Wanderlust {Chattanooga}

After our big spring break trip this year, we are inspired to hit up a few new cities next spring break!  Knowing that we need to stay much closer to home (ie. no plane tix) and spend much less money, we decided as a family to do a “Tour of Tennessee”!  Even though it’s still eight months away, we (John in particular) are already knee deep in planning.  We plan to kick off our week pretty close to home in Scenic City Chattanooga!

I still vividly remember visiting Chattanooga as a kid.  We stayed in a train car at the Chattanooga Choo Choo and the indoor pool was FREEZING!  We loved Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls and Rock City.  I know those things are still there today but am sure there is so much more.


I’d love to hear your suggestions for…

  • where to stay
  • where to eat
  • what to see / do

Y’all are always full of the very best ideas!  Over the course of the next month I will solicit your ideas for the rest of the stops on our Tour of Tennessee.

Dixie Delights Tour of Tennessee

in collaboration with
Dollywood  |  Visit Nashville  |  Memphis Travel

Part 1 – Read House, Ruby Falls, Rock City + More
Part 2 –  Wild Cave Expedition, Tennessee Aquarium + More

Part 3 – Dollywood + Dixie Stampede
Part 4 – Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort

Part 5 – a quick morning in the city

Part 6 – Hattie B’s, Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame
Part 7 – Hermitage Hotel, Wildhorse Saloon, Draper James

Part 8 – Peabody, Beale Street, Graceland
Part 9 – BBQ, Civil Rights Museum, Sun Studio


| Filed under Uncategorized | Tags: ,

27 thoughts on “Wanderlust {Chattanooga}

  1. What a fun trip that will be! We’d planned to do Rock City/Ruby Falls this summer but alas, time got away. Of course there’s the Tennessee Aquarium which is nothing like the Georgia Aquarium- but the one really neat thing they have that “we” don’t is a River Monsters exhibit. I don’t know if your boys watch the RM show (on Animal Planet I think) but my boys loved it! The aquarium also offers river tours.

    Enjoy your planning – can’t wait to see how Dixie Delights does Chattanooga!

  2. I was born and raised in Chattanooga! Still living in this awesome city. So excited you are visiting our precious city. Staying in the Pullman train cars at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, The Read House Historical Inn or sweet bed and breakfast Chanticleer Inn on Lookout Mountain will fit your taste. The Tennessee Aquarium, IMAX Theater, Duck Tour and Raccoon Mountain Caverns are some of the most loved attractions. Please visit the memorial site of the fallen 5 service men from the July 16 terrorist attack- located at 6219 Lee Highway. The mural of the fallen 5 is also located on McCallie avenue is also a site to be seen. Chattanooga will welcome you with open arms! Email me for any specific questions you might have.

  3. There are so many GREAT things that encompass Chattanooga! My husband and I met here (in Chattanooga) and just decided to come back 3 years ago after being transferred all over the South with his job.

    You guys love donuts so definitely hit up Julie Darling’s Donuts! I would rent bicycles downtown as well and just travel around the city! We love walking the Walnut Street Bridge and actually we were married in Coolidge Park which is on one side of the Bridge. Renaissance Park is neat as well. If you are here on a Sunday, definitely visit the Chattanooga Market. Chattanooga CFC (Soccer Club) is HUGE here if you guys have an interest in that as well. We LOVE the Lookouts and it’s a fun fun time for our family. Taco Mamacita is a fun restaurant that we visit regularly

    One of our favorite things to do is hit the Ocoee Whitewater Center (which was the home of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Whitewater events)– unfortunately, your boys are too young to go down the river (age minimum is 12) but we love getting a picnic and just watching the rafters go down the river.

  4. I am from Knoxville, but we frequently go to Chattanooga for the weekend. I love the Reid House Hotel- it’s historic and centrally located. Also, eat at the Public House on Warehouse Row- very delicious southern cuisine. You can easily rent bikes all over the city and bike everywhere. Of course, the aquarium is awesome! Check out Milk & Honey, a little coffee/ treat shop on the North side across the river. If you venture up to Knoxville, I wrote a blog post about my town and things to do here: http://mylifein865.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-great-southern-road-trip-knoxville.html

  5. We visited two years ago with our kids, who were then 7 and 5. We visited Ruby Falls, Incline Railway and Rock City. (We purchased combo tickets which was more affordable.) It was a blast! There was so much to see and do and the kids never complained about distance. We also walked the Walnut Street Bridge, ate at several riverside restaurants and let the kids play at Coolidge Park where the carousel was a big hit. Great visit!

  6. I haven’t been there in ages (like I am talking early 90’s, here!) but one thing that stood out for me was visiting the Lost Sea, which is a lake in a mountain surrounded by caverns that I thought was pretty cool! That may be fun!

    Also, maybe there is some kind of white water tubing or something. I remember doing something like that as well.

  7. Our children are now 15 and 18, but I grew up in TN. and we have toured Chattanooga with them around the age of your littles. The Walnut Bridge over to Coolidge Park is fun. Cute ice cream shop, the carousel and pop of fountains. Huge lions that they can climb-great photo opportunity! The Trail of Tears is a must, but be sure to wear swim attire, so the littles can really enjoy the water. The Aquarium is just next door. Duck Boat Tours are a nice way to pack in a lot of landmarks allowing you more time to explore a short list of favorites. Incline Railway provides a great view. If you’re up for a day trip Dolly wood is a hoot and the kids would enjoy!

  8. Chicamauga National Park is fun and educational for elementary school age kids. My children all loved going when we went to visit my parents in nearby Ringgold, GA. You can bike or hike in the park, climb the old tower. The park is beautifully maintained and a huge part of Zgeorgua history.

  9. You’ll love TN! My home state (I’m over on the west side of the state)
    It’s a little cheesy but Dollywood was a big hit with my boys…..have fun!

  10. We went this summer for a long weekend and stayed downtown. We loved Lupi’s Pizza and Julie Darling’s Donuts. We did the Aquarium, Riverboat Cruise (I would recommend the Duck Boats over the Boat cruise, though), Coolidge Park, explored the Bluff View Arts district (Tony’s is a delicious Italian restaurant there). We also did the children’s museum but your oldest might be a little bored with it; seemed more geared to the under 8 set. We had breakfast at Puckett’s which we loved when we visited Nashville and we’re excited to see them in Chattanooga. They have live music in the evenings. We explored Lookout Mountain National Park but skipped the more touristy attractions like Rock City and The Incline as we have done those previously. It was also really hot in June when we were there so that affected our choices. Spring will be nice time to visit.

  11. Downtown Chattanooga has a lot of good eateries! Try Lupi’s for pizza and Sugar’s for dang good ribs! If you’re headed to Pigeon Forge, the Dixie Stampede is a must for families.

  12. Downtown Chattanooga has a lot of good eateries! Try Lupi’s for pizza and Sugar’s for dang good ribs! If you’re heading to Pigeon Forge (I would!), the Dixie Stampede is a must, especially for families. Have fun!

  13. You must visit City Diner Cafe. The cakes and pies are amazing! Also, Tony’s located in the Bluff View district is very yummie. If the Lookouts are in playing at home when you visit, that would be a fun evening outing too.

  14. Can’t wait to read about your adventure in my hometown! There are so many choices, so I’ll just mention a few…if you want to stay somewhere with a little local flair try the Read House. I would not recommend the Choo Choo for lodging…they are in the process of remodeling, but the rooms are pretty eh. And if the boys want to see the trains, you could just make a quick trip by there. They do have a fabulous new restaurant, Stir. There are also several “chain” hotels that are closer to the action and would be fine…Doubletree, Marriott Courtyard, Hampton Inn. There is a semi new climbing gym right downtown next to the aquarium that I bet y’all would love. All the Chattanooga classics: Rock City, Ruby Falls, Incline are worth doing at least once in a lifetime. I think someone else mentioned if y’all like history, drive down to the chickamauga battlefield. There are so many good restaurants, it’s hard to narrow it down…Clyde’s on Main (ping pong tables!), Main Street Meats (small but delicious), Il Primo (amazing Italian), Public House, Vine Street Market (for lunch), 1885 (at the foot of Lookout if you do Rock City etc), 212 Market (not known for decor but food is fabulous). Parking situation in downtown can be hairy, so consider using the electric shuttle (not Carta buses), it’s free! Ok, you really can’t go wrong…have a great trip!

  15. We live near Atlanta too but make it to Chattanooga at least once a year! My kiddos (8 & 5) love the children’s museum there & for age reference, my older nephew still does too (he’s 10). We also love the TN Aquarium better than the GA Aquarium….it’s spread out more & seems less crowded. We’ve also done Rock City with the kids & they’re big fans. You’ll have so much fun, there’s tons to see & do!

  16. I truly enjoy reading about all your magical and adventure packed family vacations. I believe it’s high time for you to consider the family travel industry niche. Who wouldn’t love to book an amazing trip through Dixie Wanderlust?

  17. I second Leanne’s recommendation of 1885 (Grill) at the base of Lookout Mountain! Also The FEED Co. around the corner from the Chattanooga Choo Choo…outdoor patio and fantastic food. Finally, don’t miss Tremont Tavern for the greatest burger in Tennessee!

  18. Oh my goodness! I am so excited to see that you guys are venturing up in to my neck of the woods! There are so many suggestions, i really don’t know where to start… I can’t say that I have a whole lot of recommendations on where to stay – but I will say that I have stayed at the Hampton In and Suites downtown and it’s really nice and close to everything! Pack your walking shoes because walking or biking is the best way to enjoy the city! As far as what to do, I won’t mention some of the main attractions since so many have suggested them, but Southside Social is a super fun place that has lots of free games like pool, shuffle board, and skee ball. Escape Experience is great as well. I know these 60 min escape rooms are popping up everywhere, but the detail this place puts into their sets is fantastic. Also, Chattanooga Market on Sundays, High Point Climbing, and if you can go to a Chattanooga FC game, GO! It is way more fun than the Lookouts and the Chattahooligans are a hoot. If you want to actually go on a train ride, the Tennessee Valley Railroad offers lots of fun events. Lastly, food – Tacomamacitas, the Terminal, Champy’s and Urban Stack are all great. But you MUST go to Maple Street Biscuit Company – best chicken biscuits ever! (And if you say it’s your first time they will sometimes give you a free cinnamon roll) And for dessert – Hot Chocolatier for delicious unique hot chocolate and Clumpies. If you can walk out of Clumpies resisting the delicious smell of their homemade waffle cones then you are inhuman. haha Oh and Rocket Fizz for lots of fun crazy sodas and the Moon Pie General Store for a little history and sweets. ;)

  19. Think about the children’s Holocaust Memorial just outside of Chattanooga in Whitwell. It was the reason I went to your part of the world this summer. Your boys are young, but I think you could pull it off and it would probably spur some good conversations. It’s not scary or terrifying or anything like that, but it is cool for other kids to see what a group of children was able to accomplish.
    I loved Chattanooga, will definitely come back with my family. I second the vote for 212 market for dinner, the black bean burger was absolutely phenomenal. Since you guys are into the Savannah bananas now, check out the lookouts as well!

  20. I (extensively) planned a trip to Chattanooga in the fall! My husband and I are newlyweds so we are a little different than your demographic with younger children but here is what we loved… Food: Urban Stack (bourbon & burgers!), Terminal Brewhouse, Cheeburger Cheeburger, Lupis, Tacomamacita, Clumpies (!!), Flying Squirrel, and for a nice, fancy dinner we loved Alleia. I read through other’s comments and am trying to thing of anything additional to add…. I really loved the Bluffview Arts district. The little village has the cutest European vibe and river views, plus its free to walk around and see the outdoor sculptures and get your “art fix” without having to pay for the art museum. Warehouse Row has good shopping and I am dying to try Tupelo Honey Café but they were renovating when we were there in the fall! City sponsored bike rentals were all over the city but I don’t know if Whit would be tall enough to ride, all the bikes seem to be 1 size fits all. I thought the aquarium was eh-OK but then again I don’t have kids. If you had to choose between Rock City and Ruby Falls I would 100% choose Rock City – plus its dog friendly! Are you brining Elsa? If so then also check out the Chattanooga Chew-Chew dog park (LOL!). And lastly there’s 2 more things I haven’t seen anyone mention yet that we really enjoyed. The first is a tasting at Debarge Winery – their “Chardanooga” wine is amazing! The 2nd is a visit to Ignis Glass Blowing where you can blow the glass yourself! They have supervision and safety metrics in place of course but lots of kids were participating as well. I was able to make my own beautiful hand-blown glass Christmas ornament. OH and I almost forgot about High Pointe Indoor rock climbing gym. It’s only $15 for a day pass I think your boys would LOVE it!

  21. The glass blowing is really awesome and close to the aquarium. I would recommend “The Purple Daisy” at the base of lookout mountain. The food is awesome and they will do you up a picnic to take up the mountain. The bbq tater is ahhmazing!!!

  22. I know you’re starting with Chattanooga, but if you’re touring all of Tennessee, I went hiking at Fall Creek Falls this summer and HIGHLY recommend it! There’s a great swimming area, plenty of hiking, multiple waterfalls to see and it’s super family friendly. Some of the more difficult hikes have hand rails and people seem incredibly patient if you have to take a little longer or want to pass them!

  23. So fun you are planning a trip to my hometown. All of the recommendations here are awesome. 1885 is my fave restaurant and some other good ones are Taco Mamacita (Milk and Honey just a couple of doors down- think yummy gelato, coffees, and the best salted caramels I have ever had), Alleia (Italian), Pucketts (Southern food), Tzaiki’s (Greek), Urban Stack (burgers), Slick’s (burgers), and Julie Darling donuts. You all will have a blast doing all of the fun stuff Chattanooga has to offer. One place I have not seen mentioned to stay is the Chattanoogan….it is a beautiful hotel and spa. Enjoy your trip here and if you have any questions, ask away.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *