From taking a ride in a hot air balloon to sipping local wine and spirits, summer fun in Chattanooga can be as adventurous or as leisurely as you please. To help you navigate what to do in the upcoming months, we’ve pulled together our annual Summer Hot 100 – dozens of fun things to do and places to see as the temperatures rise. It’s time to pull out your calendar!
See Rock City. 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: Stomp your foot to live string band music from the Old Time Travelers and more, Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend, 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Rock City Raptors: See majestic hawks, owls, and vultures up close at the “Birds of Prey” show, Memorial Day Weekend – Labor Day Weekend, show times at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.
Zip through the trees. View the city like never before. Ruby Falls ZIPStream Aerial Adventure includes suspended obstacle courses built in trees that include ladders, nets, walkways, bridges, tunnels, and zip lines. Five routes of varying difficulty, 700 feet of round-trip zipping, and a 40-foot climbing tower provide loads of adventure.
Tromp to Ruby Falls. 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:
Lantern Tours: Staged lighting is swapped for hand-held lanterns at these evening tours rich in tales and folklore. Available only on Fridays, check in at 8:30 p.m.
Ice Cream Festival: Enjoy a selection of Mayfield’s finest ice cream with flavors of the day, free sampling, and a Cavern Scavenger Hunt for children. June 1-14, held throughout the day.
Foto at the Falls: Designed for photo enthusiasts, this tour gives visitors a chance to take creative shots of the cavern and waterfall. August 15, check in at 7:30 p.m.
Connect with the Civil War. 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, which marks the site of the Civil War’s “battle above the clouds.” At Point Park, enjoy spectacular views of the city below, ranger-led tours, and the nearby Battles for Chattanooga Museum.
Soar through the air. 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.
Stop by the general store. The Moon Pie is a Chattanooga icon, and we’re lucky to have the Moon Pie General Store right in the heart of our downtown. Choose from every Moon Pie flavor and size, plus get an array of Moon Pie swag from hats and shirts to décor and drink ware. moonpie.com, 423.877.0592
Pedal to the pubs. Bar hop and give your legs a workout at the same time! Pints And Pedals and Chattanooga Brew Choo allow you to grab a group and pedal from bar to bar. Don’t forget to BYOB!
pintsandpedalstn.com, 423.380.8359, chattbrewchoo.com, 423.432.0116
Slide the city. For one day only, downtown Chattanooga will be the site of a 1,000-foot waterslide! Come out to Slide The City on June 20 for a chance to ride down 1,000 feet of colorful, slick vinyl (that’s more than three football fields of fun). Grab an inner tube and hang on! slidethecity.com/events/chattanooga
Blow your own glass. Ever wanted to blow your own glass? At Ignis Glass Studio, you and your family can blow your own heirloom glass ornament with the help of professional artists. Choose your favorite colors to include in creating your own special keepsake. ignisglass.com, 423.265.2565
See Mary Poppins. Closed Door Entertainment will present Mary Poppins at the Memorial Auditorium this May. Everyone’s favorite nanny will be brought to life on the stage before you as kids and adults alike enjoy the Mary Poppins tale experienced live. May 22-24. chattanoogaonstage.com, 1.800.514.3849
Go to Pops on the River. On July 4, bring a lawn chair and a picnic basket to Coolidge Park and listen to patriotic tunes performed by the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera. The free annual Pops on the River event celebrates the music of some of America’s most influential composers and concludes with a fireworks finale. It’s the perfect way to salute the U.S.A.! chattanoogapops.com, 423.265.0771
Watch the pros cycle. Held Memorial Day Weekend, the Usa Pro Cycling National Championships is a 3-day professional cycling event that includes a time-trial course, road races through downtown Chattanooga and up Lookout Mountain, and a charity ride for people of all ages and abilities. Participate as a volunteer, come to the finish line, or watch the drama unfold on one of several big-screen televisions downtown. usacycling.org, 719.434.4200
Tour the city streets. Choose from two different Chattanooga Sidewalk Tours. The Dynamo of Dixie tour takes attendees on a walk from the Read House to Chattanooga landmarks such as the world’s first Coca Cola bottling plant, the dome building, and Carnegie Library, pointing out the city’s rich architectural history along the way. The Bluffs and Bridges tour begins at the Walnut Street Bridge and highlights Cherokee and Civil War history with an emphasis on how Chattanooga blossomed into the dynamic charmer it is today. chattwalktours.com, 423.802.5937
Motivate world-class athletes. The IRONMAN is back, and this time it’s for a 70.3. Come cheer on these dedicated athletes as they swim, bike, and run throughout the Scenic City’s landscapes on May 17. From the Tennessee River to Lookout Mountain, parts of Georgia, and the Tennessee Riverwalk and Riverfront Parkway, pick your spot to watch the race in action. ironman.com, 813.868.5940
Spot the swimmers. A must-see Chattanooga location, the Tennessee Aquarium houses more than 12,000 animals, from fish and sharks to birds and butterflies. Fun new additions include the Alligator Bayou and River Otter Falls. Download the free Aquarium app for a list of nearly 30 interactive animal experiences throughout. 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.” tnaqua.org, 800.262.0695
Explore the river gorge. Referred to as “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon,” the Tennessee River Gorge can be navigated 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. Special cruises, like America’s Birthday Cruise for the 4th of July, focus on themes relevant to the time of year. tnaqua.org, 800.262.0695
Check out these fun summer events:
BBQ & Bluegrass Father’s Day Cruise: Enjoy live Bluegrass music by Matt Downer as you cruise down the river, and munch on Big River Grille’s BBQ pork sliders, chips, and dessert. Cash bar with wine, beer, soft drinks, and snacks available during the cruise. June 14, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Shark Fest!: Gather your chums for an evening of shark-tacular fun to celebrate the 40th anniversary of JAWS! Dare to enter our diver’s shark cage. Transform yourself with a “shark-hawk” and mermaid hairdos and enjoy Dr. Bernie’s Travelin’ Shark Show with bizarre museum specimens. August 7, 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. tnaqua.org, 800.262.0695
Experience nature at the IMAX. Just a block away from the Aquarium, the IMAX 3D Movie Theater takes viewers worlds away from the comfort of their seat. Add an additional $6 to your aquarium ticket and be transported to exotic locales or new depths.
This summer’s lineup includes:
Humpback Whales 3D, 40 min., narrated by Ewan McGregor
Island of Lemurs: Madagascar 3D, 40 min., narrated by Morgan Freeman
Make Fridays Musical. 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. nightfallchattanooga.com, 423.265.0771
Relax on the riverboat. 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 daily sightseeing cruise, daily sunset cruise, and daily deluxe deli lunch cruises.
Check This Out:
Tuesday-Sunday Night Dinner Cruise: A two-hour cruise including dinner, music and entertainment, and pilot house tours.
Moonlight Cruises: This hip two-hour cruise features the latest hits spun by a DJ and a cash bar for your favorite adult beverages. Boards at 10:30 p.m. and returns at 1 a.m. Select dates throughout summer.
Fireworks Cruise: Watch the fireworks at Coolidge Park from a bird’s eye view on July 4.
Take in a show. Since 1993, Barking Legs Theater has been host to arts ranging from music and dance, to improv and poetry. The intimate setting allows visitors to feel like a part of the performance. This summer, Barking Legs will bring a variety of talent to its stage such as dancers, poets, and musicians. On May 27, check out Willie Watson (formerly of Old Crow Medicine Show) and on June 20, see European guitarists Beppe Gambetta and Tony McManus. barkinglegs.org, 423.624.5347
Rock out at Rhythm & Brews. Rhythm & Brews is a live music venue serving up tunes, food, and handcrafted microbrews. Multiple weekly performances throughout the summer include talented artists such as ZOSO: The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience and The Communicators Present: That 90s Show, just to name a few. rhythm-brews.com, 423.267.4644
Pick your own berries. 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). On May 22, attend the Buying Local on a Budget workshop, and on June 27 the farm will host a special meal for 100 people with local food from within 100 miles of Chattanooga. crabtreefarms.org, 423.493.9155
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. Spirits in the Wild: May 16, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Zoo Birthday Bash: July 12, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Teddy Bear Checkup: June 20, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Q n’ Brew: July 18, 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. chattzoo.org, 423.697.1322
Shop at Warehouse Row. Warehouse Row provides a unique shopping experience. Several local and national retailers provide clothing, jewelry, makeup, stationary, home wares, lingerie, and more. A salon and spa provide a place for pampering. Plus an on-site coffee shop and various restaurants make it a great place to spend a whole day. warehouserow.com, 423.267.1111
Keep calm and karaoke. If you love taking to the stage, Sing It Or Wing It downtown has got you covered. Enjoy a full menu and bar – and of course, karaoke, all day, every day. Let your hair down and belt out your favorite tunes with friends. It’s all in the liquid courage, right? singitorwingit-chattanooga.com, 423.757.9464
Get spooked! 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! 8:30 p.m., 7 days a week. chattanoogaghosttours.com, 423.800.5998
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. The Trail of Tears journey forced the removal of the Cherokee tribes from Chattanooga’s Ross’s Landing. chattanooga.gov, 423.643.6000
Scream for the soccer team. Are you a Chattahooligan? That’s the term dubbed to the fan base of the Chattanooga Football Club. The 2014 team had a total of 15 wins and 51 goals scored. Also, returning this year, is the Chattanooga FC’s women’s soccer team. Wear your navy and white and catch a home game at Finley Stadium. chattanoogafc.com
Hang out at 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 Riverfront Nights. Nearby is the Tennessee Aquarium Plaza, home to the Chattanooga River Market. Stop by the market to peruse the unique talents of our local and regional artists. chattanooga.gov, 423.643.6000
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 20th annual festival, which was featured as one of “America’s three top beer festivals” in Maxim magazine. Choose from more than 100 draft beers on Chattanooga’s riverfront. Friday, August 22- Saturday, August 23. southernbrewersfestival.org, 423.424.2000
Travel the surf AND 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. chattanoogaducks.com, 423.756.3825
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. funnydinner.com, 423.517.1839
Taste local wine. DeBarge Winery, Chattanooga’s first and only urban winery, is located in the Southside district. The winery offers tastings of its handcrafted wines and glass windows that allow visitors to view the winemaking process. debargewines.com, 423.710.8426
Spend an evening at the Tivoli. Known as the Jewel of the South, the Tivoli Theatre has entertained Chattanoogans for more than 90 years. This summer, catch the 10th Annual 2015 NPC Battle at the River and more. Check online for future shows and dates. chattanoogaonstage.com, 1.800.514.3849
Make a discovery. Exhibits and educational programs make the Creative Discovery Museum the perfect place for curious young minds to explore and grow. Exhibits such as Thomas and Friends: Explore the Rails help kids problem solve while having fun. A hands-on STEM exhibit based on the adventures of Thomas the Train will have kids solving a variety of challenges from sorting and shape identification to complex engineering obstacles. May 23-September 13. cdmfun.org, 423.756.2738
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. thehoustonmuseum.org, 423.267.7176
Jam on the Riverfront. 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, July 25- September 6 (except August 22), with opening acts beginning around 6:30 p.m. riverfrontnights.com, 423.756.2211
Root for the home team. The newly-purchased Chattanooga Lookouts are ready to begin a new era. Come catch one of the many games all summer long, and wear your best red, white, and blue. Don’t forget your peanuts and crackerjacks! lookouts.com, 423.267.2208
Do a public art walking tour. 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 and 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. The newest addition, the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park, features dozens of world-renowned, large-scale sculptures. publicartchattanooga.com
Visit the art district. With a cliff-top view of the city and the river, the tranquil piece of Chattanooga known as the Bluff View Art District offers a sculpture garden, a bocce court, an artisan bakery, a coffee shop, and restaurants featuring homegrown herbs and produce. In addition, wine tastings at the Back Inn Café are offered throughout the summer. Take a stroll across the glass bottom bridge and admire the stunning architecture to top off your visit. bluffviewartdistrict.com, 423.265.5033
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, Movies in the Park, is provided in partnership with the City of Chattanooga. Movies held July 11, 18, and 25, beginning at sundown. firstthings.org, 423.267.5383
Ride a horse drawn carriage. 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. chattanoogahorsetrams.com, 423.256.6544
Be inspired at the Hunter. As one of Chattanooga’s most iconic structures, the Hunter Museum of American Art houses American art from the Colonial period to present day. This summer, view exhibits such as Gajin Fujita, Monet and American Impressionism, and Eudora Welty and the Segregated South. Also enjoy live music with the All-American Summer Music Series, held every Thursday at 6 p.m., beginning July 2. huntermuseum.org, 423.267.0968
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 NorthShore, 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. chattanooga.gov, 423.643.6000
Reach for the top. One of the country’s most unique climbing facilities, Hight Point Climbing And Fitness has an outdoor climbing wall unlike any other in the nation – it’s right downtown! Scale the side for a view of the city like no other. You can enjoy High Point’s indoor climbing areas too, including a top roping room, kid zone, climbing pit, and two bouldering areas. highpointclimbing.com, 423.602.7625
Take a ride on a double decker. 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 past and covering territory from hills and cliffs to bridges. chattanoogadoubledecker.com, 423.432.0116
Be festive. 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 more than 650,000 annual patrons. This year’s headliners include 3 Doors Down, Gregg Allman, Hunter Hayes, Martina McBride, Melissa Ethridge, Merle Haggard, and more. A booming fireworks display concludes the festival on the last night. June 5-13. riverbendfestival.com, 423.756.2211
Sample Chattanooga Whiskey. The recently opened Tennessee Stillhouse is crafting Chattanooga’s first legally-made whiskey since Prohibition. The Chattanooga Whiskey headquarters refers to itself as an “education facility,” providing patrons the opportunity to see firsthand how Chattanooga Whiskey is made, learn the history of whiskey in our city, and gain information on the art of whiskey tasting with a cocktail sample. chattanoogawhiskey.com, 423.760.4333
Can you break free? A fun, interactive thinking game, Escape Experience provides you and your group with hypothetical scenarios for an active adventure. In only 60 minutes, work together with your group to find clues, decode messages, and solve problems to unlock the door to your freedom. Can you beat the clock? escapeexperiencechattanooga.com, 423.551.3306
Join the supper club. If sampling delicious eats is a hobby of yours, you might want to join the Scenic City Supper Club. The goal of the club, held at various locations around town, is to highlight the top players in the local restaurant scene. It will include cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a multicourse dinner from Chattanooga chefs. easybistro.com/scenic-city/, 423.266.1121
See Southside sculptures. If the gym atmosphere isn’t your cup of tea, head to Main Terrain Art Park in the Southside. Interactive art pieces double as a fitness alternative, making this park equal parts form and function. chattanooga.gov, 423.643.6000
Play games on the Southside. As the Southside’s newest attraction, the Southside Social brings bowling, food, drinks, and games all under one roof. Attached to the Jump Park, the Southside Social offers 30,000 square feet of fun, including a cigar bar, fire pits, horseshoes, and ping pong. Cozy leather couches provide a space to lounge and three full-service bars and an upscale American food menu offer plenty to eat and drink while you play. thesouthsidesocial.com, 423.708.3280
Visit Track 29. Attending a concert at Track 29 is a must for native Chattanoogans and visitors alike. This summer, the music venue located behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo will feature a range of talented artists from rock to Americana. track29.co, 423.521.2929
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. Expected in June, the new Comedy Catch location at the Choo Choo will be in one of Chattanooga’s historical hot spots. thecomedycatch.com, 423.629.2233
Make noise for the Mocs. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s football team, the Chattanooga Mocs, will officially kick off the season on September 5, 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 2015 season. gomocs.com
Strut with Bessie. Stop by the Bessie Smith Cultural Center to learn more about the rich African and African American heritage and culture. On Friday, May 22, and Saturday, May 23, stop by to enjoy events surrounding the Heritage Festival. On Monday, June 8, come listen to blues and local nightclub bands as you strut the night away at the Bessie Smith Strut. Barbecue stands and a jam-packed good time kick off the week of Riverbend. bessiesmithcc.org, 423.266.8658
Buy local. Isn’t it nice to know where your food comes from? The mission of the Main Street Farmers 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. From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. all summer long. mainstfarmersmarket.com
Check out the Choo Choo. What was once a bustling train station is now undergoing massive renovations, putting a modern twist on this historical structure. Built in 1908, the Chattanooga Choo Choo will soon be home to two updated restaurants, an entertainment venue, and the Comedy Catch. If you’re visiting from out of town, stay in an authentic Victorian train car, or opt for a more traditional hotel suite or standard room. Stroll through the lush rose gardens, take an entertaining trolley ride around the complex, or walk to a variety of nearby restaurants, bars, and shops. choochoo.com, 1.800.872.2529
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. Events throughout the summer include Father’s Day Bacon, Blues, & Brews, Street Food Festival, Blueberry Festival, Peach Festival, Ice Cream Social, and Five Star Food Fight. Visit the new Wednesday market for a midweek treat from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. chattanoogamarket.com, 423.648.2496
Take a picnic to Coolidge. 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, and a 100-year-old restored antique carousel, just to name a few. Located near several boutiques, restaurants, and more, Coolidge Park is right in the midst of Chattanooga’s booming NorthShore. chattanooga.gov, 423.643.6000
See 9 to 5. Founded in 1923, the Chattanooga Theatre Centre is one of the oldest, largest, and busiest community theaters in the country. This summer, “9 to 5: The Musical” will be brought to life on stage. Watch as three female co-workers concoct a plan to get even with their egotistical boss, while all new songs written by Dolly Parton are performed. theatrecentre.com, 423.267.8538
See Peter Pan live. The Signal Mountain Playhouse will be showing a summer production of the musical Peter Pan 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. Bring a camp chair and some bug spray, and you’ll be all set! Performances held weekends in July. smph.org, 423.886.5243
Tap your toes to bluegrass. One of the area’s oldest musical traditions and best-kept secrets is the Mountain Opry on Signal Mountain. Hear bluegrass and old-time acoustic pickin’ weekly – an authentic taste of Appalachian roots music. southeasttennessee.com, 423.886.3252
Tour the towing museum. Did you know Chattanooga saw the creation of the first tow truck nearly a century ago? You can learn all about it at the International Towing And Recovery Museum, dedicated to the industry that has served us all. Gain insight into the history of towing and recovery by viewing photos, memorabilia, exhibits, and equipment dating back to 1916. If you like classic vehicles, this one’s for you. internationaltowingmuseum.org, 423.267.3132
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. tbagym.com, 423.822.6800
Ride the Incline. Riding the Incline Railway is a Chattanooga must for everyone, and if you go on a Saturday during the summer you can also enjoy live music at the depot. 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 more than 100 years of operation. ridetheincline.com, 423.821.4224
Set sail in a hot air balloon. Taking a ride in a hot air balloon might seem like the stuff dreams are made of, but Chattanooga Balloon Company makes it a reality. Enjoy breathtaking views of Chattanooga as you fly high in the sky with licensed hot air balloon operator captain Jake. chattballoon.com, 423.443.7994
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! chattanooga.gov, 423.643.6000
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 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. hamiltontn.gov/esnp
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. urbanrocksgym.com, 423.475.6578
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! insanepaint.com, 423.624.2121
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. Each day, the Missionary Ridge Local takes guests along one of the original Chattanooga railroad lines. In addition, guests can opt for a Dinner on the Diner ride, which includes a three-course dining experience, or the Chickamauga Turn, which follows a historic route from Grand Junction Station in Chattanooga to Chickamauga, Georgia on most Saturdays. Additonal trains called Hiwassee River Rail Adventures operate out of Etowah, TN for scenic trips through the Hiwassee River Gorge. tvrail.com, 423.894.8028
Raft the Ocoee. Rafting down the rapids is an action-packed summer activity, and the areas surrounding Chattanooga offer ample 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, 1.888.723.8622 5 Quest Expeditions questexpeditions.com, 1.800.277.4537 6 Sunburst Adventures sunburstrafting.com, 1.800.247.8388 7 Wildwater Rafting wildwaterrafting.com, 1.866.319.8870 8 Ocoee Inn Rafting ocoeeinn.com, 1.800.272.7238
Catch 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. chattanooga.gov, 423.425.6311
Take a paddling trip. Rent a paddleboard or kayak from L2 Outside or River Canyon Adventures and spend a 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 L2). Beginner? No problem. Basic tutorials are provided pre-launch. Don’t forget to reserve your board or kayak beforehand to ensure availability. l2outside.com, 423.531.7873; rivercanyonadventures.com, 423.488.1345
Cowboy up. From August 6-8, watch more than 400 contestants compete in bull riding, team roping, bareback riding, steer wrestling, and more at the St. Jude Children’s Hospital Rodeo, held every year at Doug Yates Farm in Ringgold. Over the past two decades, the rodeo has become one of the largest and best run rodeos in the country, and all proceeds go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 423.593.2200
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, Bitter Alibi, Brewhaus, Moccasin Bend Brewing Company, Chattanooga Brewing Company, or World of Beer, to name a few, and make a day out of sampling them all!
Take a cooking class. Want to learn how to cook or just brush up on your culinary skills? The Mia Cucina Cooking School includes a state-of-the-art classroom led by talented and entertaining staff members. Classes range from Southern soul food to old school Italian. In addition, Dish T’Pass Cooking School and Catering Company covers classes ranging from kitchen basics to how to roll sushi. theplaceforcooks.com, 423.265.4474; dishtpass.com, 423.309.5353
Bounce off the walls. Release your inner kid at the Chattanooga Jump Park and Superfly Extreme Air Sports and leap around connected trampolines. Both spots allow the adventuresome to flip into a foam pit. Chattanooga Jump Park also includes a Game Room for ping pong, pool tables, foosball, shuffleboard, and more. Starting in mid-May, check out Superfly’s ninja obstacle course. thejumppark.com, 423.531.8688; superfly.me, 423.825.9320
Shop ‘til you drop. If you’re looking for a little retail therapy, Chattanooga has you covered. From Riverview, to NorthShore, 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 great new outfit. Hop over to Manufacturers Road for even more shopping and browse furniture, bikes, clothing stores, and a salon and spa.
Paint and sip. If you’re looking for a great date idea or a fun night out with the girlfriends, think about uncorking your creativity at one of several studios across town giving you a chance to sip while you paint. Try the Thirsty Brush at Southern Belle’s Third Deck Burger Bar, Uptown Art in NorthShore, ArtsyU in East Ridge, or Spirited Art in the Hamilton Place Area.
Party Hawaiian style. Escape to the tropics at the 3rd annual Luau Wine Fest at the Georgia Winery on June 27. Bring your chairs and blankets to the outdoor vineyard and relax to live music by Ogya World Music Band or dance the night away in the Tiki Lounge with DJ Joe Nabors. georgiawines.com
Take a day trip to Mayfield Dairy. When you take a tour of Mayfield Dairy Farms, you’ll get a fun and educational behind-the-scenes look at how Mayfield products are made. Travel to Athens, Tenn., to see how the milk makes it from their dairy to your refrigerator, and get a big scoop of ice cream at the old-fashioned ice cream parlor to top off your trip. mayfielddairy.com, 423.649.2653
Rush your adrenaline. Since opening on June 1, 1925, Lake Winnepesaukah (opening day May 2) has been the Chattanooga area’s most cherished theme park. With more than 40 rides, including a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, boat chute, and tilt-a-whirl, plus summer concerts and events, it’s a great place to spend a summer day. The newest attraction, the Soakya Water Park (opening day May 23), includes a crazy river with rolling waves and rafts, a soak-n-slide, water slides, and a challenge course. A fireworks display will be shown on July 3rd and 4th. lakewinnie.com, 706.866.5681
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. choochoodive.com, 423.899.1008
Jump into a swimming hole. Take off from a cliff and splash into the refreshing waters of the Blue Hole, located in the North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area. Local company RootsRated says the destination’s “seriously awesome swimming holes make it an absolute must during the summer.” northchick.org
See Civil War sights. The Chickamauga And Chattanooga National Military Park marks the site of two major Civil War battles: the Battle of Chickamauga and the Chattanooga Campaign. 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. Bring your bicycle for a leisurely-paced historical two-hour ride through the battlefield. nps.gov, 706.866.9241
Take a day trip to Fall Creek Falls. Tennessee’s largest and most visited state park is just one hour away! At Fall Creek Falls, you can see three of the park’s six waterfall’s in a single two-hour hike and enjoy swimming, golf, and an aerial adventure park with six courses. Combine that with amenities, camping grounds, and a playground for kids, and it’s a great place to have your next reunion with family and friends. tnstateparks.com/fallcreekfalls, 423.881.5298
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. chattanoogafishingguides.com, 423.593.7703
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 Adventure 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. thelostsea.com, 423.337.6616
Walk among the wildflowers. More than 10 miles of trails, stretching from the lowest point of the valley to the ridge top overlooking Southern Adventist University, make up the Biology Trail. Sections with varying difficulty make the trail ideal for walkers, hikers, mountain bikers, and cross-country trail runners. Set amidst a pine and hardwood forest, it is a nature enthusiast’s paradise. southern.edu, 423.236.2926
Pay tribute. 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. mohm.org, 423.877.2525
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! Gemstone panning, go-karts, cabins, and a campground make this cavern experience worth sticking around all day for. raccoonmountain.com, 423.821.9403
Dive from the clouds. Thrill seekers, this one’s for you! The Chattanooga Skydiving Company has been around for more than 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! chattanoogaskydivingcompany, 855.776.5867
Watch vintage baseball. Nothing says summer like a day at the baseball diamond, and a new league in Tennessee is adding extra doses of history. From May through August, you can root for one of two home teams in the Tennesseee Association of Vintage Baseball held at the 6th Calvary Museum. Check the online schedule for dates when you can see history come to life! tennesseevintagebaseball.com
Go horseback riding. Just outside Chattanooga lies more than 500 acres of pastures and woodlands called Hidden Hills. Take a ride through 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. hiddenhillsfarm.com, 423.488.3993