Autumnal Activities in the Scenic City
The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, and fall activities will soon be in full swing. Take advantage of this colorful season with all that the Scenic City has to offer – from cave tours and train rides to the arts, shopping, and unique cultural experiences. Your Fall Fun guide awaits!
Fall Fun For the Family
This year-round destination is especially enchanting come autumn, when breathtaking fall foliage appears atop Lookout Mountain and the view below, which spans seven states. Specialty food and beverages will transport you to a cozy state of mind with treats like spiced apple cider funnel cakes, Bavarian pretzels, and warm apple pie à la mode. Themed photo stations and fall décor offer plenty of options for capturing a perfect family photo. Adding to the line-up of fun fall flavors is Café 7 and its array of harvest inspired dishes such as pumpkin soup, stuffed acorn squash, and butternut squash ravioli among others. Pair one of these seasonal dishes with spiced apple mimosas or a regional craft brew.
There’s always something new to discover at Ruby Falls, home to the tallest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States. Guests descend 260 feet by elevator to reach the cavern trail filled with spectacular rock formations; at the end of the trail is the thundering waterfall! Before or after your tour, be sure to take in the view from the historic Lookout Mountain Tower for a picture-perfect vista of the Tennessee River and Cumberland Plateau. And don’t miss a fright-filled evening at Dread Hollow, located off-site on Browns Ferry Road! This Halloween tradition returns in 2020 with three new haunts and new escape room challenges.
Fall Fun For the Adventurer
Soar through the treetops at Ruby Falls High Point Zip Adventure, where 700 feet of rushing ziplines await. Guests can also conquer a 40-foot climbing tower with multiple routes of varying difficulty. Operating on Saturdays and Sundays through November, this attraction is located on scenic Lookout Mountain.
With two buildings to explore, the Tennessee Aquarium provides hours of fun for the whole family and is located right on the Chattanooga Riverfront. Check out exhibits dedicated to river otters, penguins, lemurs, jelly fish, tropical fish, and more while learning about the aquarium’s efforts to provide world-class care to every creature. Guests can upgrade their aquarium ticket to see sea turtles, manta rays, and Dwarf Minke whales on the giant IMAX screen through November.
Photo courtesy of Penelope S. Gault
Travel back in time with a scenic autumn train ride at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Experience the golden age of railroading with one of many excursions ranging in length from 1 to 5 hours. Perfect for that fall feeling, the Chickamauga Turn takes riders through the beautiful North Georgia mountains with its explosion of fall color to the quaint town of Chickamauga. A 90-minute layover provides plenty of time to explore local shops and the nearby Crawfish Spring park.
Fall Fun For the Experience Seeker
Photo by Caleb Timmerman
High Point Climbing and Fitness
Plan an outing to one of the country’s coolest climbing gyms – High Point Climbing and Fitness. With 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor climbing space, there’s something for everyone. From bouldering and sport climbing to the Kid Zone, climbers of all skill levels and ages will feel at home in the facility. You can even climb high above Broad Street on High Point’s outdoor climbing walls! Guests can also take advantage of the gym’s cross-training offerings, including yoga classes and a weight room.
Chattanooga Skydiving Company
What better way to view the fall foliage than from 14,000 feet? Based in the gorgeous Sequatchie Valley, Chattanooga Skydiving Company provides world-class skydiving instruction to those seeking an adrenaline rush. After a short training session, participants will gear up before boarding the airplane and enjoying a scenic flight to altitude. Moments later, it’ll be time to make the jump with an experienced tandem instructor! Add a video and photo package to relive the memories for years to come.
Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery
For the past five years, Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery has been serving up hand-crafted bourbon on Chattanooga’s Southside. In fact, when it opened in March of 2015, it was the first distillery to craft whiskey in Chattanooga in over 100 years! Get a taste of the action by experiencing one of two offerings – a Traditional Tour & Tasting or a Whiskey Flight Tasting. Capacity is limited, so be sure to reserve a spot before you go!
Fall Fun For the Explorer
See what’s new at the Chattanooga Zoo! Giraffe feedings are now available and allow guests to get up close and personal with the zoo’s brand-new herd. Wild Encounters (a behind-the-scenes experience) and 30-minute Zoo Tours can also be reserved online. Of course, a general admission ticket gives access to the zoo grounds and all your favorite animals – from chimpanzees and leopards to the adorable red pandas. On Thursday nights in September, the zoo will stay open until 8 p.m. for Safari Nights.
Raccoon Mountain Caverns & Campground
Home to Tennessee’s highest rated cave, Raccoon Mountain Caverns & Campground invites guests to tour the cave system, pan for gemstones, and relax by a campfire on a cool evening this fall. Open Tuesday through Sunday, Crystal Palace Walking Tours give access to some of the caverns’ 5.5 miles of underground passageways, including countless well-preserved natural formations; these tours may be booked by reservation only. Make it a weekend getaway and stay at one of Raccoon Mountain’s RV sites, camp sites, or cabin rentals.
Lookout Mountain Flight Park
Ride the fall breeze at Lookout Mountain Flight Park, which has been soaring high above the beautiful Lookout Valley for over 40 years. The park currently employs some of the world’s top hang gliding and paragliding instructors to help guests achieve their flying dreams. Book a tandem flight at 1,500 or 3,000 feet, or become a student at the Flight School to learn about piloting your own flight!
Fall Fun For the Savvy Shopper
Photo courtesy of Maycreate
Fill out your fall wardrobe at Warehouse Row, a 330,000-square-foot development housing Chattanooga’s finest retail options. A number of local and national stores – selling everything from stationery and home goods to jewelry, cosmetics, activewear, and more – are available for all your shopping needs. Need a break? Enjoy a cup of joe at Goodman Coffee, or, if running on an empty stomach, dine in at one of several dining establishments.
Take in the hustle and bustle of downtown Chattanooga’s West Village, a premier destination for shopping, dining, and overnight accommodations. From upscale boutiques to a full-service floral design studio, shoppers have their pick of high-end gifts, apparel, and more. This fall, join West
Village restaurants and cafés for seasonal dishes and
cocktails unspired by the region’s changing colors.
Photo by Pat and Tom Cory
NorthShore Merchants Collective
Head to the iconic NorthShore for a little retail therapy. More than 50 members strong, the NorthShore Merchants Collective is a mix of boutiques, restaurants, gift shops, galleries, and other businesses that bring this
beloved neighborhood to life. Whether looking for
unique local goods, a new art piece, specialty foods,
or fine quality products from the best brands, you can count on the NorthShore to come through.
Fall Fun For the Museum Enthusiast
Plan a visit to the International Towing Museum for tow truck artifacts galore! The museum’s featured exhibits include the world’s fastest tow truck, a military tow truck, and a replica of the original tow truck. Visitors should also check out the Towing Hall of Fame, which commemorates outstanding members of the towing industry worldwide. With 23 fully restored tow trucks and an operational Tator Tot mascot, there is fun for the whole family.
Hunter Museum of American Art
Telling the stories of American art from the 1700s to the present day, the Hunter Museum of American Art houses a fascinating collection of paintings, photographs, sculpture, decorative arts, mixed media, and more. On view until January 10, 2021, special exhibit The F Word: We Mean Female! marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage with a display of incredible works by female artists. Don’t forget that the museum offers free admission to its permanent colllection and $5 admission to its special exhibits the first Thursday of every month from 4 until 8 p.m.!
Creative Discovery Museum
A visit to this renowned children’s museum is sure to delight. Explore Creative Discovery Museum’s permanent exhibits, which range from Make It – where kids can become innovators and engineers – to the Visual Arts Gallery – where guests are invited to design, sculpt, draw, and create. Other exhibits feature large-scale excavation pits, water tables, musical instruments, simple machines, and more.
Fall Fun For the Entertainment Seeker
The Ice Cream Show
Ice cream isn’t just a warm-weather treat! At The Ice Cream Show, you’ll find more than 40 fresh ingredients – including cheesecake, brownies, fresh fruit, candies, and chocolate chip cookie dough – ready to be blended with your choice of vanilla or chocolate ice cream or frozen yogurt; with more than 17,000 possible combinations and sugar- and dairy-free options, there’s a flavor for every palate. Gourmet coffee, hot chocolate, and hot tea are also available for those craving something warm on a breezy fall evening.
Chattanooga Choo Choo
A one-stop-shop for fall fun, the Chattanooga Choo Choo offers a music and comedy venue, a distillery, retail stores, full-service restaurants, and more! What was once the former Terminal Station has maintained its charm with authentic Pullman train cars that provide unique overnight accommodations and a fun-filled escape room experience. Enjoy cooler weather in the Glenn Miller Gardens or visit nearby Station Street for even more activities and entertainment.
Cool down this fall by enjoying a craft cocktail at one of the many establishments along Station Street – Chattanooga’s only open container street. With gourmet food offerings too, many of the restaurants and bars that line this lively corridor feature spacious outdoor seating and live music.