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Chattanooga's Top 14 Summer Adventures

Updated: Aug 26, 2019

There’s so much to love about Chattanooga, so we’ve picked out the Top 14 Summer Adventures to make planning a summer vacation to Chattanooga easy.

1) EXPLORE SOMETHING BRAND NEW IN CHATTANOOGA    Chattanooga just keeps better and better! Check out these brand new ways to have fun: Songbirds Guitar Museum showcases the world’s largest collection of rare and vintage guitars; Tennessee Aquarium’s Lemur Forest features red-ruffed and ring-tailed Madagascar Lemurs; and the Gray Line Chattanooga Hop Trolley Tour that offer 90-minutes tours of the city.

2) ENCOUNTER PENGUINS, DINOSAURS, CAMELS, AND GNOMES Come face-to-face with penguins, lemurs, and thousands of animals at the Tennessee Aquarium & IMAX 3D Theater; dig up dinosaur bones at the Creative Discovery Museum; take a ride on a camel at the Chattanooga Zoo; venture high atop Lookout Mountain, just six miles from downtown, and search for the famous gnomes along the garden trails at Rock City.

3) CRUISE DOWN THE TENNESSEE RIVER Get out on the Tennessee River and relax on a lunch, dinner or sightseeing cruise aboard the Southern Belle Riverboat; tour the city and river on the Chattanooga Ducks, an authentic WWII amphibious landing craft.

4) COOL YOUR JETS FROM SUMMER HEAT In the heart of the summer, you need to cool yourself off! Delve 260 feet below the ground to a nice 60 degrees while you discover the 145-foot Ruby Falls; jump into the interactive water fountains in Coolidge Park; or try out the new thrilling Winnie 500 racing slides at Lake Winnepesaukah’s SoakYa! water park.

5) INDULGE YOUR INNER FOODIE Chattanooga’s chefs are constantly raising the bar with their culinary creations, taking flavors and textures to the next level. Follow celebs Alton Brown and Rachel Ray’s recommendations for incredible dining at Easy Bistro, St. John’s, The Meeting Place, and Back Inn Café. For more gastronomic delights visit Alleia, Flying Squirrel, Hi-Fi Clyde’s, FEED Co. Table & Tavern, or STIR. Take a tour and then enjoy a taste of the South at the Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery or the Georgia Winery.

6) EARN BRAGGING RIGHTS Your friends will be jealous when you tell them about the incredible adventures you had in Chattanooga! Soar 2,000 feet in the air at the Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding Park; take the highest daily jump in the south from 18,000 feet with the Chattanooga Skydiving Company; head to the Ocoee River for whitewater rafting in up to Class IV rapids; ride the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, one of nation’s steepest passenger railways at a 72.7 percent grade; or find out if you have what it takes to break free from prison or a nuclear launch at Escape Experience, Escape Mission Chattanooga, or Quest 2 Escape.

7) EXPERIENCE LIVE MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT You will truly be entertained at The Comedy Catch where some of the biggest stars in comedy have performed including Jerry Seinfeld, Rob Schneider, Tracy Morgan, and more. Check out live music at the weekly free Nightfall Music Series (Fridays, May - Aug)Riverfront Nights Music Series (Saturdays, July-Aug.); NoontunesLunchtime Music Series (Wednesdays, Sept.-Nov.); Tivoli Theatre and Songbirds North & South Stages. Pair music and food at one of the Chattanooga’s restaurants that offer weekly live music.

8) CATCH A GAME OR COMPETITION Vacation doesn’t mean you have to give up sports. Grab a hotdog and Coke while watching the Chattanooga Lookouts minor league baseball team at AT&T Field or enjoy a beer while cheering on the Chattanooga Football Club at a soccer match. If you want to see some serious elite athletes, check out IRONMAN Chattanooga (Sept.).

9) CLIMB YOUR WAY TO THE TOP Calling all adventure seekers and outdoor fanatics! Reach new heights as you climb more than 30,000 square feet of walls and boulders at High Point Climbing & Fitness; gear up and course your way through the hundreds of miles of mountains that surround Chattanooga; or try a new challenge at the Zipstream Aerial Adventure where you’ll have to make it through a suspended obstacle course and zipline 40 feet above ground!

10) TRAVEL THROUGH TIME Step into a vintage rolling time machine aboard a train at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, Tennessee’s only regularly scheduled, full-sized train ride; learn about how the first tow truck was made in Chattanooga at the unique International Towing & Recovery Museum; head on a chilling adventure with Chattanooga Ghost Toursand you may see the spirit of Ulysses S. Grant; or visit the nation’s oldest and largest military park, Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park.

11) OPT OUTSIDE FOR HIKING, BIKING, AND MORE Voted twice as “Best Town Ever” by Outside magazine, Chattanooga’s outdoor opportunities will amaze you. The city is surrounded by mountains, rivers, and lakes which offer plenty of world-class rock climbing, bouldering, hiking, mountain biking, and more. For more leisure activities, explore the 13-mile Tennessee Riverpark, kayak or SUP on the Tennessee River along the revitalized riverfront, play Frisbee in Coolidge Park, slide down “cardboard hill” in Renaissance Park, take a walk through Enterprise South Nature Park; or take out a canoe at the Chattanooga Nature Center and Arboretum.

12) SPEND TIME SHOPPING Shop for Chattanooga-only hand-made products, art, and food while listening to great music at the Chattanooga Market (Sundays, Now-Nov. 25) or at the River Market (Saturdays, Now-Sept. 1). Explore the NorthShore District where you’ll find an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants; Warehouse Row with a collection of retail featuring distinctive artisanal goods, boutiques, and restaurants; and Hamilton Place, one of Tennessee’s largest shopping complex with more than 200 shops and eateries.

13) GO ON A CULTURAL PURSUIT Get a hands-on experience and make your own glass creation at Ignis Glass Studio; view the South’s largest collection of American art at the Hunter Museum of American Art; stroll through the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park featuring large-scale pieces by world-renowned artists; or explore the Bluff View Art District’s River Gallery, outdoor Sculpture Garden, bakery, restaurants, and B&B.

14) CELEBRATE WITH FIREWORKS Kick off summer at the Chattanooga Lookouts where they shoot off fireworks after every Friday home game. Celebrate Independence Day at the free Pops on the River at Coolidge Park with great local food and patriotic music by the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera. Or, you can spend the day at Lake Winnepesaukah amusement park where you can ride the Cannon Ball roller coaster and cool off at SoakYa! before watching the fireworks display over the lake.

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