the next level, High Point’s experienced climbing guides will help you enjoy an incredible day outside.


Gear up.

Looking to pick up some new climbing gear? From entry-level essentials to advanced technical equipment, High Point has it all. The Riverside location off of Amnicola Highway carries a wide range of climbing shoes, harnesses, guidebooks, and more from the most popular brands in the industry. Not sure what you need? High Point’s knowledgeable staff can help you choose what is right for your next adventure.

Photo Courtesy of Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center

Become one with nature.

At Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, you’ll find an environmental learning hub on a mission to reconnect Chattanoogans with nature. Reflection Riding covers more than 300 acres, and there’s plenty to do – hike to Skyuka Springs, cycle along Lookout Creek, and check out the center’s native animal exhibit. Reflection Riding is also classified as a Level IV Arboretum and has identified and labeled more than 140 tree species.

Photo Courtesy of Adventure Sports Innovation


Make time to play.

A playground for pioneers, Adventure Sports Innovation allows thrill-seekers to explore the cutting-edge in innovation. From hovershoes and electric ATVs on land to hydrofoil surfboards and water bikes for the water, this company offers experiences for individuals and groups alike. Virtual Reality simulators are also available inside the ASI facility in Chattanooga’s NorthShore.

Photo Courtesy of Ignis Glass Studio


Dare to design.

Create a one-of-a-kind keepsake at Ignis Glass Studio with the help of professional artists. You have your choice of glass ornament or paperweight, and then you’ll choose the colors and design before turning your glass in the 2000° furnace. After cooling overnight, it’ll be yours to take home! The studio also sells their own creative work in the gallery, including stunning glass pieces that make a unique gift or home decoration.

Photos Courtesy of Crabtree Farms


Support your local farmers.

Crabtree Farms provides fresh, locally sourced produce for the Chattanooga area. This nonprofit, sustainable urban farm has been a community staple since 1998, and you can find them at the Main Street Farmers Market each Wednesday or shop at their seasonal Farm Store on Fridays and Saturdays. Visit the website to access their online shopping portal and schedule your pick-up or an upcoming u-pick session.

Photo Courtesy of Chattanooga Skydiving Company


Dive from the clouds.

Is skydiving on your bucket list? Just 30 minutes from downtown Chattanooga, the Chattanooga Skydiving Company promises incredible views of Chattanooga, the Tennessee River Gorge, Lookout Mountain, and the unique geographical formations of the Sequatchie Valley. Tandem skydive with experienced instructors and choose from altitudes of 18,000 feet — no experience needed (just a quick training session). Experienced skydivers with a current USPA membership are welcome to jump alone. You can even become a licensed skydiver yourself in about a week!

Photo Courtesy of the International Towing Museum


Tour the international towing museum.

Spend an afternoon exploring tow truck artifacts and local Chattanooga history at the International Towing Museum. Featured exhibits include the world’s fastest tow truck, a military tow truck, a replica of the original tow truck, and more. The museum also houses the Towing Hall of Fame, which commemorates outstanding members of the towing industry worldwide, as well as the Wall of the Fallen – honoring men and women who have lost their lives in the line of service.

Photo Courtesy of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center


Honor heroes.

The National Medal of Honor Heritage Center is Chattanooga’s newest attraction and was designed to engage and inspire future generations to summon the courage to overcome their own challenges. Experience the powerful stories of ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things. Spending just an hour or two at the Heritage Center will inspire you and your family with the values demonstrated by Medal of Honor recipients – Patriotism, Citizenship, Courage, Integrity, Sacrifice, and Commitment.



Brush up on Civil War history.

With almost 10,000 acres of preserved landscape, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park makes a great outing for the entire family. Visit one of the park’s two visitor centers to learn more about the Civil War campaign for Chattanooga, including the Battle of Chickamauga and the Battles for Chattanooga. Outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, and rock climbing are allowed in designated areas.

Photo Courtesy of The Ice Cream Show


Share a scoop at The Ice Cream Show.

This year-round destination is especially sweet come summertime, when a frozen treat just can’t be beat. At The Ice Cream Show, over 40 fresh ingredients – including berries, chocolates, nuts, gummies, marshmallows, and more – can be blended with either ice cream or frozen yogurt to create more than 17,000 flavor combinations. Dairy-free and sugar-free options, as well as gourmet coffee and fruit smoothies, are also available.

Photo Courtesy of Bike Chattanooga Transit System


Pedal through town.

Explore the Scenic City on two wheels via the city’s Bike Chattanooga Transit System. Three hundred and forty-five pedal bikes and 55 e-bikes are ready to be picked up at 42 stations citywide – simply return the bike to any station when you’re done! Bikes can be rented 24/7, 365 days a year, and daily, 3-day, and annual passes are available. Download the Transit and Cyclefinder apps to help plan your ride.



Sample some brews.

Chattanooga has become a hot spot for breweries in recent years, and that trend isn’t going away anytime soon. Whether you’re an IPA enthusiast, pilsner purist, or lager lover, you’re bound to find something that tickles the taste buds here in town. You can even make a tour of it! Deserving a spot on your list are OddStory, Heaven & Ale, Five Wits, Hutton & Smith, and Naked River. / /



Visit Chattanooga’s must-see murals.

The Scenic City has a thriving street art culture that’s waiting to be explored. Some of the city’s most popular murals include the Flying Donut Mural at 1900 Broad Street, the Polka Dot Wall at the 1400 Block of Williams Street, and the “Traveling Musician” at 1351 Passenger Street. A little larger than 40,000 square feet, “We Will Not Be Satisfied Until” cannot be missed on a drive through the MLK District.

Walk the Walnut.

Did you know that Chattanooga is home to one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world? The Walnut Street Bridge connects downtown Chattanooga to the NorthShore, and at just under a half mile, it’s the perfect spot for a quick jog or leisurely stroll with the family in tow. All the while, enjoy panoramic views of the Scenic City and Tennessee River below.

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