From jumping out of an airplane to cruising along the riverbank, summertime activities in Chattanooga can be as adventurous or as leisurely as your heart desires. We know how we’ll be spending our summer, and to help you navigate yours, we’ve pulled together our Summer Hot 100 – tons of fun ideas of things to do and places to see as the temperatures rise. So whether you prefer to grab a picnic basket, a paddleboard, or a pair of skates, you’ll find that Chattanooga has everything you need to take these hot summer days by storm!
Rock City Gardens is a world-class tourist attraction dating back to the Great Depression. Situated on Lookout Mountain, Rock City is a whimsically enchanted 4,100-foot walking trail showcasing rock formations, caves, lush gardens, and a panoramic view of seven states from 1,700 feet above sea level.
Check out these fun summer events:
Rock City Summer Music Weekends: Friday – Sunday, Memorial Day – Labor Day, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Rock City Raptors: Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Memorial Day – Labor Day.
Southern Blooms Festival: May 3 & 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fly high among the treetops! Ruby Falls ZIPstream Aerial Adventure is an outdoor course consisting of suspended obstacle courses built in trees. Get your adrenaline pumping with 700 feet of round-trip zipping and a 40-foot climbing tower. rubyfallszip.com, 423.821.2544
1,120 feet beneath the ground lies Ruby Falls, the nation’s largest and deepest waterfall open to the public. First, take an elevator deep into the cavern. Then, hike through the paths while learning interesting facts about the formations and trails until you reach the enormous rushing waterfall. About 400,000 visitors stop by Ruby Falls year after year.
Check out these fun summer events:
Ice Cream Festival: June 2-15, noon – 6 p.m.
Lantern Tours: All summer long, at select hours
Channel your inner mermaid and stand under a waterfall at Lula Lake. Open the first and last Saturday of each month, the beautiful Lula Lake Land Trust is home to two waterfalls and more than 6 miles of hiking trails.
Step into the Chattanooga Choo Choo for a night of traditional jazz music with Uptown Lowdown Jazz Band, The Fat Babies, Buffalo Ridge Jazz Band, and High Sierra Jazz Band. With the sound of trumpets, trombones, and saxophones, the Traditional Jazz Festival will have you feeling transformed to a different time and place. Choose from Gold or Silver seating or general admission and top off the night with a prime rib dinner buffet.
Root for the home team.
Nothing is more summery than some Cracker Jacks and a ball cap, and the Chattanooga Lookouts Baseball games have both at AT&T field. Catch one of many games all summer long, and maybe catch a fly ball too!
Take in the beautiful sights of the Tennessee River aboard a 70-foot luxury riverboat cruiser. Blue Moon Cruises on the Tennessee River features spacious dual decks – the upper deck is open air while the lower deck has an enclosed climate controlled area. All areas provide open views of the river and the wildlife who call it home. Take a naturalist-guided Eco-Tour or an evening cruise that includes a barbecue buffet dinner.
Pace with your pup.
If your dog is your best friend, the North Chickamauga Creek Greenway should be on your list of go-to spots. The Greenway features 6 miles of walking, running, hiking and biking trails, and dogs are welcome throughout. A large fenced-in off-leash area allows dogs to run free, while the dog park offers several agility ramps and water sources for the perfect puppy play day.
Settled in the 1830s, the property at Bendabout Farm has been meticulously managed so that the Southern plantation looks and feels the same as it did centuries ago. Come out in September to see a free polo match amidst the beautiful scenery.
Rain or shine, head downtown to Miller Plaza every Friday night, all summer long, for the Nightfall Concert Series. Headlining acts begin at 8 p.m. and local opening acts start at 7 p.m. Bring chairs, quilts, pets, and friends and enjoy drinks, food, and free live music.
The home of skateboards, BMX bikes, and inline skating, the Chattown Skate Park provides refurbished ramps, rails and boxes, plus a hockey rink, scoreboard, bleachers and a pavilion. Listen to tunes through the new state of the art sound system while riding the most popular ramps – “pizza” and “primo.” chattanoogafun.com, 423.757.2076
See Southside sculptures.
With Main Terrain Art Park comes the newest green space in Chattanooga’s Southside district. Interactive art pieces double as a fitness alternative to make this urban park truly unique.
Rush your adrenaline.
You don’t have to travel far for a thrill ride! With over 40 rides, including a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, boat chute, and tilt-a-whirl, Lake Winnepesaukah is the perfect place for the whole family to have fun. The newest attraction, the SoakYa Water Park, includes a crazy river with rolling waves and rafts, a soak-n-slide, water slides, and a challenge course.
Spot the swimmers.
More than 12,000 animals, from fish and sharks to birds and butterflies, make up the Tennessee Aquarium. With both a River Journey, following the path of a raindrop from the Appalachian Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, and the Ocean Journey, featuring sharks, macaws, jellyfish, and more, the Tennessee Aquarium works to “inspire wonder, appreciation, and protection of water and all life that it sustains.”
Breakfast with the Otters: Get introduced to these feisty mammals while enjoying a savory breakfast and then take part in a fun game and tour of the Cove Forest. June 21, 8:30 a.m.
Hummingbirds and Butterflies Workshop: This seminar at The Barn Nursery is led by an expert who will offer insight on the best trees, shrubs, and blooms to make your garden full of the best kinds of creatures. May 24, 10 a.m.
Sleep in the Deep: Family Sleepover: Sleep alongside sharks and stingrays and hear what it’s like to care for more than 10,000 animals from an aquarium expert. May 9 and August 15.
Explore the river gorge.
Referred to as “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon,” the Tennessee River Gorge can be traveled to via the Tennessee Aquarium’s River Gorge Explorer. Traveling smoothly and swiftly downstream, this hydrofoil-assisted boat with angled seating allows guests to take in the sights through oversized windows. The climate-controlled cabin makes for a cool, comfortable boating experience.
Just a block away from the Aquarium, the Imax 3D Movie Theater takes viewers worlds away from the comfort of their seat. Come see some of the exhilarating presentations and be transported to new depths. This summer’s lineup includes Galapagos 3Dand Journey to the South Pacific 3D.
Visit Track 29.
Attend a concert at Track 29 this summer. This music venue located behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo will feature a range of talented artists from YouTube sensations to genre favorites.
Catch a concert at Engel.
Attend a summer concert at Chattanooga’s most historic ballpark, Engel Stadium. Around since the 1930s, the stadium ballpark is now a quintessential Chattanooga landmark.
Climbers at High Point Climbing and Fitness can ascend high above Downtown Chattanooga for a view like none other. Run by professional climbers, High Point offers facilities for non-climbers too, including aerobic, weight, and yoga rooms.
Bounce off the walls.
Release your inner kid at the Chattanooga Jump Park and leap around on over 50 connected trampolines, play a game of trampoline dodgeball, or flip into a foam pit. If you have any energy left after that, head over to the Game Room for pingpong, pool tables, foosball, shuffleboard and more. Also check out the Superfly Trampoline Park, which opens later in the summer.
A horse drawn carriage tour of downtown via Chattanooga Horse Trams allows passengers to breeze through Chattanooga’s streets in the most whimsical way. Tours depart from two locations: the Tennessee Aquarium plaza and the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Handsome horses and a spotted Dalmatian make the ride extra special.
Scream for the soccer team.
As the 2012 SEC champions of the National Premier Soccer League, the Chattanooga Football Club offers a lot to cheer about. This year brings the first women’s team to the CFC, with a mix of local and international players. Wear your navy and white and catch a home game at Finley Stadium as part of the fan base known as “The Chattahooligans.”
Pick your own produce.
Pick your own fruits and veggies at Crabtree Farms. Located near downtown Chattanooga, the farm allows visitors to pick their own produce (blueberries in June, blackberries in July), plus events and programs such as farm-to-table bike rides are sprinkled throughout the summer.
Pack a picnic.
A picnic basket, a blanket, and a little sunshine are all the ingredients you’ll need for a perfect day at Coolidge Park. This park boasts plenty of green space, an up-close view of the Tennessee River, an interactive water fountain, the Walnut Wall, and a 100-year old restored antique carousel. Located just off several boutiques, restaurants, and more, Coolidge Park is right in the midst of Chattanooga’s booming North Shore.
Founded in 1923, the Chattanooga Theatre Centre is one of the oldest, largest, and busiest community theaters in the country. Fifteen productions per year, drama and dance classes, workshops, and a summer academy for students for theater arts make up this robust and successful theater. See some of the many shows this summer, including classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Les Misérables.
See a summer flick.
Grab some popcorn and watch a movie in a state of the art theater, like the Majestic downtown, or the old-fashioned way at the Drive-In Wilderness Outdoor Movie Theater.
carmike.com, 423.265.5220; wildernesstheater.com, 706.657.8411
Cast a line.
Bait your hooks and link up with the Chattanooga Fishing Guides for summer days on the water. Experienced guides take visitors for a boat ride on the Chickamauga Lake and the Tennessee River and help them hook the catch of the day.
Try a food truck.
Swing by to grab a quick lunch, or stay for a picnic on the green space that was once a vacant lot on Market Street’s 700 Block. Now a pocket park hosting several Chattanooga area food trucks, the food truck court at Center Park includes a wide range of eats – from Argentinean food to burgers and pizza. Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Enjoy entertaining eats.
Whether you veer more toward comedy or mystery, the Vaudeville Café has a show for you. Stand-up comics entertain and interact while guests have dinner and drinks for an entertainment-packed dining experience. More into scares than snickers? Check out a murder mystery show and piece together the clues to see who in your family can be first to point fingers at the perpetrator.
Check out the Choo Choo.
What was once a bustling train station in Downtown Chattanooga is now a beautiful landmark reminiscent of a bygone era. Built in 1908, the Chattanooga Choo Choo provides a hotel experience you’re not likely to find anywhere else – stay in an authentic Victorian train car, or opt for a more traditional route and rent a hotel suite or standard room. Dine at one of the Choo Choo’s restaurants, or visit the on-site shops with old-time charm.
Around since 1972, the Signal Mountain Playhouse will be showing a summer production of the musical The King and I starting in July. This not-for-profit community theater located on Signal Mountain features an outdoor amphitheater, which provides a rustic, woodsy setting, perfect for a warm summer night. smph.org
Get rowdy for rugby.
Although the sport is more popular in the U.K. than the U.S., Nooga Rugby can hang with the best of ‘em. The team is committed to improving Chattanooga through Rugby by participating in charity work and youth development. See what all the fuss is about and catch a game on Saturdays or Sundays. noogarugby.com, 423.954.0080
Raft the Ocoee
Whitewater rafting is the perfect summer activity, and the areas surrounding Chattanooga offer teams of Ocoee River rafting opportunities. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, grab a crew and have a guide lead you through the rushing rapids.
1 Adventures Unlimited adventuresunlimited.net, 1.800.662.0667
2 Cherokee Rafting cherokeerafting.com, 1.800.451.7238
3 High Country Adventures hcrivers.com, 1.800.233.8594
4 Ocoee Adventure Center ocoeeadventurecenter.com, 888.723.8622
5 Quest Expeditions questexpeditions.com, 800.277.4537
6 Sunburst Adventures sunburstrafting.com, 1.800.247.8388
7 Wildwater Rafting wildwaterrafting.com, 866.319.8870
Drink local brews.
Chattanooga is booming with breweries, so why not make a day (or night!) out of sampling all the city has to offer? Stop by Big River Grille, the Terminal Brewhouse, Heaven & Ale, Chattanooga Brewing Company, and SturmHaus, to name a few – or take a brew tour and try them all!
Dive to new depths.
Learn to scuba, swim, and dive at the Choo Choo Diving and Aquatic Center. Courses for kids and adults are offered and swim and aquatic instructors can even certify you to teach others. Events and club activities have taken participants as far as the oceans of Bali, Indonesia.
Take in the arts.
With a cliff-top view of the city and the river, the tranquil piece of Chattanooga known as the Bluff View Art District offers an a sculpture garden, a bocce court, an artisan bakery, a coffee shop, and restaurants featuring homegrown herbs and produce.
See a movie in the park.
Round up the kids and head to Coolidge Park on Saturday evenings in July for free showings of family-friendly flicks. Come around sundown with lawn chairs and strollers and enjoy the movie shown on a giant inflatable screen. Sponsored by First Things First in partnership with the City of Chattanooga. July 12, 19, and 26, beginning at 8:30 p.m.
Referred to as the “pride of the South,” the Southern Belle Riverboat is a beautifully historic, relaxing way to cruise along the Tennessee River. Choose from a dinner cruise (Saturday nights have live jazz), a lunch cruise, or a daytime sightseeing cruise.
Check this out:
Senior Lunch Cruises: Senior Citizens can travel the river gorge and view the scenery while enjoying a slow-cooked prime rib and chicken Wisconsin dinner. Every 2nd Tuesday and Thursday, April-September
Mother’s Day: Bring your mom to enjoy easy listening from a live band while cruising down the river. Choose from an afternoon or evening cruise, featuring a prime rib and chicken Wisconsin meal for lunch and prime rib and shrimp scampi pasta for dinner. May 11, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
3rd Deck Burger Bar: Hit up the burger bar at Ross’s Landing for something special each day of the week.
Mondays– free poker
Tuesdays – $4 margaritas
Wednesdays – half-price wine bottles
Sundays – $1 mimosas with breakfast skillets
Enjoy happy hour every day from 2p.m.-7p.m.
Drink and jive.
Come try brews from 40 of the nation’s best breweries, including some made locally in the Chattanooga area, at the Southern Brewers Festival. Live musical performances add to the flare of this 19th annual festival, which was featured as one of “America’s three top beer festivals” in Maxim magazine. Choose from over 100 draft beers on Chattanooga’s riverfront. Saturday, August 24, 2 p.m.-midnight.
Ride a bike.
Chattanooga has a thriving bike culture, so this summer, find out why Bicycling calls Chattanooga one of America’s “Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities.” Explore our city on two wheels via the Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System. Rent one of hundreds of bikes at over 30 stations located throughout the city and simply return the bike to any station once you’re done. Bikes can be rented 24/7, 365. Passes are purchased via a simple touch-screen kiosk.
Pedal to the pubs.
Whether you’re a Chattanooga local or just in town for the weekend, Pints and Pedals and Chattanooga Brew Choo might be the best new ways for you to bar hop. Grab a group and pedal from bar to bar. Don’t forget to BYOB! pintsandpedalstn.com, 423.380.8359, chattbrewchoo.com, 423.432.0116
Immerse yourself in the arts.
Several art installations throughout the city make Chattanooga the ideal spot for a Public Art Walking Tour. From the River Gallery Sculpture Garden, to Riverfront Parkway to Broad Street, this tour uses a simple map to lead you to each stop, highlighting some of the best public art the city has to offer. publicartchattanooga.com
Pay tribute to the Trail.
As a permanent outdoor exhibit, The Passage symbolizes the Trail of Tears and serves as the pedestrian link between downtown Chattanooga and the Tennessee River. Kids can splash around in the waterfall stairs located at the Tennessee Aquarium Plaza.
Peruse the Chattanooga Market.
The Chattanooga Market will be overflowing with fresh, locally grown produce on Sundays all season long. Fresh fruits, breads, veggies, and locally made arts and crafts make up this large producer-only market. Visit the new Wednesday market for a midweek treat from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Shop ‘til you drop.
If you’re looking for a little retail therapy, Chattanooga has you covered. From Warehouse Row, to North Shore, to the Southside, boutiques and artisan shops abound. Check out Main Street or Frazier Avenue for locally owned shops where you can find unique jewelry, art, or a flirty new dress. Hop over to Manufacturers Road for even more shopping and browse furniture, bikes, clothing stores, and a salon and spa. Or, stroll through Warehouse Row, where you can find home décor, shoes, makeup and more.
Sled and slide.
Stroll along from Coolidge Park and access Renaissance Park. Once a polluted area, Renaissance Park is now a clean river habitat that promotes the return of native plants and animals. And don’t forget your cardboard box! “Cardboard Hill,” as it’s referred to by the locals, is the perfect slope for a year-round sledding adventure.
See the surf and the turf.
See Chattanooga as the amphibians do! Perfect for history buffs and ecology lovers, the Chattanooga Ducks tour places visitors aboard an authentic WWII amphibious landing craft built specifically for the D-Day invasion. First, see the city by land and next splash into the river for an ecological tour of the waterfront.
If ultramarathons are your thing, this is the race for you. The Rock/Creek Thunder Rock 100 Mile Trail Race is run entirely within the Cherokee National Forest, starting at the Ocoee Whitewater Center and finishing at Parksville Lake. The race starts at noon, so it’s likely you’ll still be pacing when the sun rises on the trail. Friday-Saturday May 16-17.
Put a spin on golf.
Traditional golf is fun, but why not mix it up? In place of a golf ball, disk golf uses a Frisbee thrown from a tee area to an elevated metal basket target. Visit one of the several disk golf courses in the Chattanooga area, like the one at Carver Recreation Center.
Double the fun.
This tour is all about Chattanooga, from the free MoonPie to the Chattanooga made Double Cola given at the end, but it’s easy to feel a bit of British flare when you’re aboard the Chattanooga Double Decker. Eleanor, as she’s called, is a 1960 AEC Routemaster who was born in West London. Whether you’re seated on the top or bottom deck, you’ll have a clear view of the city outside while hearing historically accurate tales of Chattanooga’s history and covering territory from hills and cliffs to bridges.
Boat to the landing.
A river pier, natural amphitheatre, marina and the Chattanooga Green make up Ross’s Landing, located just across the street from the Tennessee Aquarium. This riverside park includes a public boat landing area and is often home to small music venues, such as the Riverfront Nights.
Sample vino and take in stunning views of the vineyard and the valley at DeBarge Vineyards, located 20 miles south of downtown in Lafayette, Ga., on the slopes of Pigeon Mountain. Or visit DeBarge Winery, Chattanooga’s first and only urban winery located in the Southside district. The winery offers tastings of its handcrafted wines in its space at 1617 Rossville Ave – plus glass windows that allow visitors to view the winemaking process.
Play along with the symphony.
Show your mom all those music lessons paid off this Mother’s Day. Community musicians are invited to perform with the Chattanooga Symphony during the free Mother’s Day concerts at the Chattanooga Market. Performances will be at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday May 11.
Tour the towing museum.
Learn about the evolution of tow trucks at the International Towing and Recovery Museum. Gain insight into the history of towing and recovery by viewing photos, memorabilia, exhibits and equipment dating back to 1916. Visit the Wall of the Fallen memorial, dedicated to towers who died in the line of service and stop by the library, theater and gift shop to round out this educational experience.
Nine nights of music and more make the Riverbend Festival an international award winner. Located on the riverfront in the heart of downtown Chattanooga, Riverbend is host to five stages and more than 100 bands ranging from country to classic rock to R&B to bluegrass. Bring a lawn chair and your crew and be one of over 650,000 annual patrons. This year’s headliners are Gary Allan, Boston, Buddy Guy, Widespread Panic, Justin Moore, TobyMac, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, and Young the Giant. A booming fireworks display concludes the festival on the last night. June 6-14.
The Chattanooga Ghost Tours cover downtown’s most haunted spots. Don’t forget your camera, as orbs and ghost figures have often been captured by guests!
Sometimes referred to as “golf with a shotgun,” skeet shooting is a sport that consists of shooting fields that challenge the shooter to hit clay targets thrown at various speeds. Take a trip out to Montlake Classic Clays and spend a day hitting your target.
See Civil War sites.
The Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park marks the site of two major Civil War battles: the Battle of Chickamauga and the Chattanooga Campaign. As the oldest and largest of America’s Civil War parks, the NMP spans the border of Georgia and Tennessee. The Chickamauga Battlefield portion marks the last major Confederate victory of the Civil War. Stop by the Visitor Center for exhibits, a gun collection, a film and maps of hiking and biking routes.
Walk the Walnut.
In case you didn’t know, Chattanooga is home to one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world. The Walnut Street Bridge connects downtown Chattanooga to the North Shore, and although its length may sound daunting, it’s totally doable! Go out for a jog or leisurely stroll from one side to the other (just 724 meters), while enjoying views of the scenic city and Tennessee River below.
Honor our veterans.
Celebrate America’s courageous soldiers at Collegedale’s Veterans Memorial Park or the Chattanooga National Cemetery. For a patriotic summer day, pay tribute to the courageous acts of those who have served our country.
vmpofcollegedale.org, 423.396.3135, cem.va.gov, 423.855.6590
Race through the mountains.
Get acquainted with the mountains in and around Chattanooga with the Rock/Creek Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race. Over three days, run 18 miles on Raccoon Mountain, 22 miles on Lookout Mountain and finally, 20 miles on Signal Mountain. Run the trails and test your endurance with all proceeds benefitting Wild Trails, an organization dedicated to the use, expansion and promotion of trails in the Chattanooga area. Friday-Sunday, June 13-15.
Ride the Incline.
Riding the Incline Railway is a Chattanooga must for everyone. Located atop historic Lookout Mountain, the incline was first created in the 1800s to whisk tourists up and down the mountain. Because of its extreme incline (72.7° at most) it’s used today for entertainment and recreation purposes and has hardly changed a bit in its over 100 years of operation.
Play at the park.
Formerly the estate and grounds of the Henshall family, Heritage Park and Heritage House are now home to year-round public events and festivals. The house can be rented for private parties or meetings and events include free concerts every second Tuesday, and a free film noir series every third Thursday. Just looking for a place to kick back and relax? Enjoy the park and walking path any day of the week and bring your pet, too!
Just outside Chattanooga lies more than 500 acres of pastures and woodlands called Hidden Hills. Rent a horse and explore the guided trails that cut through open fields and pastures along Grindstone Mountain. Pony rides at the barn can be scheduled for younger kids. “Firefly Rides” are offered during the summer months to take advantage of the warm summer twilight. Rides are offered Sunday-Friday by appointment only.
Isn’t it nice to know where your food comes from? The mission of the Main Street Farmer’s Market is to provide regional, small-family farmers with an opportunity to sell directly to consumers. Local farmers and artisans provide fruits, veggies, coffee, bread, and more so that your homemade dinners can be truly farm-to-table. You can also learn how healthy food is produced, prepared, and grown. 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. all summer long.
Make noise for the Mocs.
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s football team, the Chattanooga Mocs, will officially kick off the season on August 28, but check out a scrimmage at Finely Stadium before the season starts. Wear your best blue and gold and be sure to catch one of the home games at Finley Stadium during their 2014 season.
Support the symphony.
Come support the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera at one of their summer events. Enjoy a night filled with wine, food and music at the Uncorked! event on May 31. Or, watch the Wind Quintet play popular tunes at the Pops & Rec event at the Eastdale Recreation Center on May 22.
Go where the wild things are.
Come see fun animals like chimpanzees and red pandas at the Chattanooga Zoo. Exhibits include animals indigenous to the rainforests in Latin America, the Himalayan Mountains of Asia, and many other deserts and forests of the world.
Check out these fun summer events:
Spirits in the Wild: Saturday, May 17, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Q n’ Brew: Saturday, July 26, 4:30 p.m.
Trek the trails.
A half marathon and 10K race starts out simultaneously with the Rock/Creek Still Hollow Trail Race. The fast, friendly trails of the Enterprise South Nature Park lend themselves to trail running beginners and half-marathon runners will take to a nontechnical single track to finish their race. Saturday, August 9.
Relax aboard the Delta Queen.
Take it from the presidents, foreign dignitaries, and celebrities who have all been entertained on board – the Delta Queen provides a dazzling, unique lodging experience. Stay on board for dinner at the Paddlewheel Restaurant or a complimentary breakfast each morning, and hop off to visit local attractions within walking distance of the Delta Queen’s dock.
Pitch a tent.
Ten miles west of Chattanooga and situated on the scenic Tennessee River Gorge is Prentice Cooper State Forest. 35 miles of hiking trails make this a great spot for the active and outdoors-y, and two designated camping areas invite visitors to roll out their sleeping bags and roast some s’mores. Other activities supported in Prentice Cooper State Forest include rock climbing, hiking, biking, horseback riding and birdwatching.
Paddle the river.
Rent a paddleboard or kayak from L2 Boards and spend a sweltering day out on the water! Choose from performance SUP (stand up paddleboards) boards or kayaks and launch from the riverfront just a short walk from the shop. Beginner? No problem. Basic tutorials are provided pre-launch. Don’t forget to reserve your board or kayak beforehand to ensure availability.
Learn about those who have received the National Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor, at the Chattanooga National Medal of Honor Museum. This museum strives to teach all generations about these courageous recipients, and artifacts from the Revolutionary War through present day can be viewed at the museum.
Rock out at Riverfront Nights.
The Riverfront Nights are back for the ninth year! Held on Saturday nights at Ross’s Landing, the free summer concerts are accompanied by local, health-conscious concessionaires, vendors, and exhibitors. All shows are child- and pet-friendly. Saturdays, August 2- September 13 (except Augusts 23), with opening acts beginning at 6:30.
See a Civil War sight.
Used as an observation post by both Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War, Cravens House still rests atop Lookout Mountain – and is now part of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Park. Visitors to Cravens House can learn about its importance during the battle of Chattanooga. You can access the house by car, or by three trails that lead to the home from the nearby Point Park.
Fly like a bird.
People from ages 4 to 92 have flown with Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding. If you have an adventurous side, it might be time to join their ranks. Soar high above scenic Lookout Valley while flying tandem or train with an experienced guide to go on your own. Plus, accommodations ranging from RV spaces to bunkhouses to cabins and lofts make this a location fit for an outdoor weekend getaway.
Observe art at the Hunter.
As one of Chattanooga’s most iconic structures, the Hunter Museum of American Art houses something even more beautiful inside – American art from the Colonial period to present day. Collections include paintings, works on paper, sculpture, furniture, and contemporary studio glass covering a range of style and periods. Three buildings on site represent 100 years of architecture, from the early 1900s, to the ‘70s, to the 21st Century.
Dive from the clouds.
Thrill seekers, this one’s for you! The Chattanooga Skydiving Company has been around for over 50 years and promises one of the prettiest and most scenic drop zones you’ll find anywhere. Tandem skydiving and instruction is provided, and experienced skydivers with a current USPA membership are welcome to jump alone!
See a play at the Playhouse.
An intimate theater in the heart of Chattanooga, the Oak Street Playhouse is located in the First-Centenary United Methodist Church. Featuring a puppet theater geared toward kids and performances through the year, this decades-old playhouse is a great venue for the whole family.
Explore the Lost Sea.
Their website claims that you’ve “never seen, heard, or done anything like this before” — and that’s probably right. If you’re looking for a truly unique summer excursion, The Lost Sea is a must. The Lost Sea is America’s largest underground lake, located deep inside a mountain and part of an extensive cave system called Craighead Caverns. It’s open every day of the year except Christmas, and has a general store, café, ice cream parlor, gem mine, nature trail, and glassblower on site.
View Victorian art.
Located in the Bluff View Art District, the Houston Museum of Decorative Arts displays an extensive collection of Victorian art, glass, and antiques. From water pitchers to oil lamps, rare pieces from manufacturers such as Tiffany and Loetz give visitors a glimpse into Victorian life and the passionate collector.
Make a discovery.
Permanent and temporary exhibits and education programs make the Creative Discovery Museum the perfect place for curious young minds to explore and grow. Exhibits such as Good for You: Healthy Fun on the Run, engage kids and teaches them the importance of healthy living through interactive displays and movement based activities for indoor play.
Explore the caverns.
You may not know it, but less than 10 minutes from downtown Chattanooga is one of the top 10 caves in the U.S. with more than 5.5 miles of explored and mapped passageways. Raccoon Mountain Caverns is home to diverse, 100% natural cave formations. Visitors can choose between a 45-minute walking tour and a wild cave expedition — or do both! Gym panning, go-karts, cabins and a campground make this cavern experience one worth sticking around all day for.
Get with Brit.
Multimedia animation and video inspired by the designs of Pink Floyd collaborator Storm Thorgerson make this musical performance and arch and circle light show spectacular. Come out to the Memorial Auditorium to see Brit Floyd, a Pink Floyd tribute band with over 1 million tickets sold worldwide. Accurate musical and visual detail will make you feel like you’re listening to Pink Floyd in their prime. May 12.
Get patriotic with Pops.
Bring a lawn chair and a picnic basket and come listen to patriotic tunes by the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera at Pops on the River. This free annual celebration held in Coolidge Park celebrates the music of some of America’s most influential composers. Followed by a fireworks finale over the Tennessee River, Pops is the perfect way to salute the U.S.A. Thursday, July 3.
Stop by the Bessie.
Merging the Chattanooga African American Museum and the Bessie Smith Performance Hall resulted in the current Bessie Smith Cultural Center. Stop by to learn more about the rich African and African American heritage and culture by viewing works of art and artifacts. Through mid-June, visitors can view the Bright Ideas: African American Inventors exhibit, which tells the stories of several inventors whose creations are now part of our everyday life – from the traffic light to the ice cream scoop.
Laugh ‘til it hurts.
There’s no greater medicine than laughter, and Chattanooga’s comedy club, The Comedy Catch, has been cracking visitors up since 1985. Catch a show from one of this summer’s talented performers while enjoying a full dinner or appetizer bar by Giggles Grill. thecomedycatch.com, 423.629.2233
Climb the rocks.
Ever wanted to scale a mountain? Urban Rocks Gym might be a good place to start. With classes, programs, rental gear, and helpful staff, the full service indoor rock climbing gym is a great place to learn the ropes. Summer camps, birthday parties, group lock-ins, and team building classes are just a few of the fun opportunities offered by Urban Rocks.
Splash a pop of color.
Get your game face on and gather some friends for a friendly battle at Insane Paintball and Airsoft. Here you’ll find a playing field facility equipped with buildings, cars, mounds and more, plus 40,000 square feet of indoor Airsoft arenas. Rent your gear and gather a group to duke it out!
Ride the rails.
Step back in time and take an authentic train ride, which departs from the Grand Junction Station at the Tennessee Valley Railroad. Guests can opt for a Dinner on the Diner ride, or the Summerville Steam Special, among others. Chattanooga welcomed its first rail line in 1850, and aboard the moving Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, you’ll feel transported back to that simpler era.
Be one with nature.
Nearly 3,000 wooded acres are now home to the Enterprise South Nature Park. This park was once the site of the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant, but today it offers miles of walking and bike paths and trails. Green space and a small lake make it the perfect park for a picnic or sneaking a peek at wildlife in its natural habitat.
Paddle by moonlight.
Strap on a headlamp and set out on a nighttime canoeing excursion. The Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center’s Paddling by Moonlight event will explore the native flora and fauna of the valley and discuss the history of Lookout Creek. Don’t forget your bug spray!
Spend an evening at the Tivoli.
Known as the Jewel of the South, the Tivoli Theatre has entertained Chattanoogans for over 90 years. This summer, catch Prince’s Purple Rain by The Black Jacket Symphony on May 3 or sing along with Shrek at Shrek the Musical on August 15-17. Check online for future shows and dates.
Scale a boulder.
If you’ve spent an afternoon at the Incline Railway and need even more vertical action, hop over to the nearby Tennessee Bouldering Authority for nearly 3,000 feet of world-class indoor rock climbing walls and training space. Climbers of all levels can also enjoy personal climbing instruction, yoga and core classes, a lounge area with snacks and drinks, summer camps, and team-building opportunities just to name a few.
Rock out at Rhythm and Brews.
Rhythm and Brews is a live music venue serving up tunes, food, and handcrafted microbrews. Multiple weekly performances throughout the summer include talented artists such as Fly By Radio, Jerry Garcia Band Cover Band, and Soul Mechanic: Unofficial Panic After Party, just to name a few.
Explore the greenway.
Summer is a great time to get outside and get your heart racing, and the Wolftever Creek Greenway is a great place to do just that. With the goal of promoting healthier lifestyles, the Greenway in Collegedale offers visitors a three-phase paved pedestrian trail. Use it for walking, running, rollerblading or biking. The safe trail begins behind City Hall stretches nearly three miles.