How are we already in the third week of the “See the World” series? I hope you read the best of Bermuda last week and Atlanta the week before. Maybe you followed the “See the USA” series last year. This week it’s time to learn about letter C and Chattanooga, Tennessee. I don’t know much about this destination, but Sue from 365 Atlanta Family knows a ton. She’s sharing the top 5 family friendly things to do in Chattanooga. If you’re headed to this part of the country, be sure to make a stop!
C is for Chattanooga. Chattanooga is a mid-sized, walkable city in Eastern Tennessee, along the shores of the Tennessee River. It’s also one of my favorite weekend getaways. There are lots of attractions located right downtown, so there is a lot to explore. If you get tired, hop the free electric bus and head back to your car or hotel. Here are a five of our favorite things to do Downtown, as well as close by attractions you don’t want to miss.
One of the most popular attractions in Chattanooga is the Tennessee Aquarium. The guidebooks recommend two hours here, but you could easily spend all day. The Aquarium is broken out into three buildings, and a boat!
The River Journey and Ocean Journey buildings house the animal exhibits. The newest exhibit at the Aquarium is Tropical Cove, a Madagascar rainforest with lemurs and radiated tortoises. The IMAX theatre is located in a separate building and requires an additional ticket. The River Gorge Explorer boat, which is operated by the Aquarium, is the most unique way to learn about waterways while traveling down the Chattanooga riverfront into the scenic Tennessee River Gorge.
Moon Pie General Store
For a sweet treat, be sure to stop in at the Moon Pie General Store. The Moon Pie, a soft marshmallow between two round graham crackers dipped in chocolate, was invented in Chattanooga. Pair it with an RC Cola and you have a true Southern treat. If you don’t like the Moon Pie, the General Store also has lots of vintage candy. If you are more of an ice cream person, the Ice Cream Show near the Walnut Street Bridge is a must. Handmade waffle cones, and a huge variety of soft serve flavors.
This is Chattanooga’s children’s museum. It has won a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years, and is a must stop for families with young children. This is a place where kids are encouraged to touch and play with the exhibits, so it’s a great place to get the wiggles out, have fun and learn a little bit.
Chattanooga is a nature lover’s paradise. Located a few miles from Downtown in Lookout Mountain is Ruby Falls, a breathtaking natural wonder. To view it you must take an elevator 260 feet down into the earth. From there take an easy-guided stroll past the various rock formations until you reach the falls. At first it’s dark, but then they turn the lights on. The moment of illumination is dramatic and spectacular. It’s like watching an avalanche of crystals falling from the ceiling.
If you are into history, Chattanooga has a lot to offer. The Chickamauga and Chattahoochee National Military Park tells the story of the turning point in the American Civil War. If you have kids, be sure to ask about a Junior Ranger booklet. Complete the book and kids get a special badge. You can also pick up free trading cards unique to the site. Time things just right and you can see the re-enactment for the nearby Battle of Resaca. If you have never been to a Civil War re-enactment, it is an amazing experience. You can feel the guns go off and smell the smoke.
Sue Rodman is the Managing Editor & Business Development for 365 Atlanta Family. She is a mother of three boys, a PR professional, writer, and ice cream lover. For eight years, Sue published an award winning family travel blog called Field Trips with Sue, and produced a TV segment with the same name on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta. In Sept. 2016 Field Trips with Sue merged with 365 Atlanta Family. Sue believes anytime is a good time for dessert and there are no bad field trips, just better stories.