There’s so much to do in our city we had to break it up into 2 parts. This is not a complete list but should be a good start if you’re looking for something to do during the winter or anytime during the year.
Take the Incline Railway to Lookout Mountain and Nearby Attractions.
Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is the most novel and exhilarating way to ascend the escarpment. One of the city’s most venerated tourist attractions, this funicular railway has been running for 125 years. Two trolley-style railcars slowly glide up and down “America’s Most Amazing Mile” reaching a 72.7 percent grade near the top of the line. Hop aboard the railway from the foot of the mountain in St. Elmo, descend from the station at the top of Lookout Mountain, or make a return trip from either station. Enjoy panoramic views of the Tennessee Valley from the observation deck of Lookout Mountain station. At the top, walk a short distance to Point Park, a national Civil War memorial on 10 acres. For the best interpretative guide to this former battleground, visit the Battles for Chattanooga Electric Map & Museum across from the gates to Point Park.
Address 3917 St. Elmo Ave. Chattanooga, Tennessee (423) 821-4224
Take a Ride on the Tennessee Valley Railroad
The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum interprets, displays, and operates trains. Start your visit by touring the museum railway yard at the Chattanooga Grand Junction Station.
Book an excursion aboard a vintage passenger train pulled by a steam or diesel engine. The most popular trip is on a 1930s steam-powered train along six miles of track near Chattanooga. The route crosses three bridges and passes through a Civil-War-era railroad tunnel. Splurge for a seat in the dome car.
Address: 4119 Cromwell Road, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Official site: www.tvrail.com
Experience Nature at Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center
The Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center is a 10-minute drive to a public estate of meadows, waterfront trails, and wildwood sanctuaries. Energetic walks and runs take you to Lookout Creek and historically significant lands managed by the National Park Service.
Visitors bring bikes and canoes for adventure and exercise. Families with young children hike in the pasture, where they admire horses in retirement.
Reflection Riding is a preserve of native species of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and wildlife. Engage the kids in programmed events about flora and fauna. Be sure to check out the native animal area with critically endangered red wolves.
Address: 400 Garden Road, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Official site: reflectionriding.org
Houston Museum of Decorative Arts
The Houston Museum of Decorative Arts features fine collections of antique glass and ceramics, furniture, music boxes, and coverlets. Housed in an 18th-century Victorian home, most of the unique items on display are derived from the collection of the late Anna Safley Houston, a famous antiques dealer. Browse the museum shop for gift ideas.
Houston Museum of Decorative Arts sits at the top end of High Street as part of Chattanooga’s creative corridor, the Bluff View Art District. The area features galleries, studios, boutiques, Rembrandt’s Coffee House, and restaurants.
Raccoon Mountain Caverns
Raccoon Mountain Caverns are a network of caves featuring naturally occurring formations of limestone and fossils embedded in rock. The network strings together more than 5.5 miles of mapped passageways.
A visit to the caverns is part of the Crystal Palace Tour, which takes you into the initial quarter mile. In addition to direction from your guide, lit pathways, steps, and handrails ensure your safety, so you can focus on the mesmerizing underground world that surrounds you. Your guide informs you about the social and natural history of Raccoon Mountain Caverns. Lucky visitors might see critters that live beneath the surface.
A Wild Cave Expeditions Tour guarantees access to primitive areas of Raccoon Mountain Caverns. Staff outfit you with lights, helmets, and protective gear for a “get muddy” caving experience.
Raccoon Mountain Caverns, located eight miles west of downtown Chattanooga, is popular with campers and offers activities such as panning for gemstones, go-karting, and hiking.
Address: 319 W. Hills Drive, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Official site: https://www.raccoonmountain.com/caverns
On the north side of the Walnut Street Bridge, head to Coolidge Park. This open green space adjacent to the river is where visitors meet up with locals for concerts at the Coolidge Outdoor Stage. Teenagers play frisbee in the large open field. Children head straight for the Splash Park with its mammoth spouting sculptures of two elephants and turtles, a horse, lion, and seal.
Families and romantic couples saddle up for rides on the restored 100-year-old carousel. Pack a picnic or grab takeout for a relaxing time by the river. If you fancy a paddle, launch your kayak or canoe.
Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center
The Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center honors Americans who received the National Medal of Honor for military service. Items from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and Desert Storm are displayed. The first six Medal of Honor recipients were associated with Chattanooga and are interned in the Chattanooga National Cemetery.
Six values are reflected in the Medal of Honor: Patriotism, courage, citizenship, integrity, sacrifice, and commitment. Come away with appreciation that these values are as important to life in civil society as they are on the battlefield.
In exhibits of more than 6,000 items, the Heritage Center commemorates medal recipients and venerates their service. Learn how everyone can make similar contributions to benefit local communities and humanity.
Address: 2 W. Aquarium Way Suite 104, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Official site: http://mohm.org
Become a Pinball Wizard at the Classic Arcade Pinball Museum
The Classic Arcade Pinball Museum is everyone’s fantasy for players seeking a shot of nostalgia. With its flashing lights, and the familiar sounds and jolts of pinball machines, this museum is 100 percent hands-on fun. The place is packed with your favorite pinball and arcade games, including digital upstarts from the 1980s such as Pac Man. If you have a game in mind, check out Classic Arcade’s website for a listing.
Centrally located downtown, the museum makes it easy to travel down memory lane. One admission price allows you to play the games as long as you want. Return later the same day to play again at no extra charge! Tournaments are held each month.
Address: 409 Broad Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Official site: chattanoogapinballmuseum.com
Learn about Bessie Smith and the African American Experience
Chattanooga native and international “Empress of the Blues,” Bessie Smith and her legendary voice is a source of local pride. The Bessie Smith Cultural Center describes a woman who transcended poverty to become the best paid African American artist before the Great Depression. A car accident in 1937 tragically ended the life of one of the most prolific songwriters and beloved vocalists in American history.
The Chattanooga African American Museum shares the same building as the Bessie Smith Cultural Center. Through interactive displays about African societies, slavery, and injustice, witness how race defined life for Black people in America and ignited the civil rights movement. Exhibits of provocative photography also inform you about the African American community in Chattanooga.
Prior to your visit, check entertainment listings at the Bessie Smith Performance Hall. It’s located next door to the cultural center and museum.
Address: 200 E M L King Blvd, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Official site: www.bessiesmithcc.org
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